Archive for August, 2011

Pic of the Day Update

Until now, the Pic of the Day has been me putting up shots in a very haphazard way. I just put the ones I had the most screenshots of, then filled in the gaps with what I hadn’t used yet. But back in May I thought to myself, “Self,” (never gets old) “Why not have “theme” months?”

September seemed the best place to start. It’s my birthday month. So the Pics of the Day for September are shots that, along with the quotes I chose, are the most representative of who I am and what I like. Interpret that as you will.

Then October, that’s gonna be Horror month. In honor of Columbus Day, naturally. 31 days of screenshots from horror films. Mixed and matched. Fortunately I had more than 31 choices, so that means some good stuff is still available for next year.

November (which I’m most excited for) will be Studio Logo month. Specifically logo variations. I love when studio logos are altered to fit films. Example: the Columbia logo before Men in Black II is the torch lady holding a neuralizer (the flashy thing that wipes your memory), and she neuralizes the audience (ironic, since I wish someone had done that to me after seeing the movie). I want to make it a game, so you won’t be able to click on the picture and find out what film it is. You can just look up the quotes, though, if need be. But most are very easy to guess.

December, as you can guess, is Christmas month. So that’ll be a collection of images from famous holiday films (including cartoons). I’m very excited for this, since I won’t be able to see snow for the next few years. Plus I love Christmas. I’m one of those crazy festive people.

And (I just thought of this right now) maybe January and February will be Oscar-themed. That’d be appropriate. 60 classic Oscar films (It’s leap year. So we get 60 days). I like this. That’s what we’re doing. See? Things are going. We’re generating. It’s very exciting. Stay tuned.

In Appreciation of Character Actors (M-R)

(NOTE: The Full List is the only list being continually updated.)

Part III, of the character actors.

Fred MacMurry

Where you know him from: 

The Apartment, as Mr. Sheldrake

Double Indemnity, as Walter Neff

My Three Sons, as Steve Douglas

Also look for him in: Alice Adams, as Arthur Russell, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, as Jack Hale, The Egg and I, as Bob MacDonald, The Caine Mutiny, as Lt. Tom Keefer, The Shaggy Dog, as Wilson Daniels, The AbsentMinded Professor, as Prof. Ned Brainard. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1996

I cringe when I see 1996. The English Patient is such a terrible movie to have won Best Picture. Fargo was so much better. Anthony Minghella winning Best Director for it, though, (talked about here) is understandable. Usually with one comes the other. But it still doesn’t make it a good decision.

Best Actor was Geoffrey Rush for Shine, which, as I said here, is a decision I consider one of the worst of all time. Not because of the actor, because of the performance. Read the article if you want to find out why. Then Best Actress was Frances McDormand for Fargo, which I love as a decision (as I said here), even though it wasn’t the best performance in the category (it was my favorite, though). And Best Supporting Actor was Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire, which is just troublesome. I talked about it  here, but basically, William H. Macy should have won for Fargo, yet Cuba Gooding is so likable in the movie, it swayed a lot of people to vote for him (even I did in when I wrote up the article!), and then after the fact we all realized, “Yeah…we should have given it to Bill Macy. That was dumb.”

So that’s 1996. Bad Best Picture and Best Director choice, terrible Best Actor choice, great Best Actress choice, but one that’s shaky because there was a better (or two) performance in the category, and a Best Supporting Actor choice that feels okay, but then you realize it probably shouldn’t have won. Then, there’s this category. It’s by far the weakest of the bunch (though that’s always been the case, historically), but they did made the right decision. Most people assumed Lauren Bacall was the odds-on favorite here (because she’s Lauren Bacall), but no one takes into account just how much an Oscar-winning performance actually requires a halfway decent film in order to be taken seriously.


And the nominees were…

Joan Allen, The Crucible

Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces

Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

Barbara Hershey, The Portrait of a Lady

Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets & Lies (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Why do you wanna fight?” “Because I can’t sing or dance.”

In Appreciation of Character Actors (G-L)

(NOTE: The Full List is the only list being continually updated.)

Part II, of the character actors. Starting with a goodie:

James Gammon

Where you know him from:

Major League and Major League II, as Lou Brown

Natural Born Killers as the Redneck’s Buddy in the Diner (at the very beginning)

Cold Mountain, as Esco Swanger

Also look for him in: Cool Hand Luke, as Sleepy, Urban Cowboy, as Steve Strange, Any Which Way You Can, as Palomino Bartender, Silverado, as Dawson, Ironweed, as Reverend Chester, The Milagro Beanfield War, as Horsethief Shorty, I Love You to Death (1990), as Lt. Larry Schooner, Wyatt Earp, as Mr. Sutherland, The Man in the Iron Mask, as The Commandant, The Iron Giant as the voice of Foreman Marv Loach and Floyd Turbeaux, The Cell, as Teddy Lee, Life or Something Like It, as Pat Kerrigan, Silver City, as Sheriff Joe Skaggs, Don’t Come Knocking, as Old Ranch Hand, Appaloosa, as Earl May, In the Electric Mist, as Ben Hebert. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1971

Strong year, 1971. Especially in terms of who won. Check this out. First, Best Actor — Gene Hackman, for The French Connection. Classic character, great performance, not totally win-worthy, but the category isn’t all that strong, so it makes sense. Then, Jane Fonda wins her first Best Actress Oscar for Klute. Definitely the best decision in that category, and she as an actress definitely deserved it. And then this category — Cloris Leachman … I mean, it’s Cloris! Agree or disagree — it’s Cloris. And then Best Supporting Actor was Ben Johnson for The Last Picture Show, which is the one decision this year I really disagree with, mostly because I love Roy Scheider (and because Johnson didn’t do anything in the film).

Then you have The French Connection winning Best Picture and Best Director (which I talked about here), which I find to be amazing decisions because the film really signifies what the 70s were all about as a decade. Sure, people will say A Clockwork Orange should have won, but, me, I’ll take The French Connection any day. Kubrick belongs on his own level. But, that’s 1971. It might be considered weak compared to some other years from the 70s, but its actually very strong on its own.


And the nominees were…

Ellen Burstyn, The Last Picture Show

Barbara Harris, Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?

Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show

Margaret Leighton, The Go-Between

Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge (more…)

Pic of the Day: “You mean you’re dropping out?” “I don’t look at it as dropping out. I look at it as a very strategic career move.”

In Appreciation of Character Actors (A-F)

(NOTE: The Full List is the only list being continually updated.)

This is one of the most exciting parts of watching movies. You’re watching a film, and someone comes on screen, and makes you go, “I KNOW that guy!” Or gal. “I know them!” Then — “Wait, but from where?”

And then what happens (especially if you’re with people), someone says, “Oh, they’re from (this).” And everyone’s like, “Ohhh!”, and then everyone remembers, “And they were in (this) too! And (that)!” It’s a lot of fun.

What I’m getting at is — we love character actors. Their job is to be memorable in just about any role they take. They’re rarely the stars, but they accrue enough random roles that they build up in your mind and become the people who, while you don’t necessarily go to the movies for them, they’re the people who pop up in movies and make you go, “I didn’t know he/she was in this this! That’s awesome!”

Unfortunately, they’re also the people who most people can never remember. It’s the nature of the beast. You know them as the characters they’ve played rather than as who they are. (Most people.) Of course, you can look it up, but, even so, character actors are really the people who do some of the strongest and most diverse work, and get little to no credit for it.

So I decided to create this list. A giant list of all those actors we remember from all those minor and semi-major roles that we can just read be like, “Oh I love those people!” And maybe you’ll remember a bunch of films a certain actor was in that you never knew or hadn’t remembered, or discover someone you never knew you knew. But mostly, this is about being able to, in one place, have a certain group of people where it’s just one after another after another, of, “Oh, I love that person!” (See how many you recognize and/or love. And savor it. They deserve it.)

So let’s all just take a minute (or 60) appreciate the backbone of cinema — the character actors. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1960

Love me some 1960. That’s been the gist of all the articles I’ve written about it so far. The Apartment is one of my five favorite films of all time. I think it was one of the best Best Picture choices of all time. And I love Billy Wilder winning Best Director for it, though, as I said here, Hitchcock really should have won this for Psycho. It’s just a fact of life.

Then, Best Actor (which I talked about here) was Burt Lancaster for Elmer Gantry, which is just a wonderful decision, Best Actress was Elizabeth Taylor for BUtterfield 8, which, as I said here,  was a tough situation, and has a reputation for being a terrible decision, and it is a terrible decision, but the Academy kind of had their hands tied here, so, I understand it. And Best Supporting Actor was Peter Ustinov for Spartacus, which is a great decision. Peter Ustinov is awesome.

The real reason I love this year though is the films. The Apartment, Psycho, The Sundowners, Elmer Gantry, Spartacus, Peeping Tom, The Magnificent Seven, Inherit the Wind, La Dolce Vita, Breathless — there are some great films that came out this year. That’s why I love me some 1960.


And the nominees were…

Glynis Johns, The Sundowners

Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry

Shirley Knight, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

Janet Leigh, Psycho

Mary Ure, Sons and Lovers (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I will not go down in history as the greatest mass-murderer since Adolf Hitler.” “Perhaps it might be better, Mr. President, if you were more concerned with the American People than with your image in the history books.”

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - 50

The Movie Year in Review (2/3 of the Way Through)

Don’t you love it when things rhyme?

Back in April, I posted an article where I reviewed all the films of 2011 (until that point) that I’d seen. As I always say, I do try to see everything that comes out. Or at least most of it. This year, I’m more lenient than I had been in the past. Either way, chances are, if a film came out (especially in wide release), I saw it. And if I saw it, and have this wonderful medium through which we as a people can feed our narcissism and put forth our opinions regardless of whether or not anyone cares about it, why wouldn’t I write up my thoughts on it?

I’m breaking up these articles into thirds for the year just to make it easier on myself come January. There’s no way I’m going to want to write up reviews on everything I saw throughout the year, then going back and doing what I’d planned on doing, which is compare what I actually thought about the films against what I thought I’d think about the films this past January when I wrote all those Release Calendar articles. That would be way too much work (and seriously, you don’t know how lazy I am). So I’m clearing out the cache every four months, making my future life easier as well as breaking up the constant stream of Oscar Quest articles.

This article will focus on every film I saw that came out after the April article was posted (so, post-April 24th), as well as a couple that were released earlier that I didn’t get around to seeing until after I posted that first article. But mostly these are all films from May through August. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1998

This is a rough year for most people. It’s not just because Shakespeare in Love wins Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan. I don’t have a problem with that. Honestly, I don’t. Because, Steven Spielberg won Best Director for Ryan (as I talked about here), and I can live with the Best Picture choice as long as they made the proper Best Director choice to go along with it (which they didn’t do this past year). Gwyneth Paltrow also wins Best Actress for Shakespeare (which I talked about here), and Judi Dench wins Best Supporting Actress for the film as well (which is just awesome. Go Judi).

So, as it stands, we have a “weak” Best Picture choice, a weak Best Actress choice (sort of. It’s a weak overall choice. Based on the category, it’s kind of bad, but — well, just read my article for my full thoughts on the matter), a good, but not overly great Best Supporting Actress choice (though best in the category), and a perfect Best Director choice. That’s one, maybe two, out of four. And only one really strong one. The other three are questionable. Then, you have this category, which I’ll tell you right now — good from a historical perspective (James Coburn is awesome), terrible from a category perspective. Really terrible. And you have Best Actor, which was Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful. Which — that’s pretty much the nail in the coffin for 1998. This is one of those “let’s all just pretend this never happened” years.


And the nominees were…

James Coburn, Affliction

Robert Duvall, A Civil Action

Ed Harris, The Truman Show

Geoffrey Rush, Shakespeare in Love

Billy Bob Thornton, A Simple Plan (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Lieutenant Dan, I got you some ice cream …. Lieutenant Dan, ice cream.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1993

1993. This recap will be quick. Schindler’s List. (See?) It wins Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg (which I talked about here). ‘Nuff Said. Then Tom Hanks wins Best Actor for Philadelphia, which, as I said here, I think is a terrible decision. Then Best Actor and Best Actress were Holly Hunter (which I agree with) and Anna Paquin (which I don’t agree with), respectively, for The Piano.

And then this category — it’s one of the most stacked Best Supporting Actor categories I have ever seen. It’s seriously incredible. And yet somehow, the Academy managed to pick the single worst performance they could have. Well, okay — second worst. Malkovich was probably the worst choice here (film-wise, not actor-wise). But, still — really? I love Tommy Lee Jones, I love The Fugitive, and I love his performance as Sam Gerard, but come the fuck on. Did you see what Ralph Fiennes, Leonardo DiCaprio and Pete Postlethwaite did this year? What the fuck?


And the nominees were…

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father (more…)

Pic of the Day

The Musketeers of Pig Alley - 7

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1990

Hate me some 1990 real good. Dances with Wolves is one of the worst films to ever win Best Picture. It’s seriously just not a very good film at all. Goodfellas should have destroyed this year. Kevin Costner beating Martin Scorsese for Best Director (as I talked about here), is just laughable.

Then, the rest of the year isn’t that great either. Jeremy Irons wins Best Actor for Reversal of Fortune in one of the weakest Best Actor categories of all time. It was really bad. Then Kathy Bates won Best Actress for Misery, which I like as a decision (as I said here), especially considering the category. Then Whoopi Goldberg wins Best Supporting Actress for Ghost (which I talked about here), which is kind of a backhanded Oscar, since she really should have won for The Color Purple in 1985, and that fact is the only reason she got this Oscar. (It’s backhanded because she plays a (literal) magical negro in the film. The Academy are such dicks sometimes.)

Then, there’s this category, which for me is cut and dry and taken care of pretty easily. And I like that I can say that about one category in this god forsaken year. This is like the Desert of the Real in The Matrix — you look around like, “What happened?” And this category is that awesome red chair Morpheus sits in. That was a great chair.


And the nominees were…

Bruce Davison, Longtime Companion

Andy Garcia, The Godfather Part III

Graham Greene, Dances with Wolves

Al Pacino, Dick Tracy

Joe Pesci, Goodfellas (more…)

Pic of the Day: “18,000 dollars?” “Yes.” “In addition to the $1,000 you’d already put up?” “Yes.” “A total of $19,000 now?” “Yes.” “Hang on …. I’m just checking your math on that. Yes, I got the same thing.”

The Box Office Report – August 26-28

Last week, in Box Office…

It was worse than expected. And I love it.

The Help wins the weekend, as expected, with $20 million. Barely. I’m okay with this. I was hoping it would drop under 20, but, it barely made 20, so, who cares, really? It’ll make money, they’ll make more of these — whatever. At least it’s not another shitty superhero movie. The film’s made $71 million domestically off a $25 million budget. Good for them.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes finishes second, as expected, with $16.1 million. Slightly more than expected, but not much, mostly due to all the new films just failing miserably (ha ha). It’s made $133.6 million domestically, off a $93 million budget, so, knowing they spent a shit ton to market this, they probably haven’t broke even yet, but they will, and that’s cool. It’s made $122 million more worldwide, so they’re in the black here overall. Maybe we’ll wait until we have a good script for the next one though, huh, studio? That’s all I ask. Don’t fuck up the good will you got here. Pretty simple. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1982

I love 1982, more for the films that were nominated more than the decisions that were made. Because, Gandhi wins a bunch of awards, and, while I don’t think it needed Best Picture (or was the best film in the category), you can’t really say it was that bad a decision. Ben Kingsley wins Best Actor for it (which I talked about here), which is the most acceptable of the Gandhi awards (despite being in as tough a category as he was in), and Richard Attenborough wins Best Director for it, which (as I said here) I have to like, because it’s Gandhi and I love Richard Attenborough, but, there was a better choice there. Then Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for Sophie’s Choice — case closed — and Jessica Lange wins Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie.

Now, this category in particular is kind of tough. All the nominees are good, but not great. They’re all 2s and 3s for most years with no 1. It’s strange. But the voting aspect is something we’ll deal with later. First, let me fill you in on a bit of trivia with this category. the 1982 and 1983 Best Supporting Actor categories are the only two times two very respected actors were nominated for Oscars. Those actors are John Lithgow and Charles Durning. Both legends in their own right. And the only two times those two were nominated for Oscars, they happened to do so in the same category as each other. How weird is that?


And the nominees were…

Charles Durning, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Lou Gossett Jr., An Officer and a Gentleman

John Lithgow, The World According to Garp

James Mason, The Verdict

Robert Preston, Victor/Victoria (more…)

Pic of the Day: ♫ “Right behind you, I see the millions. On you, I see the glory. From you, I get opinions. From you, I get the story. Listening to you, I get the music. Gazing at you, I get the heat. Following you, I climb the mountain. I get excitement at your feet!” ♫

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1981

I hate 1981 as an Oscar year. I love it as a year for great films and performances. All of it stems from the Academy selecting Chariots of Fire as Best Picture, which is the single worst picture in terms of quality to win Best Picture. Nothing comes close. This film is not good.

Then, Warren Beatty wins Best Director for Reds (talked about here) and Maureen Stapleton wins Best Supporting Actress for it, both of which are pretty acceptable decisions. Then Best Actor (talked about here) and Best Actress (talked about here) were Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn for On Golden Pond. Fonda’s Oscar had to happen, and there was no other alternative. It’s a great decision by default. Then Hepburn’s Oscar is acceptable, even though I’d have gone another way. So that’s 1981. Pretty solid, except for the terrible, awful, soul-crushing decision for Best Picture.

Which beings us to this category. I love it. Jack Nicholson always brings class to a category. Then you have Ian Holm, great actor. James Coco, who was fantastic in the role and was also in one of my favorite movies of all time, Murder by Death. And then there’s Howard Rollins, which, it’s nice to see a black guy get in there. And then John Gielgud. A living legend. Not to mention — Arthur is legit one of my top 20 favorite films of all time. It’s so fucking funny. I love this decision so much.


And the nominees were…

James Coco, Only When I Laugh

John Gielgud, Arthur

Ian Holm, Chariots of Fire

Jack Nicholson, Reds

Howard Rollins Jr., Ragtime (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Guy teaches me drumming down there, says I’m a natural, arms made of pure gold.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1978

I love 1978. Few years make me happier. I love The Deer Hunter so, so much. I think it’s an amazing film. My favorite Vietnam film, probably. This and Apocalypse Now are like a joint one and two. Anyway, it wins Best Picture, Best Director for Michael Cimino (which I talked about here), and this award, which I’m about to talk about (obviously).

Then, the rest of the year had Jon Voight winning Best Actor for Coming Home, which I don’t think I’d have voted for, but am very okay with, since Jon Voight definitely deserved an Oscar, and De Niro would get his two years after this. Jane Fonda also won Best Actress for Coming Home, which I don’t like at all (as much as I love Jane Fonda), just because I think Jill Clayburgh really should have won for An Unmarried Woman. But I’m not too broken up about it. I think it was a poor choice, but I don’t want to riot or anything (this isn’t 1970). And then Best Supporting Actress was Maggie Smith for California Suite (which I talked about here). That’s a decision where, while I personally would have voted for Meryl in Deer Hunter, I totally get why Maggie Smith won, and her winning ended up working out for the best anyway, since Meryl won Best Supporting Actress the year after this (for a better performance).

So, in all, I really like four of the six decisions this year, and the other two I’m okay with, even though one of them I’m bordering on disliking. In all, though, a strong year. And this category — wow, look at how strong it is. I have three legit people to vote for here.


And the nominees were…

Bruce Dern, Coming Home

Richard Farnsworth, Comes a Horseman

John Hurt, Midnight Express

Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter

Jack Warden, Heaven Can Wait (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”