Archive for September, 2011

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1976

I love me some 1976. How can you not? Rocky, Taxi Driver, All the President’s Men, Network… and those were just the films nominated for Best Picture. How stacked a list is that? It’s probably the strongest Best Picture year of all time. And Rocky winning Best Picture, to me, was the best decision, mostly because it’s my favorite film of the bunch. Though I get people feeling otherwise (as long as they aren’t dicks about it).

Peter Finch wins Best Actor for Network (talked about here), which, while it wouldn’t have been my personal choice in the category, is totally acceptable as a result. I explained why in the article. Then Best Actress was Faye Dunaway, also for Network, which had to happen. She earned a statue twice over by this point and gave arguably the best performance of her career. Great call. (Shame about Talia Shire, though. Sentimental favorite.) Then Best Supporting Actress was Beatrice Straight, also from Network (talked about here), which I’m okay with (I think), though I’d have voted for Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. And Best Supporting Actor was Jason Robards for All the President’s Men (talked about here), which I’m okay with, but I, personally would have gone with Burt Young or Burgess Meredith (not even sentimentally, I thought they legit gave better performances).

So that’s 1976. Awesome, in all, and it ends with this category, which, given the Best Picture choice, was pretty much a foregone conclusion.


And the nominees were…

John G. Avildsen, Rocky

Ingmar Bergman, Face to Face

Sidney Lumet, Network

Alan J. Pakula, All the President’s Men

Lina Wertmüller, Seven Beauties (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1947

Oh, I don’t like 1947. This year just reeks of weak to me. Not that Gentleman’s Agreement is a bad film, it’s just — the rest of the year is so weak around it, to me, it feels like a weak choice. It’s a great film, and in the category, it totally should have won Best Picture. It also won Best Director for Elia Kazan, which — no objections there, and Best Supporting Actress for Celeste Holm, which I’m cool with. I like her. And the category was weak.

Best Actor this year was Ronald Colman for A Double Life, which is a really weak choice. Gregory Peck was so much better in Gentleman’s Agreement. Best Actress this year was Loretta Young in The Farmer’s Daughter, which is one of the worst Best Actress decisions of all time (probably second, maybe third, still, really, really bad). Rosalind Russell definitely should have won for Mourning Becomes Electra. The performances aren’t even close.

So that’s 1947. Just a weak set of films, Academy-wise, and overall weak choices outside of Best Picture and Director. Fortunately, though, this category does redeem a lot of it, because — Santa Claus. Instant redemption.


And the nominees were…

Charles Bickford, The Farmer’s Daughter

Thomas Gomez, Ride the Pink Horse

Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street

Robert Ryan, Crossfire

Richard Widmark, Kiss of Death (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Sometimes I get the feeling you don’t like anybody.” “If you only knew.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1986

Love me some 1986. Actually, wait, I just said that without thinking about it? Do I? …Platoon, Best Picture, Best Director for Oliver Stone. Check. Best Actor for Paul Newman for The Color of Money (talked about here), this category. All likes a lot so far. Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Michael Caine (talked about here) and Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters. Well — they can’t all be winners. But still, 4 out of 6, so, sure, I love me some 1986.

Oh, and hey, look at that — we took care of the recap there too. Don’t you love how I can change it up while pretending it’s all just random? (It was totally random.) Don’t you also love how I can save space by saying things briefly and then fucking it up by continuing to talk for absolutely no reason?

Anyway, let’s get to the category… (Big time sound effect!)


And the nominees were…

Jane Fonda, The Morning After

Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God

Sissy Spacek, Crimes of the Heart

Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married

Sigourney Weaver, Aliens (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Don’t that picture look dusty?”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1936

Oh hey, it’s the very first Best Supporting Actress category ever. That means several things. Most of all, it means that the rules don’t apply. You can’t judge this based on strictly the performances. You have to think of it as establishing the category. This sets the trend for what exactly is a supporting performance as we know it.

As for the rest of the year, The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture, which, is a pretty good choice, since it’s big and epic (at least, for 1936), and Best Actress for Luise Rainer, which, is a terrible decision. She was a supporting character at best in the film. And, surprisingly, William Powell does not win Best Actor for that film and for My Man Godfrey (being nominated for the latter), but rather, Paul Muni wins Best Actor for The Story of Louis Pasteur, which I don’t really like as a decision. It just seemed like too easy a performance to vote for. Powell, and especially Walter Huston, were better choices. (They could have given it to Muni, who very much deserved an Oscar, for The Story of Louis Pasteur the year after this. It would have made perfect sense.) Then Best Supporting Actor (the very first of that category) went to Walter Brennan for Come and Get It. While I don’t much care for the film or the performance, Brennan does play Swedish, and is an actor who epitomizes the category, so ultimately it was a good decision. Then Best Director was Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, which, as much as I loved the film (as I said here), I think is a terrible decision.

So, keeping in mind it’s not so much the performance as much as it is a foundation for a category, let’s take a look at this one…


And the nominees were…

Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy

Bonita Granville, These Three

Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth

Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse (more…)

Pic of the Day: “In all things, one must take the end into account.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1969

I have mixed feelings about 1969. I love that the Academy finally went with a gritty film more reflective of the post-1967 cinematic landscape, and I like Midnight Cowboy a lot and think it’s a great film, but — I really, really love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And that love makes it really hard to be objective. So, while I’m totally okay with Midnight Cowboy winning Best Picture and this category, I’m not gonna even begin to pretend like I’d vote for it.

As for the rest of this year, John Wayne wins what is essentially a career achievement Oscar for True Grit, which, I’m actually totally cool with. All the major nominees here either won Oscars (mostly, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight), were never going to win for their performances (Richard Burton. Because, while he was great, if they didn’t give it to Peter O’Toole in 1968, he wasn’t getting it here. Speaking of which…), or they shouldn’t have won for what they were nominated for in the category (Peter O’Toole). So I’m okay with it. Plus, it’s John Wayne. Him, Henry Fonda or Paul Newman could have won an Oscar any year over any other performance and I’d have been okay with it.

Then, Best Actress was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (talked about here). This is a rough category for me. I talked about it in the article, but, my favorite performance was by the most marginal of the nominees (and the other deserving nominees won eventually), so I’m ultimately okay with it, even though I’d have voted differently. Best Supporting Actor was Gig Young for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (talked about here), which I like, and Best Supporting Actress was Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower, which I also like (sort of. I’ll get to it eventually). So, that’s 1969. I’m pretty okay with it, even though it doesn’t feel ideal. It’s a big of a tough pill to swallow, which, coincidentally, is what a lot of the films of the 70s were about, so that’s perfect. And on top of that awesome connection, let’s get into this category…


And the nominees were…

Costa-Gavras, Z

George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Arthur Penn, Alice’s Restaurant

Sydney Pollack, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy (more…)

Pic of the Day: “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1968

1968 is one of the weakest overall Academy years. Oliver! is a great film, don’t get me wrong, but it probably shouldn’t have won Best Picture. Then again, the film most of us would have liked to see win Best Picture, 2001: A Space Odyssey, was never going to win. It was way too ahead of its time to win. I understand that. I just feel the rest of the year around it was so weak that what we ended up with was a good film winning in a shitty category, which feels like a weak choice.

Carol Reed wins Best Director for Oliver!, which I find fitting, because him losing Best Director for The Third Man is the worst decision of all time in the Best Director category, and this decision, which made up for that one, is the second worst decision, since he beat Stanley Kubrick for 2001, who clearly should have won. So, in a way, they cancel out, but in another way, they’re both terrible. Then Best Actress was the only exact tie in Academy history, with both Katharine Hepburn winning for The Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand winning for Funny Girl (talked about here). Honestly, Streisand should have won, so the tie works out just fine. Best Supporting Actress was Jack Albertson for The Subject was Roses (talked about here), which I guess is okay, even though I couldn’t not vote for Gene Wilder in The Producers there. And Best Supporting Actress was Ruth Gordon for Rosemary’s Baby (talked about here). I can’t really complain about it, despite the fact that I’d have voted for Sondra Locke in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Which brings us to this category. What a fucking terrible decision they made here.

(Note: This was written before Cliff Robertson died. I chose to leave it as was because — opinions shouldn’t change because people are dead.)


And the nominees were…

Alan Arkin, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Alan Bates, The Fixer

Ron Moody, Oliver!

Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter

Cliff Robertson, Charly (more…)

Pic of the Day: “A real woman could stop you from drinking.” “It’d have to be a real big woman.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1980

Oh I hate 1980. What a dumb “Academy” decision. Ordinary People wins Best Picture and Best Director for Robert Redford (talked about here), beating out Raging Bull. Yeah. There’s no one that can defend that decision.

Best Actor this year (thank god) was Robert De Niro for Raging Bull, so at least some justice was has. Best Actress was Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner’s Daughter, which I really like as a decision, despite how good Mary Tyler Moore was in Ordinary People. And Best Supporting Actress was Mary Steenburgen for Melvin and Howard, which, to me, makes absolutely no goddamn sense at all. But, meh, it’s pretty irrelevant historically.

So that’s 1980. Two, maybe three good decisions, and two horrendously bad decisions. But we all know how badly Martin Scorsese should have won Best Director here, so there wasn’t really anything this year could have done to overcome that.


And the nominees were…

Judd Hirsch, Ordinary People

Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People

Michael O’Keefe, The Great Santini

Jason Robards, Melvin and Howard

Joe Pesci, Raging Bull (more…)

Pic of the Day

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1952

Ah, the big fuck up. Which isn’t really a fuck up in hindsight, because they fixed their mistake in post. But, in this category, it’s a fuck up.

Actually, 1952 in general is a fuck up year. The Greatest Show on Earth wins Best Picture in a copout decision because the Academy didn’t want to vote for High Noon. Terrible decision, but despite what you may have heard, the film really isn’t that bad. It’s just not a Best Picture winner. Then Gary Cooper wins Best Actor for High Noon (talked about here), which really makes you wonder why they bothered to not vote for it in the first place. Why not just make it uniform, like you did with Citizen Kane? Either way, Krik Douglas should have won here.

Then Shirley Booth wins Best Actress for Come Back, Little Sheba (talked about here), which I don’t like as a decision at all. At best it’s a forgettable choice. Best Supporting Actor was Anthony Quinn for Viva Zapata! (talked about here), which I’ve come to accept as an okay decision, but is one I wouldn’t have made. And Best Supporting Actress was Gloria Grahame for The Bad and the Beautiful, which, as I discussed here, I’m sort of okay with, because the film got some attention, but she really wasn’t the best performance in the category, and the whole thing is just kind of fucked up and confusing.

That’s what 1952 is. A year that’s fucked up and confusing. Nothing makes sense, none of the decisions are all that great, and everyone just kind of walks away from it going, “What happened?” Kind of like a party at my house.


And the nominees were…

Cecil B. DeMille, The Greatest Show on Earth

John Ford, The Quiet Man

John Huston, Moulin Rouge

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 5 Fingers

Fred Zinnemann, High Noon (more…)

Pic of the Day: “How can you do it?” “What?” “How can you see me and still love me?” “That’s what it’s about, preppy.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1978

I love 1978. Such great films, topped with my favorite film of the year, The Deer Hunter, winning Best Picture. That, to me, is a great year.

The film also won Best Director for Michael Cimino (talked about here) and Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken (talked about here). I love both of these decisions. Then, Best Actress was Jane Fonda for Coming Home. I don’t like this decision at all, because she had an Oscar already. And I know she’s Jane Fonda and all, but, Jill Clayburgh gave a much better performance in An Unmarried Woman and should have won there. And Best Supporting Actress was Maggie Smith in California Suite, which, as I said here, wasn’t my favorite performance (that would be Meryl Streep), but I understand why she won and actually really like the decision.

And now, this category — this is a category where, I don’t think the best performance won, but, historically, this has proven to be a very good decision. So it’s one of those where, while I still won’t vote for the winner, I’m totally cool (and even happy) with the fact that he won.


And the nominees were…

Warren Beatty, Heaven Can Wait

Gary Busey, The Buddy Holly Story

Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter

Laurence Olivier, The Boys from Brazil

Jon Voight, Coming Home (more…)

Pic of the Day: “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1993

As I’m sure I said every other time I talked about 1993, I love how easy it is to recap. Schindler’s List. Done. No commotion. Nothing. Just, Schindler’s List. And then we all nod, like, “Yeah, uh huh.” It’s great.

The film wins Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg (talked about here). The two awards the film didn’t win that it should have were Best Actor, which went to Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (which I talked about here, about how it was such a terrible decision), and Best Supporting Actor, which went to Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive (which I talked about here, about how, as much as I love Tommy Lee Jones, this was also a terrible decision). And then the other two awards went to The Piano. The first was Best Supporting Actress, which went to Anna Paquin, and, as I said here, I consider that a pretty bad decision. And the other was this category, which I won’t waste any time setting up. Let’s just get into it.


And the nominees were…

Angela Bassett, What’s Love Got to Do with It

Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation

Holly Hunter, The Piano

Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day

Debra Winger, Shadowlands (more…)

Pic of the Day: “With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1985

I hate 1985 so much. Out of Africa is just not a film that should win Best Picture. Not over The Color Purple. And Steven Spielberg not winning Best Director — okay, not even being nominated for Best Director, despite winning the DGA for the film! — for it is also terrible. Sydney Pollack is a great director, and him winning Best Director is sort of okay, but, come on. Out of Africa? Really?

Best Actor this year was William Hurt for Kiss of the Spider Woman. It was by far the best decisions they could have made. He was awesome, and this was the best year for him to win. He didn’t have any competition. Then Best Actress was Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful (talked about here), which is one of the worst Best Actress decisions of all time. Top five worst. Because Whoopi Goldberg really should have won that. I don’t even think people contest that fact. Then Best Supporting Actor was Don Ameche for Cocoon, which is cool. This, unlike Best Actress, was a good opportunity to reward a veteran.

So, in all, of the six decisions this year, I like — two of them. And even of the two, they’re not resoundingly good. Like, William Hurt winning is great, but the category is weak so it’s just, “Yeah it’s good, but, one in a decade of shit…” You appreciate them more than you love them. I like them and all, but it’s not like these were the 1987 decisions. Those are great decisions. So I hate 1985. Like most of the 80s, they fucked up.


And the nominees were…

Margaret Avery, The Color Purple

Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor

Amy Madigan, Twice in a Lifetime

Meg Tilly, Agnes of God

Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Sorry don’t get it done, Dude.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1932-1933

Going old school today. Haven’t done one of these in a while. I like when we do these. Because I know almost no one has seen these films and I can seem like an authority on them. And because, I know there are less people who will complain about my decision because of that.  Life is better when the possibility for encountering stupid assholes is lower.

Anyway, 1932-1933 is the last year of the double years. After this is just 1934. This is also the last year I consider a “foundation” year for the Academy. That is, after this, you can start complaining about their decisions. Here, they’re still developing their identity. It’s like a kid. The 1927-1933 years are the pre-18 years. If the kid sucks, it’s bad parenting. After 18, though, if the kid’s an asshole, the kid’s an asshole.

Best Picture went to Cavalcade, which is historically considered one of the weakest Best Picture decisions. I personally don’t get it myself. Frank Lloyd also wins Best Director for the film (which I talked about here), which, by default, has to be a good decision. Then Best Actress was Katharine Hepburn for Morning Glory (which I talked about here), which is also one of those by-default good decisions, because there were only three nominees, and she was the only one that was gonna win. And, since there were no Supporting categories this year, that’s it. Isn’t that nice and simple? I should also state, before we get into it, I don’t like this category. The category itself and the decision. Let me explain:

BEST ACTOR – 1932-1933

And the nominees were…

Leslie Howard, Berkeley Square

Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII

Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Poor cat! Poor slob! Poor slob without a name! The way I see it I haven’t got the right to give him one. We don’t belong to each other. We just took up one day by the river. I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.”