Archive for October, 2011

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1947

1947 is a pretty weak year, I feel. Gentleman’s Agreement was the obvious choice for Best Picture, but the nominees felt really weak. The Bishop’s Wife is weak, Crossfire is a B movie, and, in a stronger year, it would be more awesome that it got nominated. Here, it brings the rest of the nominees down. Great Expectations also doesn’t help make the nominees any stronger, even though it’s a great film. And Miracle on 34th Street also doesn’t help make things stronger. So, while they made the right choice, I can’t help but feel the year is a blank in history. The other categories don’t help matters much.

Ronald Colman wins Best Actor for A Double Life, which is a career achievement award. The category was really weak. Gregory Peck gave the best performance, but he won one later, so the Colman win works. Though, again, it doesn’t help this year seem stronger. Best Actress went to Loretta Young for The Farmer’s Daughter, which is considered by many (but not me. You know my preoccupation with 1970) to be the worst Best Actress decision of all time. Rosalind Russell really should have won that for Mourning Becomes Electra. Then Best Supporting Actor was Edmund Gwenn for Miracle on 34th Street (talked about here), which makes perfect sense, since he played Santa Claus. The lone strong decision of this this year (outside of this category). And Best Supporting Actress was Celeste Holm for Gentleman’s Agreement (talked about here), which is a good decision, but the category was really shitty. It doesn’t help the year any.

And the year is capped off by this decision, which — what the hell did you think they were gonna do?


And the nominees are…

George Cukor, A Double Life

Edward Dmytryk, Crossfire

Elia Kazan, Gentleman’s Agreement

Henry Koster, The Bishop’s Wife

David Lean, Great Expectations (more…)

Pic of the Day: “What an excellent day for an exorcism.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1979

Oh, this is tough. This may be my favorite Best Actor category of all time. They’re all really good in this category. They all either gave awards-worthy performances or were terribly overdue. And also gave awards-worthy performances. Just — wow. Before we get into it, let’s recap.

I’m not a fan of the the overall 1979 at all. Kramer vs. Kramer wins Best Picture over Apocalypse Now, All That Jazz, Norma Rae and Breaking Away. Those last two, I can abide. The first two, I cannot. Same goes for Best Director. Robert Benton (for Kramer) beats Francis Ford Coppola and Bob Fosse (talked about here). That’s the worst offense of all. The direction didn’t carry that film, writing did. That’s what makes me unable to abide the Best Picture decision. The weak, “Here you go,” of giving it Best Director too. Meryl Streep also won Best Supporting Actress for the film, which, as I said here, is a perfect decision. When Meryl wins a category, she really wins a category.

Sally Field as Best Actress for Norma Rae, which, as I said here, is a great decision. And Best Supporting Actor was the biggest offense of them all. The worst decision in the history of the that category. Melvyn Douglas wins for Being There, beating Robert Duvall for Apocalypse Now. Even Dustin Hoffman, upon accepting his award for Best Actor, after saying he refused to believe he beat “Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Peter Sellers,” said, “I refuse to believe Robert Duvall lost.” That’s how bad it was.

Which brings us into this category — it’s a great one.


And the nominees are…

Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs. Kramer

Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome

Al Pacino, …And Justice for All

Roy Scheider, All That Jazz

Peter Sellers, Being There (more…)

Pic of the Day: “It’s sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn’t allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They’ll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man… as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can’t move a finger, and I won’t. I’ll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do… suspect me. They’re probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, ‘Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly.’”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1954

1954. On the Waterfront. Case closed. It wins Best Picture, Best Director for Elia Kazan (talked about here), Best Actor for Marlon Brando and Best Supporting Actress for Eva Marie Saint (talked about here). All four perfect decisions for all time.

The other decision that wasn’t this category was Grace Kelly for Best Actress for The Country Girl. This is perhaps the single most contested decision in Academy history, as a lot of people feel Judy Garland should have won for A Star is Born. I, personally feel the category is too close to call, and the fact that Grace Kelly also made Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, Green Fire and The Bridges at Tokyo-Ri, decidedly tips the scale solely in her favor. That’s just an incredible list there for a single calendar year.

Which brings us to this category. Also, look how short this synopsis was. That’s called restraint. It doesn’t happen often with me. Anyway, this category — the Waterfront log jam led to Edmond O’Brien winning, which, I’m glad happened. Because Edmond O’Brien is the fucking man.


And the nominees were…

Lee J. Cobb, On the Waterfront

Karl Malden, On the Waterfront

Edmund O’Brien, The Barefoot Contessa

Rod Steiger, On the Waterfront

Tom Tully, The Caine Mutiny (more…)

Pic of the Day: “You… You are the Phantom!” “If I am the Phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so. If I shall be saved, it will be because your love redeems me.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1941

The great thing about the 1940-1945 years is that you could always count on the same actresses being in almost every category. Put it this way: of the 30 nominees for Best Actress between 1940 and 1945, the nominees in just this category account for 15 of them. And add Katharine Hepburn, Jennifer Jones and Ingrid Bergman to that list, and 22 of the 30 nominees are accounted for. That’s pretty insane.

As for 1941 — we all know how bad it was. How Green Was My Valley beats Citizen Kane for Best Picture and John Ford beats Orson Welles for Best Director (talked about here). ’nuff said there. Donald Crisp won Best Supporting Actor for the film, which does actually make sense, though, as I said here, I’d totally have given it to Sydney Greenstreet for The Maltese Falcon. That man is awesome. Then Gary Cooper wins Best Actor for Sergeant York (talked about here), which I don’t like, but understand (you really think they were gonna give it to Orson?). And Best Supporting Actress was Mary Astor for The Great Lie, which is a fine decision, since she was also in The Maltese Falcon this year. So even though it’s for the more forgotten of the two films, it’s cool that she won.

Now for this category. This is pretty cut and dry. It’s a make up Oscar. Everyone understands this, and it’s totally acceptable. Just know, I wouldn’t (and won’t) vote for it. I thought there was a better performance. But since all the principals (for the most part) won Oscars, this is a fine decision.


And the nominees are…

Bette Davis, The Little Foxes

Olivia de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn

Joan Fontaine, Suspicion

Greer Garson, Blossoms in the Dust

Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic! But SCREAM! Scream for your lives!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1950

I’m very on the record about not liking 1950. Let me explain:

All About Eve wins Best Picture. I’m okay with this as a singular decision. I’d have chosen Sunset Boulevard, but this is an acceptable choice. However — with the amount of bad decisions they made in the rest of the categories, this goes from being okay to, “Well, I don’t really like it.” Joseph Mankiewicz won Best Director for the film, which, as I said here, I consider to be the single worst Best Director decision of all time. I know it’s the Best Picture winner and all, but — have you seen The Third Man? Some efforts need to win no matter what.

Best Actor was José Ferrer for Cyrano de Bergerac, which as I said here, I really don’t like as a decision. I accept it because all the principals involved had, or later won, Oscars, but I don’t like it at all. Best Actress was Judy Holliday for Born Yesterday, which, as I said here, is one of the most hotly contested decisions of all time. I think it’s somewhat acceptable, even though I’d have voted for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. Oh, and George Sanders won Best Supporting Actor for All About Eve. A great decision for all time, there.

Now, this category. The shit of the shit. Best Supporting Actress is usually the weakest category. Also, I swear this wasn’t on purpose, all these double nominees. That must be like the tenth one this month.


And the nominees were…

Hope Emerson, Caged

Celeste Holm, All About Eve

Josephine Hull, Harvey

Nancy Olson, Sunset Boulevard

Thelma Ritter, All About Eve (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Bad luck isn’t brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1937

I don’t like 1937 at all. I consider it one of the weakest years in Academy history. The Life of Emile Zola wins Best Picture in a real weak decision. It’s the first year the Academy seemed to have not known what to do, and said, “Well, what’s the safe, “Academy” decision?” and went with that. It’s a weak winner. Strong film, but a weak winner. The fact that it didn’t win Best Director tells you it wasn’t an overwhelmingly popular choice. Joseph Schildkraut also won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here), which makes sense, even though it’s pretty weak and the category really sucked.

Best Director this year went to Leo McCarey for The Awful Truth (which didn’t win Best Picture because it’s a comedy), which, is a good decision, only they made it for the wrong film. McCarey also directed Make Way for Tomorrow this year, which everyone (including him. He said it when he won the award) feels is the film he should have won for. Best Actress this year was Luise Rainer for The Good Earth, which I don’t like at all. Here, they had the opportunity to give an Oscar to Barabara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne and Greta Garbo, and they give it to Luise Rainer (who won the year before this) for a performance that’s just okay. It makes no sense. And Best Supporting Actress was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago, which, as I said here, I understand from a legitimization perspective, but not a category one. Andrea Leeds definitely should have won that.

So that’s why I don’t like 1937. I don’t like any of the decisions. Not one of them. And then there’s this one. I understand it, but I don’t like it.


And the nominees were…

Charles Boyer, Conquest

Frederic March, A Star is Born

Robert Montgomery, Night Must Fall

Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola

Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Just so you know, I can’t be your friend.” “What do you mean?” “Does there have to be a reason? That’s just the way it is.” “Are you so sure that I want to be your friend?”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1968

Where to begin here… I guess let’s do the recap first.

Oliver! wins Best Picture for 1968. It was the best choice among the nominees, though it was admittedly a very weak set (one of the weakest of all time). Cliff Robertson wins Best Actor for Charly (talked about here), which I feel is a bad decision, and think Peter O’Toole should have won his well-deserved Oscar instead. Best Actress was a tie between Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl (talked about here). The two were the best in the category, so it works. Best Supporting Actor was Jack Albertson for The Subject Was Roses (talked about here), which is cool, though I can’t help but wish that Gene Wilder won for The Producers. And Best Supporting Actress was Ruth Gordon for Rosemary’s Baby (talked about here), which, even though I’d have gone another way, is a good decision.

I’ll get this out of the way now, which will save me time when I talk about all the nominees: this is, indeed, one of the worst decisions of all time. Stanley Kubrick should have won this in a landslide. However, this is a completely acceptable scenario, because — not only did Carol Reed win for directing the Best Picture of the year, but him not winning Best Director for The Third Man in 1950 is the single worst decision of all time in that category. So it’s only fitting that he should win his Oscar in the second worst decision of all time in the category. Sure they fucked up, but at least they remedied one of them. (Plus Kubrick got a Special Effects Oscar, so it’s not like he went totally empty-handed. And, I like the fact that he never won, because it makes me think he was above the Academy, which is something I think we’d all like to believe.)


And the nominees were…

Anthony Harvey, The Lion in Winter

Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers

Carol Reed, Oliver!

Franco Zeffirelli, Romeo and Juliet (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Is this your wife? What a lovely throat.”

Nosferatu - 93

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1985

I hate 1985. Perhaps the nadir of the 80s, this year signifies all that’s wrong with the Academy. From top to bottom, almost all the decisions they made were wrong. Out of Africa wins Best Picture, beating the far superior in every way The Color Purple, which speaks to the Academy’s preoccupation with two things: big, epic Oscar bait films, and racism. They really don’t like black people in the Academy.

Sydney Pollack wins Best Director for Out of Africa (talked about here), which may actually be an okay decision based on the category (it sucked), but the real shame here is the fact that THEY DIDN’T EVEN NOMINATE STEVEN SPIELBERG! Steven Spielberg won the DGA Award for The Color Purple, and the racist ass Academy didn’t even nominate him! How fucked up is that?

Speaking of racism, we’re not done yet. Best Actress this year went to Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful (talked about here). She beat the far superior Whoopi Goldberg, in, you guessed it, The Color Purple. Three — count it — three racist decisions. Add to that Anjelica Huston winning Best Supporting Actress for Prizzi’s Honor (talked about here), which may have been racism (Oprah was certainly better than Huston was), but I’m not going to declare it as such, just because I personally thought Meg Tilly gave the best performance in the category. Oh, and William Hurt won Best Actor for Kiss of the Spider Woman (talked about here), which is the lone good decision in this shitty year.

Oh, but now there’s this category, which would be okay in most years, but here it serves to remind us of the other terrible trend in Academy voting: veteran Oscars for people who give mediocre performances and are getting statues because of their stature.


And the nominees were…

Don Ameche, Cocoon

Klaus Maria Brandauer, Out of Africa

William Hickey, Prizzi’s Honor

Robert Loggia, Jagged Edge

Eric Roberts, Runaway Train (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Leave it alone, David. You can’t convince some people there’s a fire even when their hair is burning. Denial is a powerful thing.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1981

1981 is considered the worst year in Academy history. It’s not. In fact, the only part about it that’s so bad was Best Picture. Chariots of Fire is a terrible film. In fact, it’s the only bad film to ever win Best Picture (it should have even been nominated). Every other film that has won Best Picture were (taking into consideration their era) was of a certain quality. (Though, maybe Cavalcade is the other film that could be considered on the level of Chariots of Fire.) Otherwise, all the other choices were films that were good films overall — they just might have been bad choices for Best Picture. This was a film that shouldn’t have even been nominated. That’s why people consider this year so bad.

The rest of the year is actually pretty solid. Henry Fonda (finally!) wins Best Actor for On Golden Pond (talked about here). It had to happen, and was a great decision. Katharine Hepburn also wins Best Actress for the film (talked about here), which, while I’d have gone another way, is a fine decision. The category wasn’t that strong. John Gielgud wins Best Supporting Actor for Arthur (talked about here), which I absolutely love. Everything about that decision appeals to me (it’s one of my favorite films of all time, Gielgud was such a respected actor, and he was awesome in the role). And Best Director was Warren Beatty for Reds (talked about here), which is a fine decision, since Chariots of Fire could have won that too. I personally would have went with Spielberg (Raiders is awesome), but he won two later and Beatty is great.

Which brings us to this category. Supporting Actress is typically the weakest category in a given year, and this is no exception. There really isn’t a choice here, so the veteran win actually works out.


And the nominees were…

Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice

Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond

Joan Hackett, Only When I Laugh

Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime

Maureen Stapleton, Reds (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Synthetic flesh!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1943

Love me some 1943. Casablanca is such a perfect choice for Best Picture, I’m amazed it won. I really am. It also won Best Director for Michael Curtiz (talked about here), which he had coming to him for a while before this, so it was nice that it worked out the way it did. Now, Best Actor this year is a decision I hate very much. In fact, I think it’s a decision most people hate very much. Because Paul Lukas, who won for Watch on the Rhine, didn’t give that great of a performance. And he beat Humphrey Bogart for Casablanca. What the fuck happened?

Best Supporting Actor this year was Charles Coburn for The More the Merrier (talked about here). And, as I said in the article, while I love the performance, Claude Rains really should have won there. But I’m okay with it (because Claude Rains should have won in 1946 if he didn’t win here. So either way, it’s the Academy’s fault). And Best Supporting Actress was Katina Paxinou for For Whom the Bell Tolls, which, is pretty much a blank, since the category is really weak. I’d have gone another way, but, it’s not that major a decision where it’s good or bad.

Which brings us to this category. The big problem here is that Ingrid Bergman wasn’t nominated for Casablanca. That’s the performance that probably should have won here. Even so, it’s possible that she still could have won based solely on the strength of her year. I don’t think so, since they gave her three Oscars after this, but it’s possible that if she won here, maybe Barbara Stanwyck could have won her well-deserved Oscar the year after this. The world may never know.


And the nominees were…

Jean Arthur, The More the Merrier

Ingrid Bergman, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Joan Fontaine, The Constant Nymph

Greer Garson, Madame Curie

Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette (more…)

Pic of the Day: “So, what, were they psychos, or…” “Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don’t give a fuck how crazy they are!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1975

1975 is a really strong year. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest wins Best Picture over Jaws, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville. All (though I’m not the biggest fan of Nashville) would have been acceptable decisions for most people. Cuckoo’s Nest also wins Best Director for Milos Forman and Best Actress for Louise Fletcher (talked about here). I love the Best Actress decision, and, while I accept the Best Director decision, I don’t particularly like it, since Sidney Lumet, Stanley Kubrick and (an un-nominated) Steven Spielberg gave better efforts than Forman did. Forman’s effort was pretty theatrical. Plus Kubrick and Lumet were already overdue by this point.

Best Supporting Actor this year was George Burns for The Sunshine Boys (talked about here), which I like as a decision. Nice way to reward a veteran who gave a great performance. And Best Supporting Actress was Lee Grant for Shampoo, which I also like, since — the category sucked. She was gonna win one at some point, and this was the logical category for her to do it.

Which brings us to this category. A very strong one, performance-wise. And the decision had to happen, however one may feel about it (but I can’t imagine anyone would actually be against it), since Nicholson was way overdue by this point and gave one of the defining performances of his career.


And the nominees were…

Walter Matthau, The Sunshine Boys

Jack Nicholson, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon

Maximilian Schell, The Man in the Glass Booth

James Whitmore, Give ’em Hell, Harry! (more…)

Pic of the Day: “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1987

Thank God we’re almost done with 1987. I hate this year. It’s not that they made bad decisions, it’s just — it’s so boring. The Last Emperor is just a boring Best Picture choice. It’s a great film, but does anybody care that it won? Bernardo Bertolucci winning Best Director for it (talked about here) is a good decision, I’ll give them that. But the film is just so boring as a Best Picture winner.

Michael Douglas won Best Actor for Wall Street (talked about here), which is a wonderful decision, and one people can’t complain about because the category is so weak. Best Actress was Cher for Moonstruck, which, as I said here, I hate as a decision. Really hate. Holly Hunter and Glenn Close were such better choices. And Best Supporting Actor was Sean Connery for The Untouchables (talked about here), which — it’s Sean Connery. Of course it’s great.

Which brings us to this category. Oh yeah, we’re looking for alternatives here. I definitely disagree with two of these nominees. And since most of the other three are so weak, I’ll sacrifice any one of those three as a third nominee. Let’s see if there were any other performances worth nominating instead — nothing. At least at first glance. Wow, this year sucked. Every decade has one, it seems.


And the nominees were…

Norma Aleandro, Gaby: A True Story

Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction

Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck

Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train

Ann Sothern, The Whales of August (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Many, many years ago in a sad, faraway land, there was an enormous mountain made of rough, black stone. At sunset, on top of that mountain, a magic rose blossomed every night that made whoever plucked it immortal. But no one dared go near it because its thorns were full of poison. Men talked amongst themselves about their fear of death, and pain, but never about the promise of eternal life. And every day, the rose wilted, unable to bequeath its gift to anyone… forgotten and lost at the top of that cold, dark mountain, forever alone, until the end of time.”