Archive for November, 2011

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1940

1940 is a year that I always say is good, but possibly not as good as it could have been (yet, it still ranks as a solid year). Rebecca wins Best Picture, beating The Grapes of Wrath. Maybe not the best decision, historically, but it’s still a solid film. Plus, there was this category to even it out. So it actually kind of works.

Jimmy Stewart won Best Actor for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar of all time. They were clearly giving it to him for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the year before. Henry Fonda or Charlie Chaplin really should have won that one. Best Actress was Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle, which I love, since it was the only time they could really reward her, and Joan Fontaine, who probably should have won, won the year after this, so it worked out. Best Supporting Actor was Walter Brennan for The Westerner (talked about here), which, despite it being his third, I feel actually was a good decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Jane Darwell for The Grapes of Wrath (talked about here), which makes perfect sense, because she’s “Ma.”

And then there’s this category, which, aside from the fact that Hitchcock never won an Oscar (not this category’s fault, really), is a fantastic decision.


And the nominees were…

George Cukor, The Philadelphia Story

John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath

Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca

Sam Wood, Kitty Foyle

William Wyler, The Letter (more…)

Pic of the Day: “It’s just like Santa’s workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms, and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1964

1964 is a year that you can’t do anything about, so it’s better to just enjoy it. My Fair Lady wins Best Picture, and as much as people love Dr. Strangelove, it was never gonna beat My Fair Lady. It just wasn’t. George Cukor finally wins his well-deserved Best Director statue for the film, and Rex Harrison also wins Best Actor for it (talked about here). I’m cool with the Cukor win, and the Harrison one too, just because I know that Strangelove never really had a shot at anything.

Best Actress this year was Julie Andrews for Mary Poppins, which is cool. The category didn’t really have a definitive winner, and Julie Andrews was gonna win one at some point anyway. Worked out just fine here. And Best Supporting Actor was Peter Ustinov for Topkapi (talked about here). I’m cool with it. The category was really bad. So it’s fine that he won.

And that’s pretty much 1964. Overall, good, as long as you realize what was and wasn’t possible. And then this category, which — meh, it sucked. I don’t really care what happened here. To an extent. I still have an opinion, though.


And the nominees were…

Gladys Cooper, My Fair Lady

Edith Evans, The Chalk Garden

Grayson Hall, The Night of the Iguana

Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek

Agnes Moorehead, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (more…)

Pic of the Day: “If you can find a greasier sandwich, you’re in Mexico!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1938

I don’t much like 1938 as an Oscar year. It feels like a series of cop outs and weak choices. Almost like them saying, “We don’t know what we should do, so let’s do what we did before. That worked.”

Example 1: You Can’t Take It With You wins Best Picture out of a relatively weak set of nominees. It seems like the Academy, when faced with a French (Grand Illusion) and British (Pygmalion) film as potential winners (those two were clearly just as good, if not better, choices), they got nervous and said, “Well, It Happened One Night was a good choice, let’s do it again!” They also gave Frank Capra Best Director (talked about here), which makes sense, considering the Best Picture choice.

Example 2: Best Actor was Spencer Tracy for Boys Town (talked about here). It seems, faced with giving this to James Cagney for a performance in a gangster film (or Leslie Howard for Pygmalion), they balked and said, “Well, we gave it to Spencer Tracy last year, let’s do it again!” (This is the single worst Best Actor-winning performance of all time.)

Example 3: Best Actress was Bette Davis for Jezebel (talked about here). It seems, when faced with giving Wendy Hiller an Oscar (or Norma Shearer a second one), they decided, “We gave one to Bette Davis. That worked. Let’s do it again!”

And then Best Supporting Actress was Fay Bainter, also for Jezebel, and this was actually a good decision. Bainter was nominated for Best Actress as well, and was a well-respected actress. That one worked. And then there’s this category, which, again, feels like them not knowing what to do, and going, “Well, we gave it to Walter Brennan once before. That worked. Let’s do it again!”


And the nominees were…

Walter Brennan, Kentucky

John Garfield, Four Daughters

Gene Lockhart, Algiers

Robert Morley, Marie Antoinette

Basil Rathbone, If I Were King (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Give way, little man.” “Only to a better man than m’self.” “He stands before you.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1983

I like 1983. I don’t necessarily agree with the Best Picture choice, but it’s not terrible. Terms of Endearment wins Best Picture, and, while I’d have gone with The Right Stuff, I’m cool with it winning. Either way, it’s a pretty weak year for Best Picture (though, admittedly, amongst the other winners of the 80s, this is actually one of the better ones). James L. Brooks wins Best Director for the film, which is very acceptable, since for some reason Philip Kaufman wasn’t nominated for The Right Stuff. Jack Nicholson also won Best Supporting Actor for the film, which, as I said here, I don’t particularly like, since, Jack didn’t need it, and Sam Shepard was badass as Chuck Yeager.

Best Actor this year was Robert Duvall for Tender Mercies. I don’t particularly love the performance, but Duvall was terribly overdue by this point, and the category wasn’t that strong. So he was a good decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Linda Hunt for The Year of Living Dangerously (talked about here), which is a great decision, especially since she played a man in her film! And nobody noticed!

So in all, not a terrible year, 1983. In fact, really strong, in context. And this category — this is a stacked year for Best Actress. All five of these performances are really fucking good. It’s rare to have a year where all five performances were good enough to be at worst a #3 for most years.


And the nominees were…

Jane Alexander, Testament

Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment

Meryl Streep, Silkwood

Julie Walters, Educating Rita

Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment (more…)

Pic of the Day

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1988

I like 1988 a lot. Rain Man was the strongest (or at least my favorite) among the Best Picture nominees, and I like that it won. Barry Levinson probably shouldn’t have won Best Director for it (talked about here), but I can’t criticize it too much. When Picture and Director link up, it’s always a little acceptable. And Dustin Hoffman winning Best Actor for it — great decision. He was terrific in the film.

Best Actress this year was Jodie Foster for The Accused (talked about here). And to that I say, holy shit was she good. She deserved that so much. And Best Supporting Actor was Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda (talked about here), which I love, since he was definitely the best performance in what may be the weakest Best Supporting Actor category of all time.

So, in all, 1988 is a good year. I don’t like Best Director so much, but it’s not terrible. I only don’t like it because Scorsese was so fucked over by that point, I think he should have won every time he was nominated. So I actually even like that category too. The only category I have a slight problem with is this one. And even this one — I don’t care about it enough to say I don’t like it. I just think another choice would have worked better historically.


And the nominees are…

Joan Cusack, Working Girl

Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist

Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning

Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons

Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I suppose they’ll lock me up as well. As your accomplice.” “Accomplice? I’m going to tell them the whole thing was your idea.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1937

I don’t like 1937. I think we’ve established this by now on the blog. I think The Life of Emile Zola is one of the weakest Best Picture choices of all time, and I think the Academy didn’t know what to do here and gave it to that film as a cop out decision. You can tell it probably was that because it didn’t also win this category. Joseph Schildkraut won Best Supporting Actor for the film, which, as I said here, I don’t really care about, even though I didn’t think the performance was anything to write home (or anywhere) about.

Best Actor this year was Spencer Tracy for Captains Courageous (talked about here). I don’t particularly like it as a Best Actor-winning performance, but I can live with it (it’s really his 1938 win that I can’t live with). Best Actress was Luise Rainer for The Good Earth, which, as I said here, I think is a horrible, horrible decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago. You can read my problems with that decision here.

And this category, I’ve talked about it in the intros of the other articles I’ve written about this year, I think it’s a great decision, but I think it was for the wrong film. So I intend to talk about both the film he won for and the film he should have won for. But either way, this was a great decision.


And the nominees were…

William Dieterle, The Life of Emile Zola

Sidney Franklin, The Good Earth

Gregory La Cava, Stage Door

Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth

William A. Wellman, A Star is Born (more…)

Pic of the Day: “It doesn’t take a genius to see that the world has problems.” “No, but it takes a room full of morons to think they’re small enough for you to handle.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1972

Well — this’ll be quick.

1972. The Godfather wins Best Picture. Bob Fosse wins Best Director (talked about here) for Cabaret, Liza Minnelli also wins Best Actress and Joel Grey wins Best Supporting Actor (talked about here) for it. Eileen Heckart wins Best Supporting Actress for Butterflies are Free (talked about here). In all, a successful year. The only category I disagree with is Best Supporting Actor (and maybe Supporting Actress, but the category was terrible). And Best Director, but, that all basically worked out in the end.

Do we even need to waste the breath with this one?


And the nominees were…

Marlon Brando, The Godfather

Michael Caine, Sleuth

Laurence Olivier, Sleuth

Peter O’Toole, The Ruling Class

Paul Winfield, Sounder (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Is it just me, or does every woman in New York have a severe emotional problem?”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1946

Love me some 1946. Two great films atop the Best Picture nominees list, The Best Years of Our Lives and It’s a Wonderful Life. I know everyone gets up in arms about It’s a Wonderful Life not winning, but The Best Years of Our Lives was a fitting Best Picture choice, given the year (and the subject matter).

William Wyler also won Best Director for the film, which makes sense, and Frederic March wins Best Actor for it as well. Personally, I love all of the decisions, and think March was incredible in the film, and deserved the Oscar. Best Actress this year was Olivia de Havilland for To Each His Own (talked about here), which she was owed in spades by this point, and she was definitely good enough to win (even though I really liked Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter). And Best Supporting Actress was Anne Baxter for The Razor’s Edge, which was a great decision. She was fantastic there.

Which leaves us with this category. This is one of those categories where, while I understand how they made the decision they made, it still baffles me.


And the nominees were…

Charles Coburn, The Green Years

William Demarest, The Jolson Story

Claude Rains, Notorious

Harold Russell, The Best Years of Our Lives

Clifton Webb, The Razor’s Edge (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Tonight, hell freezes over!”

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1936

Like me some 1936. But I don’t love it. This would be the fuck on the “Fuck, Marry, Kill” list. Fuck 1936, Marry 1939, Kill 1937.

The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture for 1936, and it’s a fantastic decision. It’s a quintessential Oscar film, and a really great film at that. Everything a film from 1936 that won Best Picture should have. Best Director this year was Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (talked about here). I like that the film got recognized, but I don’t like the decision. Leonard should have won for Ziegfeld or Van Dyke should have won for San Francisco and that great recreation of the earthquake they have there.

Best Actor this year was Paul Muni for The Story of Louis Pasteur, which is a fine decision, although I say William Powell should have won for his Ziegfeld performance and his My Man Godfrey performance. Muni was better served winning the year after this for The Life of Emile Zola, which would have added a bit more legitimacy to that film winning Best Picture. Best Supporting Actor (the first in the category’s history) was Walter Brennan for Come and Get It, which makes sense. He is the quintessential supporting actor. Best Supporting Actress was Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse (talked about here), which I don’t get at all. To me, Alice Brady was a much better choice.

And then this category — I don’t get it at all. Not at all. She was a supporting character in the film, for one, and they seem to be basing the award on one scene. Plus she won the year after this — I don’t like this decision at all.


And the nominees were…

Irene Dunne, Theodora Goes Wild

Gladys George, Valiant is the Word for Carrie

Carol Lombard, My Man Godfrey

Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld

Norma Shearer, Romeo and Juliet (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Daddy, it’s following us.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1965

As I said the last time I covered 1965, it’s a year I feel like I should feel stronger about. But for some reason I don’t. To me, it’s just there. The Sound of Music was a great choice for Best Picture, and it makes perfect sense that it won. Doctor Zhivago wasn’t quite the masterpiece that Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai were, and, as much as I love Darling, it probably shouldn’t have beaten The Sound of Music. Robert Wise winning Best Director for the film is a fine decision, and made the most sense.

Best Actor this year was Lee Marvin for Cat Ballou, and, as I said here, I really don’t like that at all. I love Lee Marvin, but Richard Burton really should have won for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (and maybe Rod Steiger for The Pawnbroker too). Best Actress was Julie Christie for Darling, which I love, despite how stacked that category was (Elizabeth Hartman and Samantha Eggar were fantastic as well. Plus — Julie Andrews). And Best Supporting Actor was Martin Balsam for A Thousand Clowns. That category was one of the weakest of all time, and I love Martin Balsam and A Thousand Clowns, so, while I don’t love the performance as an Oscar-winner, I like the decision.

Which brings us to this category. Honestly, despite the fact that she won already, this is a really easy decision. Shelley Winters was fucking amazing here.


And the nominees were…

Ruth Gordon, Inside Daisy Clover

Joyce Redman, Othello

Maggie Smith, Othello

Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue

Peggy Wood, The Sound of Music (more…)

Pic of the Day: “Look, it’s not in my nature to be mysterious. But I can’t talk about it and I can’t talk about why.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1994

1994. Shawshank, Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump. Everyone has their opinion. I won’t give mine. They’re all great films, one of them had to win. To each his own, which they’d vote for.

Forrest Gump wins Best Picture and Best Actor for Tom Hanks (talked about here). This is the one of the two Hanks Oscars I agree with. Best Actress was Jessica Lange for Blue Sky (talked about here), which was more of a career Oscar than anything. She didn’t give the best performance in the category — that was Jodie Foster — but Foster had two Oscars already within the past seven years, and they weren’t about to giver her a third. Plus she went full retard. So the decision makes sense. Best Supporting Actor was Martin Landau for Ed Wood, which is a terrific performance by him. I personally feel bad about Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, but Landau was a good decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Dianne Wiest for Bullets over Broadway (talked about here), which I don’t like too much at all.

Which brings us to this category. You can’t be upset with it. Whatever won Best Picture was gonna win Best Director. That’s just how it works.


And the nominees were…

Woody Allen, Bullets over Broadway

Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three Colors: Red

Robert Redford, Quiz Show

Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction

Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I used to eat there. Really good noodles.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1940

I like 1940 a lot, but I can’t help but feel they made the wrong choice. Rebecca is a fine film, and it winning Best Picture normally would be okay. But The Grapes of Wrath is an American classic. I’m not particularly sure why it didn’t win. Especially when John Ford won Best Director for the film. But, since I love both films, I don’t mind it so much.

Jane Darwell also won Best Supporting Actress for The Grapes of Wrath, which, as I said here, is a very acceptable decision, even if I think Judith Anderson gave a better performance than she did. Best Actor this year was Jimmy Stewart for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar in the history of the Academy. Based on performance alone, it was a terrible decision (Henry Fonda and Charlie Chaplin were much better choices), but, in terms of Jimmy Stewart having an Oscar, it’s totally acceptable. And Best Actress this year was Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle, which I really like as a decision, since it was really her only chance to win one, and Joan Fontaine would get her Oscar the year after this for Suspicion. So it all worked out.

As for this category — this is actually the one of the three Walter Brennan Supporting Actor Oscars that I think is the strongest performance. And it’s the last one, so it’s the one where I’m most looking for someone else to vote for. So that should tell you something abut the category, when Brennan is a clear-cut winner.


And the nominees were…

Albert Bassermann, Foreign Correspondent

Walter Brennan, The Westerner

William Gargan, They Knew What They Wanted

Jack Oakie, The Great Dictator

James Stephensen, The Letter (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I think I must have one of those faces you can’t help believing.”