Pic of the Day: “Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?” “Not yet. Any complaints or suggestions?” “A few.” “Which?” “Complaints.” “All right shoot.” “Well, you don’t scold, you don’t nag, and you look far too pretty in the mornings.” “All right, I’ll remember: must scold, must nag, musn’t be too pretty in the mornings.”
Pic of the Day: “Hard to believe it was last Christmas that me and Harmony changed the world. And we didn’t mean to. And it didn’t last long, you know. A thing like that can’t. Now that I’m in L.A., I go to parties. The kind where if a girl is named Jill, she spells it J-Y-L-L-E, that bullshit. That’s me there. My name’s Harry Lockhart, I’ll be your narrator. Welcome to L.A. Welcome to the party.”
1939 is the best year for American movies. The Golden Year, as they call it. And it really was. And the best thing about a year that’s this strong is when it has a definitive Best Picture winner, like this one does.
Gone With the Wind wins Best Picture, Best Director for Victor Fleming (talked about here) and Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel (talked about here). Best Actor this year went to Robert Donat for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, which, as I said here, is an award that should have went to Jimmy Stewart for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and the Academy realized it so much that they gave him an Oscar the year after this for an unworthy performance. And Best Supporting Actor was Thomas Mitchell for Stagecoach, which, as I said here, is a brilliant decision (with my deepest condolences to Claude Rains).
And then there’s this category, which — it’s Gone With the Wind. It’s Scarlett O’Hara. Come on now.
BEST ACTRESS – 1939
And the nominees were…
Bette Davis, Dark Victory
Irene Dunne, Love Affair
Greta Garbo, Ninotchka
Greer Garson, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind (more…)
Love me some 1946. I’m always a fan of years that have definitive winners, yet other nominees that are strong enough to make people vehemently argue that those films should have won instead, and yet not be wrong to argue for them. 1939 is one. 1957. 1997, 1994, 1991 — there are lots of them. Here, The Best Years of Our Lives wins Best Picture, as it should have (historically this is a big film for Hollywood), and It’s a Wonderful Life is the film everyone argues for. And no one is wrong. I love that.
The Best Years of Our Lives also won Best Director for William Wyler, which was gonna happen, and Best Supporting Actor for Harold Russell, which, as I said here, I actually really, really hate. Best Actress was Olivia de Havilland for To Each His Own, which, as I said here, I love and support fully. And Best Supporting Actress was Anne Baxter for The Razor’s Edge, which I liked very much, actually.
So, in all, 1946 is a strong, strong year, with only one slip up that’s actually understandable (though still bad). And this category — looking at it objectively — as much as we all love Jimmy Stewart — this was a good decision.
BEST ACTOR – 1946
And the nominees were…
Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives
Laurence Olivier, Henry V
Larry Parks, The Jolson Story
Gregory Peck, The Yearling
James Stewart, It’s A Wonderful Life (more…)
Love 1957. 4 out of 6 really strong decisions. The Bridge on the River Kwai wins half the major awards (rightfully so), winning Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here) and Best Actor for Alec Guinness. All perfect decisions. And Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here), which was also a perfect decision.
Okay, that takes care of almost everything. Now we’re at the two Supporting categories. First was Red Buttons, winning Best Supporting Actor for Sayonara, which, as I said here, I hate very much as a decision. And the second was here, which I also hate very strongly and consider one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of the Best Supporting Actress category.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1957
And the nominees were..
Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party
Elsa Lanchester, Witness for the Prosecution
Hope Lange, Peyton Place
Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara
Diane Varsi, Peyton Place (more…)
1979 is a year I can say a lot about. I’ll try not to here. At least, not at once. The main thing here is that Kramer vs. Kramer wins Best Picture, beating out Apocalypse Now and All That Jazz. It also beat Norma Rae and Breaking Away, but the first two are the real important ones. It’s not a question of whether or not it’s a good film, it’s just — is it really better to have won over those two? Did history really hold up on that one? I consider this one of those — the Academy being the Academy. And the Academy being wrong — decisions.
Also this year, Robert Benton wins Best Director for Kramer vs. Kramer (talked about here), because, I guess, Francis Ford Coppola and Bob Fosse didn’t produce the two best individual efforts of their careers. Dustin Hoffman won Best Actor for the film as well (talked about here), and this I agree with. He was amazing here, and due. Meryl Streep also won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here). She was also amazing, and totally deserved it. And Best Actress this year was Sally Field for Norma Rae (talked about here), which is also a good decision. So, this year, on the whole, had some great decisions in it. Three, in fact. The problem here is the other three. Especially this one.
This category is the worst Best Supporting Actor decision of all time. If there ever was a year where “veteran Oscar” was what happened, this is it. I’m not even going to hide my opinion here or mask who I’m voting for. Robert Duvall delivered one of the most iconic performances of all time. Even if you haven’t seen Apocalypse Now, I bet you can quote that napalm speech. This is a character so strong, it’s possible you remember him even more than Marlon Brando in this movie. Or Dennis Hopper. That’s how fucking strong he is. Literally, the first half of this movie is his. That’s how good he is. And Melvyn Douglas wins because he’s old and dying. That’s just terrible. (more…)
1958 is a troublesome year for me. I feel like all the Best Picture nominees are strong number twos with no real #1 to vote for. I mean, there is, but nothing here really feels like an adequate Best Picture winner. Gigi won Best Picture, but that feels a bit like a cop out. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, albeit very theatrical, was a better choice. And so was The Defiant Ones, which probably would have been the best choice for the year. (Auntie Mame and Separate Tables were way too theatrical to vote for.)
Best Actor was David Niven for Separate Tables, which, was one of those in-house decisions. He was a very respected actor and probably would have won one of these someday anyway. Though he was very much a supporting character in his film (15 minutes of screen time), and the performance wasn’t really that great. So I think someone else (namely Paul Newman, Tony Curtis or Sidney Poitier) should have won. Wendy Hiller also won Best Supporting Actress for the film, which is a good decision, since she was a veteran and deserved an Oscar (and the category sucked). Best Actress was Susan Hayward for I Want to Live! (talked about here). I understand this decision, because Hayward was gonna win an Oscar eventually, but I don’t like it. Hayward should have won in 1958 and someone more deserving should have won here, like Deborah Kerr or Elizabeth Taylor. Best Supporting Actor was Burl Ives for The Big Country, which is a great decision, since he was also in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and would have won for that performance too.
Which brings us to this category. As much as I don’t like Gigi as a Best Picture winner, I love this decision. Since Vincente Minnelli is one of the great directors of all time. He’d earned this three times over by this point.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1958
An the nominees were…
Richard Brooks, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Stanley Kramer, The Defiant Ones
Vincente Minnelli, Gigi
Mark Robson, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Robert Wise, I Want to Live! (more…)
What a let down 1967 is. Here’s a year where Hollywood made a break from tradition. The films were modern, realistic, gritty, violent, sexual — all the things classical Hollywood wasn’t. And then they chose In the Heat of the Night as Best Picture, which is like — music people will think up more examples of this than I can — when a new style of music is up and coming, like grunge or punk or something, and there are all those underground bands that really drive the movement forward, and are the backbone of it, and then the most corporate, watered down version of that movement becomes huge and has all the hits and is labeled as having started it. That’s what this is like to me. Here’s a category with three different films that perfectly capture what 1967 was about. And In the Heat of the Night wins Best Picture. Why not just fucking pick Doctor Dolittle and be done with it? Seriously. Fortunately, the other three choices did well elsewhere.
Best Actor this year was Rod Steiger for In the Heat of the Night, which I understand. Wouldn’t vote for it, but I understand. He was due. Totally cool with that. Best Supporting Actor was George Kennedy for Cool Hand Luke (talked about here), which I love. Best Supporting Actress was Estelle Parsons for Bonnie and Clyde, which I also love. And Best Director was Mike Nichols for The Graduate (talked about here). So essentially you have Hollywood spreading the wealth, but giving the top prize to the most controlled entity of the bunch. Terrible.
And then there’s this category. Most people would agree that the best choice was not made. However, on the other hand, you can’t really be too upset at the decision, because all of the principals contending for a vote all had (or later won) Oscars. So, while we’d all vote differently, it’s not that bad. And that’s good. One less thing.
BEST ACTRESS – 1967
And the nominees were…
Anne Bancroft, The Graduate
Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde
Edith Evans, The Whisperers
Audrey Hepburn, Wait Until Dark
Katharine Hepburn, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (more…)
1997 is like having a stupid relative. You can’t do anything about it no matter how much you want to. Because there’s no way Titanic wasn’t winning Best Picture this year. Or Best Director for James Cameron (talked about here). It was inevitable. No matter how much we all think L.A. Confidential should have won instead.
Then Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting, talked about here, and Kim Basinger won Best Supporting Actress for L.A. Confidential, talked about here. I didn’t vote for either decision, but I am okay with both of them. Read the articles to find out why.
Then Best Actress was Helen Hunt for As Good as It Gets (talked about here). I mention her last because there’s an interesting piece of trivia in regards to that. Every time Jack Nicholson has won an Oscar — three times. First for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, second for Terms of Endearment in 1983 (Supporting), and then here — his leading lady in the film won Best Actress for the film. Not Supporting — Best Actress. That’s crazy, right? Here’s a dude that not only delivers the goods, but helps you deliver the goods.
BEST ACTOR – 1997
And the nominees were…
Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting
Robert Duvall, The Apostle
Peter Fonda, Ulee’s Gold
Dustin Hoffman, Wag the Dog
Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets (more…)
Pic of the Day: “I beat the shit out of some kids today. But it was for a purpose. It made me feel good about myself. It was like I did something constructive with my life or something, I dunno, like I accomplished something.” “You need many years of therapy. Many, many fuckin’ years of therapy.”
You know why I love 1962? Because you can say either Lawrence of Arabia or To Kill a Mockingbird should have won Best Picture — and you’d be right either way. They’re both perfect films. Lawrence of Arabia wins Best Picture, but that was always gonna happen. It also won Best Director for David Lean (talked about here), which was gonna happen no matter what and was the better decision there.
Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress this year were Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker. If you’ve seen the film, you know how perfect those decisions were.
The lone poor decision made this year was Best Supporting Actor, which went to Ed Begley for Sweet Bird of Youth (talked about here). There’s a category where you have Omar Sharif, Telly Savalas and Terence Stamp, any of whom would have been much better decisions. But for a year with five out of six really strong categories (like, Top Ten or Top Five of all time strong), that’s still really good.
As for this category, you can pretty much take care of it with two words: Atticus Finch.
No one will ever be able to argue against this decision, ever. Not ever.
BEST ACTOR – 1962
And the nominees were…
Burt Lancaster, Birdman of Alcatraz
Jack Lemmon, Days of Wine and Roses
Marcello Mastroianni, Divorce, Italian Style
Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia
Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird (more…)
1945 is a quiet, but solid year. The Lost Weekend is a strong film based on the nominees, but not very flashy in the history of Best Picture. Solid choice though, I feel. Billy Wilder wins Best Director for the film, which was a great decision, since not only did he direct the Best Picture winner, but he was clearly overdue for Double Indemnity, which he should have won for the year before this. Ray Milland also won Best Actor for the film (talked about here), which was a great decision, again based on the category.
Best Actress this year was Joan Crawford for Mildred Pierce. I haven’t totally made up my mind on that category, but the result is acceptable, whether I end up voting for her or not. And Best Supporting Actor this year was James Dunn for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which was a terrific, terrific, and well-deserved decision.
So that only leaves this category, which — oh man, do I love this one. Like, a lot a lot. This has a lot to do with why I consider this a quietly strong year. The Supporting categories are really, really strong.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1945
And the nominees were…
Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce
Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce
Angela Lansbury, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Joan Lorring, The Corn is Green
Anne Revere, National Velvet (more…)