Archive for January, 2012

The Oscar Quest: Best Directors Who Didn’t Win Best Director

Earlier today, I posted a “Best Pictures That Didn’t Win Best Picture” list, as a way for people to see some stuff that might not get as much press as the stuff that won. Of course, much of the list is populated with great films that everyone knows about. But the real point there is to show you the films that you might not recognize at first glance. The idea is: If I’m putting those films in the same category as the ones you do know, then maybe you should check them out.

Now I’m moving onto Best Director. Many of the efforts here are here because they’re great films. However, in many cases, they’re also here because the directorial effort is really strong. In fact, as I scroll down the list, I notice that all of the efforts I put on are really good in some way. These are efforts that, if you watched the films solely for their direction, you’d get quite a lot out of them, because they’re really well made. That’s how you should view this list — films to see if you want to learn what good directing is (that didn’t win an Oscar for directing).

As I said earlier when I posted the Best Pictures list, this is simply a list of all the great nominees for Oscars that never won. There’s no conjecture about whether or not it should have won — it’s simply, they were nominated, they didn’t win, they were great. Here they are: (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Pictures That Didn’t Win Best Picture

I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. This is about as close to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians as I’m gonna get.

People talk all the time about what won Best Picture, but no one really spends any time talking about what didn’t win. There are a lot of great pictures that didn’t win Best Picture. Remember when Steven Spielberg presented Best Picture this past year? He said the film that won Best Picture would “join a list that includes On the Waterfront, Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather and The Deer Hunter,” and that the rest would “join a list that includes The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, The Graduate, and Raging Bull.”

Here is that second list. A list of all the films that didn’t win Best Picture (but were nominated) that are legitimately great films. This list DOES NOT take into account whether or not they should have won, or any of that conjecture. It’s simply what I consider the best films that were nominated for Best Picture but didn’t win. I want to give some press to the bridesmaids. Some of these films are practically forgotten today.

Some of them are classic films that we all know are great, some of them are great films that nobody knows about. Some of them are just amazingly good films to watch. Put it this way — if a film is on this list, you should check it out. I tried to restrict it to only the very best or the most entertaining. You’ll see what I mean. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything you find here. (Though some are personal choices.)

I’ve decided to limit the list to what I consider the top 100 films. (I’m also keeping the pas decade (2002-2011) off the list. I like letting a decade pass before making any decisions on the films). Another 50 films will also be at the bottom. (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child.”

The Godfather - 9


Ranking the Best Pictures

Here we are — the big magilla. Ranking all the Best Picture winners.

Again, let me remind you:

  • The rankings are irrelevant. They’re just personal preference. The goal here is to help you discover more movies.
  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, focus on the fact that it’s about getting people to see more movies. (And if you want to criticize, I require that you’ve seen at least 50 of the performances, otherwise you’ll be completely ignored.)

This list, unlike the rest of them, will be based solely on personal preference. It’s really the only way to do it. It’s simply a list of the order in which I enjoyed each Best Picture winner. And, like all of the lists, it’s irrelevant to category. It doesn’t matter if it should have won or shouldn’t have — it’s simply, “Here are all the winners, here’s the order in which I enjoyed them.”

Also, I’m not gonna break them down into tiers like I did for the other ones. It’s just a good, old-fashioned list.

The one question I have here is whether or not to include Sunrise. Since the Academy really doesn’t include it on its list of Best Pictures, I won’t. Just know that if I did, I’d put it right between 12 and 13. Or maybe 11 and 12. (more…)


Ranking the Best Directors

Today we reach the big two. Over the past two days, I’ve ranked all the Best Supporting Actress winners, the Best Supporting Actor winners, the Best Actress winners, and the Best Actor winners. Now — Best Director, and later, Best Picture.

Again, let me remind you, as always:

  • The rankings are irrelevant. They’re just personal preference. The goal here is to help you discover more movies.
  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, focus on the fact that it’s about getting people to see more movies. (And if you want to criticize, I require that you’ve seen at least 50 of the efforts, otherwise you’ll be completely ignored.)

There are 84 here because the first Best Director category was split into Comedy/Dramatic categories. (more…)


Pic of the Day: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word … Plastics.”

The Graduate - 5


Oscars 2011 Update: SAG Awards

The Screen Actors Guild Awards were just handed out, and — gotta tell you, only one real surprise in the bunch. I’m not really gonna spend too much time on it. Just a quick rundown of the awards in the order they gave them out.

First was Best Supporting Actor (since when has every award show adopted the “Best Supporting Actor first” rule?), and Christopher Plummer winning again for Beginners. The train doesn’t end, folks. He’s on it all the way to Oscar station. (Or, The Last Station, if you will. Congratulations to the 30 people who got that joke.) The Academy skews older, which is how Alan Alda beats Eddie Murphy, and Morgan Freeman beats Clive Owen. But when SAG goes veteran — it’s over. Plummer is your Oscar winner, folks. As we suspected from New Year’s.

Second award was Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series, which went to Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock, which is not surprising at all. Alec wins this every year.

Next was Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series, which went to Modern Family. Totally expected development. Pretty ho-hum night to start. (more…)


Ranking the Best Actors

So far, we’ve covered Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Actress. Now we’re up to Best Actor.

As always, here are clarifications to ward off the douchebags:

  • The rankings are irrelevant. They’re just personal preference. The goal here is to help you discover more movies.
  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, focus on the fact that it’s about getting people to see more movies. (And if you want to criticize, I require that you’ve seen at least 50 of the performances, otherwise you’ll be completely ignored.)

Best Actor seems to be pretty forward, like Best Actress. There are a few performances where the iconic (or the actor) outweigh the actual performance, but overall, it wasn’t so bad. (more…)


Ranking the Best Actresses

I did Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress yesterday — it’s time for Best Actor and Best Actress today. (Best Actor will go up in a little while.)

As always, when I post these lists, I like to remind people of what’s really important:

  • The rankings are irrelevant. They’re just personal preference. The goal here is to help you discover more movies.
  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, focus on the fact that it’s about getting people to see more movies. (And if you want to criticize, I require that you’ve seen at least 50 of the performances, otherwise you’ll be completely ignored. And, also, if you want to criticize, remember that you will die one day, and that you are taking precious time from the amount that was given to you in order to complain about a random list in a small corner of the internet that nobody cares about. Priorities.)

Now, the big problem with Best Actress is that it’s the category with the highest rate of ‘Actor over performance.’ More times than in any other category are Best Actress awards given to actresses whose “time” it is. Look at the last decade. More than half of those are Oscars given to the actor and not the performance.

That aside, it’s actually not too difficult a category to rank. There are clear great decisions and clear terrible decisions. There are performances that are objectively great, and there are some that are sentimental favorites. Still, it seems pretty straightforward. (more…)


Pic of the Day: “How do I look?” “You look terrific.”


Oscars 2011 Update: DGA Awards

…and that’s the sound of the Oscar race being over a month in advance.

The Artist, specifically Michel Hazanavicius, won the DGA Award for Best Director for a Feature Film just now, which all but assures that it’ll win Best Picture and Best Director come February 26th and the Oscars.

I’m not that upset, honestly, since I love the film. But, a PGA win puts the film at a big favorite to win the Oscars (at least 75%), and a DGA win puts it at a 90+% chance that Hazanavicius will also win Best Director for the film as well. Of 64 DGA awards, the winner has differed from the Oscar winner 6 times (it’ll be 7/64 if someone else wins this time). So it’s hovering at a 10% chance someone like Scorsese will win Best Director. Not only that, but 3 of the 6 times DGA and Oscar have differed, the person who won the DGA wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar. So, really, it’s like a 5% chance that Scorsese (because let’s be real, who else will beat him?) wins. Though, for renegades: the other three times the winners differed: Carol Reed won over Anthony Harvey, Bob Fosse won over Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Soderbergh won over Ang Lee. So, basically, more established names won over relative newcomers. (Coppola wasn’t known before The Godfather, and Ang Lee… well, actually, that one’s probably more about him being a foreigner than anything.) So it’s possible Scorsese stil wins. But still, 5% all time. Take your chances. And the worst thing that could happen now is if Hugo wins Best Picture, but Hazanavicius wins Best Director. Because if anything, it should be opposite. Even Hazanavicius says so.

Anyway, to wrap this up, the only other DGA award that matters (the rest were TV) is that Project Nim won the Best Director for a Documentary award, which means the Academy is once again out of touch with their nominations, since Project Nim wasn’t even nominated for Best Documentary. Good job once again, Academy. But at least the Documentary branch isn’t the Music branch. Right? (So yeah, The Artist is like a 90% odds-on winner next month. Isn’t it great that it’s all figured out so early? And the Academy thought bumping everything up would add more surprise to the race. Surprise, motherfuckers!)


Ranking the Best Supporting Actors

I ranked the Best Supporting Actresses earlier in the day, so the same things apply.

  • The rankings are irrelevant. They’re just personal preference. The goal here is to help you discover more movies.
  • The Supporting categories are tough because they’re mainly about rewarding veterans or up-and-coming actors and actresses. (This one more so is about memorable characters and veterans.) A lot of people win for their body of work than their performances, so it makes it tougher to rank.
  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, focus on the fact that it’s about getting people to see more movies. (And if you want to criticize, I require that you’ve seen at least 50 of the performances, otherwise you’ll be completely ignored.)

This category, just to clarify, before I start ranking, is mostly about memorable characters. So I based my rankings primarily on that — on those characters that you just seem to remember after the films are over. You’ll notice that the top ten are very memorably characters. And that, to me, is the epitome of what a Best Supporting Actor winner is.

Also, keep in mind, there are only 75 of these. The category only started in 1936.

Here’s how I rank the Best Supporting Actors: (more…)


Ranking the Best Supporting Actresses

As you can see by the amount of times I’ve done it so far on the blog, I like ranking things. Ranking things is fun.

Lists, of course, create controversy, because there’s always some schmuck that thinks something shouldn’t be ranked higher than something else. So before I create any list, I specify – this is not a be-all-end-all order. I’m just listing my favorites. The real purpose of this is – because I talk about so many films and put my opinions on so many films out there, people who read the blog really get a sense of my film tastes and how they correspond to their own. Therefore, when I provide these lists, people will be able to, based on prior knowledge of how my film tastes relate to theirs, crosscheck the films they have seen with the films they haven’t, and possibly discover some great films they haven’t seen yet.

The main goal here is for people to be like, “I like that movie, and he ranked this other one above it. So since I generally like a lot of the stuff he recommends, I’ll check it out.” Or the opposite; “He always like those damn movies. Well, at least I’ll know to skip it, since he always puts them that high.” This is why I like lists. Not to make definitive statements, but to show you more movies.

So I thought it would be fun to rank all the Oscar categories (that is, Quest categories. Big six). I decided to unveil them backwards, in order to build up to the one most people would obviously give a shit about — Best Picture. So today we start with the Supporting categories. First Best Supporting Actress, and then Best Supporting Actor in a little bit. (more…)


Pic of the Day: “’We never had any trouble.’ How many times have I told you I hated you and believed it in my heart? How many times have you said you were sick and tired of me; that we were all washed up? How many times have we had to fall in love all over again?”

The Best Years of Our Lives - 12


The Oscar Quest: Criminally Underseen Films

I had some trouble coming up with this one. Because someone like me is the worst one to judge what is or isn’t underseen. I drop titles all the time and other people are like, “What the fuck is that?” And I’m like, “What are you talking about? You haven’t heard of Necessary Roughness?” (Note: I fucking love that movie.) My standpoint is skewed. This is my life. For someone who barely watches movies, they might not know some of this stuff. So I wasn’t sure what really counts as underseen.

However, I can be reasonably sure that the ones I chose are very much underseen. For the majority of people, I can pick any film on the list I’m about to present to you, and know, almost for certain, that you haven’t seen it. And it’s either because it’s hard to find, is forgotten, or is just plain undervalued by history. And that’s not to say you haven’t seen any or all of the films on the list I’m about to provide, it’s just that these films need to be seen more.

So the way this is gonna work is — the first list will be of 50 films that I am almost certain nobody (meaning, the vast majority of people) has seen. And the second list will be of 25 films that I can’t quite gauge how underseen they are, but even so, I consider them underseen and think they need to be seen more regardless of how well-known they are. (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Anybody could make a case, a hell of a good case, against your getting married. The arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them. But you’re two wonderful people who happened to fall in love and happened to have a pigmentation problem, and I think that now, no matter what kind of a case some bastard could make against your getting married, there would be only one thing worse, and that would be if — knowing what you two are and knowing what you two have and knowing what you two feel — you didn’t get married.”


The Box Office Report – January 27-29

Last week, in Box Office…

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Underworld: Awakening wins the weekend, making $25.3 million. Technically the second biggest opening in the series (they were all either $20-21 million or $25-26 million), I’d wager this one sold the least amount of tickets. Still, this is in line with the rest of them — $20+ million opening, and it’ll finish between $50-60 million domestically. Nothing new here. Get in, get out. Good for them.

Red Tails completely overperforms (which is great. I’m very happy for them) to the tune of $18.8 million. I am very happy about this, I wish them continued success, and I cannot wait to see it. (Also, just so you know how well that number is, it opened in 500 less theaters than Underworld did.)

Contraband finished third in its second weekend, dropping a standard 50% and making $12 million. This was completely anticipated and is right in line with expectations. The film has made $46 million after two weeks, and off a budget of only $25 million, I bet this is a nice success for them. Could have been a worse movie. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Worst Films I Had to Endure

It comes with the territory. You watch a lot of films, you’re gonna love some, you’re gonna hate some. Yesterday was the films I liked. Here are the films I hated. Films from the Oscar Quest I disliked the most.

This might be the best way to gauge my film tastes, going by the films I liked best from the Quest and these films. Keep in mind — I am NOT telling you to avoid these films, and I am NOT saying they’re (all) bad films, I’m simply saying: of all the 850 or so films I saw that I hadn’t seen before, here are the ones I liked the least. (Also, we’re putting a moratorium on films of the past decade. I may have hated some of them, but I won’t allow myself to truly hate a film until a decade has past. Once that happens, it’s ‘swing away, Merrill.’)

So here are the 50 worst films I had to endure from this Oscar Quest (we’re gonna go in reverse chronological order): (more…)


Pic of the Day: “When do we get our money, Daniel?”

There Will Be Blood - 30


The Oscar Quest: Favorite Films I Discovered

As has been established, I saw over 850 films for the first time during the Oscar Quest.

Of course, not all of them were films I liked. Some of them I downright loathed. We’ll get to those soon. For now, let’s stick with the positives that came from the Quest. That is, all of the films I saw because of the Quest that I fell in love with, many of which I didn’t even know existed. That’s what this is about: celebrating the hidden gems (as well as some others I just hadn’t seen before that were a revelation to me).

I’ll talk a bit about each of the films — I decided to list my top 50. Originally it was going to be just 10, but, with so many, 50 felt right. So, that being said, here are 100 films. (You know I can’t do anything within reason.) — and I’ll also specify just what I mean by “discovering it.” Don’t get hung up so much on the rankings (I gave up after the first seven or so). Nothing here is meant to be in any particular order. Just think of it as your chance to maybe find some great films you knew nothing about.

Here are 100 films from The Oscar Quest that were revelatory to me in some way: (more…)


Pic of the Day: “That’s the way it crumbles… cookie-wise.”


Blog Update

I felt it was time for a blog update.

Over the next month, from tomorrow until Oscar night (and the day after), all of the articles that go up will be Oscar-related. Most will be Oscar Quest related. I’ve been wanting to do an analysis of the Oscar Quest from the start. As much information as possible for people to see the really good films, was my goal.

So starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting articles that range from my favorite Oscar Quest films (that is, those films I saw because of the Quest, that I had not seen previously), to the films I disliked the most from the Quest (relative to the list), to films I feel more people need to see. Then I’ll start with rankings; ranking all the winners in the categories (relative only to each other). Then I’ll start in with the categories: listing what I feel are the strongest categories in Academy history, and the weakest in Academy history. And I’ll talk about which decisions I think are the best and worst in the history of the categories. I’ll also list what I feel are the overall strongest and weakest years in Academy history. And I’ll throw up some facts and figures (all that random trivia I have so much of), and even list what decisions I’d change, if given the chance. (more…)


Oscars 2011 Update (Updated): Important Dates

Now that all the nominations are out of the way, I figured I’d update the list of important Oscar dates. It’s an rerun of the other list, just starting from today. This will be easier for me to go back and find. So here are the dates when all the major guilds announce their awards, the Oscar timeline as it stands right now (and a little bonus thrown in, because what would an awards race be without it?):

  • 1/28 — Directors Guild Awards
  • 1/29 — SAG Awards
  • 2/1 — Academy Award final ballots mailed
  • 2/4 — Annie Awards (Animated Films) / Art Directors Guild Awards
  • 2/7 — Visual Effects Society Awards
  • 2/12 — BAFTA Awards / American Society of Cinematographers Awards
  • 2/18 — American Cinema Editors Awards / Cinema Audio Society Awards
  • 2/19 — Writers Guild Awards / Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards
  • 2/21 — Costume Designers Guild Awards / Academy Awards final ballots due
  • 2/25 — Independent Spirit Awards / Razzie Nominations Announced
  • 2/26 — Academy Awards
  • 4/1 — Razzie Awards

Analysis of the 2011 Oscar Nominees

I felt weird having the only article I had planned for today go up before 8 am. So I decided to balance it out by posting another, more in-depth (though I don’t know how much more it’s going to be, since I’m doing this completely on the fly) analysis of all the Oscar nominations.

No need for more of an intro. Let’s just get right into it. Here are the number of nominations for each film:

Hugo — 11 nominations

The Artist — 10 nominations

Moneyball — 6 nominations

War Horse — 6 nominations

The Descendants — 5 nominations

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — 5 nominations (more…)