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Archive for May 29, 2012

The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1963

1963 is one of the toughest Academy years to deal with. It’s arguably worse than 1968, since, at least there, the film that one is a okay choice depending on the category. Here — you don’t know what to vote for. And it’s not that the year itself is horribly weak (though the nominees all-around were on the weak side). It’s just that the more daring films like 8 1/2 and The Cardinal weren’t nominated. So it leaves us with a category where we wonder — what do we do? (Which is probably how we got our eventual winner.)

Tom Jones, aside from Best Picture, won Best Director for Tony Richardson (talked about here). It’s not a good decision (How does Fellini not win?), but it’s understandable. Best Actor this year was Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field (talked about here), which is a great decision historically, but they really did pick one of the worst performances to award him for (he’s seriously playing a magical negro). Best Actress was Patricia Neal for Hud (talked about here), which I don’t love as a decision, but I guess is okay. Melvyn Douglas won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here), which I am okay with. (It’s his second win, in 1979, that I hate.) And Best Supporting Actress was Margaret Ruherford for The V.I.P.s (talked about here), which — there really was no other choice in the category, logistically. So, meh. Whatever.

Overall, what 1963 got right was giving Sidney Poitier an Oscar. Otherwise, the other decisions are either forgettable or just okay. The real weakness for this year is the fact that the Best Picture category consisted of a comedy, a religious film that’s not really about anything, an epic western that’s more entertainment than “Best Picture,” a film about a Greek immigrant, which is terrific but seems to be little-seen (the kind of movie that would be nominated that people wouldn’t know about), and an epic failure (that’s great, but still thought of as a disaster). What do you vote for with that?

BEST PICTURE

And the nominees were…

America, America (Warner Bros.)

Cleopatra (20th Century Fox)

How the West Was Won (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Lilies of the Field (United Artists)

Tom Jones (United Artists) (more…)

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Pic of the Day: “People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood. But it did happen. I was just 14 years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down and robbed him of his life and his horse and two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band. Chaney was a hired man and Papa had taken him up to Fort Smith to help lead back a string of Mustang ponies he’d bought. In town, Chaney had fallen to drink and cards and lost all his money. He got it into his head he was being cheated and went back to the boarding house for his Henry rifle. When Papa tried to intervene, Chaney shot him. Chaney fled. He could have walked his horse, for not a soul in that city could be bothered to give chase. No doubt Chaney fancied himself scot-free. But he was wrong. You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God.”