Archive for May, 2012

Pic of the Day: “You don’t remember your name?” “No, but for some reason I remember yours.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1973

Another one. This decade just knocks them out of the park, one year at a time. Seriously, has it ever been as good as it was here?

The Sting is such a great Best Picture choice I can’t even put it into words. It also won Best Director for George Roy Hill (talked about here), which — finally! After this and Butch and Sundance (not to mention Thoroughly Modern Millie), the man deserved it. Best Actor was Jack Lemmon for Save the Tiger (talked about here), which was about thirteen years overdue for him. Even though his category was tremendous, he did deserve to win. Best Actress was Glenda Jackson for A Touch of Class (talked about here), which would have been okay had she not won in 1970, but she did, which makes me not like this decision at all (plus if Ellen Burstyn won here, maybe Gena Rowlands could have won the year after this). Best Supporting Actor was John Houseman for The Paper Chase (talked about here). A veteran Oscar, and one I’d normally be okay with, but Jason Miller was so good in The Exorcist and Vincent Gardenia was so good in Bang the Drum Slowly that I just can’t like that decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Tatum O’Neal for Paper Moon (talked about here), which is seriously one of the best decisions of all time in the category. You know me and precocious child roles — this thing is just incredible. I loved that film and that performance so, so much.

Again, we have another 70s year hit right out of the park. I love how this decade is the complete antithesis to the 80s in almost every way. That’s so wonderful.

BEST PICTURE – 1973

And the nominees are…

American Graffiti (Universal)

Cries and Whispers (New World Pictures)

The Exorcist (Warner Bros.)

The Sting (Universal)

A Touch of Class (Avco Embassy) (more…)


Pic of the Day: ♫ “Make a wish into the well / That’s all you have to do / And if you hear it echoing / Your wish will soon come true.” ♫


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1974

Oh, I love 1974 so much. (This will be, and has been, a recurring theme of the 70s with me.) Look at all five of these choices. And look at what won! Man, what a year.

The Godfather Part II, I think we can all agree, is one of the top five or ten best Best Picture winners of all time. Francis Ford Coppola winning Best Director for it (talked about here) is one of the top five Best Director decisions of all time, especially considering the Academy passed over him for the first Godfather. Robert De Niro also won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here). I think we all know how good he was. Now, outside of those three — Art Carney wins Best Actor for Harry and Tonto (talked about here), which is one of the single worst Best Actor decisions of all time. Seriously Bottom five. Simply because Carney beat Al Pacino (in Godfather), Jack Nicholson (in Chinatown), Dustin Hoffman (in Lenny) and Albert Finney (in Murder on the Orient Express). None of these actors had an Oscar at this point, and this decision is what prevented Al Pacino from getting his Oscar until 1992 (and then prevented Denzel from getting his until 2001. Not to mention also potentially keeping Robert Downey Jr. and Clint Eastwood from an Oscar as well). I think we can agree it was bad. Best Actress was Ellen Burstyn for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (talked about here). It was a good decision. Burstyn was great in the role, but I can’t help but feel that Gena Rowlands deserved it more for A Woman Under the Influence. And Ingrid Bergman won Best Supporting Actress for Murder on the Orient Express (talked about here), which is clearly a veteran win, because she’s only on screen for five minutes and does next-to-nothing in the film.

Overall, 1974 is a huge success, and is in a way, the heart of the 70s. I’m seriously in awe of this decade.

BEST PICTURE – 1974

And the nominees were…

Chinatown (Paramount)

The Conversation (Paramount)

The Godfather Part II (Paramount)

Lenny (United Artists)

The Towering Inferno (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros.) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Release the Kraken.”


The Box Office Report – May 18-20

Last week, in Box Office…

The Avengers wins again. $103.1 million. Yawn.

Dark Shadows opens to $29.7 million. Somehow this cost $150 million. Considering the quality, they’re lucky they made that much.

Think Like a Man made $5.8 million. Third. Good for them. They’re the only one I feel good for.

This week… BattleshipThe Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. This might be the worst movie year I’ve seen since 2006.

Battleship will probably make $40 million, or so they say. The Dictator is looking at $18 million. And What to Expect … I don’t fucking care. Call it $15 million.

Holdovers….Avengers is probably looking at another $60 million. Dark Shadows will probably take in another $13-14 million. And that’s it. Nothing else will hit $5 million.

Have I mentioned how much I fucking hate the summer? This is the worst time of the movie year.


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1975

What is it with the 70s? Great films on top of great films. We’ve rarely had it this good, before or since. The 1972-1976 years are perhaps the strongest consecutive years ever, Oscar-wise. It’s just ridiculous. And what’s great about them is, you can quibble about what won, but you cannot deny the fact that the film that won was better than at least half the other Best Picture winners.

This year, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest wins the big five — Best Picture, Best Director for Milos Forman (talked about here), Best Actor for Jack Nicholson (talked about here), Best Actress for Louise Fletcher (talked about here), and Best Screenplay. If you’ve seen the film, you know how good it is and how good of a decision those were. (Though, personally, I’d have gone another way on Director no matter what won here, just because of personal preference.) Best Supporting Actor was George Burns for The Sunshine Boys (talked about here), which is awesome, and Best Supporting Actress was Lee Grant for Shampoo (talked about here), which works, given the weakness of the category and her stature as an actress.

So, overall — 1975 is an amazing year, and really all we can quibble about is what we liked instead, even though we all know what did win is more than perfectly acceptable. I love years like this.

BEST PICTURE – 1975

And the nominees were…

Barry Lyndon (Warner Bros.)

Dog Day Afternoon (Warner Bros.)

Jaws (Universal)

Nashville (Paramount)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (United Artists) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “What is it?” “It’s the Congreve Cube.” “It looks like a big block of wood.” “It is a big block of wood. But now, it’s YOUR big block of wood.” “Thank you. I was just saying last night I don’t have enough big blocks of wood.” “Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.”

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - 28


Films I Haven’t Seen: The Dirty Secrets

You know that secret list everyone has of films they haven’t seen? Not the list they tell everyone about. I’m talking the one that you don’t ever mention, because no one would ever guess that you hadn’t seen those movies, and it would be really embarrassing if they did. I’m talking the really big stuff. Of course, what constitutes “big” depends on how deep you are into movies. At my level, there isn’t much. Believe me. I tried.

The impetus for this article came when, yesterday, for the first time, I watched Rashomon. For some reason, I made it almost 24 years without seeing it. For someone like me, having seen all the movies I’ve seen, no one would even think to guess that I haven’t seen Rashomon. And that was my big secret. Of course, Rashomon is one of those films where, even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve seen it. Everyone knows the plot of the film because it’s been repeated so often. But I’d never actually sat down to watch the film. And that’s what counts. Kind of like how, last year, until I saw it for the Quest, I’d never actually watched Rear Window. Weird, right?

And we all have that list. That “dirty little secret” list. The films that you’re so embarrassed you haven’t seen, if you even see the title of the film in print, you get paranoid. “Is my face turning red? They’re gonna know. They know I haven’t seen it.” And god help you if it comes up in conversation. You have to stay deathly silent. But not silent enough so as to make it obvious. Because you can live with your friends knowing you haven’t seen Schindler’s List. But telling them you haven’t seen The Dark Knight — out of the question. They’d look at you sideways. “How the hell did you manage to make it this far without having seen that?”

So, in the interest of getting things out in the open, I’m going to give you my list of films that you’d think I’d have seen by now, but in reality, I haven’t. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1976

Oh, I hate having to talk about this year. This is one of the most contentious Best Picture choices of all time. It really is. Everyone has an opinion.

Generally considered one of the strongest Best Picture categories ever — Rocky takes the win. Fortunately, the film has become iconic, so the win doesn’t look as bad as something like Chariots of Fire does. It also wins Best Director for John G. Avildsen (talked about here). That actually helped the decision seem stronger, since it helps when they show it more support than just the Picture win. Best Actor was Peter Finch for Network (talked about here), and while he was more of a strong supporting role in the film, he was actually a good decision, since William Holden had an Oscar already and De Niro would win his later. Faye Dunaway also won Best Actress for the film (talked about here), which actually was a great decision, since she was so overdue by this point. And Beatrice Straight won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here), after giving a 5 1/2 minute performance. I don’t really think she should have won, but hey — Jodie certainly came out okay from it. And Jason Robards won Best Supporting Actor for All the President’s Men (talked about here), which was an amazing decision. He’s so good in that.

Now, let me say — there’s a lot of contention here. And everyone is entitled to their opinion. I see why Rocky is considered a “lesser” film to at least three of the other nominees. But, honestly — I love the film so much, and knowing that it won — it actually makes it a lot easier for me to vote for it, guilt-free. I probably could have said that for any one of four films if they had won this category. In a year like this, I personally just marvel at the films rather than quibble about what should have won.

BEST PICTURE – 1976

And the nominees are…

All the President’s Men (Warner Bros.)

Bound for Glory (United Artists)

Network (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists)

Rocky (United Artists)

Taxi Driver (Columbia) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Would you mind opening the window?” “Now don’t go getting any ideas, Miss Kubelik.” “I just want some fresh air.” “It’s only one story down. The best you can do is break a leg.” “So they’ll shoot me – like a horse.” “Please, Miss Kubelik, you got to promise me you won’t do anything foolish.” “Who’d care?” “I would.” “Why can’t I ever fall in love with someone nice like you?”


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1977

1977 is a tough year to recap, especially in the Best Picture category. There are certain things to take into account. Even though some people would go, “Wow, how did Star Wars not win?!”, you have to realize — Annie Hall was actually a huge upset winner. The film with the most nominations that most people were expecting to win was The Turning Point, which is literally the worst film on this list and the one that has not held up at all. So, in a way, the Academy made perhaps the second best decision, considering. Which makes me go a lot easier on this category than I might have otherwise.

Aside from Best Picture, Annie Hall wins Best Director for Woody Allen (talked about here) and Best Actress for Diane Keaton (talked about here). The Allen win is par for the course (you have to realize, back then, Star Wars winning any of these categories would have been like Transformers winning now. The voting Academy thought it was just a mainstream adventure film. It really had no shot at the big awards), while the Keaton win is actually really terrific, since she also gave an amazing performance in an almost completely forgotten movie called Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Watch that performance alongside Annie Hall and you’ll see why she deserved the award this year. Best Actor was Richard Dreyfuss for The Goodbye Girl (talked about here), which was really the only decision that could have been made in the category. Best Supporting Actor was Jason Robards for Julia (talked about here), which was a good decision in a very weak category. Vanessa Redgrave also won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here), which, while I don’t love the performance, has held up as a good decision (she’s had the best career of all the nominees).

So, now, while I will be voting for Star Wars, since, while I’m not a huge fan of the franchise (really, I only like this and Empire — the rest are just entertainment for me), you can’t deny the lasting impact it’s had on cinema. Annie Hall is a great film, but I just feel like Star Wars has held up better. (Though, really, against The Turning Point, both were amazing decisions. So let’s applaud the Academy for that averted near-disaster.)

BEST PICTURE

And the nominees were…

Annie Hall (United Artists)

The Goodbye Girl (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros.)

Julia (20th Century Fox)

Star Wars (20th Century Fox)

The Turning Point (20th Century Fox) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Am I still in this world?” “Yes, Grandfather.” “I was afraid of that. Well, sometimes the magic works, sometimes, it doesn’t.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1978

I love 1978. So much. Apparently some people don’t like The Deer Hunter as a Best Picture choice. I do. Very much. So to me, this is a terrific year. It continues a nice streak of great 70s choices.

Michael Cimino won Best Director for the film (talked about here), which makes sense and was well-deserved, and Christopher Walken won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here). I think we all love that Christopher Walken has an Oscar. Best Actor was Jon Voight for Coming Home (talked about here), which, while I wouldn’t have voted for it, is actually a great choice, since it got him an Oscar and De Niro got his second one two years after this anyway. Jane Fonda also won Best Actress for the film (talked about here), which I actually think was a horrible decision, simply because she had one already and Jill Clayburgh was so much better in An Unmarried Woman. And Best Supporting Actress this year was Maggie Smith for California Suite (talked about here), which was a good decision, because she was terrific, and Meryl won the year after this (and because hasn’t Meryl won enough?).

So, really, outside of one decision I don’t agree with, 1978 was pretty perfect. We can only hope for such great years most of the time.

BEST PICTURE – 1978

And the nominees were…

Coming Home (United Artists)

The Deer Hunter (Universal)

Heaven Can Wait (Paramount)

Midnight Express (Columbia)

An Unmarried Woman (20th Century Fox) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Listen. I can’t make you a great dancer. I don’t even know if I can make you a good dancer. But, if you keep trying and don’t quit, I know I can make you a better dancer. I’d like very much to do that. Stay?” “Are you going to keep yelling at me?” “Probably.”

All That Jazz - 171.png


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1979

What a way to end the 70s. Though I guess this did foreshadow what the 80s would be. I feel like many people would agree — even those who think it is a terrific film, like myself — that Kramer vs. Kramer is just not as strong a Best Picture choice as Apocalypse Now or All That Jazz would have been. And to be honest with you — I could have actually lived with the choice, had the Academy not also given the film’s director Robert Benton Best Director for it as well (talked about here). Had there been a split, I could have been okay with it. But since there wasn’t, I just can’t be.

The film also won Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman (talked about here), who, even though he was up against Roy Scheider, Peter Sellers, Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino, not only deserved it, but was terribly overdue by this point. So it was a fantastic decision, and Best Supporting Actress for Meryl Streep (talked about here), who, as she tends to often do, blew her competition out of the water. Best Actress this year was Sally Field for Norma Rae (talked about here), which is a fantastic decision (in a tough category, too. Bette Midler gave her a real run for her money). And Best Supporting Actor was Melvyn Douglas for Being There (talked about here), which is the single worst Best Supporting Actor decision of all time. Not that Douglas was bad, it’s just — how does he beat Robert Duvall for Apocalypse Now? Seriously?

So, overall, 1979 is a great year. With a terrible Best Picture choice. Again, could have been lessened by a different Best Director choice, but alas — we must deal yet again with the Academy being the Academy. (Shame, too, since it’s a really terrific film. It sucks when good films beat better films and have to live with it.)

BEST PICTURE – 1979

And the nominees are…

All That Jazz (20th Century Fox)

Apocalypse Now (United Artists)

Breaking Away (20th Century Fox)

Kramer vs. Kramer (Columbia)

Norma Rae (20th Century Fox) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “They call me Cha Cha because I’m the best dancer at St. Bernadette’s.” “With the worst reputation.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1980

This one hurts. One of the quintessential terrible Academy decisions. Maybe it could have been made slightly better by it not also winning Best Director, but even so — Ordinary People is just a terrible, terrible Best Picture choice by sheer virtue of the fact that it beat Raging Bull. Just — ouch.

The film also won Best Director for Robert Redford (talked about here) and Best Supporting Actor for Timothy Hutton (talked about here). The Redford win (despite getting him an Oscar) is terrible. Scorsese should win this cold. And Hutton — great performance, but he’s the lead. So it’s kind of category fraud. Best Actor this year was Robert De Niro for Raging Bull (talked about here). Thank god they didn’t ignore that performance too. Best Actress was Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner’s Daughter (talked about here). It was a close call between her and Mary Tyler Moore for Ordinary People, but overall, I feel the better decision was made. And Best Supporting Actress was Mary Steenburgen for Melvin and Howard (talked about here), which — meh. Take it or leave it.

Again, another perfectly good year ruined by a terrible Best Picture and Best Director choice. I know the Academy is always gonna be the Academy, but wow, has this one looked worse over time.

BEST PICTURE – 1980

And the nominees were…

Coal Miner’s Daughter (Universal)

The Elephant Man (Paramount)

Ordinary People (Paramount)

Raging Bull (United Artists)

Tess (Columbia) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Do you think I’m cute, Private Pyle? Do you think I’m funny?” “Sir, no, sir!” “Then wipe that disgusting grin off your face.” “Sir, yes, sir.” “Well, any fucking time, sweetheart!” “Sir, I’m trying, sir.” “Private Pyle I’m gonna give you three seconds; exactly three-fucking-seconds to wipe that stupid looking grin off your face or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-fuck you!”


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1981

I think we can all agree Chariots of Fire is probably the single worst Best Picture-winning film of all time. (I think it’s between that, The Broadway Melody and Cavalcade. Though those two have an excuse, being within the first six years of the Oscars. This one has no excuse.) There are many reasons why it won, but even so — it was a terrible choice. The film only won one major Oscar, showing that it won only because the Academy didn’t want to vote for the alternatives.

Best Actor this year went to Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond (talked about here), an Oscar that was 41 years overdue. Even though Dudley Moore was in Arthur this year, Fonda was a great choice. And Katherine Hepburn winning Best Actress for the film (talked about here) is a nice sentimental choice. It wouldn’t have been my choice (that would have been Marsha Mason in Only When I Laugh), but it works, and it doesn’t interrupt anything. So it’s a nice pair with Fonda. Best Supporting Actor this year was John Gielgud for Arthur (talked about here), which is just terrific. He’s awesome, and he’s awesome in the film. A perfect decision. Best Supporting Actress was Maureen Stapleton for Reds (talked about here). Another veteran Oscar (even though pretty much everyone else in the category was better than her, specifically Jane Fonda and Elizabeth McGovern). Warren Beatty also won Best Director for the film (talked about here), which was a good choice. He did do a good job, and it did get him an Oscar (plus Spielberg would later win two anyway).

So, really — 1981 is a terrific year… outside the Best Picture choice. Again, another example of how a bad Best Picture choice can screw up an entire year.

BEST PICTURE – 1981

And the nominees were…

Atlantic City (Paramount)

Chariots of Fire (The Ladd Company, Warner Bros.)

On Golden Pond (IFC Films)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Paramount)

Reds (Paramount) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “If I drive for you, you get your money. You tell me where we start, where we’re going, where we’re going afterwards. I give you five minutes when we get there. Anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours. No matter what. Anything a minute on either side of that and you’re on your own. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down. I don’t carry a gun. I drive.”


The Box Office Report – May 11-13

Last week, in Box Office…

You’ve made your bed, America. Enjoy it.

The Avengers made $207.4 million. Think Like a Man made $8.1 million. The Hunger Games made $5.6 million. Pirates! Band of Misfitmade $5.5 million. The Five-Year Engagement made $5 million. Everything else made less than $3 million.

Silence is golden.

This week, Dark Shadows is opening.

The Avengers will take first. It’ll make around $100 million. Dark Shadows will be second. That’ll probably be in the $30-35 million range. Everything else will be lucky to make $6 million.

It’s the fucking summer.


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1982

1982 is one of those “Academy being the Academy” years. In a way, it makes our job here easier. In another way — it is kind of on-the-nose. Especially in the wake of such good stuff.

Gandhi is an obvious choice Best Picture winner. Not a bad film, but — obvious. Richard Attenborough won Best Director for it (talked about here), which makes sense. He’s awesome. (Even though I’d definitely have given it to Wolfgang Petersen for Das Boot.) It makes me feel slightly better about Sidney Lumet never having won. Ben Kingsley also won Best Actor for the film (talked about here), which — he played Gandhi. It’s hard to argue against it, even though Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole and Dustin Hoffman were so good this year (specifically the first two). Best Actress this year was Meryl Streep for Sophie’s Choice (talked about here), which — yeah. You know. Best Supporting Actor was Lou Gossett Jr. for An Officer and a Gentleman (talked about here), which is a decent decision. Not ideal, but good (and also positive from a race standpoint). And Best Supporting Actress was Jessica Lange for Tootsie (talked about here), which — not ideal. She was nominated twice, so it makes sense that she won, but — Glenn Close really should have won here.

Overall, 1982 is decent bordering on good. It’s just — the Best Picture choice is really obvious. But it was definitely gonna win, which makes us (kind of like 1987) able to pick whatever we want to win without repercussion. So that’s nice.

BEST PICTURE – 1982

And the nominees were…

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Universal)

Gandhi (Columbia)

Missing (Universal)

Tootsie (Columbia)

The Verdict (20th Century Fox) (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Mongo only pawn… in game of life.”