All right, it’s that time again…
I’ve decided to do something themed with the Pic of the Day.
It’s generally a half-year thing with me. I like to random it up for a while, and then I go, “Man, I should do theme months,” and then I do that for a while and then go back. Ebb and flow, baby.
(Somebody have a douchebag in a movie name his biceps that.)
So, back in February, when the Oscar Pics of the Day ended, I had a great idea that I wanted to do, which coincided with a series of articles I wanted to write as well. So I figured I’d set it for July since I knew this was when I’d be done with the Oscar Quest (which — very exciting. The final articles go up on Wednesday. Then Thursday, nothing will be posted on this blog aside from the Pic of the Day (nothing content-wise, anyway), which will be a first in the history of this blog. Then Friday it’s back to (mostly) business as usual).
The idea I had, back from the start of this blog (this goes back to January of 2011, that magical time when we thought we’d only be plagued with one Grown Ups movie) was to write an article that was called “Ranking Disney, 1-50.” I was going to rank all 50 of Disney’s films. That’s how long ago it was. Winnie the Pooh hadn’t even yet come out, and we all still assumed John Travolta was gay. The idea was to watch all 50 of the Disney films (since I haven’t — or, hadn’t — seen more than like, 20-25 of them), write up articles on all of them and then rank them in the order that I liked them. (more…)
We’re getting closer to streamlined. Now you’re seeing the Oscars start to discover their own identity. The winners are starting to make sense, and the precedents are about to be set, and pretty soon it’s gonna be the way we know it to be. But we’re not quite there yet. Though this is the first year where an “Academy” film won, rather than the “best” film. (All Quiet on the Western Front was just better than the competition. Grand Hotel was an “Academy”-type winner.)
1931-1932 is a noteworthy year in Oscar history because it’s the last time no film would win more than two Oscars at the ceremony. And it would also be the last time until 1989 and Driving Miss Daisy that the Best Picture winner wasn’t also nominated for Best Director. It would also be the only time in which the Best Picture winner wasn’t nominated for any other Oscars. (Though that does technically mean that the film swept.) And then, outside the Oscars, this is also a year that is littered with Pre-Code films, where Hollywood practically got away with murder with what they put on the screen. Watch this clip. Look at how suggestive it is. That’s basically all the context you need for it.
Other winners this year were a tie for Best Actor, with Frederic March for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Wallace Beery for The Champ, winning (talked about here). March got one more vote than Beery, but Academy rules dictated that anything within three votes become a tie. Best Actress was Helen Hayes for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (talked about here), which was the best choice in the category. And Best Director was Frank Borzage for Bad Girl (talked about here), which I love, even though he didn’t really need it (they could have given King Vidor or Josef von Sternberg an Oscar this year). I’m sure many people would go another way there.
Overall, though, another solid year. Out of context, of course, it looks weak like almost all the early years, but in context, most of them are actually pretty solid.
BEST PICTURE 1931-1932
And the nominees were…
Arrowsmith (Goldwyn, United Artists)
Bad Girl (Fox)
The Champ (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Five Star Final (First National)
Grand Hotel (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
One Hour With You (Paramount)
Shanghai Express (Paramount)
The Smiling Lieutenant (Paramount) (more…)
This was the last year of the “double years” of the Academy, and it’s fitting. 1932-1933 was the last year before everything became completely “classical” as we know it to be. By around, 1932, Hollywood had perfected sound and started telling stories freely. However, the issue that then arose was one of censorship. There were many scandals out of Hollywood in the 20s and it soiled the industry’s reputation. So they basically started self-censoring, creating a list of “Don’ts and Be Carefuls,” of things filmmakers should avoid putting on screen. It wasn’t something that had to be adhered to, so some people didn’t necessarily listen to it. So you had these “Pre-Code” films, as they came to be known, which were, in the words of Dick Powell in The Bad and the Beautiful, “liberally peppered with sex.” And the government was fixing to come down on them if they didn’t stop it, fast. So after 1933, they passed the Production Code (enforced by Will Hays. Which got it the nickname “Hays Code”), which was basically a list of things that couldn’t be shown on screen (and was basically an early form of the MPAA, in that, if you didn’t follow the guidelines of the system, you couldn’t get your film distributed in major theaters. Not having a production code seal was like being rated NC-17.) So this is the real last year of the party, so to speak. Which is fitting that this was the last year before the Oscars really became “the Oscars.”
This last year was basically a free-for-all for Best Picture. It was the first year of ten nominees, and I don’t think the Academy quite knew what to vote for. I think they fell back on classy stage material, which can explain how Cavalcade won Best Picture and Best Director for Frank Lloyd (talked about here). Best Actor was Charles Laughton for The Private Life of Henry VIII (talked about here), which I don’t particularly like as a decision (based on the category), but was a helpful decision in that it kept him from winning in other years where he really shouldn’t have won. And Best Actress was Katharine Hepburn for Morning Glory (talked about here), which — the category only had three nominees, and she was really the best in the bunch. It was a star-making performance, and it showed. I understand that completely.
The real question about this year is the Best Picture decision. It’s not that it’s a bad film, it’s just that one other film held up better. So, in a way, it feels like one of those years where they go with the “Academy” decision and overlook the film that’s clearly a better choice. And as a result, this is one of the weakest Best Picture winners of all time, and is certainly one of the two most forgotten (next to The Broadway Melody).
BEST PICTURE – 1932-1933
And the nominees were…
42nd Street (Warner Bros.)
A Farewell to Arms (Paramount)
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Warner Bros.)
Lady for a Day (Columbia)
Little Women (RKO Radio)
The Private Life of Henry VIII (London Films, United Artists)
She Done Him Wrong (Paramount)
Smilin’ Through (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
State Fair (Fox) (more…)
Last week, in Box Office…
Brave absolutely crushes the competition with a higher-than-expected $66.3 million. Estimates here topped out around $60 million, so to see them go a full $5 million+ above the estimates makes me smile. I’m glad we all realize that, at their very core, Pixar just makes better movies than just about everyone else and has earned our money. I’m glad the public is aware that the worst thing we’re going to get out of them is something like Cars, which, while subpar by Pixar standards, is better than 95% of the animated movies out there. So I’m very happy with this number. I bet Pixar is too.
Madagascar 3 dropped 42%, which is standard for animated movies (and actually quite good, considering the direct competition it had), and made $19.7 million. Don’t feel too badly for them, it’s their third weekend, and they’ve made about $160 million domestically on this so far, which is already above their production budget. This is a big hit for them. (Also, I’d like to point out that I called this one quite well last week. I said to not go higher than $20 million.)
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opened to an expected third place, and $16.3 million. This is in line with expectations, and actually quite solid. I said this would do $17 million on a strong weekend. I was expecting $13-15 million. So this is a pretty solid number for a film like this, I feel. This film’s gonna make most of its money on DVD and rentals anyway, so this puts them in a solid position to get most of their budget back in theaters. I think it did all right. (more…)
(Note: THIS CATEGORY IS NOT FINISHED. I still need to watch one of the nominees. I still have not been able to find The White Parade in any cheap/acceptable format. If anyone has it or knows where it can be procured, let me know, so this category can be finished.)
All right, now we have “The” Oscars. Now the Oscars are a man. Baruch atah adonai. None of that foundation stuff anymore. Now they know what these awards are about and what the criteria for them are, they can just start voting the way we do now. This year really solidified that. They got rid of the double years, all films nominated were for that singular calendar year, and they also gave a film the “big five,” which is like wiping the slate clean and saying, “Okay, now we know what we’re doing.”
It Happened One Night won everything this year. Best Picture, Best Director for Frank Capra (talked about here), Best Actor for Clark Gable (talked about here) and Best Actress for Claudette Colbert (talked about here). And of course, Best Screenplay. Hence the big five. I have absolutely no problem with any of these decisions, and they were all well-deserved. Though my favorite film of all time (The Thin Man) was on almost all those lists (still kind of upset about that Best Actress snub), so despite me being okay with the result, I still won’t vote for it. Still though, this is one of the best Academy years.
Two things to point out — this year and the year after this were the only two years in Academy history in which they allowed write-in candidates (that is, on the final ballot. After nominees were announced). These two years also happen to be the two years with the most Best Picture nominees (12).
BEST PICTURE – 1934
And the nominees were…
The Barretts of Wimpole Street (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Flirtation Walk (First National)
The Gay Divorcée (RKO Radio)
Here Comes the Navy (Warner Bros.)
The House of Rothschild (20th Century, United Artists)
Imitation of Life (Universal)
It Happened One Night (Columbia)
One Night of Love (Columbia)
The Thin Man (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Viva Villa! (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The White Parade (Fox) (more…)