So my favorite Oscars tradition, aside from getting hammered and eating Chinese food during the ceremony, is, the day before the ceremony, presenting my favorite moments in each of the Best Picture nominees. I originally started it in 2011, when I felt like there was a lot of anger over certain things that were nominated (The Artist, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help), and I just wanted to take that step back and remind myself and everyone else what it’s all about — this is because we love movies. We’re just giving out awards to the movies we liked best. It’s not about the damn awards. It’s about good movies and love of the art form. And it’s something I think we need to be reminded of, which is why I now do it before every Oscar ceremony. It doesn’t matter what wins and what doesn’t, it’s all about celebrating the great movies that came out this year.
Our first nominee is 1917.
This felt appropriate for many reasons. Mostly because 1917… probably the hardest one of these early years. I couldn’t really find anything that wasn’t a retread of something I’ve already talked about. And then I came across this film. I actually think it was Colin who suggested it, and provided enough reasoning for me to run with it and come up with more as to why it was the right choice.
Coney Island is a short film directed by and starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Even if you don’t know his work, you’ve heard the name Fatty Arbuckle. The man was a comedic powerhouse in this era. Arbuckle and Mack Sennett are probably the two biggest comedy directors going at this point in time. Now, it’s memorable for that alone, because two-reel comedies are a huge draw in this era, even with the advent of features. Features at this point weren’t yet the norm, but were getting there. They were more spectacles. Birth of a Nation, as I said, was a roadshow. They brought it from town to town and you went out to see it. If you were going to the movies on a Thursday, chances are you were watching something like this.
The other reason this felt like a good choice – it’s one of the first films of Buster Keaton. Technically his fifth, but what makes this memorable is that it’s before he created his on-screen persona, so this movie actually features him smiling on-screen, which, to people who know Buster Keaton, it’s like, “Whaaat?” That’s like hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger cried on screen. You’ve just never seen it. (more…)