Posts tagged “1934

Mike’s Top Ten of 1934

So now we’re firmly in the era of the Production Code, and the subject matter’s gotten a lot less fun. But that doesn’t mean anything, since it’s almost a good thing. Maybe it would have happened anyway, but the minute they put restrictions on, they busted out with some real classics.

For me, 1934 is always gonna be known for two things. First, it’s the year my favorite film of all time was made. And second, it’s the year where Hollywood established its “classic” formula. It Happened One Night is the benchmark film of the studio era. You could watch it and see the progression of just about any film made for the next thirty years.

Otherwise, a lot of other things began in this year: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple and William Powell and Myrna Loy. We’re hitting the ground running, and it’s only gonna get more fun from here. (more…)


A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1934 – It Happened One Night

Every film student will have this come up in one of their intro classes. It’s impossible for it to not. This film pretty much represents the epitome of the “escapist” film, as America was knee-deep in the Depression.

This film also, to me, always represented the first time Hollywood got it right. That is – before this, you have the transition to sound, and you have pre-Code, and Hollywood still hasn’t put together that perfect formula where you tell a sound film with a story that works all the way through, and tells a story that doesn’t go overboard with the stuff that people think is too obscene or whatever.

This film was really the first one (to me) you can point to that’s like, “Yes, this is the total package, and this represents the idea of what classical Hollywood storytelling is.”

The film is your typical screwball comedy. Characters meet, dislike each other, end up stuck together through various wacky scenarios, and despite their best efforts, end up falling in love. And it’s hilarious. (more…)


Mike’s Top Tens of the Decade (1930-1939)

Oh man, it’s the 30s.

Sadly, I think this is going to be my last decades list. It was fun while it lasted. I guess I could do the 20s if I wanted to, but… I don’t really want to. ’27 started the sound era, and 1930 is good enough for me. Plus I have another series of “top tens” I’m in the middle of (by director), and I really want to focus on those. That said, these lists have been so much fun for me, and they got me to see so many movies that I’d never seen (to the point where I’ve actually now seen about 80% of all the major releases of the 40s, 50s and 60s).

For those who don’t know, the way these lists have worked is, I go and list my ten favorite movies from each year. I also try to list ten more from each year as an 11-20. Originally I said I did it to give myself more options for when I revisited the lists a year, five years, whatever down the road, in case I decided I didn’t like a certain film as much anymore, the alternatives would be right there. Though mostly it’s become about sharing as many great films from these years as possible. I also, underneath the 11-20, created the “fun” lists, which would be extra recommendations (or, not, in the case of one decade) that were related to that specific decade. The 2000s, I actually had a list of what I thought the worst films of those years were, the Terrible Tens. The 1990s, I had the “Films of My Childhood.” The 1980s, I had the “Awesomely 80s Movies.” The 1970s were just great 70s movies, the “70s Recommendations.” The 1960s had “Out with the Old, In with the New,” with all the films representing “old” Hollywood and “new” Hollywood. The 1950s had the “Gems of the Studio System,” forgotten films of (mostly) major directors. The 1940s had “More Great 40s Films,” since people generally don’t delve too deeply into the 40s anyway unless they’re someone like me. This decade, I’m gonna keep it simple, like I’ve been doing. Just more great 30s gems. No need to get complicated.

All right friends. Once more, unto the breach: (more…)


The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Director (1927/1928-1949)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Actress (1927/1928-1949)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Actor (1927/1928-1949)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Picture (1927/1928-1949)

To run down the intro quickly — this is a series of articles about what I would nominate in every single Oscar Quest category if I had a ballot. I always felt I should do them, but didn’t want to pull that shit everyone pulls of, “Here’s what I’d nominate,” even though it’s all the same five films they add on and they haven’t even seen half the stuff that was nominated. I know my stuff’s legit, because I’ve seen all the films, but I refused to start this discussion unless I was going to do it with the ability to tell people how to do it the right way, since unless you keep them honest, it’s fucking chaos.

So I decided to, along with picking what I’d vote for, create what I’m calling a Compromise List. The Compromise List is — aside from my personal nominations (which on the whole are pretty close to what would fit the typical notion of “Oscar,” since I’ve seen everything and know what is and what isn’t an “Oscar” movie and actually respect the precedents in place even though I don’t always agree with them enough to not be like, “I vote for Star Trek!”), a list of films that are basically a mix of my nominees and their nominees that I think everyone could live with. The idea is to make a list that works for everyone that’s great, and to cut out all the shit that so clearly shouldn’t be there.

The things to keep in mind: 1) if a category has five nominees, I’m only nominating five films. 2) The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. 3) Don’t bother me with your opinion unless you’re gonna go the full nine and do every single year. 4) If you’re going to attempt something like this — be honest. Don’t get too subjective, and DO NOT take off a film you haven’t seen just to put on a film you have seen. And most importantly, 5) YOU CANNOT take off a Best Picture winner. You can not vote for it on your list, but on your compromise list, the Best Picture winner MUST BE THERE. If it won, you have to include it. No exceptions.

Okay, let’s get to the next set of Best Picture years: (more…)


Best Original Song: A Categorical History (1934-1940)

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Once I got done with all the Oscar Quest categories, I said to myself, “What other categories can I write up that would be fun?” And most of them wouldn’t be terribly interesting. Who really wants to hear me talk in depth about Best Sound? This one seemed like an obvious one because — we can all do it so easily.

All you really need to do to put forth an opinion on the Best Original Song category is listen to all the songs. Pretty simple. The hard part’s just finding them. Which I did. Though I’m linking to so many Youtube videos I can only do a couple of years at a time. Five, in fact. Otherwise it gets crazy and the pages take forever to load.

So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll go through every year of Best Original Song, I’ll link to as many songs as I can find, and I’ll tell what I like and what I’d have voted for. And we’ll get to go over the rich history that is original songs in movies. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1934

(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)

Cleopatra (Paramount)

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…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings — Best Director

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Actor. Just in case the one big article is too much for you and you just want one specific category.

(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for. Anything in RED means I haven’t seen the film yet.)


Best Director

2013 – 1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity *

2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

3. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

4. David O. Russell, American Hustle

5. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

2012 – 1. Ang Lee, Life of Pi *

2. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

3. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

4. Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

5. Michael Haneke, Amour

2011  1. Martin Scorsese, Hugo *

2. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

3. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

4. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

5. Alexander Payne, The Descendants (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide — Best Director

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide, specifically for Best Director.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings — Best Supporting Actress

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Supporting Actress. Just in case the one big article is too much for you and you just want one specific category.

(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for.)


Best Supporting Actress

2013 – 1. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

2. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave *

3. June Squibb, Nebraska

4. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

5. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

2012 – 1. Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables *

2. Sally Field, Lincoln

3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions

4. Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

5. Amy Adams, The Master

2011 – 1. Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

2. Jessica Chastain, The Help *

3. Octavia Spencer, The Help

4. Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

5. Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide — Best Supporting Actress

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide, specifically for Best Supporting Actress.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings – Best Supporting Actor

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Supporting Actor. Just in case the one big article is too much for you and you just want one specific category.

(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for. Anything in RED means I haven’t seen the film yet.)


Best Supporting Actor

2013 – 1. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street *

2. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

3. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

4. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

5. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

2012 – 1. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook *

2. Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

3. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

4. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

5. Alan Arkin, Argo

2011  1. Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close *

2. Christopher Plummer, Beginners

3. Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

4. Nick Nolte, Warrior

5. Jonah Hill, Moneyball (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide — Best Supporting Actor

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide, specifically for Best Supporting Actor.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings – Best Actress

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Actress.

(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for. Anything in RED means I haven’t seen the film yet.)


Best Actress

2013 – 1. Judi Dench, Philomena *

2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

3. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

4. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

5. Amy Adams, American Hustle

2012 – 1. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook *

2. Naomi Watts, The Impossible

3. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

4. Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

5. Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

2011  1. Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo *

2. Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

3. Viola Davis, The Help

4. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

5. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide – Best Actress

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide, specifically for Best Actress.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings – Best Actor

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Actor. Just in case the one big article is too much for you and you just want one specific category.

(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for. Anything in RED means I haven’t seen the film yet.)

Best Actor

2013 – 1. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club *

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

3. Bruce Dern, Nebraska

4. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

5. Christian Bale, American Hustle

2012 – 1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln *

2. Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

3. Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables

4. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

5. Denzel Washington, Flight

2011  1. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy *

2. Jean Dujardin, The Artist

3. George Clooney, The Descendants

4. Brad Pitt, Moneyball

5. Demián Bichir, A Better Life (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide – Best Actor

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide, specifically for Best Actor.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings – Best Picture

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Picture.

(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for. Anything in RED means I haven’t seen the film yet.)


Best Picture

2013 – 1. Gravity (Warner Bros.) *

2. Her (Warner Bros., Annapurna)

3. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount, Universal)

4. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight)

5. Captain Phillips (Columbia)

6. American Hustle (Columbia, Annapurna)

7. Philomena (The Weinstein Co.)

8. Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)

9. Nebraska (Paramount Vantage)

2012  1. Django Unchained (The Weinstein Co., Columbia) *

2. Les Misérables (Universal, Working Title Films)

3. Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.)

4. Argo (Warner Bros.)

5. Lincoln (Touchstone, DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox)

6. Life of Pi (20th Century Fox)

7. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight)

8. Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia)

9. Amour (Les Films du Losange, X Filme Creative Pool, Wega Film Production)

2011  1. The Artist (The Weinstein Company) *

2. Hugo (Paramount)

3. Moneyball (Columbia)

4. War Horse (Touchstone, DreamWorks)

5. The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight)

6. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight)

7. Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics)

8. The Help (Touchstone, DreamWorks)

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide – Best Picture

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Picture.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Rankings

At the bottom of all my Oscar Quest articles, after talking about the films and performances and how I ranked them in that specific category, I ranked all the nominees. This article is a collection of those rankings. (Any changes from what I originally wrote we’ll mediate as they pop up.)

There’s no real set criteria to explain how I ranked everything. I’m sure there’s some overly complicated formula I have in my head, but let’s not try to explain what goes on in my head. The general rules for the rankings are: almost always do my favorite films and performances take precedent. They’ll usually go first. Sometimes the order will be solely how I like the films, and sometimes they’ll be solely how I rate the performances. Most times, it’s a bit of both. Usually there’s a clear #1 (or lack thereof) that dictates how the rest of the list proceeds. There’s really no definitive explanation, so I’ll leave it at: I’ve Santa Claus’d this list multiple times, and I stand by every one of these rankings.

The goal of all of this was always to recommend films for you to see (being able to put forth my opinion on it was a bonus). Use this alongside The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide article as a way of finding films to see. With these, you can very quickly find out which films I love and think you should see, no reading required. And any reading you care to do is just a click away. Plus, by reading the articles and seeing the films (even if it’s just simply the small handful of ones I say you need to see), you’ll have more knowledge of the Oscars and their history than the av-er-age person, making you that much more qualified to say, “What? That? Fuck no, that shouldn’t have won!” Who doesn’t want that? (more…)


The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide

This is it, folks. This is what it’s all been building towards. One article encompassing everything. Here is a list of every film ever nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. A cheat sheet, of sorts. If you’re looking for Oscar films to watch, and don’t want to read all the articles (or say you’ve read the articles, but now want a list of films to see, and don’t want to reread them all), you can just go to this article and everything is right at your fingertips. Let me explain how it works:

The list descends by category (Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director) and by year, starting with the most recent. Each film on the list will be color-coded based on how much I like it/how essential it is. I’ll explain the color code in a second. Using the colors, you can instantly know whether or not I think you should see a film as well as (generally) how I feel about it. You can also use The Oscar Quest: Rankings article to see how I ranked the films/performances in their specific categories. Between the two, you’ll have as much information as you can possibly get about my opinion of a film on its own and in the context of a category without reading anything.

And if that’s not enough, next to each category, when I list what year it is, I’ll link to the article I wrote about it, which contains in depth (or not) thoughts about the films, synopses, and just more specific information on how I rank it, how I figured out my vote, things like that. So, with this one article, you have as much or as little information you could want about every movie from this Oscar Quest. Aren’t I great? (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1934

1934. Wonderful year. This goes twofold for me, since my favorite film of all time was made this year. Every time I talk about this year, I make sure to note that there’s no way I can be subjective when my favorite film is involved. I just can’t. That’s the one place I refuse to do it. Fortunately, The Thin Man isn’t nominated here, so it won’t affect this category at all. Recapping the year is easy. It Happened One Night won everything. Picture, Director (talked about here), Actor (here), and, yes, Actress (writing too. First big five winner in history). But of all the categories of 1934, this one is the most interesting. For several reasons. The first is that this is one of the few categories for which the Academy announced the order of finish. Claudette Colbert won, Norma Shearer finished 2nd, and Bette Davis finished 3rd (QED, Grace Moore was last). The most important part about all this, though, is the Bette Davis nomination. Let me explain.

Bette Davis begged out of her Warner Bros. contract to make this film. They agreed because they assumed she was going to fail. But the film actually ended up being her breakthrough. And come Oscar time, when she got nomination buzz, Warners spitefully told people not to vote for her. And since the voting system wasn’t as, shall we say, objective, as it is now (votes were tabulated by the heads of the Academy. Warners was one. No bias at all, I’m sure), she wasn’t nominated. And her supporters, outraged, petitioned the Academy for a write-in vote. The outcry was large enough (probably because at that time the Oscars were small enough) that it actually worked. The Academy caved (kind of like when they caved in 2008 and started the 10 nominees), and this became one of only two years to ever feature a write-in vote (that counted).

It didn’t work out for Bette Davis (3rd), but the year after this, Hal Mohr actually won Best Cinematography for A Midsummer Night’s Dream without being nominated (which is great. He was the best there). But, this decision was strong enough to get several things to happen. First, it got the write-in ballot for two years. Then it got the Academy to change its voting practices. They handed over the entire voting and counting process to PriceWaterhouse (who still does it). And it also created that Oscar groundswell we know so well, especially when it comes to Best Actress, that got Bette Davis to win a slam dunk Oscar (considered a makeup Oscar) the year after this, for Dangerous. I’ll talk about that when I get to it, but for now, can you see how important 1934 is (even without The Thin Man)?

BEST ACTRESS – 1934

And the nominees were…

Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night

Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage (write-in)

Grace Moore, One Night of Love

Norma Shearer, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (more…)