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…)
Today we hit the 50s, which is the golden age of the studio Technicolor musical and the golden age of the theme song. Let’s count how many times Sinatra and Dean Martin show up over the next decade.
1951: “IN THE COOL, COOL, COOL OF THE EVENING,” FROM HERE COMES THE GROOM
This has become, by far, my favorite part of this blog. These articles have introduced me to so many movies. Ones I needed to see but hadn’t, ones I’d wanted to see but never did, ones I had no idea about. They’re the perfect excuse to go out and see more things. Plus I get to uncover some real gems. I’m so excited to do these top tens lists that I’ve began starting them earlier and earlier each time. The last one, I finished with a month to spare. This one I started before that one even went up. That’s how much I love these lists.
I’ve done the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s, 1970s and 1960s already. The way I do them is — I list my favorite ten movies for each year, then put an 11-15 (or 11-20. This decade, we have all 11-20s, because it’s incredible) at the bottom, to both recommend more great films as well as make it easier on myself when I revisit these lists in the future to update them to account for the passage of time and my maturation of taste.
The other thing I do with each decade is, outside of the top 15-20, I include a “fun” list at the bottom. For the 2000s, it was the “Terrible Ten,” of films from each year that I hated. For the 90s, it was the “Films of My Childhood.” For the 80s, it was the “Awesomely 80s Movies.” For the 70s, it was the “70s Recommendations.” For the 60s, it was the “Out with the old, in with the new.” This time, I’m doing what I’m calling “Gems of the Studio System.” There were a lot of great films from the 50s, and I wanted to find a good way to describe all the extra films I included. And I noticed, while figuring out logistics for these lists, that almost all of them were films from major directors, and that a lot of them (the films) are relatively unknown (for the most part). So the idea behind the lists was to show some hidden gems that, because of the studio system and most directors making three, four pictures a year, got lost over time. (Not all of them are by famous directors, but 90% of them are.) I’ll also tell you which director did which one. I bet on more than a few you’ll go, “Really?”
Now that’s all explained, let’s get into the lists: (more…)
1955 is one of the weakest single years in Academy history. And, like I always say, a year begins with Best Picture. And this year’s Best Picture field might be the single weakest in history (it probably is, actually). There’s nothing here that should win in a regular year. Which pretty much leaves this as a forgotten year in Academy history, just because nothing particularly memorable came from it.
Marty wins Best Picture, Best Director for Delbert Mann (talked about here) and Best Actor for Ernest Borgnine (talked about here). The first two I understand and the third — while I think Frank Sinatra gave the better performance in The Man with the Golden Arm, he had an Oscar from 1953 and Borgnine was just as good, so, it’s fine. Best Actress was Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo (talked about here), which is utterly forgettable, and, in my opinion, a poor decision. (I think Susan Hayward should have won for I’ll Cry Tomorrow, which would have allowed either Deborah Kerr or Rosalind Russell to win their overdue Oscars in 1958, or let Liz Taylor win, which would have allowed Shirley MacLaine win in 1960, which would have affected 1983… the consequences are far-reaching.) Then Jack Lemmon wins Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (talked about here), which is fine. The category was horrendously weak, though, and Lemmon won Best Actor later on, so most people forget about this. And Jo Van Fleet won Best Supporting Actress for East of Eden (talked about here), which — fine. She was in a bunch of stuff — I don’t have a problem with it (even though I’d have given it to Betsy Blair. Just because I love Marty).
So, really, not one memorable decision this year, despite Marty being a terrific film. But really, when you get down to bare essentials — the Best Picture category — this year is really one of the most forgettable years in Academy history.
BEST PICTURE – 1955
And the nominees were…
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (20thCentury Fox)
Marty (United Artists)
Mister Roberts (Warner Bros.)
The Rose Tattoo (Paramount) (more…)
1955 is a bit of a forgotten year in Academy history. Mostly because it’s small. A small film won the big awards, and the rest of the awards aren’t particularly memorable. So most people tend to overlook it.
Marty wins Best Picture, Best Director for Delbert Mann (talked about here), and Best Actor for Ernest Borgnine (talked about here). I love all the decisions, mostly because I love Marty, and because the year was very weak, and I think it was the best film in the bunch. (Could have done without Best Director, but whatever. James L. Brooks won for his film, so it’s not like it hasn’t happened.)
Best Actress was Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo (talked about here), which I don’t like because she’s not really an actress who needs an Academy Award, plus I felt Susan Hayward was much better in I’ll Cry Tomorrow, and if she’d won here, she wouldn’t have had to win in 1958 and then either Deborah Kerr or Rosalind Russell or Elizabeth Taylor could have won. (Kerr and Russell never won Oscars, and if Taylor won that year, she wouldn’t have had to win in 1960, and then Shirley MacLaine, the fifth nominee in 1958, could have won. Amazing what one decision can do, huh?) Oh, and Jo Van Fleet won Best Supporting Actress for East of Eden (talked about here). I understand it, but I went another way.
And then this category — meh. Pretty weak. But, Jack Lemmon is awesome. So he makes this feel a bit better.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1955
And the nominees were…
Arthur Kennedy, Trial
Jack Lemmon, Mister Roberts
Joe Mantell, Marty
Sal Mineo, Rebel Without a Cause
Arthur O’Connell, Picnic (more…)
1955 is a year that seems to get lost in the shuffle among Oscar years. It’s wedged between the behemoth that is On the Waterfront, and the disaster (sort of) that is Around the World in 80 Days. Not to mentionFrom Here to Eternity and The Bridge on the River Kwai being on either side of those movies. So it makes sense that a small film about a lonely butcher finding love would get overlooked.
Marty wins Best Picture, Best Director for Delbert Mann (talked about here), and Best Actor for Ernest Borgnine (talked about here). I love the film. I think it’s perfect, and I think it was the best choice among the nominees. Sure, the set of nominees was weak, but best choice is the best choice. Anna Magnani wins Best Actress for The Rose Tattoo (talked about here). I don’t like it. I think Susan Hayward should have won for I’ll Cry Tomorrow, leaving the Hayward 1958 win open for one of several actresses who could have won (some of whom never won an Oscar). And Best Supporting Actor was Jack Lemmon for Mister Roberts, which I like very much, because Jack Lemmon is awesome (and the category really sucked).
And that brings us to this category, which is tough for me. Well, not really. It’s tough because I know I’m not gonna do the logical thing.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1955
And the nominees were…
Betsy Blair, Marty
Peggy Lee, Pete Kelly’s Blues
Marisa Pavan, The Rose Tattoo
Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden
Natalie Wood, Rebel Without a Cause (more…)
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.)
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…)