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 round out the 50s. There’s some great stuff on here.
1956: “WHATEVER WILL BE, WILL BE (QUÉ SERÁ, SERÁ), FROM THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
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…)
This year, more so than 1959, is a year that’s a checkpoint year (one where you look at what won and go, “Oh, that makes sense,” and move on without much thought), but is also questionable. Even when there’s a definitive winner, you could almost always make a case for another film (L.A. Confidential over Titanic, To Kill a Mockingbird over Lawrence of Arabia, Anatomy of a Murder over Ben-Hur). And some years it’s warranted, and some years you’re stretching. This year, you can make a legitimate case.
Bridge on the River Kwai is a pretty definitive winner, winning Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here) and Best Actor for Alex Guinness (talked about here). All terrific decisions. Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here), which was a perfect decision. She was incredible there. And Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress were Red Buttons (talked about here) and Miyoshi Umeki (talked about here) for Sayonara, the former I don’t like at all (Arthur Kennedy and Sessue Hayakawa were much better) and the latter I consider the single worst Best Supporting Actress-winning performance of all time. She doesn’t do much at all, and I’m certain they were voting for the role and not the performance.
Overall, though, 1957 is really strong. I don’t agree with the Supporting categories, but the rest of the decisions are really strong. Though, back to my original point — you can make a case here for another film winning — 12 Angry Men. I love years like this, though the pitfall with it is that people get so tied up in favor of one film that they completely discount the other. But outside of that, it’s nice to see a definite winner and a choice that’s just as strong. Rarely are we awarded such a luxury of a win-win situation.
BEST PICTURE – 1957
And the nominees were…
Bridge on the River Kwai (Columbia)
Peyton Place (20th Century Fox)
Sayonara (Warner Bros.)
12 Angry Men (United Artists)
Witness for Prosecution (United Artists) (more…)
I love 1957. It begins and ends with The Bridge on the River Kwai. It’s a Lean year.
The film wins Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here), and this category. Terrific all around. And you have 12 Angry Men also up for Picture and Director to keep it interesting (and honest). I like that.
Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here). Probably a top ten decision of all time in that category. Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress were Red Buttons (talked about here) and Miyoshi Umeki (talked about here) for Sayonara. I am on the record about despising both decisions.
And then we’re left with this category, which to me is an open and shut case. Go Alec!
BEST ACTOR – 1957
And the nominees were…
Marlon Brando, Sayonara
Anthony Franciosa, A Hatful of Rain
Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai
Charles Laughton, Witness for the Prosecution
Anthony Quinn, Wild is the Wind (more…)
Love 1957. 4 out of 6 really strong decisions. The Bridge on the River Kwai wins half the major awards (rightfully so), winning Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here) and Best Actor for Alec Guinness. All perfect decisions. And Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here), which was also a perfect decision.
Okay, that takes care of almost everything. Now we’re at the two Supporting categories. First was Red Buttons, winning Best Supporting Actor for Sayonara, which, as I said here, I hate very much as a decision. And the second was here, which I also hate very strongly and consider one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of the Best Supporting Actress category.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1957
And the nominees were..
Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party
Elsa Lanchester, Witness for the Prosecution
Hope Lange, Peyton Place
Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara
Diane Varsi, Peyton Place (more…)
The great thing about 1957 is that, despite a perfect Best Picture choice in The Bridge on the River Kwai, people still have the opportunity to complain about it, since 12 Angry Men was also up for Best Picture that year. I think the Academy made the right choice, but it’s great that the debate exists. It’s the mark of a good year.
Alec Guinness also won Best Actor for the film and David Lean won Best Director for it (talked about here). Both were perfect decisions. Then Joanne Woodward won Best Actress for The Three Faces of Eve, which, as I said here, was also a perfect decision. She was incredible.
Now, that brings me to the Supporting categories…Best Supporting Actress was Miyoshi Umeki for Sayonara, and you can see Best Supporting Actor right down there. I honestly don’t know what the hell happened with these two categories. First off, for Umeki — she doesn’t do anything! She sits there demurely and speaks her native language the entire time! And for those saying, “Well, she’s Japanese, and it was a major thing for a Japanese person to win an Oscar.” And I’m like, “Yeah! Sessue Hayakawa, motherfucker! He’s right here!” I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1957
And the nominees were…
Red Buttons, Sayonara
Vittorio De Sica, A Farewell to Arms
Sessue Hayakawa, The Bridge on the River Kwai
Arthur Kennedy, Peyton Place
Russ Tamblyn, Peyton Place (more…)