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Friday
Apr252014

Smackdown: Internal Dramas & DVD Death

Just to give you all a sense of the challenge of the Supporting Actress Smackdowns, I thought I'd share some behind-the-scenes notes. A lot of prep work went into the years we've covered (19521968, 1980, and 2003). Only one of them was difficult to stick with (that'd be 2003 because the movies stunk). Of the years not yet covered (StinkyLulu hosted a lot of them) there are 39 years still aching to be Smacked Down!

1937 • 1938 • 1941 • 1943 • 1944 • 1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 
1951 • 1954 • 
1957 • 1960 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1970 •
1972 • 1973 • 1977 •
1979 •
1981 • 1984 •  1986 • 1987 •
1989 • 1991 • 1994 • 1995 • 1997 • 1998 • 2000 • 2001 •
2002 • 2004 • 2005 •  2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 

But here's where it gets tricky....

I generally start with Netflix and Amazon and iTunes to see what's available and the years in red all have at least one film that is quite difficult to come by, either because it's available for purchase only (sometimes at high prices like Looking For Mr Goodbar from 1977) due to the death of video stores or the rapid decline of Netflix's mailing wing or it's just not offered by anyone. That's a lot of red and it just shows you how little the studios care about making their archives accessible or keeping their less popular films in circulation. I've said it a million times but it horrifies me that an Oscar nomination doesn't automatically guarantee that your film stays available to the public. Rest assured: some of those years in red would make for AWESOME smackdowns. My heart yearns for Smackdowns on '60, '64 and '73 especially because the movies are interesting/good. But I'm also super curious about '46 and '72 which are very rare years in terms of my complete unfamiliarity (I've only seen 1 performance from each lineup... and it aint even the winning one! That's strange in the case of 1972 especially since I've seen a lot of movies from that year due to my Cabaret obsession). But alas...

The years in blue are just me being fussy because I just don't have an interest in revisiting them any time soon. I'm sure 1997 would be a fun Smackdown but those movies are impossible to escape (I've seen 4 of the 5 quite recently again) and Julianne would win in a crazy landslide anyway.

The age of streaming has made so many movies instantly accessible but it's also killed variety because streaming only works if you're okay with a few corporations curating your entire film experience for you or waiting to accidentally catch something on TCM. Me, I've never been okay with someone else determining what I can watch and when I can watch it.  I hate to rail against progress because the streaming technology has come a long way but it's still deeply unsatisfying if you're a purist (the image is rarely great) and if you love anything made 20 years before the now. Every new technology change seems to kill huge swaths of cinema history. 

Anyway. Enough miserabilism. I'll decide on the next year soon and the fun begins anew.

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Reader Comments (24)

Thanks for the peek inside the process. I know it has to be a lot of work to pull it all together for our enjoyment. It is appalling the amount of quality films that aren't available!

TCM is a godsend, and many of those hard to find films do pop up there from time to time, I was finally able to catch Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams last year, but you can't count on it. Even on there though some like Dark at the Top of the Stairs that I've never seen programmed. Thanks for all the effort!

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Have you considered, Nathaniel, starting/hosting a Best Actress Smackdown? It's only fair... :)

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

John -- I have definitely considered that, yes. Stinky and I floated the idea back and forth when we talked about this revival but i wanted to get a few more of these done before we consider other projects.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

If we're doing Best Actress, 1947, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1987, 1995 and 2001 are all great years with potential for controversial results and passionate opinions!

Sticking with supporting, the opposition to 1947 comes solely from the fact that two of the nominees (one being the winner) come from one of most boring movies ever, i.e. Gentleman's Agreement?

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

1984, 1994, 1998.... after a quick scan, those all strike me as juicy.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

"The age of streaming has made so many movies instantly accessible but it's also killed variety because streaming only works if you're okay with a few corporations curating your entire film experience for you..."

Love that quote, Nathaniel. I used it in a FB post lamenting the current depressing world for film buffs (particularly in my home town, Canberra, where government cuts mean the local arthouse cinema is closing and the lending collection of the National Film and Sound Archive (a wonderful source for many movies for three film societies I help run) is being shut down).

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Imagine the situation from a non-American perspective, it gets even worse!

P.S. (Assuming you've only seen Poseidon Adventure) Try to find Pete 'n Tillie. Page and Burnett get into a memorable catfight.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Carmen - yup. I have no interest in sitting through Gentleman's Agreement more than once a decade :)

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I would vote for 1963 and 1989. I ado think Wiest would easily win either 1986 or 1994 just as easily as Julianne would win 1997, which might take part of the fun out of it.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Of those 77 sticks out simply cos Redgrave is the only worthy nominee maybe Weld but my god Dillon,Browne and Cummings.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

I think 2001 might be an interesting year to do

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam H

OMG please do 2004!! My heart yearns for Natalie Portman's Closer performance!!

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

mark -- alas Looking for mr Goodbar, which i'd love for more people to see since it's so damn good (it might also make a fine best shot-er) is not available :(

April 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I can get u a copy of it nat.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

41, 43, and 65 are fairly good options. Shelley Winters in the underseen "A Patch of Blue" might surprise a few people and I'm curious about Ruth Gordon in "Inside Daisy Clover."

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterzig

I check out many films from the Best Supporting Actress Smackdowns from my public library. I have 19 performances left to see and I will have seen EVERY nominee and winner in the history of the category. BTW- I am saving Brenda Vaccaro in "Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough" until the end because it looks so god awful/fabulous.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoel

zig -- daisy clover is such a weird movie (iv'e seen it twice) and Gordon's nomination for that one is just bizarre.

joel -- she's both!

April 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Even more reason for me to watch it! Though I will say that having to endure Olivier as Othello would be a chore. I caught just enough of it on TCM over the holidays to see a bit of Maggie Smith, but not Joyce Redman.

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterzig

If you can do 65 and 77, I might even try to join in. I love those years both for themselves and as pieces of our history. We talk a lot on here about how a film has "held up," but I think its important to consider (for contemporary film in particular) how well they represent their point in time, the tenor of the world at that moment and how "boundary testing" they were. Just because it appears dated and uninteresting does not mean it has no merit. Daisy Clover, I'm talking to you, girl.

See Pete and Tilly for the cat fight if nothing else. Its epic. Page was beyond wonderful.

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I assume the movie that's hard to find from 1964 is The Chalk Garden. Just found it (in pretty good quality) all on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu1I51hmJHU

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

Oh if The Chalk Garden is the one holding up '64 that would be a great year to do! However I'm talking as someone who owns that movie and has seen the others concerned so it would be an easy one for me. The contenders that year all are worthy, even Gladys Cooper's tiny bit of a part in My Fair Lady, and in movies that would be pleasant to watch again, unlike the torture of 2003.

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Yeah, I think Daisy Clover is pretty interesting and a much easier watch than either Cold Mountain or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, neither of which I can see sitting through again. (I'm not keen on watching Funny Girl anytime soon again, either, frankly.)

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

joel -- the Chalk Garden is the one holding things up for that year, yes.

will h -- oh, i will look that up there, then and see if it's good enough. I mean i guess if we dealt with that HIDEOUS youtube print of Resurrection for 1980 (I wish ellen burstyn would convince some studio to restore that one!) we can pretty much deal with anything i guess.

Suzanne -- well that's true. luckily those slogs are behidn us.

April 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@Nathaniel Yeah, based on just a cursory glance, the copy of The Chalk Garden on YouTube is in much better shape than Resurrection.

April 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

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