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Meet the Panelists for forthcoming Smackdown '44

The Next Supporting Actress Smackdown is in two weeks time - get your votes in by Nov 3rd please. Please only vote on the performances you've seen. Your host has been backstage doing the difficult (but exciting) work of wrangling up critics, artists, and writers to discuss these Oscar years with you.

Here's this month's batch of critics, artists, and writers that we've wrangeld for the event as we finish up our screenings. 

First Time Smackdowners

Molly Pope is a cabarettist whose shows have played Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Feinstein’s at the Regency, Ars Nova, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, OBERON (American Repertory Theatre), Teatro ZinZanni (Joe's Pub Seattle), and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Australia.  Recipient of both the 2016 Bistro Award for Creative Cabaret Artistry and MAC Award for Musical Comedy, she has also appeared at The Cafe Carlyle (“Tales From The Jazz Age”), the Afterglow Festival in Provincetown, “Our Hit Parade” at Joe’s Pub and as a resident artist at The Orchard Project and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. [Official Site | TwitterInstagram

Why did you want to do the Smackdown?

We live in a day and age where so many Golden Age of Hollywood films are now accessible, beyond the giant classics/hits. An informed discussion/compare/contrast of something as specific as the Best Supporting Actress Nominees of 1944 is suddenly possible from a modern viewpoint and I will be part of it, so help me God.



Matthew Rettenmund is the blogger at and He is the author of the novel Boy Culture, on which the 2006 movie Boy Culture and the upcoming Boy Culture: The Series are based. He is also the author of Encyclopedia Madonnica 20. [Twitter | Instagram]

Why did you want to do the Smackdown?

I love the Best Supporting Actress battle every year because I've always been naturally drawn to female performances, and because that category has some of the most intense performances as well as, occasionally, some of the most surprisingly fleeting. More so than other categories, it seems to be the most volatile and least settled more often than not. Disagree? Just ask Lauren Bacall.


Farran Smith Nehme writes about classic film at her blog, Self-Styled Siren. She has written on film and film history for the New York Post, the Village Voice, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, Film Comment, Sight & Sound, and Criterion. She published her first novel, "Missing Reels," in 2014. [Twitter]

What does 1944 mean to you?

Hollywood began World War II by slotting the conflict into any number of standard plots, but by 1944 producers realized that audiences were tiring of that. After Normandy, people started thinking about what victory would mean. Directors were increasingly eager to tackle other matters, and to make movies that left the war behind, but weren’t pure escapism. This is the year that film noir starts coming into its own. 1944 is a transitional year to me; the brass-band patriotism of the early war years receding, and the post-war disillusionment, and rebuilding, on the horizon.  


Loren King has been obsessed with movies all her life. She worked her way from selling tickets and candy at the local multiplex to running films (yes, celluloid) as the first woman projectionist in the Boston motion picture operators’ union. Now she’s a regular writer for the Movies Section of the Boston Globe, and contributes features, interviews and reviews to many other publications and web sites. She also moderates panels and interviews filmmakers for the Provincetown International Film Festival, the Boston Globe documentary series, and other events. [Twitter]

What does 1944 mean to you?

OK, there was D-Day. There was also Double Indemnity. Lifeboat. To Have and Have Not. National Velvet. Mr. Skeffington. Gaslight. Laura…. Frustrated by the paucity of great women’s roles in movies today? Pick any movie from this list. 1944 also saw the release of one of my all-time favorite films, MGM’s Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland never better as charming Esther Smith singing a stellar repertoire of songs. Shamefully, Garland didn’t get a best actress nomination for it, but she would 11 years later for playing another Esther in A Star is Born. But don’t get me started….


Returning Panelist

Mark Harris is a columnist for York magazine and for Film Comment. He is the author of Pictures at a Revolution (2008) and Five Came Back (book 2014, Netflix 2017) and is currently working on a biography of Mike Nichols. He lives in New York City. [Twitter

What does 1944 mean to you?

Most of what 1944 means to me derives from my research for "Five Came Back". I think of it as the year that movie audiences started to get bored by the WWII pictures the studios had been turning out non-stop since Pearl Harbor and started looking at other genres--melodramas, thrillers, the first stirrings of noir--as producers and studio heads tried to pivot. I like movies from moments when Hollywood wasn't entirely sure what it should do next, so I'm looking forward to these. My own favorite film from that year: Double Indemnity."


And your host...

Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a longtime Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always in the mid 80s via films like The Purple Rose of Cairo, A Room With a View,  Aliens,  and Moonstruck. But he mostly blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner & Michelle Pfeiffer (specifically). [Twitter | Instagram]

What does 1944 mean to you?

Meet Me in St Louis. One of the most pleasurable things that ever existed in the world. Baffling that Oscar barely acknowledged it.

What does 1944 mean to you dear readers?

Do tell in the comments. Here's how to vote on the Smackdown.

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Reader Comments (11)

Yowza! This is one heavy hitting panel. Can’t wait...

October 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

Molly's headshot is exquisite.

October 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

That is an insanely good line-up. (If only the movies in question were better...!) Excited for this as always.

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Unrelated NATHANIEL, but here are the current contenders for Original Song, if you're looking for some.

“Days in the Sun” from Beauty and the Beast, performed by Cast
“Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast, performed by Josh Groban
“How Does a Moment Last Forever” from Beauty and the Beast, performed by Celine Dion
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name, performed by Sufjan Stevens
“Visions of Gideon” from Call Me By Your Name, performed by Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco, performed by TBA
“Un Poco Loco” from Coco, performed by TBA
“The World Es Mi Familia” from Coco, performed by TBA
“Prayers for this World” from Cries from Syria, performed by Cher
“Freedom” from Despicable Me 3, performed by Pharrell Williams
“There’s Something Special” from Despicable Me 3, performed by Pharrell Williams
“It Ain’t Fair” from Detroit, performed by The Roots feat. Bilal
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” from Fifty Shades Darker, performed by Taylor Swift & Zayn
“You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” from Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, performed by Elvis Costello
“Come Alive” from The Greatest Showman, performed by Hugh Jackman
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, performed by Cast
“Truth to Power” from An Inconvenient Sequel, performed by One Republic
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, performed by Andra Day feat. Common
“Dusk Till Dawn” from The Mountain Between Us, performed by Sia & Zayn
“Hold the Light” from Only the Brave, performed by Dierks Bentley
“The Promise” from The Promise, performed by Chris Cornell
“Dancing Through the Wreckage” from Served Like a Girl, performed by Linda Perry
“The Star” from The Star, performed by Mariah Carey
“To Be Human” from Wonder Woman, performed by Sia

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Awesome panel, can't wait. Mark Harris!!

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Yay! Welcome (back) panelists! Excited for the results!

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Double Indemnity belongs to my top 20 ever. This movie taught me to love one of my favorite movie stars of all time, Barbara Stanwyck. In one month I saw The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire, There's Always Tomorrow, Forty Guns and the pinnacle of her career as an actress, The Furies.

Noir, melodrama, sophisticated comedy, westerns - name one single actress capable of being equally excellent collaborating with Samuel Fuller, Douglas Sirk and Preston Sturges. That's range, my friends.

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

This is the one Agnes Moorehead nomination that I haven't seen... Need to get on it!

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Jennifer. Jones. Mic. Drop.

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Yay, Farran! And what a panel! :D

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

What a sensational line-up!

I'm quite fond of 1944, even if the Oscar favorite (GOING MY WAY) does virtually nothing for me. DOUBLE INDEMNITY, GASLIGHT and SINCE YOU WENT AWAY in Picture? Heaven! Gotta love the likes of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, COVER GIRL, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, LIFEBOAT and TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT too.

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

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