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Oscar History

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Oscar Horrors: Kathy Bates in Misery

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Entries in 10|25|50|75|100 (197)


Look Who's in Marie Antoinette!

It's Marie Antoinette week: We're celebrating the Queen Consort of France each afternoon for a week for the 223rd anniversary of her death and the 10th anniversary of the Sofia Coppola biopic.  

by Murtada

The casting in Marie Antoinette is imaginative and to die for. You could say it’s not hard to imagine Kirsten Dunst in the title role especially since she had already worked with Sofia Coppola. Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI is not that far fetched since he’s the director’s cousin. However putting Rip Torn, Molly Shannon, Judy Davis and Asia Argento together in 1790s France took some chutzpah...

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Jack Arnold Centennial

Tim here. Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of director Jack Arnold, and if your response to hearing that name is a polite look of blank incomprehension, I wouldn't feel bad. Arnold's not exactly a household name and never has been, but you wouldn't want to imagine what classic sci-fi would look like without him. For a short time in the 1950s, Arnold was possibly the most admirable genre film director in Hollywood. I can't think of any better way to demonstrate how singularly iconic his work has been than to point out that he's the only filmmaker to have two different films named dropped in "Science Fiction/Double Feature", the opening number from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Undoubtedly the film for which Arnold remains best-known is the 1954 Creature from the Black Lagoon (and it's dimwitted first sequel, Revenge of the Creature, but it wouldn't be sporting to hold that against him), and it's fairly easy to argue that it's his best work, too.

on the set of The Black Lagoon

But however impressively he handled that last gasp of the Universal Horror machine, it's by no means his only noteworthy achievement...

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Marie Antoinette Week: The Musical Stylings of Sofia Coppola's Biopic

Editor's Note: On this very week in 1793 the Queen Consort of France Marie Antoinette (born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen -whew) stood "trial" and was guillotined during the French Revolution. She's haunted popular culture ever since. On this very week ten years ago in 2006, Sofia Coppola's undervalued and unconventional biopic Marie Antoinette began its trip to movie theaters. We're celebrating every day at 3 PM EST for a week. Party.

Lynn Lee looks back at Marie Antoinette's (2006) controversial use of music...

First come the fast, bracing guitar chords, followed by the almost-too-on-point Gang of Four lyrics - “The problem of leisure, what to do for pleasure?” - as the opening credits roll in bright hot pink against a black background.  We catch a quick shot of a reclining Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst), tasting one of an array of sumptuous cakes as she tries on a shoe and gives a saucy sideways glance into the camera as if to say “Let me eat cake.”  It’s our first tip-off that this isn’t going to be your standard historical costume drama...

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The Furniture: Bored at the Border in "Hold Back the Dawn"

"The Furniture" our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the release of Hold Back the Dawn, the film for which Olivia de Havilland received her first Best Actress nomination. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t we have a whole month of de Havilland back in June, in the lead-up to her 100th birthday? Yes, we did. But I am here to inform you that celebrating this two-time Oscar-winner isn’t an occasional thing. It's an essential part of life.

Besides, the film is great. It’s a smart, cynical melodrama about a Romanian playboy named Georges Iscovescu (Charles Boyer), biding his time in a small Mexican town while he waits to be granted entry into the United States. It’ll be years, thanks to the National Origins Formula. Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder’s script was adapted from a story by Ketti Frings, but also took inspiration from Wilder’s own experiences as a refugee stranded by the quota system.

Fed up, Georges looks for other ways to get across. On the 4th of July he meets Emmy Brown (de Havilland), a thoroughly wholesome schoolteacher. She’s taken her students on a cross-border field trip... 

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10th Anniversary: The Black Dahlia

David looks back at Brian de Palma's wildest film, ten years on from its release.

The Black Dahlia is a curious artefact. It is likely to be remembered simply by virtue of being in the catalogue of Brian de Palma, even if the film’s quality is negligible compared to his biggest hitters Carrie and The Untouchables. When compared to the other famous James Ellroy adaptation, the Oscar-winning L.A. Confidential (which celebrates its own birthday, its 19th, in just a few days), de Palma’s effort certainly pales. In the career of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (the film’s sole Oscar nominee), it’s likely to be a footnote in the late man’s incredible career, coming after his work with Spielberg, Cimino and Altman. The film’s stars probably took a year at most to write it off as a failure on all their parts.

Yet the film continues to fascinate - to lure you back into its craven web...

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The Furniture: Fantastic Voyage's Absurd Anatomy

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber... 

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage, as absurd and beautiful a film as Hollywood has ever made. It’s also a testament to what live action science fiction used to be like, before digital technology gave directors the tools to make every fantasy look realistic.

Inspired by the arms races of the Cold War, it chronicles a submarine trip into the tumorous brain of a brilliant scientist. The mission is to eliminate his cancer with a tiny laser, save his life, and preserve his miniaturization knowledge for the USA. It’s utterly ridiculous. Isaac Asimov, alarmed by the script’s plot holes, demanded the right to fix all of its problems for his novelization.

Of course, that might classify him as a bit of a fuddy-duddy. Trips into the body wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if they were realistic. If anything, they’d probably gross out the audience. 

Pixar understood this, creating an entirely new organ system for Inside Out. Fleischer’s team for Fantastic Voyage also prioritized the striking over the reasonable.

Much of this success is, of course, due to the production design...

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Michael Mann's "Miami Vice" 10 Years Later

Please welcome back new contributor Bill Curran for a 10th anniversary look at Miami Vice

The major studio head-scratcher of its year, the ultimate distillation of Michael Mann’s brand of clean sheen noir, and the most authentically auteurist film of the aughts, Miami Vice was the movie offspring of a successful and ever-parodied 80s TV series that was nothing like the original. Instead, Mann unleashed a brooding and voluptuously pixilated peacock of a crime thriller upon an unsuspecting public

If only every recent remake had as much reckless spirit as this one did when it opened nationally ten years ago today. Though the film received favorable notices from top print critics, including a rave from A.O. Scott, the majority of reviewers (and almost all audiences) were simply confused...

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