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Entries in Best Picture (216)

Thursday
Nov172016

Guest Column: What if the US Voted like the Academy? 

Dear Readers, We've nearly climbed out of our depressive hole that we fell into with last week's General Election, so while we struggle with those last few panting breaths to do so, I thought I'd turn the time over to a faithful reader Evan Stewart who has a "what if" scenario for us to contemplate. Hey, anything to distract us from the reality of the situation, right !? Consider this an exorcism of the election and also a perfect way to turn back to the Oscar race! Here's Evan!  -Editor

Like most Americans, I’ve spent the past week or so processing the results of Tuesday’s election, which has produced one of the biggest upsets in the history of American politics. My Facebook feed has been littered with posts urging for the repeal of the Electoral College, usually written by liberals upset that for the second time in sixteen years the candidate that earned a plurality of votes will not occupy the Oval Office. In going through the arguments for and against the Electoral College, I was pointed to a series of videos highlighting the problems with the “First Past the First”  (also known as the "Majority Rules" voting system). And in doing so, I’ve come to the conclusion that a better solution than a straight national popular vote might be for the U.S. to adopt a ballot that is similar to that of an institution very close to our hearts: the voting system that the Academy Awards has used to select its Best Picture since 2009.

What if the U.S. voted like the Academy?... 

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Monday
Oct242016

The Furniture: Designing Dignity in "How Green Was My Valley"

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

Filmmaking is often an art borne of flexibility. Tim Burton built Sleepy Hollow from scratch when he couldn’t find just the right town in the real world. Vincente Minnelli was forced to make Brigadoon indoors in Hollywood, because the studio wouldn’t pay for an expensive production in Scotland. Both films are likely better for it, too.

The same is perhaps true for How Green Was My Valley, which premiered 75 years ago this week. John Ford wanted to make shoot it on location in Wales, but World War II intervened. Instead, the production team built an entire mining town in the Santa Monica Mountains. This condensed and idealized version of the setting of Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel is among the most emotionally resonant sets of its era.

The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Art Direction.

The design team consisted of Richard Day, Nathan H. Juran and Thomas Little, no stranger to Oscar success. They based their village on Gilfach Goch, a quintessential Welsh mining town, but they dramatically reduced the size and jammed the houses much closer to the colliery...

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Saturday
Oct222016

Oscar Horrors: The Sixth Sense (1999)

Boo! It's time for "Oscar Horrors". Each night at 7 we'll look back on a horror-connected Oscar nomination until Halloween. Here's Deborah Lipp on Best Picture nominee The Sixth Sense.

In 1999, I started going to the movies by myself. My marriage had ended, and there were visitation weekends when my ex had the kid, I was alone, out of sorts, and determined to do something with that time that felt good. 

Going to the movies alone is great. You always get the seat you want, because there’s always a singleton somewhere, and you don’t have to engage in long discussions about what to see. You just…go.  That’s how I saw The Sixth Sense...

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Friday
Oct212016

Middleburg Day 1: "Lion" is a winner

By Nathaniel R

Sheila Johnson welcomes you!Salamander

Middleburg Film Festival, now in its fourth year and just an hour outside of Washington DC, is a rising festival to watch. Most of the festival's big events take place at the Salamander Resort and Spa which sits on 340 beautiful acres. The rooms are gorgeous -- I even have a nice little terrace to sit on while typing up these diaries for you. In short, this is a destination festival rather than a 'drop in for a film or two or two after work' type big city festival. Emma Stone and Damien Chazelle are coming into town for La La Land and other luminaries appear for their films, too.

The festival, which has an Oscar hopeful heavy lineup, was founded by the African-American billionaire Sheila Johnson (co-founder of BET network) who welcomed us to the opening night screening. The event was in the resort's huge ballroom and I was surprised to be very happy and pleased with the screen size and sound since non-traditional venues at regional festivals can sometimes present challenges.


 The opening night film was the lost child / adoption drama Lion. True to early buzz we've heard the movie is quite wonderful...

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Monday
Oct172016

"Moonlight" in Three Acts

Since Barry Jenkins' new film Moonlight is told in triptych style, we've opted to bring you our NYFF review in the same way with three of us writing it! - Editor

"Little" by Murtada Elfadl
Moonlight is a patient movie that takes its time to give us a full portrait of what goes on in a young man’s mind. Long beautifully rendered scenes provide us pivotal snippets of days in a life. The economy of the scenes mixed with the patience in storytelling means that every gesture and word counts. Barry Jenkins takes Tarell McCraney’s unproduced play "In Moonlight Black Boys Boys Look Blue" and paints it on screen, using his actors’ faces and bodies to deliver singular poetic images.

The languid melancholic tone fits the inner monologue of the main character Chiron (who is called "Little" in this first of three segments),  who is struggling to understand himself...

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Thursday
Oct062016

What's your most vivid memory of "The Departed" and the 2006 Oscar Race? 

by Nathaniel R

Ten years ago today Martin Scorsese's smash hit The Departed opened in theaters. I remember that day well especially that beat just past this still above when the entire sold out movie theater exploded simultaneously with shock, excitement, screaming, whooping, collective chills. A master playing the audience perfectly so it's no wonder that Martin Scorsese finally won the Oscar for it. Strangely I have few other vivid memories of the movie other than the feeling that that deep line in Leonardo DiCaprio's perma-angst expression had never and would never be put to better use again. Also something about Vera Farmiga flirting in an elevator, and the movie's perfect final shot.

The Film Experience was definitely having an "off consensus" year -- we were all about Marie Antoinette, The Fountain, & Volver so the Oscars were kind of a let-down -- but at least it was one of those interesting years where the Best Picture contenders didn't hog all the nominations. In fact only 1 of the 10 leading acting contenders came from a Best Picture nominee. Strange, right?

What do you remember most about The Departed? And how comfortable were you with the 2006 Oscar's lineup. As a reminder the Best Pictures were:

  • Babel (7 noms / 1 controversial win - for the barely there Original Score) 
  • The Departed (5 noms / 4 wins including Picture)
  • Letters From Iwo Jima (4 noms / 1 win)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (4 noms / 2 wins)
  • The Queen (6 noms / 1 win)
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