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Oscar History

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Oscar Horrors: Kathy Bates in Misery

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Entries in Burning Questions (51)


What Does Tom Hanks Have to Do to Receive Another Oscar Nomination?

by abstew

The world was a very different place in January 2001. George W. Bush was being sworn into office for the first of his two terms as President, people used disposable cameras and brought the film to be developed at...drug stores, and the main places to watch new films was in the actual movie theater (where the average ticket price was $5.39) and then later going to the nearest Blockbuster to rent it. It also happened to be the last time that Tom Hanks was nominated for an acting Oscar.

With a total of 5 Best Actor nominations for Big (1988), Philadelphia (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and Cast Away (2000) and back-to-back wins (only the second Best Actor to accomplish the feat after Spencer Tracy almost 60 years before and only one of five actors (the others are Luise Rainer, Katharine Hepburn, and Jason Robards) to have achieved the distinction in the Academy's 88 year history) it's not like Hanks is hurting for accolades. And if that weren't enough, he's even taken gold for television, winning 7 Emmys so far as a producer and director on multiple miniseries.

The Academy often has brief but passionate affairs when it comes to actors...

Click to read more ...


Newish Home Viewing: The Lady in the Van, The Oscar in the Franchises.

Here's what's new recently for your eyeballs.

Newish to DVD/BluRay
Fifty Shades of Black. Marlon Wayans sends up the Grey S&M movie.
The Force Awakens. Not available for rental yet but when it is we shall rewatch
The Forest. In which Natalie Dormer enters Japan's Suicide Forest to confront true terror: the reviews of Gus Van Sant's 'Sea of Trees' which is also set there.
Ip Man 3. For your completists. I haven't seen any of these since I figured The Grandmaster covered it for me. You?
The Lady in the Van. In which Maggie Smith gets grittier and descends the economic ladder for once. Maintain high society snobbier via her delusions of
Norm of the North. Animated. Though probably nothing we need worry about over here.
The Revenant. That which did rob George Miller of his rightful Best Director Oscar in February.

new to streaming
AJIN (S1) on Netflix. An anime sci-fi series about a teenager who realizes he is not human. Cue: suspenseful music, giant expressive eyes.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (S2) on Netflix. I haven't started yet due to travels. Can't wait to see my Jane Krakowski again. Tell me NOTHING. 
Mad Max on Amazon Prime. The original. Roughly 20 years before everyone realized Mel Gibson was also Mad.
Kong, King of the Apes (S1) on Netflix. This is a kids sci-fi series about Kong battling robot dinosaurs or some such. Has Netflix been doing kids series for awhile and we're just now noticing?
Tangerines on Amazon Prime. Not the awesome LA trans hooker comedy but the Estonian Oscar nominated drama.

All the Bourne films (2002-2012 - 4 films thus far) and all the X-Men films (2000-2014 - five films thus far) have been reissued on DVD & BluRay for the obvious reason: new theatrical outing about to happen. This prompted head spinning when randomly thinking about their Oscar histories. Weirdly both series have been popular from the start with audiences but have just one film within them that Oscar responded to: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, 3 Oscar noms/wins) and X-Men Days of Future Past (2012, 1 Oscar nomination).

Rehearsing a fight scene for Bourne Ultimatum. Photograph by Greg Williams

Isn't it fascinating how non-patterned Oscar is with franchises as a general rule? Sometimes they're not into them at all and then all of a sudden they are (those franchises and James Bond of course). Other times it's steady if halfhearted interest (superhero films in particular categories). Often it seems vaguely disconnected to the particulars of individual films. Consider this: Batman Forever is easily the Academy's second most all time favorite Batman film? WTF.  They've also been weirdly sporadic in Harry Potter love ignoring one of the best entries (Order of the Phoenix) that actually worked hard for an Art Direction nomination while rewarding the film that took place mostly in a tent (Deathly Hallows Part 1).

On the broad surface of things you'd think that Oscar voters, many of whom are ordinary working people who just happen to be in showbiz (like Emmy voters) would treat franchises the way that Emmy treats TV... which is all franchises. Not that we recommend this! With Emmy if they don't notice you at beginning they almost never do -- and they're loyal to the point of stupidity if they like you at all! Oscar doesn't really equate with that at all in ongoing narratives. What do you make of that? I ask because I'm not sure. I don't have all the answers!!! Is it just happenstance involving the every shifting competition in each calendar year at the movies?


Burning Question: What current star would have benefitted most from the Studio System?

This post is brought to you by agonizing advertisements for The Huntsman: Winter's War. Which looks dreadful.

Sometimes when I look at Charlize Theron, it hurts. She has such old school "MOTION! PICTURE! SPECTACULAR!" scale to her persona, this inarguable magnificence / screen beauty. The catch: she's almost never in movies that do anything for her when she's doing so much for them.

She might be my #1 choice for current star whose career is alright but would have been spectacular under the Studio System when star magnetism was carefully catered to, packaged, and regularly served up rather than an "extra" your random movie can sometimes benefit from.

Who is yours?


TCM Classic Film Festival Starts Today!

Greetings and salutations, cinephiles! Anne Marie here, reporting from sunny (and hot) Hollywood, CA as the 6th annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off. For the next four days, I'll be reporting what's new (and old) at Hollywood's largest festival devoted entirely to celebrating the classics. 

This year, the theme of the festival is "History According To Hollywood". Films range in period and subject from the French Revolution (Reign of Terror), to the American West (My Darling Clementine), to the Civil Rights Movement (Malcom X), and the Apollo missions (Apollo 13), with historians and even an astronaut onhand to lend perspective. Of course, it wouldn't be TCM if they didn't roll out the red carpet for icons of a bygone era of the silver screen: Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, and Ann Margaret will discuss their films before special screenings. And tonight, the entire festival kicks off with the 50th Anniversary of The Sound Of Music, with Dame Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in attendance.

However, the TCM Film Festival has courted some controversy this year for exactly the wide range of films that they are celebrating.

After the festival schedule was announced, TCM fans took to social media to denounce it as "too new" and "lacking true classic film." Adding to the controversy was the decision to screen many films digitally, instead of on film. Sides were taken, articles were written (the best explanation is courtesy of The Black Maria), and all of it seems to boil down to one question:

How do you define a classic?


Is a Classic film defined by age? Quality? Time and place of origin? By expanding this definition to include films that are only 20 years old, are we adding diversity or devaluing already great work? Film is, comparatively speaking, a very new artform; only a little over 100 years old. It's been regarded as "legitimate" art for less than half of that. Considering that movies are still new and ever-changing, maybe we should focus less on labels and more on celebrating what's been accomplished in a century.

Today, dear TFE readers, you get to choose what you think is a classic. Below are five films being shown at TCMFF. On top of the daily updates, I will go to whichever of these five you choose, and report back on it during the Monday wrap up. So, I'll ask again: how do you define a classic?

What Should Anne Marie See at TCMFF?
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR (1961) w/ Shirley MacLaine0%
LENNY (1974) w/ Alec Baldwin, Dustin Hoffman0%
42ND STREET (1933) w/ Christine Ebersole0%
MALCOLM X (1992) w/ Spike Lee0%
MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) w/ Keith Carradine, Peter Fonda0%


Is There a Right Way to Watch "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"?

abstew in the house to ask a Burning Question...

Almost a year ago today, director Ned Benson premiered his film debut, an ambitious two part film about the breakdown of a modern relationship called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, at the Toronto Film Festival (and Nathaniel was there). The film was not just one, but two films of the same story, each told from the different viewpoint of its two main characters played by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. It was an interesting concept and much like this summer's Boyhood, seemed like an amazing opportunity to show something unique and ambitious in the cineplex. 

Today the film finally arrives in select movie theaters. However, 12 months later, the way the film is coming to us is far different from the way it was originally conceived. The version that opens in NY and LA this weekend (and expanding next week) is actually a spliced two-hour combination of the two films now subtitled Them (which made its debut at Cannes this past May) with the original concept of two separate films, now called Him and Her, to be released a month later in October. But with three different versions of essentially the same story...

Is there a right way to see The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby? And perhaps more importantly, can all three films sustain enough interest across so many versions? [more...]

Click to read more ...


Burning Questions: Are Marvel films Interchangeable?

Amir here and I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore. There is no Marvel movie in theatres at the moment but the world is anticipating Guardians of the Galaxy very soon, as has been the case every few months for the past several years. Like Michael Bay films, discussed in the box office column, Marvel films are entities I have vowed not to ever see again, especially after news came out that Edgar Wright was taken off Ant-Man. I was marginally interested in Guardians after seeing the kooky trailer, but who are we kidding? The off-kilter humor of the short preview is going to give way to explosions and “things crashing into other things” and the experience will be like every single other Marvel film.

Which brings me to this frustrating news: Marvel has announced release dates for (hopefully all) their future films until the end of the decade, with the catch being the absence of... film titles? Yes, that’s correct. The studio has planned its visual assault all the way for the next five years, without even bothering with the names in the announcement this time.

Have they now realized that their output is completely interchangeable? I’m not exactly sure if I’d be less upset if these dates had titles attached to them, but what stings about the news is Marvel’s acute awareness that the audience will get excited about it and mark their calendars even without characters or stories to get excited about in the first place, like zombies feeding on chiseled heroes. The studio has become the brand, fully overshadowing the content of its films; and its sibling comics business moves like turning Thor into a woman do little to conceal the studio's lack of creative force. This announcement of release dates of unnamed product reeks of what's desperately rotten with today’s film culture: That a distinctly original, unique (and admittedly problematic) vision like Snowpiercer, fails to crack double digits at the box office, at a time when a studio with no regard for originality or qualitative progress can correctly expect people to rush to their wallets five years in advance.

Something is broken and it needs serious fixing, otherwise what we're offered on screen will continue to become less versatile and more depressing by the week. If you don't believe me, look no further than this weekend's wide release box office, where a meaningless sequel stayed at the top spot; a terrible sequel came second; an even more terrible sequel came third; and the most terrible of all sequels came fifth. I’m fucking angry about everything.


Burning Questions: Is '12 Years a Slave' Really Too Rough For Oscar?

Michael Cusumano here. Oscar balloting closed 24 hours ago and this final crunch before Oscar night has me pondering the gap between pre-Fall buzz and the reality heading into the big ceremony.

If the breathless predictions about 12 Years a Slave that sounded out of Toronto last September were to be believed there should have been zero suspense left in the Best Picture race long ago. Like The King’s Speech before it, McQueen’s film appeared to be such a direct hit to the Academy’s sweet spot that many called the race then and there. So what happened? 12 Years may still emerge victorious but why isn’t it rolling over the competition like a Sherman Tank? 

The popular theory is that 12 Years is turning off the more squeamish voters with its unsparing physical and emotional violence. These voters are supposedly fleeing to the comforts of Gravity, which is nerve-shredding but in the unthreatening context of an action-thriller. This seems logical enough but I wonder if it's too easy an answer.

Is 12 Years a Slave really too rough for awards voters? Or is something larger at play?

Click to read more ...