Oscar History

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Entries in Hit Me With Your Best Shot (238)


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Sunset Blvd" 

For this week's special edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- temporarily redubbed "Hit Me With Your Second-Best Shot" as I've declared that iconic finale off limits -- we're looking at the finest Movie About the Movies ever made. Or one of them at least. The point is it's entirely unmissable and a candidate for any sane All Time Greatest Movie list. The film never gets old or becomes irrelevant even though those are two of its best and most horrifically stared-down topics.

Billy Wilder's masterpiece (or one of them at least), immeasurably aided by inspired performances from William Holden as the screenwriter to Gloria Swanson's screen siren, is not just an acting and writing triumph. It's also a stunner in all the craft categories, particularly its Oscar-winning art direction and its cinematography by John F Seitz, a seven time nominee. His work is magnificent throughout, providing maximum pleasure to "those wonderful people out there in the dark" with his expressive lighting.

So let's get right to those (second) best shots...

A Visual Index of Sunset Blvd (1950)

(Second) Best Shot. According to these 15 movie-loving participants
Click on any image to be taken to the corresponding article
Images presented in rough order as to when they appear in the movie

My New Plaid Pants - this is not technically an entry but people, let this be a lesson to you. If you've already chosen a shot, write a sentence or two about it. The hard part is choosing after all. If you've chosen, do it. We'll link up! 

100% macabre
- Movie Motorbreath *video entry* 

'Stars are ageless.' This shot disagrees."
-I Want to Believe 

There is one entity who has never betrayed her: her 'celluloid self.'"
-The Entertainment Junkie 

Everyone, including Norma, can't help but look at Norma...
-Sorta That Guy 

This image sums up Sunset Blvd., and even more than that,  the entire psychological universe of noir... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

No matter how crazy Norma Desmond may be, I always find her incredibly sympathetic...
-Film Actually 

We might be entering the movie’s world through Joe Gillis’s point of view, but unlike him, we *are* here to see Norma Desmond. 
-Coco Hits NY 

It's easy to imagine she does this ever year, even without a handsome writer..."
-Awards Madness 

Already too attached to Norma and her gifts...
-Dancin Dan on Film 

If Norma Desmond is a fictionalized version of Gloria Swanson, Max Von Mayerling is a quasi-(auto)biographical portrait of Erich von Stroheim...
-Paul Outlaw 

We expect cold humiliating truth but what we get is the film's most genuinely warm moment... 
- The Film Experience 

Norma Desmond would be proud of the leading lady portraying her..."
-54 Disney Reviews 

A true star always finds the light...
-Jija Crazy Movie *first time participant*

A one-man army of servants, for her sake, steps back into his role as director once more..."
-Allison Tooey  

Please do visit each article, share, and comment. The more eyes the merrier when it comes to worshipping great stars. You haven't forgotten what a star looks like.

NEXT WEDNESDAY: 1995's [safe] starring Julianne Moore


Poor Joe. This Spotlight is For Norma Desmond

When I issued the challenge of Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd (1950), with the caveat that you couldn't use that final close up for Mr DeMille, I knew it would make for a great episode. What a stone cold classic it is, filled with potent images in every scene that are too often taken for granted given the combined impact of its haunting iconic opening and closing. What I had dumbly not remembered was how intoxicatingly full Sunset Blvd feels on every repeat viewing inbetween. You can go into each screening with one topic in mind ("I shall write about this") and come out with a dozen more topics boiling, your original thoughts crowded out of the mind's frame. So I must painfully set aside the self-deprecating script, the gestural bravado, the timelessness of its time capsule, its shame-trigger economics and sexuality. So much of it distracts from the real purpose of HMWYBS which is to zero in on a particular image from a public piece of art that seizes your individual imagination with its beauty or thematic resonance or what not, and discuss. 

So Joe McGillis will have to wait. Which is a shame. He's worth at least 11 essays of his own according to my easily distracted notes. They're messier than Norma's epic handwritten "Salome" opus which visually buries Joe long before she works up enough actual crazy to really bury him. [More...]

Click to read more ...


Are you ready for your closeup? 

Let this serve as a kindly reminder that you do NOT want to miss this week's special edition of  Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd. (1950). The series is temporarily redubbed "hit me with your (second) best shot" as you may not use Norma Desmond's final scene, that infamous closeup... arguably the greatest final shot in the movies.

Anything else will do and there's plenty to choose from in this Billy Wilder masterpiece expressively shot by seven time Oscar nominee John F Seitz.

The movie is available on Netflix Instant Watch. Post your shot choice anytime before Wednesday night at 10 pm online (blog, tumblr, pinterest, twitter, facebook whatever) and let us know you did and we'll link up.

Can't wait to see your choices!


Best Shot Visual Index: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

I was so certain that I owned Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that I didn't bother to rent it at all for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode. Come Tuesday night I discover that my dvd had vanished into the clouds after apparently leaping from its perch near the top of the dvd shelf. Worse still it's not available for rental on iTunes or Amazon but only for purchase and if I'm going to purchase something I still want the physical object. Old school! Which means that I will be late yet again with my own entry as the host which is all but inexcusable but par for the course this week (experiencing meltdowns backstage - this too shall pass?). But an unexpected development, just this week the sequel -- the reason we were doing this, was moved back to 2016 from its expected August bow.

But please do visit these articles elsewhere on Ang Lee's much Oscar nominated, much earning, much ripped off classic. I know I will. The film won 4 Oscars including cinematography for Peter Pau and probably just missed the Best Director win too since Ang Lee took the Globe, DGA and BAFTA that year. Imagine if he'd taken the Oscar that year. He'd have 3 wins by now.

(click on the pics for corresponding articles)

 Almost like Cupid’s arrow...?
-I Am Derreck 

When you look at this image, you could easily mistake the film for a traditional Western... 
-Film Actually  

That Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon focuses on the traditionally Chinese conflict between reason (li) and emotion (qing) is unsurprising, the way the movie expresses the conflict through images, however, is anything but. 
- Coco Hits NY

 If I made a list of ‘top 10 overrated movies’ this would definitely make that list...
-54 Disney Reviews

a portrayal of love as the light in the darkness...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Lee's romanticism is also utilized simply to make interesting, unexpected choices... 
-The Entertainment Junkie

Honestly, it’s not a surprise that this is the same director as Brokeback Mountain when you come to think of it, since it’s clear that the man knows how to make emotional self-imprisonment believable and dangerous...
-Movie Motorbreath 

It's all about Zhang Ziyi. For someone so small, she has immense screen presence...
-Sorta That Boy 

Where is Michelle Yeoh's international superstardom?
-Paul Outlaw

And finally...

Nathaniel's Placeholder Best Shot
For the record, in closing, this is the single image that my mind races to first when I am reminded of the film. I'm not saying it will be my "best" upon a close rewatch inspection, but I remember the whole scene vividly and fondly and the entire movie felt this way to me the first time I saw it; a magical film transcending the standard laws, balancing delicately and easily in the treetops while breathing rarified instant-classic air.

I'll update this list when more articles come in including my own - you should still join us since the sequel is delayed and we can continue to add articles. Perhaps I'll choose a shot from each half hour as penance? It's been so long since I've seen it and I'm eager to have it memorized again before the possibly ill advised sequel arrives which is no longer next month but early 2016.

Sunset Blvd (1950). But you can't choose the infamous "close-up" for Mr DeMille at film's end so if that's your shot your choice must be "second best shot". I am starting on this one FRIDAY so that there is no way in hell I'll be late for my own event next Wednesday. If you've always wanted to try "best shot," here's you classic opportunity with a film from Old Hollywood about Even Older Hollywood that nonetheless never gets old. 


HMWYBS: Join The Wednesday Night Party!

Reminder that there's no "Best Shot" tonight due to the holiday week - but you should watch July 8th's topic soon -- Crouching Tiger leaves Netflix Instant on July 4th! 

Wed July 8th 

This wuxia blockbuster leaves Netflix Instant on July 4th so choose your shot before then if you don't own it! I've been eager to leap gracefully back into this one for ages and the possibly ill conceived sequel arrives in August so join me.

Wed July 15th 

Mr DeMille would like to know if you're ready for your closeup? But here's the catch --  you can't use it! It's a special episode: "Hit Me With Your (Second) Best Shot" since one of the all time most perfect (final) shots in a movie cannot be your choice -- because wouldn't it be everyone's?! The whole movie is awesome and memorable so this has the makings of a great episode. For younger readers: if you haven't seen it (gulp) fix this huge gap in your budding movie love.

[safe] (1995)
Wed July 22nd
Since 1995 is our 'year of the month,' we're revisiting Todd Haynes much puzzled over drama. The movie, initially barely noticed, has been growing steadily in critical estimation for two decades now. See the origins of the cult of Julianne Moore fanaticism in the disturbingly placid surfaces of this mysterious classic. 

3 final episodes in August TBA

How to play:

1) watch the movie

2) pick your "best shot"

3) post it wherever your online presence may be with an explanation as to why you chose it 4) let us know and we link you up in the visual index roundup on Wednesday night each week!


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Red Shoes"

Before we begin, the beginning...

Is this not one of the cinema's most exquisite title cards? It's presentational, theatric, classic, colorful, and bears the distinct mark of handmade craftsmanship. That's all perfectly emblematic of the film itself, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's highly theatrical, deeply colorful look at obsessive artistry, possibly the greatest film of 1948, our Year of the Month (the Smackdown is Sunday)

Before we get to my choice, I'd like to share the others from around the web, since I was running late to my own series like some selfish prima ballerina whose 45 minutes late to rehearsal.

Cinematography by Jack Cardiff
As chosen by these participating blogs. Click on the photos for corresponding articles.

 Waves crashing on the shore of the stage. It's such a perfectly impressionistic moment...
-Dancin' Dan on Film

The film approaches this theme of obsession in some rather surprising ways...
-The Entertainment Junkie


Love and obsession are two sides of the same coin...
-Film Actually


If you haven't seen The Red Shoes, rest assured that it's the biggest gap in your film education, and you should make it a short-term priority...
-Antagony & Ecstasy


If you think about it, The Red Shoes,is just an incredibly artsy examination of the “Can women truly have it all?” question...
-Pop Culture Crazy


(Vicky. Her Relationship. Dancing). This love triangle of sorts dominates the latter half of the film... 
-Sorta That Guy

He holds them up to the camera...daring us to take them.
-Coco Hits NY 

Showcasing the cinematic artifice and especially the psychology. It's super overt, but why not?
-Movie Motorbreath


In a way watching her dance reminded me of the movie Ed Wood (I know strange comparison but hear me out).  He is so happy making his terrible movies.  The smile on his face never leaves."
-54 Reviews 

They're all great beauties and I considered some of them. My pick after the jump...

Click to read more ...


HMYBS: Magic Mike (Part Two)

Did you know that Magic Mike (2012) won TFE's Bronze Medal for Best Picture of 2012?Hit Me With Your Best Shot is looking at Magic Mike (2012) before strapping on possessed ballet slippers for The Red Shoes this coming Wednesday.

Due to some scheduling snafus / switcheroos this week we ended up divvying up our look back at Steven Soderberg and Channing Tatum's still undervalued but much enthused over Magic Mike (2012). So you got it in three parts, the first visual roundup (8 early bird participants), this roundup and my own choice, this weekend when I finally get myself together. It's been a looooooong week for me off blog.

The first batch of shot choices included a few takes on the Dallas/Kid training scene, and two surreal shots involving Dallas and Ken. This time it's the act of watching (Cody), the love of being watched (McConaughey), and the commodification of bodies / people.

Magic Mike (2012)
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh; Cinematography by: Steven Soderbergh as "Peter Andrews"

(Pt 1) 7 Images
...and now (Pt 2) 9 Images a couple NSFW so it's all after the jump...
click on the images to read the corresponding article -- really good articles this week, I think. 

Click to read more ...


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Amadeus" (A Visual Index)

For this week's Best Shot topic, Milos Forman's scrumptious musical duet between jealous Salieri and genius Wolfgang. It was called Amadeus and it was very very good and very very popular -- raking in big box office, too. Though it never landed in the box office top five it had major legs and ended its reign as the 12th highest grosser of 1984.

The music drama won 8 Oscars (from 11 nominations) but curiously one of the prizes it lost was cinematography! The DP was Miroslav Ondrícek who had also been nominated for the previous Milos Forman picture Ragtime (1981).

Amadeus is so visually luxurious that I figured it would be a hard assignment and these eight images surprised me and I can't wait to dig into the articles. Unfortunately I had a computer mishap -- something is not working about my screengrab program (argh-the timing) -- so my own pick for Amadeus will have to wait. But please do read these articles and consider the visual choices. I'm not even going to attempt to put these in chronological order. It's a massive three hour film with lots of performances and difficult to place shots from the luxury overload. Today's Best Shot choices, from brave cinephiles round the web who dare to play this game, are presented in the order in which they were sent to me.

click on the photos to be taken to the corresponding article 
Next Wednesday: MAGIC MIKE (2012)... grab your singles and pick a shot to shove them into 

Forman wisely draws a visual (and comedic) parallel between the two appearances of the mask.
-The Entertainment Junkie 

When all you can do is seethe in your utter failure...
-Drink Your Juice Shelby 

In a film with such a lavish production, a quiet, almost bare scene caught my eye...
-Sorta That Guy

Hard to pick a shot because its best visual moments come from clever cutting and juxtapositions...
-Coco Hits NY

'It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God...'
-54 Disney Reviews

Thematically, I can't think of a more blunt message statement... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy

-Movie Motorbreath 

If every Oscar winner was as loose and irreverent as Amadeus...
-Serious Film 

This resplendent film earned every one of its 8 statues.
-Film Actually

The perfect metaphor for the movie's dynamic...
- The Expert Newbie *first entry* 

"I'm frightened!!!" Yet she was fearless. Cynthia Nixon at 18
-Paul Outlaw


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