Oscar History

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Entries in Once Upon a Time in the West (2)


Once Upon a Time in the Link

I have been remiss at sharing good stories and posts from around the web so I hereby return to it.

Pop Matters Jose takes another look at Marion Cotillard's work in Rust & Bone and contemplates Oscar
Pop Elegantarium Alexa loves the screwball comedy of David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook 
Sam Hiti Once Upon a Time in the West fans should check out this artists tumblr 
The Hot Blog David Poland on the NYFCC winners
Cinema Blend two Woody Allen classics coming to Blu-Ray this January 

EW top ten lists from popular critics Owen (Lincoln @ #1) & Lisa (Zero Dark Thirty @ #1). They both choose one Oscar hopeful among their "5 worst of the year" lists, too.
E! Online Rose McGowan is the latest actress trying to achieve Michelle Pfeiffer's now immortal Scarface look 
Antagony & Ecstasy wonderful piece on Life of Pi by one of the web's best critics 
The Carpet Bagger talks to the editor of Flight about the plane crash scene 
My New Plaid Pants who wore it best: animated decapitation
In Contention I totally forgot to mention the Golden Satellite nominations. Lots of love for Les Miz but also weird nominations for films that never opened in the States like Kim Ki-Duk's Piéta so I'm not sure what their criteria is for eligibility anymore

Coming Soon Anne Hathaway recently burst into tears when asked about doing a Catwoman spinoff, adding

...assuming there was enough Kleenex in the world, I would love to do a spin-off



Vulture Speaking of Anne Hathaway. Sort of. a screening of Les Misérables that I would've killed to be it for Academy and Globe members. Hugh Jackman sang and lap danced for birthday girl Amanda Seyfried 
Gawker on the 13 most powerful images of naked celebrities for 2012 
In Contention Pedro Almodóvar, as you know my favorite living filmmaker, will be getting an Academy tribute in London. I'm so jealous of Guy Lodge right now who gets to attend these London events
Stale Popcorn Glenn on Australia's film award nominations (formerly AFI and now called AACTA) . The musical The Sapphires leads.
Cinema Blend Casey Affleck stayin' creepy. He aims to play the Boston Strangler in a new film 

Finally, Grease superstars of yore, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John made a new video together for their Christmas album.

No comment. My inner child loves Livvy & Grease too much to comment. (Other than that John Travolta who not so unrecently commanded $20 million a movie maybe could have spared two hundred thousand dollar bills so this didn't look like it was made for two!)


Unsung Heroes: The Cinematography of 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

Michael C. here with the second season finale of Unsung Heroes. A recent obsession with the music of Ennio Morricone led me to the perfect subject, which manages the tricky feat of being both a landmark achievement and the work of an artist who is still somehow underappreciated. 

When Orson Welles finished Citizen Kane he was so grateful for Gregg Toland’s contributions to the film that he took the largely unprecedented step of sharing his title card with his cinematographer. I think it can be argued that the subject of this week’s episode of Unsung Heroes, cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, was worthy of similar recognition. Delli Colli shot all of Sergio Leone’s famous spaghetti westerns climaxing in Once Upon a Time in the West (1969), which many, myself included, consider their masterpiece. Yet I rarely, if ever, hear recognition extended past Leone the way I do with the cinematographers of other great auteurs, even though Delli Colli played a large role in creating one of the most iconic and influential visual styles in film history.

Has anyone ever photographed sunlight to such powerful effect as Delli Colli? The heat and light in his westerns is infinite, baking everything to a dry, brown crisp. I wonder if his name is not as renown as other greats like Vittorio Storaro or Gordon Willis because they used darkness and shadow so memorably, while Delli Colli painted almost entirely with brightness. Even the shadows in Once Upon a Time appear scorching. I’ve read people credit the arid, flat Spanish landscape for the distinctive feel of Leone’s westerns, yet scenes in Once Upon a Time are shot in the heart of John Ford’s legendary Monument Valley and Delli Colli manages the same harsh, parched feel there as in the rest of the film.

Leone was a perfectionist when it came to making sure the images on the screen exactly matched those in his imagination, and he preferred to work repeatedly with the same collaborators, like Delli Colli, whom he could count on to operate at a high level without fail. There is a wonderful moment in the DVD documentary on Once Upon a Time where a now elderly Claudia Cardinale begins, “Tonino Delli Colli…” then gets a distant look in her eyes, smiles and says simply “He knew how to light me.”

(On a side note, I think Delli Colli was worthy of the Oscar in ’69 for West if only for his lighting of Cardinale whom he pushes into serious Marilyn Monroe territory in the film. I mean wow.)

I suppose my idea here isn’t to call attention the visuals in Once Upon a Time in the West, which need no help from me being recognized as a monumental achievement, so much as it is to draw a big red circle around Delli Colli’s name. His work with Leone represents one of the great director-cinematographer partnerships along with the likes of Kubrick-Alcott or Coens-Deakins or Powell-Cardiff. No list of the greats is complete without his name.

Season Two of Unsung Heroes: Minority Report, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Glengarry Glen Ross, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Zodiac, Oldboy, The Iron Giant, I’m Not There, The Hustler, The Royal Tenenbaums, This is Spinal Tap, and Amelie