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Entries in Oscar Trivia (167)

Friday
Aug292014

'Common Threads', and Oscar's History with LGBT Documentaries

Today is Wear It Purple Day, which asks people to simply wear the color purple in support of LGBT equality. It's appropriate then that we continue our celebration of 1989 today with a look at that year's Oscar winner for Best Documentary. Glenn is joined in a conversation by friend of The Film Experience and doco-expert Daniel Walber, writer for Nonfics and Film School Rejects.

Glenn: Daniel, thank you for joining us. While I would obviously love to hear your thoughts on the film, I think I would be just as interested to hear about how well you think Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt sits amongst Oscar's documentary history. So few films about gay issues have even been nominated, yet alone won (the only other winner of its kind is The Times of Harvey Milk, also by Rob Epstein), but does Common Threads hold up as a winner? And furthermore, given just one year later they ignored Paris is Burning, does it strike you as just a case of voters simply going for a subject matter that they felt was Important and Worthy rather than any genuine interest in LGBT issues?

Daniel: That's a fascinating question. I'm not sure a movie with the precise scope and loose style of Paris Is Burning would have appealed to the Academy no matter what it was about. They didn't go for Grey Gardens either. Common Threads was definitely helped by the gravity and capital-I Importance of its subject, but I also think it holds up well as a film. Epstein knows what he’s doing, and this one has just as powerful an emotional arc as Harvey Milk. The device of zooming in on panels of the quilt to introduce stories feels a tad schlocky at first, particularly with the Bobby McFerrin music underneath, but it wasn’t long before I was won over by its genuine affection and understanding for its subjects. Perhaps there’s some consternation that it beat For All Mankind [for the Oscar], which I know still has a great reputation (I haven’t seen it), but I do think Common Threads deserved the attention.

How to Survive a Plague, The Celluloid Closet and Film vs TV after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Aug242014

182 days 'til Oscar

Which power couple will be obsessing over in just six months time? The 87th Oscars approach and as long as the movies have been around there have been fabulously wealthy and glamorous movie star couples. Take Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks for instance, the original celebrity power couple. If you must know (I know you are too shy to ask) my favorite films of theirs are His: The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and Hers: Stella Maris (1918) though admittedly I have many more left to see.

Fairbanks & Pickford were married in 1920 when both were superstars, he the original Zorro and she Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and other big hits. He famously gave Pickford "The Star of Bombay," a 182-carat sapphire which was not actually from Bombay but from Sri Lanka. She later bequeathed it to the Smithsonian where it remains. There's your priceless (okay, $½ million in today's dollars) piece of trivia for the day. You're welcome.

Pickford (the original "America's Sweetheart") and Fairbanks (the original "King of Hollywood") were among the 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Fairbanks served as its first President and both would eventually receive Honorary Oscars with Mary also winning a regular statuette for Coquette). Could they have ever imagined how obsessive we'd all be about their little annual banquets 87 years later? 

At the 86th Oscars, contemporary Hollywood's most glamorous megastar couple Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt famously ate a pizza (well, he did) but they were also honored. She took home an Honorary (albeit non televised. argh) and he won his first competitive Oscar for producing 12 Years a Slave. They could theoretically both take home Oscars again if Fury and Unbroken are massive hits with AMPAS and reasonably well liked by audiences. 

Do you think they will be?

CURRENT OSCAR PREDICTIONS (which category needs a major rethink?)

Saturday
Aug162014

"Sing out (Madonna), Louise!"

A happy 56th birthday to the Queen Herself. I was out for drinks with two friends the other night (Hi, Sue & Jordan!) and somehow the conversation turned to Madonna -- I can't remember how it got there -- and the Best Actress for Evita Golden Globe was discussed. 'Her one shot at an Oscar' ...but then of course she wasn't nominated. (1996 was an overstuffed year in Best Actress of course but even if it hadn't been, The Academy probably would have resisted.) But of course it wasn't her only shot at Oscar. They've snubbed her repeatedly in that Best Original Song category though two songs she sang but didn't write won the actual gold man ("Sooner or Later" from Dick Tracy by Stephen Sondheim and "You Must Love Me" from Evita by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber). 

Her original songs from the movies in preference order:

 

  1. "Into the Groove" for Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) 
  2. "Live To Tell" for At Close Range (1986)
    I'm not sure if this was officially disqualified but it would have been for the same reason as the infamous rejection of "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge! (It was written for another film altogether but switched movies) 
  3. "Crazy For You" for Vision Quest (1985)
  4. "Die Another Day" for Die Another Day (2002) - Golden Globe nod
  5. "Beautiful Stranger" for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) - Golden Globe nod
  6. "Who's That Girl" for Who's That Girl (1987) - Golden Globe & Grammy nods
  7. "This Used To Be My Playground" for A League of Their Own (1992) - Golden Globe nod
  8. "I'll Remember" for With Honors (1994) - Golden Globe & Grammy nods 
  9. "Causing a Commotion" for Who's That Girl (1987)
  10. "Masterpiece" for W.E. (2012) - Globe win
    disqualified from Oscar - too late in the end credits 

And I don't even want to talk about Truth or Dare (1991) not winning a Best Documentary nomination when it's one of the best docs ever made... or at least in the top 5 most entertaining. And while we're Oscar dissing, how is it that Stephen Sondheim's rousing "More" from Dick Tracy missed a nomination? Did they only submit the one song or was it the way Warren Beatty edited its production number to smithereens so there was barely any of it there -- one of the weirdest directorial decisions ever when there was clearly a big festive Madonna/Sondheim production number filmed?

Madonna having a bit of a Joan Crawford moment in her recent "Revolution of Love" short film which I'll admit I didn't 'get' at all. Rare for me with a Madonna project.

Madonna's dreams to become "A Real Actress" (I love that she has a Moulin Rouge! "Satine" connection!) seem to have ended at the same time her marriage to Guy Ritchie wrapped and the only movies she's made since have been behind the camera with Filth & Wisdom and W.E. But she'll always have the music. If you haven't yet read it you should check out this excellent essay from Savage Garden's Darren Hayes on 'why the world needs another brilliant Madonna album'. And hat tip to Erik at Awards Watch (who've been holding a Madonna Week) for pointing that one out. I hope she writes a killer song for a movie again soon, a song so strong that it would be shameful for the Academy to ignore. 

Wednesday
Jul092014

you wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if i weren't still in this Blog | But cha'aar, Link, ya'aar!

Boy Culture counts down 100 best Golden Girls guest spots - movie stars of yore!
The Daily Beast has an excellent piece on Tammy and Melissa McCarthy's career and body (also body of work) by Teo Bugbee
New Yorker thorough piece on the arguments for and against VOD for indies and the question of "cultural endurance" (I'm against VOD in general but I recognize that's probably because I live in NYC where I can actually see the movies and I think moviegoing is so much more immersive than watching things at home)

Me Says considers Notes on a Scandal (2006) the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane of our time 
Bad-Ass Digest on Exodus: Gods and Kings' 'white men with bronzer' cast. Will it finally crystallize the white-wash problem for people who still don't get it? 
Nathaniel R and have you seen that tacky black&white-in-color poster?
EW Dick Jones the voice of Pinocchio dies at 87 
Radar apparently Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are 7 months pregnant... I thought they broke up? I can't keep up with celebrity lovelives 
Cosmopolitan has a cool piece on top stuntwomen... stunts are on my mind alot given that it's blockbuster season and this piece a month back...
TFE an interview with Hollywood's top stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton
Movie Dearest interviews the screenwriter of the 80s shocker Crimes of Passion starring Kathleen Turner  

Finally, what do you make of this plea for a collaborative performance Oscar?

Outstanding Collaborative Performance: Andy Serkis and company from Press Play Video Blog on Vimeo.

 

On the one hand I absolutely agree that Andy Serkis needs an Oscar and I've been saying so since 2002. But, like Mark Harris, I don't think it needs to be a competitive one. Creating Oscar categories or changing Oscar rules due to one or two special things (like say a Batman movie directed by Chris Nolan or a really great year for animation) usually results in far more problems and undeserving honors than it's worth. I say bring back the special Oscar for cinematic achievements that don't have competitive categories. When I was a kid that was a semi-regular event and it was nearly always cool.

Tuesday
Jul082014

All That Link

It's been so long since we had a link roundup! You were all partying over the long weekend anyway. But we're back to normal. Please to enjoy these fine, discussable or just fun posts around the web...

Antagony & Ecstasy looks back at Thelma & Louise now that Susan Sarandon is on the road in Tammy's crime spree
VF Jennifer Lawrence meets Emma Watson
Leigh Alexander on internet sexism - the dos and don'ts 
BuzzFeed Matt McGorry and Samira Wiley from Orange is the New Black recreate Matthew McConaughey movie posters. Love.
WSJ Taylor Swift fancies herself a journalist suddenly and writes about the future of fandom, music careers and record sales 
AV Club on that potato salad kickstarter 
Deadline on new controversial strict rules for documentary eligibility at the Oscars. I understand the arguments against the new ruling but I would also like to caution documentarians to think about what they're asking for. The Oscars are larger than your particular craft and they really are supposed to be about CINEMA (i.e. things that play in theaters) so shush. These kinds of rulings may hurt at first but there should be a difference between television and movies. Television has its own awards for you to win if your film is great. Don't be greedy. I do agree with one complaint though: what's fair for docs should also be fair for features so Oscar needs to tighten up its eligibility rules across the board.

Hey, Look

It's the first image of Don Cheadle as Miles Davis in a forthcoming biopic. Filming has just begun. I guess Cheadle hasn't moved to TV for good (i *really* hate House of Lies) but at this point he seems far more likely to win an Emmy than an Oscar. The movie is apparently more about his marriage than his music. The best news about the project by far is that it gives Emayatzy Corinealdi a follow up leading role to her great work in Middle of Nowhere. She plays Miles first wife Francis Taylor.

Bob Fosse and Roy Scheider at Cannes for "All That Jazz"Fosse Fosse Fosse
Sound on Sight has an excellent retrospective of Bob Fosse's astounding but weirdly forgotten cinematic career from Mynt Marsellus. I wish Marsellus hadn't hedged on his ending - Fosse absolutely is equal to the other far more famous auteurs cited (Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, etcetera). They are only better remembered / respected I'd argue because they:

a) have comparatively gigantic filmographies
b) are still alive and working twenty-seven years after Fosse's death (Fosse was older than all the other crucial 70s breakout auteurs save Robert Altman and Fosse also died relatively young at only 60)
c) made their best films in genres that are more typically male than the film musical and thus escaped the pervasive destructive sexism that tends to devalue all rich work in more traditionally "feminine" fields like musicals, romances, and melodramas. We see this all the time in film criticism. Still.