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Entries in Oscar Trivia (217)

Thursday
Aug272015

And The Honorary Oscars Go To... Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowlands, and Spike Lee.

No sooner had I published a list of speculation / suggestions for November's Honorary Oscars then the actual awards were announced. (I  must have misread the date on the Academy's meeting about this so we've unpublished and will revisit that topic at a more appropriate time.) For now, a hearty congratulations to a satisfying trio of recipients with very different appeals. We're throwing streamers and popping out of (okay eating) cakes this afternoon to celebrate!

Our Oscar Theme Song

All I do... is dream of you... the whole night through
with the dawn... i still go on... and dream of you
you're every thought... you're every thing
you're every song i ever sing
Summer. Winter.... Autumn and Spring 

DEBBIE REYNOLDS, "America's Sweetheart" back in her heyday (roughly speaking the 50s through the mid 60s), is your populist choice, not unlike Maureen O'Hara last year. Well liked showbiz legends that were never really critics darlings or in the Oscar hunt competitively can win Honorary Oscars if they stick around long enough. So here's to longevity! Reynolds, who is 83, made her first credited movie appearance in 1950, received her sole Best Actress nomination for the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)... and has literally never stopped working. This is a true showbiz trouper.

OF NOTE # 1: Carrie Fisher is going to be much in demand for the next several months given a) her mom's Honorary Oscar victory lap, publicity for her new memoir, and her own return to her signature Princess Leia this December in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

OF NOTE # 2: Postcards from the Edge, the thinly veiled Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds comic biopic starring Meryl Streep and Shirley Maclaine hits its 25th anniversary in a couple of weeks and we'll be celebrating that too.

GENA ROWLANDS was a regular Oscar player in her heyday (roughly speaking the late 60s through the early 80s) and is easily your aesthete's choice this year. She's a hugely influential actor and cinephiles have been bemoaning her Oscar losses for years, due in large part to her groundbreaking early indie work with her husband John Cassavettes. She's also worshipped by discerning film buff actors. Consider Tilda Swinton's quote on her film Julia, which was a loose remake of Gena's earlier film Gloria.

One's always downloading one's heroes, I suppose, all the time.  I remember being asked whether I thought about Gena Rowlands for "Julia" and thinking 'well, I think about Gena Rowlands all the time!' Not just for 'Julia'.

SPIKE LEE you could safely and cynically call this point in the 2015 honorary triangle their diversity choice but he's also entirely deserving so bless the media for putting so much pressure on Oscar voters to diversify! There's more to cinema than old white men (many of them are worth celebrating, too, but Oscar amply covers that without prodding). What's more, unlike Debbie Reynolds and Gena Rowlands, who couldn't really be called mistreated by the Academy for various reasons, AMPAS truly owes this maverick auteur. His indisputable classic Do The Right Thing (1989), his biopic epic Malcolm X (1992), his late career best 25th Hour (2002), and his biggest hit Inside Man (2006) have a measly 4 Oscar nominations between them with no wins. His only nominations to date were for his documentary 4 Little Girls (1997) and the screenplay of Do The Right Thing which, insane as it may sound, both lost. 

AND HERE'S WHERE YOU COME IN DEAR READER...

Last year we did mini-retrospectives on the Honorary winners when we noticed a dearth of coverage on movie sites (for shame) beyond obligatory news posts of the names and the later ceremony. Which films from each of their filmographies would you most like to revisit or discover for the first time with us before the ceremony on November 14th? 

Friday
Aug212015

1954 Look Back: Audrey's Style in "Sabrina" or the Givenchy Effect

We continue our 1954 celebration (Year of the Month) with abstew on Audrey... 

Audrey Hepburn isn't just a movie star, but a fashion icon. Her image is so closely linked to her style that the moments that immediately come to mind when we think of her - in a black cocktail dress, pearls, and oversized sunglasses nibbling a croissant in front of the window of Tiffany & Co, descending the stairs of the Louvre in a red evening gown, arms out-stretched with Winged Victory as backdrop to name just two - are all influenced by what she was wearing.

Every year some young ingénue is compared to Audrey on the red carpet. Her look and grace have become shorthand for a kind of elegance. In Jerry Maguire, when Renée Zellweger's Dorothy appears in a little black dress for her date with Tom Cruise's Jerry his adoring reaction is:

That's more than a dress. That's an Audrey Hepburn movie."

And it's thanks to the work of French designer Hubert de Givenchy and his creations on 1954's Sabrina that launched the timeless Audrey Hepburn look we know today. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug192015

Lukewarm Off Presses: James Dean, Christopher Guest, Bryan Cranston

Three stories we're late mentioning but so what? Always eager to hear your thoughts...

Trumbo
Still no trailer but there's now a poster for Trumbo, the Hollywood blacklist drama starring Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren (as gossip icon Hedda Hopper). Cranston could be looking at the Triple Crown if he's Best Actor nominated since he already has the Tony and the Emmy. Will Oscar go wild for this? A word of caution for those predicting at home: People were going on and on about how much Hollywood loves movies about itself when Birdman won the Oscar last season but it's not entirely true. They sometimes nominate movies about movies but they don't tend to be the big winners. And Hollywood blacklist dramas are an infrequent subcategory unto themselves: Career (1959) won a few tech nominations but nothing in the top categories;  The Way We Were (1973) only won for music and didn't even make the Best Picture lineup which it absolutely deserved to be in; Guilty by Suspicion (1991) with Robert De Niro and The Bening and The Majestic (2001) starring Jim Carrey were both entirely ignored;  Good Night and Good Luck (2005) was popular with voters for nominations but lost each of its categories. 

Mascots
It's been nine freaking years since Christopher Guest's last mockumentary For Your Consideration (2006) which was, unfortunately his weakest comedy. But he's finally making something new! The movie will be for Netflix and it's about what it sounds like it's about. No cast announced yet but I think we can safely guess at least a handful of players. I NEED to see Parker Posey and Catherine O'Hara in big furry costumes, okay? I need it like I need oxygen. 

<-- The "Life" of James Dean
Bring Your Own "Yes No Maybe So" in the comments. James Dean has had biopics before but this one comes from Anton Corbijn who I think we should allow made a very fine music biopic on Ian Curtis of Joy Division called Control (2007). This ground, however, is amply covered previously -- except for its macro focus on a photoshoot the moment before Dean was famous. The film, which looks depressingly actress free from the trailer, stars Robert Pattinson, Ben Kingsley, the ubiquitous Joel Edgerton and Dane DeHaan as James Dean.

Ready? Go...

Monday
Jul272015

Oscars vs. Blockbusters? No, It Isn't That Simple.

Jurassic World just beat The Avengers box office tally to become the third highest grosser of all time (when you don't adjust for inflation) which has Awards Daily wringing its hands over what the Academy should do to better honor the types of films people pay to see. As you may have guessed The Film Experience has strong feelings about this topic (including suggested new Oscar categories) all of which we will share with you right now...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul172015

Teasing "The Revenant"

I ain't afraid to die anymore. I done it already."

We don't yes no maybe so teasers but if we did this would be a YES with the small NO of "can already tell we won't be able to tell all these bearded sweaty fur clad men apart during action sequences and mayb even some closeups" 

Question 
As our Oscar charts have suggested all year we expect this one to go over well but this very gripping teaser makes you wonder: Could Inarittu win Best Director back-to-back? It has only happened once before and that was 74 years ago (John Ford won for Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley). No one has ever won Best Picture back-to-back... though David O. Selznick would have in 1939 (Gone With the Wind) and 1940 (Rebecca) if they had awarded Best Picture to producers back then as they do now. Four men have won Best Cinematography twice consecutively including Emmanuel Lubezki(Gravity & Birdman) and since he's lensing this one in what looks like continuous shots with only natural light, he could conceivably break the record and be the sole most consecutive Oscar winning DP. 

Monday
Jul132015

"Ghost" and Other Blockbuster Best Pics

Today is the 25th anniversary of Ghost (1990), that wildly successful supernatural-comedy-romance-adventure-whatsit from 1990 which briefly iconized Demi Moore's single teardrop face, revived the popularity of a 1955 song hit, made pottery-wheel lovemaking into a meme (before memes were called that) proved that Patrick Swayze was more than just Dirty Dancing, made the world hate the grandson of legendary movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, and won Whoopi Goldberg her Oscar, the first acting win for an African American woman since Hattie McDaniel in 1939 (it's since become far more common... at least in Supporting Actress).

Ghost is among the most atypical Best Picture nominees of all time, and one that would never have been nominated without its phenomenal grosses. It ended 1990 as the top global grosser with over half a billion in the bank, though Home AlonePretty Woman and Best Picture winner Dances With Wolves were not far behind). 

So here's a quick Oscar talking point about the last, oh, 40 years of Oscar history. Which of these Best Picture nominees, arguably none of which would have been nominated without their blockbuster phenom cred given their genres and non-prestige foundations, is your favorite?

Star Wars (1977)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
The Fugitive (1993)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
District 9 (2009)
The Blind Side (2009)

How do you think Ghost (1990) stacks up to that list? None of them actually won Hollywood's top prize in their year. 

Thursday
Jul092015

Oscar Trivia Detour: Albert Finney as Lawrence of Arabia?

In an alternate universe this could have happened...

Jigsaw Lounge posted that image to twitter last night in response to a thread started by Deux Ex Cinema, one I hadn't seen. It blew my mind to learn that the great actor screen-tested for Peter O'Toole's signature part and was, according to some, David Lean's first choice. The question posed: 

Did this five time nominee ever come close to actually winning an Oscar?

I'd argue that he never did though some will disagree. He was way too young for Oscar when he headlined a Best Picture Winner (Tom Jones, 1963) as he was only 27. That would have made him the youngest winner of all time in that category, a record that would have still held since Adrien Brody is the current record holder at 29. At the time I believe Finney was the sixth youngest man ever nominated for lead, but he's since been pushed out of the top ten in the last decade or so by 26 and 27 year olds who were a smidge younger in their years like Ryan Gosling, Heath Ledger, and Jesse Eisenberg. By the time Erin Brockovich (2000), his last nomination, rolled around he was up against a juggernaut contender in Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) who was so popular that he won the SAG as Leading actor before winning the supporting Oscar for the same role.

Albert Finney's last screen appearance was in Skyfall (2012) but he's still alive at 79. Will some filmmaker give him one last great role or should Oscar give him an Honorary?  

Here's a list to ponder...

Living Men with the Most (Acting) Nominations Who've Never Won

  1. Albert Finney (5)
  2. [Tie] Warren Beatty*, Ed Harris, and Leonardo DiCaprio (4 each) 
  3. [Tie] Brad Pitt*, Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Bradley Cooper, Nick Nolte, and Kirk Douglas* (3 each)

* they have Oscars for something else but not a competitive acting Oscar