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Entries in Oscar Trivia (281)

Wednesday
Jun152016

A Post-Script Thank You for Broadway's Diversity

I'm finally seeing Hamilton tonight so allow me this theater diversion before we get back to the Emmys and summer movies!

Though the Tony Awards were celebrated for their diversity Sunday night, I knew this sort of thing would crop up afterwards. A site called The Conversation wonders if the diversity of Broadway is overstated. It's an interesting piece with valuable stats even if it seems odd to pursue that impulse in such a strong year for theatrical diversity. Leading up to the Tony Awards I saw a few other articles suggesting that Hamilton was distorting the public perspective about this as well. It's true that Shuffle Along, Hamilton, The Color Purple, and Eclipsed, all nominated popular shows featuring all black casts (and in Hamilton's case latina, black, and asian actors), happened to fall in the same season which is not entirely usual. And, as with cinema, we still have the issue of people thinking of diversity in a binary way (black & white) which is a problem.

But before we give in to negative thoughts (wayyyy too easy), let's give Broadway its due. It is far more diverse than other showbiz mediums and not just this season. Let's take Best Actress in a Play/Musical as an example. One leading actress winner in the 89 year history of the Oscars has been a woman of color - Halle Berry in Monster's Ball (2001) and three leading actress winners in the 67 year history of the Emmys (regular series awards): Viola Davis in How To Get Away with Murder (drama), Isabel Sanford for The Jeffersons (comedy) and America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (comedy).

more after the jump...

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Thursday
Jun022016

Marvin Hamlisch's Big Oscar Haul. And Other Stories...

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

Dr Duran Duran and the Orgasmatron

1835 P.T. Barnum and his circus begin their first tour of the US. Wasn't Hugh Jackman supposed to play him in an original movie musical? Is that still on or did the endless Wolverine show derail it? (sigh)
1840 Novelist Thomas Hardy is born. Movies adapted from his work include multiple versions of Jude, Tess,  and Far From the Madding Crowd
1904 Johnny Weissmuller is born. We just wrote about Tarzan and His Mate (1934) which you should definitely see
1926 Character actor Milo O'Shea, aka Dr Duran Duran who tried to kill Jane Fonda by excessive pleasure in Barbarella, is born.
1937 Sally Kellerman, the original " 'Hot Lips' O'Houlihan" is born


1944 EGOT composing legend Marvin Hamlisch (of "A Chorus Line") fame is born...or as Cher calls him "Marvin Hamilsmisch". Classic songs include the Oscar winning "The Way We Were" and Oscar nominated gems like "Nobody Does it Better," and "Through the Eyes of Love." Get this: He is the only person other than a director or screenwriter to win more than two Oscars on a single night. At the '73 Oscars he took Song and Original Score for The Way We Were and also Adapted Score (back when they had that) for Best Picture winner The Sting
1953 The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, aka Helen Mirren's signature role. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest running monarch in British history?
1989 Dead Poet's Society opens in theaters. Goes on to 4 Oscar nominations including Best Picture in one of the all time least satisfying Oscar years. I mean that Best Picture lineup is atrocious given that sex lies and videotape, The Little Mermaid, Fabulous Baker Boys and Do the Right Thing (all nominated for something) were right there for the taking.

No, don't take my picture.


1995 Bridges of Madison County opens in theaters and audiences start loudly demanding Meryl Streep's third Oscar. The conversation lasts for 16 whole years thereafter. (Demands for #4 have not yet begun but it's only a matter of time.)
2006 Peyton Reed's The Break-Up opens in theaters with Jennifer Aniston & Vince Vaughn 

And one year from today...
2017 Wonder Woman will open in theaters. Somehow it only took them 75 years to get her on the big screen. 

Saturday
May212016

Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.2: Maureen O'Sullivan & Johnny Weismuller

one of many erotic moments in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)New Miniseries! As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we'll be ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes each weekend like we're going to an old timey matinee.

We began by staring hard at Buster Crabbe's loincloth so as to avoid the acting and plotting. For chapter 2 we're moving to the main event: Johnny Weissmuller. He's the actor most often associated with the the Lord of the Apes since he played it 12 times and because he played it so well. There's a genuine guileness and in the moment feeling to his work that lets the ape man read more simple and pure than stupid, despite all the broken English. A few seasons ago on a weakly attended episode of 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' we marvelled at how erotic the pre-code Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) was . Rather than rehash that film (though it is definitely worth your time), we jump ahead to its sequel Tarzan and His Mate (1934) which some argue is the best of the dozens of Tarzan films made during the studio era. Not I, as I think it's a notch below the 1932 original but in truth that's splitting hairs. The two films cling to each other as tightly as Jane holds on to her swinging man. More than most Tarzan films it's a direct sequel, constantly referencing events, locales, and characters from the original film.

When we left the jungle couple in 1932, Tarzan was already getting (ahem) good with his tongue. When audiences returned to see the next adventure in the Spring of 1934, Hollywood's "Pre-Code" era was ending. The code began to be rigidly enforced that year which meant there was one last burst of racy sexy times in the cinema that year for films that had already been shot. [More...]

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Tuesday
Apr262016

Mad Miller & the Cannes Jury

Oscar-robbed George Miller is back! Well, not in movie theaters (alas) but as president of this year's Cannes Film Festival competition jury. The announcement of the jury is always a cause for excitement since the list provides an annual eclectic mix of international artists both behind and in front of the camera. For 2016 we have:

President
George Miller (Writer/Director/Producer, Australia) fresh off of his across-the-board triumph Mad Max Fury Road

Jury Members (Alpha Order)
Arnaud Desplechin (Writer/Director, France) His current release is My Golden Days (our interview) and he's also responsible for the sublime double of Kings & Queen (2004) and A Christmas Tale (2008) which are must-see feats of intricate storytelling & actressing

Kirsten Dunst
(Actress, US) Little Kiki has long since grown up though she's the youngest member of this jury at 33. There seems to be a renewed appreciation for her talent out there, for which we have Fargo season 2 to thank. But really the artistic renaissance goes back to All Good Things (2010). Though she was all but wasted in Midnight Special (just discussed) she has exciting projects coming including the remake of The Beguiled.

Valeria Golino
(Actress/Writer/Director/Producer, Italy) Though Golino hasn't been a major presence in Hollywood since the late 80s/early 90s (Rain Man, Big Top Pee Wee, Hot Shots!) she's kept the career going in her homeland -- recently winning Best Actress in Venice -- and branched out to be a multi-hyphenate threat.


Mads Mikkelsen (Actor, Denmark) we've loved him since his early Danish films and now the whole world does. This is rarely acknowledged but he's the reigning face of Oscar's Foreign Film category having starred in more nominees than anyone else in the past ten years (After the Wedding, The Hunt, A Royal Affair). And 2016 is another big year: he'll chase jury duty with two probable box office behemoths: Rogue One and Doctor Strange this winter. 

László Nemes
(Writer/Director, Hungary) has had an incredible year 12 months. His film debut Son of Saul took the Grand Prix last summer at Cannes and then an Oscar and now he's in the jury. What a swift rise. We wonder what he'll do for an encore. He's the second youngest member of the jury - he and Dunst are the only members under 40. 

Vanessa Paradis
(Actress/Singer, France) Her most recent film success was with Jean Marc Vallée's Café de Flore (2011) and she's still recording music. You can listen to her on Spotify if you so choose. Do you choose? Most famously (at least stateside) she's Johnny Depp's babymama. Her son with Johnny is only 13 and since he's named after Johnny (John Christopher Depp III) he'll have to go by his middle name or his nickname "Jack" if he wants to follow daddy into showbiz. Their 16 year old daughter has, of course, already started her acting career.

Katayoon Shahabi
(Producer, Iran) We aren't familiar with her but she's apparently a mover and shaker in international distribution and Irandian documentaries. Also her company produced the masterpiece A Separation which you know we worship here.

and...

Donald Sutherland
(Actor, Canada) Over 50 years in front of the camera now with classics occasionally peppering that gigantic resume. With over 180 credits we assume he just lives on sets.

What do you think of this year's jury? 

Tuesday
Apr192016

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.

A BURNING QUESTION: WHAT'S WITH OSCAR'S FRANCHISE FICKLENESS?
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?

Monday
Apr182016

The Furniture: The Wonderfully Weird Production Design of the Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm

With Tale of Tales and The Huntsman: Winter’s War both opening this weekend, we have a sudden double feature of fairy tale movies on our hands. That makes it an excellent time to revisit the only fairy tale film nominated for the Oscar Best Production Design, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. (That seems impossible, I know, but it's true.)

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was the first narrative feature to be shot in the original 3-panel Cinerama process. The second, and last, was How the West Was Won, which I showcased two weeks ago. While the epic Western, or at least some its directors, tried to smooth over the unwieldy 3-camera process with landscapes and the occasional single-camera 70-mm shot, directors Henry Levin and George Pal really ran with Cinerama for their fairy tale epic. The results were a bit bonkers...

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Monday
Apr042016

Doctor Strange, Alexandra Byrne, and Superhero Oscar Trivia

'Last one to Oscar is a rotten egg!'

Doctor Strange (1 time nominee Benedict Cumberbatch) and Baron Mordo (1 time nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor) are running from or towards something in this set photo from the forthcoming Doctor Strange which opens November 4th, 2016. Also in the cast are other 1 time Oscar darlings Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams and future Oscar nominees (well, maybe... eventually) Mads Mikkelsen and Michael Stuhlbarg. 

After the jump more set photos, costume design, and Oscar prospects...

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