Entries in Oscar Trivia (152)
Anne Marie here to celebrate a Hollywood icon on his 100th birthday.
November 2nd is the centennial of that charismatic giant of an actor, Burt Lancaster. He had Clark Gable's charisma, Cary Grant's charm, The Grin, a mop of hair that couldn't be tamed, and a voice that dripped sweetness from every syllable. With all of these admirable qualities, Lancaster could have settled into a career as a leading man, however he chose to pursue challenging roles and a career directing and producing as well. I first saw him in The Rainmaker starring opposite Katharine Hepburn. It takes something special to tear my attention away from Kate The Great, but the minute Lancaster appeared I was starstruck.
But if we're going to talk about iconic Lancaster performances, we have to start here:
While this particularly sexy kiss is what we all remember the film for, it's worth mentioning that Lancaster's also very good in the film. As Sgt. Warden, Lancaster balances military bravado, empathy for his soldiers, passion, vulnerability, and steeliness on his well-muscled shoulders. He was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. [Trivia Note: From Here To Eternity is tied with 8 other pictures for "most acting nominations from one film" with 5 (!) an achievement that is now extremely rare, ending with Network (1976)]
Lancaster wouldn't win the gold until Elmer Gantry in 1960...
Elmer Gantry is a role tailor-made for Lancaster's particular brand of charm. Gantry is a con man who starts starts evangelizing at revivals because he wants to get into the habit of Sister Sharon (Jean Simmons). Gantry is a bad man preaching the Good Book. But my goodness, I could listen to him read the phone book! It's impossible not to root for him or fall for him. Lancaster roars and cajoles and cries while he's preaching, but his quiet moments are equally powerful. One such quiet scene is between Gantry and a prostitute played by future Partridge Family matriarch Shirley Jones. Lancaster portrays Gantry's powerful personality with an equally potent physicality, so when the wordsmith is temporarily broken, you can see it in his shoulders as well as his eyes. Elmer Gantry is more a whirlwind than a simple performance.
Burt Lancaster's career was as long as it was diverse. He played pirates, preachers, thugs, Nazis, conmen, convicts, and cowboys. One thing's certain: he was definitely never dull. Happy Birthday, Burt!
What's your favorite Burt Lancaster movie?
I miss the Google Doodle's that were interactive. Sigh. The glory days that evaporated so very recently. But today's honoree is a rare TFE appropriate treat. Google's banner is honoring Edith Head, 8 time Best Costume Design Oscar winner on her 116th birthday.
She won her Oscars for The Heiress (1950), Samson and Delilah (1951), All About Eve (1951), A Place in the Sun (1952), Roman Holiday (1954), Sabrina (1955), The Facts of Life (1961) and The Sting (1974) but the nominations were practically endless. For comparison's sake, today's reigning costume queens Sandy Powell and Colleen Atwood have but 10 nominations and 3 wins each -- stunning track records unless you place them next to Edith's 35 & 8!
My favorite modern tribute to Edith Head's costuming dominance, though, is still "Edna Mode" from The Incredibles (2004). The resemblance being perfectly uncanny, though Edith would still tower over her mini-me Edna at 5' feet 1½
This is as good a time as any to tell you that TFE will be debuting a new series this week "Threads" wherein we'll start giving Costume Design its (weekly) due. We'll begin with 82 year old Patricia Norris who after a longish absence from the movies is back with 12 Years a Slave.
The audience of the 41st Academy Awards roared its approval when Ingrid Bergman announced that Hollywood newcomer Barbra Streisand had tied Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress in a Leading Role. But though Streisand has since achieved immense popularity and icon status, this win is still questioned by some. After all, Hepburn was a giant among giants, giving the performance of her career in The Lion in Winter alongside a stellar cast with a sizzling script. Barbra was certainly the best part of an otherwise unremarkable musical. As a highly fictionalized version of famous vaudevillian Fanny Brice, Stresiand packed a ton of charm, chatter, charisma, and chutzpah into one role. But is that enough to warrant an Academy Award?
Actually, yes it is...
Tim here. Right at the end of last week, the Academy very quietly issued a rules change pertaining to the Best Animated Feature Oscar: instead of requiring that members of the nominating committee had seen at least 80% of the films on the eligibility list (an onerous task indeed, given that these are people who care about animation for a living, and that list can sometimes be, like, 20 films long), now the voters can pick any animated films they darn well want to, which is potentially going to do away with all those fun little nominees like A Cat in Paris and The Secret of Kells, things that badly need the exposure. Perhaps not. But if we’re about to enter a world where Planes can snag a nomination over Ernest & Celestine (please oh please Oscar gods, don’t let that happen), something is even more broken with a dodgy category than we’ve thought.
Now comes the news that the European Film Academy has announced its own list of nominees: the modeling clay stop-motion of Jasmine by Alain Ughetto and a new version of Pinocchio by Italian director Enzo d’Aló. And The Congress featuring Robin Wright which played at Cannes and is the new film by Ari Folman, director of Waltz with Bashir (which famously attempted three specialty nominations for Documentary, Animated Feature and Foreign Film but was disqualified from the first, failed the second and became the first animated film ever nominated for Best Foreign Film.)
We have no way of knowing if any of these will be squeaked into the United States in time for Oscar qualification – the vagaries about what counts as “qualifying run” for this category is especially dubious – but given how everyone in the world agrees that we’re looking at the weakest year for animated features since the category was born, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if some canny distributor decided to use this nomination as the spur for a Hail Mary pass.
Is there a possibility of repeating 2011, when two functionally un-released foreign films made the nomination list? It’s hard to say, especially with the rules change in the nominating process, but faced with tiny niche releases that nobody has heard of getting national attention, and the possibility of the phrase “Oscar nominee Turbo” ever being said by anybody, I know which one I’m hoping for.