Entries in Oscar Trivia (177)
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.
one... two... three... do the release date shuffle ♬
Over the past couple of weeks the last quarter of the year has pulling its usual release date switcheroos, brushing detritus or unfinished masterworks (you decide) from its schedule. We can all act surprised if we so choose but we're only fooling ourselves when we do.
And they say, "Goldfish have no memory"
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time
-Ani DiFranco "Little Plastic Castle"
This happens every year! So no more Foxcatcher in December. No more Grace of Monaco in November. Curiously both films had released trailers seemingly moments before they were pulled from the calendar. (Foxcatcher's trailer was quickly snatched back from view before I even had time to watch it but at least we had time to discuss Grace).
In paradoxically more alarming / less surprising non-news [more]
I have seen the greatest performance by a supporting actor in 2013. All hail "ULYSSES". Here he is in a key moment from his star-making role in the Coen Bros Inside Llewyn Davis.
What a face! But he doesn't coast on it. He acts with his whole body. If there's any justice in the world, a BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR campaign will rev right up.
Okay okay. I realize this is a silly argument and I know exactly what you're thinking...
"But Nathaniel, a nomination for Ulysses will never happen. I mean, hello, Oscar Trivia! The Coen Bros filmography, which is chalk full of excellent supporting turns never produces nominations in the supporting category that aren't arguably leads (William H Macy in Fargo and Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men are both in the driver's seat of their film's narrative even if they aren't the protagonists). It's only happened once: Michael Lerner in Barton Fink. And complete unknowns rarely get traction... especially when the film they're in doesn't even feature them in the press notes"
To this I say "But you haven't seen this awesome performance yet and Ulysses DOES drive the plot along -- sometimes in soft footed silence and other times with a sprint. Plus, where's your faith? No supporting actor in a Coen Bros film has ever given a performance this pure of heart or this instinctual. I don't mean to be disrespectful to John Goodman, John Turturro, and the entire Coen repertory company but none of them have ever purred or kneaded their leading men on cue so maybe they just didn't deserve one.
I consider it an indignity that Ulysses will be left out of the film's SAG ensemble nomination (if it gets one) since he goes uncredited. He has way more screen time than Garrett Hedlund and better close-ups than Justin Timberlake.
Don't hate on gingers. Root for Ulysses.