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Entries in Oscar Trivia (173)

Saturday
May312014

Smackdown 1941: Margaret, Mary, Sara, Patricia & Teresa

Behold the Supporting Actresses of 1941, two stalwart mothers, two helpless pawns, and one reckless diva. All but one of them, the diva and eventual winner, were in Best Picture nominees in this highly satisfying Oscar showdown.

THE NOMINEES

Allgood, Astor, Collinge, Wright, and Wycherley

Oscar had entered its teenage years by 1941, (14th annual Academy Awards) but it was still a green enough institution that all of its supporting actresses were first timers. Mary Astor, who won the Oscar, was the only star among the nominees and she was having a great year also starring in the noir classic The Maltese Falcon. Career momentum issues should never be underestimated with Oscar outcomes. Astor was joined in the shortlist by two sturdy character players in their 60s: the British stage actress Margaret Wycherley and the Irish screen actress Sara Allgood (who had been featured in some early Alfred Hitchcock movies). Rounding out the nominee list were two true finds making their charmed film debuts in the Best Picture nominee The Little Foxes, Patricia Collinge and Teresa Wright, the latter of whom was an instant darling in Hollywood and would win the Oscar the following year for Mrs Miniver. There's that momentum factor again.

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Angelica Jade Bastien, Anne Marie, Nick Davis, Nathaniel R, Stinkylulu and You - we tabulate reader votes and quotes from your ballots appear!

Without further ado, the main event...

1941
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN

Click to read more ...

Friday
May302014

Oscar Quandaries: Original OR Adapted?

The Screenplay categories were not always as fluid as they are now and once adhered to very strict rules about a script's prior existence. Now, they let you get away with a little fudging which started in force a dozen years ago when Gangs of New York and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which had spent all of their pre-release hype talking about being adapted from [insert fabulous thing here] were suddenly "originals" through complicated explanations once awards season was in sway and it became clear that the original category was infinitely less competitive. Since then much has changed and now previously established characters is a thing everyone does to fight for adapted (when it suits them) and the lines are really blurry.

ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL. EITHER COULD HAPPEN...

So here are four plus movies that seem like they're balancing on a wire between original and adapted. Which way will they fall? 

Bruce Wagner's Maps to the Stars screenplay was a screenplay first, then it became a novel ("Dead Stars") when the movie plans fell through. It's now a screenplay again for a David Cronenberg movie. So if the movie picks up steam once it's released and not just as a curio given Julianne Moore's Cannes win, who knows? In ye olden times this would clearly be Adapted because the old hard line was once 'Previously Published or Produced Material'... but now I'm not sure.

Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel is "inspired by" the writings of Stefan Zweig ... which might mean adapted but "inspired by" is also the excuse Gangs of New York used to change its campaign from adapted to original. So I'm guessing this is up in the air until Fox Searchlight really starts campaigning (and they should).

Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert is based on the life story of Gertrud Bell but so far there are no books credited on IMDb or in articles about the film. Several books have been written about her. Is this a Milk situation where it will claim "original" despite vast reams of information to draw from written by others? And if so, is there anything wrong with that? Perhaps we need a third screenplay category for true stories that are adapted from a wide variety of sources. Other True Story This Might Apply To: Pawn Sacrifice another film about chess prodigy Bobby Fischer)

Damien Chazelle's music drama Whiplash, which has been very well received in the festival circuit, seems like the type of indie that could make waves in Original Screenplay. Only problem is it's technically adapted. It's based on Chazelle's own short film of the same name. This same situation occurred last year with Short Term 12. To date I'm not aware of anyone who tried to argue that adapting yourself is not a thing -- even Nia Vardalos, when Greek Wedding changed course argued that she'd written her comedy hit as a screenplay first before adapting it into a play so therefore it was an original (Bruce Wagner could argue the same this year for Maps to the Stars if he wants).

Under the old clear rules of "previously published or produced" you couldn't get around this even if you absolutely wrote the thing as a screenplay first but for the past 12 years these categories are more fluid and I wouldn't put it past some savvy strategist to claim original and basically negate the hypothetical 'can you adapt your own movie into a new movie?' question when it comes to these categories. 

SCREENPLAY CHARTS

Saturday
May172014

Cannes Tidbits: Deals, Toons, and Oscar Futures

I haven't organized my thoughts. I'm warning you up front. I am just collecting them like dead leaves and throwing them at you in chunks with links to related articles. I'm doing my meager part to engage with Cannes from my Harlem apartment across the ocean...

COMPETITION & UN CERTAIN REGARD
After that much maligned Monaco kick-off, not uncommon with festival openers, Cannes competition films have been collecting more fans. Well, not Atom Egoyan's Captive (which was booed) but the others. And frankly no film festival ever wins consensus "that was awesome" reviews anyway. It's part of the ritual this 'it's a terrible year for the fest!' hand-wringing.

Diana chimed in earlier today on the African film Timbuktu and Mike Leigh's artist biopic Mr. Turner which we can safely suspect will win plentiful Oscar talk. There's a ceiling for Leigh films with Oscar but the Academy adores him nonetheless. Since his mainstream breakthrough Secrets and Lies (5 nominations / 0 wins) all but 2 of his pictures have won at least a screenplay nomination with Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake (period pieces like Mr Turner) proving most popular. To date Topsy Turvy is the only Mike Leigh picture to win any Oscar statues and Mike Leigh himself, though a 7 time nominee, is still Oscar-less. That's probably good news for Mr. Turner on both the 'overdue' front and the 'it takes a period piece and a genre they love' (in this case the biopic) truth about awards bodies. If you're interested in Mike Leigh's process (and many are since it's so unusual) there's an article in the LA Times where he explains why they still do the same character creation groundwork for months before shooting even though the actors are playing real people rather than fictional ones. I think Mr Turner is also inspiring some interesting reviews (including this one from David Poland who compares it to the Grand Budapest Hotel of all things) 

More Oscar hopefuls, deals, and animated buzz after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May012014

'April Foolish' in May. Oscar Predix Prep Work

It's almost past time for the April Foolish Oscar Predi --  SIGH...

Okay, yes, kids. I'm behind. Before we get started on the April Foolish Oscar Predictions which have somehow migrated to May, I'd like your input a wee bit. Please peruse my list of films to watch out for in one to nineteen ways after the jump and let me know if I'm missing any you've heard about or are excited for. I don't want to post anything official if I'm stupidly forgetting a film somewhere.

Why do I say "one to nineteen" ways?

 Well that's how many feature film Oscar categories there are if you ignore, for the time being, the documentary and foreign film categories which have different rules and which we don't make year-in-advance predictions for. Technically there are 21 feature film specific categories (the 3 shorts categories make the Oscar 24)  but no film could be eligible in all of them since there are competing categories like Original and Adapted Screenplay. What's more, a film that could theoretically qualify for all three "special" feature prizes (Foreign Film / Animated / Documentary) like a Waltz With Bashir is never going to be nominated for all three and find itself eligible for acting prizes and craft categories. 

MUCH MUCH MORE AFTER THE JUMP

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Friday
Apr252014

Smackdown: Internal Dramas & DVD Death

Just to give you all a sense of the challenge of the Supporting Actress Smackdowns, I thought I'd share some behind-the-scenes notes. A lot of prep work went into the years we've covered (19521968, 1980, and 2003). Only one of them was difficult to stick with (that'd be 2003 because the movies stunk). Of the years not yet covered (StinkyLulu hosted a lot of them) there are 39 years still aching to be Smacked Down!

1937 • 1938 • 1941 • 1943 • 1944 • 1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 
1951 • 1954 • 
1957 • 1960 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1970 •
1972 • 1973 • 1977 •
1979 •
1981 • 1984 •  1986 • 1987 •
1989 • 1991 • 1994 • 1995 • 1997 • 1998 • 2000 • 2001 •
2002 • 2004 • 2005 •  2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 

But here's where it gets tricky....

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr092014

Mickey Rooney (RIP)

I came to the news of Mickey Rooney's passing late due to my offline vacation but it wouldn't be right to not mention it here at the musicals-loving The Film Experience. My first exposure to Mickey Rooney, as far as I remember, was Babes in Arms (1939) for which he was Oscar nominated at 19. I think my parents took us to see it at an awesome revival house in Detroit. Tweens and teenagers, who always fear being uncool, aren't supposed to love old black and white movies made many decades before they were born but cinephiles and/or musical-fanatics are a different breed and I had no shame whatsoever about seeking them out. [More...]

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Tuesday
Mar112014

'The World is Round, People!' But Can It Spin a Little Differently?

Blue Jasmine was one of Woody Allen's biggest hits, earning $94 million globallyGeena Davis and I have been harping on gender disparity in film for ever and I've also spent a lot of time on its sister problem: ageism focused on women. But in the past couple of years it feels like the conversation has finally reached the mainstream. 

Every website, even the most misogynist-friendly, now knows what the Bechdel Test is and that the majority of movies still fail it even though it's super easy to pass. Cate Blanchett's Oscar speech got a lot of attention and Kevin B Lee recently had a major cinemetrics piece in the New York Times about women's limited screen time and now, as The Wrap reports, a new study out of San Diego State's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows how bad the problem is not just in lead roles (only 13% of the films in the top 100 of last year) but in ageist double standards (women over 40 account for only 30% of female roles while 55% of male roles are for the over 40 set) and in racial representation (73% of all female roles are for caucasian women).

All of this despite the fact that Cate's Oscar speech was total righteous truth-telling. [More...]

Click to read more ...