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Entries in Oscar Trivia (295)

Wednesday
Jul062016

Michael Cimino & the Best Director Oscar Since

Eric here with thinking about the past 40 years of Oscars Best Director category.

This past Saturday, director Michael Cimino passed away at age 77.  Cimino won the Best Director Oscar for 1978’s The Deer Hunter, beating Woody Allen (Interiors), Hal Ashby (Coming Home), Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (Heaven Can Wait), and Alan Parker (Midnight Express).  While those five actual films are of varying quality, the names behind them are all heavyweights and it was formidable company.

The Deer Hunter was a divisive film upon its release and remains so today (praised for its leisurely-paced first half and its capture of inexpressive male friendship; criticized for the Russian Roulette melodrama and its depiction of the Vietnamese). With The Deer Hunter, Cimino aimed to make something epic and classically Greek in its storytelling, and watching the film you can actually feel his young talent. Cimino next famously (infamously?) went on to direct 1980’s Heaven’s Gate, a film of disastrous proportions that has been covered ad nauseum as one of cinema’s biggest catastrophes.  He directed four more films after that, none to any significant acclaim, the last one released 20 years ago.   

It’s interesting to look over the list of the men (and one woman) who have won the Best Director Oscar since Cimino in 1978 to see where their careers have gone...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun292016

Welcome to the Academy, 683 of You!

With AMPAS under so much scrutiny this past season for their lack of diversity, they made several rule changes about membership and ruling bodies within the various branches. Here's the big power move. They've invited twice as many people as they are usually prone to invite. Invitations have gone out to 683 film professionals this year.

That is a lot of new members, percentage-wise, for a group known for their exclusivity that for a long time was hovering around 6,000 members. According to Academy graphics 46% of the new invitees are women which is a smart move given that Hollywood has struggled in the gender balance department forever despite the fact that civilization has always been half women. (It might have been smarter to make it 75% for a few years to make up for lost time at eliminating the silly gender disparity but we applaud any efforts to work towards a better 50/50 balance.) 

41% of the new invitees are people of color...

Click to read more ...

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...

Click to read more ...

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...]

Click to read more ...

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?