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Entries in Oscars (50s) (58)

Friday
Feb202015

Post Predictions Oscar Jitters

Do you think Oscar wishes he had more of a bubble butt?

Have you voted on our Oscar charts? It's your last day to vote for your PICTURE, DIRECTOR, ACTOR, ACTRESS, SUPPORTING ACTRESS, SUPPORTING ACTOR, and SCREENPLAY preferences. I'll announce the Reader's Choice winners tomorrow.

If you found my "final predictions post" here yesterday a bit baffling in its haphazhard order -- I'm always a mess on Oscar weekend -- I'd suggest reading my far more organized final take at Towleroad which reiterates all the arguments I've been making the past month but in a more \readable fashion. If you read this blog every day you already know what I'm expecting but naturally I'm having "I'll be so wrong!" jitters. I like being wrong, don't get me wrong (super predictable set in stone years are dull) but I don't like being too wrong. It's a fine distinction but an important one!

My Great Fear is that Grand Budapest loses two prizes I predicted it for (Makeup and Costumes) to inferior work (i.e. all of its competitors in those categories).

My Great Dream is that Michael Keaton surprises and takes Best Actor against the odds because it has been forever since we've had an "all fictional characters winning" years. 1997 to be exact when As Good As it Gets, LA Confidential, and Good Will Hunting provided a brief reprieve from the exhausting dominance of biopic mimicry. 

Everyone was applauding Shirley Booth in the 1952/1953 seasonMy Great Confusion is shared with all. No matter how I weigh it, I can't figure out the Birdman vs Boyhood situation. No matter what your feelings about either, you have to admit that they'd be atypical winners. Birdman is quite cerebral and weird and funny (none of which generally describe Oscar winners) and Boyhood is quite "small" and indie-feeling despite its epic 12 years in the making slant. So I remind myself that I love both of them and either will make a great Best Picture so let the chips fall where they may.

But in terms of the Academy both seem "soft" if you will. If people love Birdman so much why isn't Keaton the Best Actor frontrunner and if people love Boyhood so much why does Birdman keep winning guild prizes? I keep coming up with scenarios wherein the Best Picture wins only one other Oscar and that has not happened since The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). And never before that until you go back to the 1940 and earlier when they had far less categories than they have now. Only 2 Oscars for the Best Picture winner seems highly unlikely but then 1952 might be a magic coincidence film year since that was also the last year a woman in her fifties won Best Actress.

 

Friday
Nov142014

100 Days 'Til Oscar. A Short Clean Sweep

We're all used to the Oscar ceremony drawing monotonous "it's too long!" complaints. Yours truly doesn't share that view. Hell, if they wanted to do 9-hour broadcasts and include all the honoraries again and give more attention to the craft categories, and never skimp on any of the four category clip reels for the actors, I'd gladly watch each additional minute. But the super long Oscar ceremony is actually not a historic consistency. The earliest Oscars were short banquets and once they started televising them in the 50s the lengths varied.

Gigi made a clean sweep with 9 Oscars but with no acting nominations. Burl Ives (The Big Country), Susan Hayward (I Want To Live!), and David Niven and Wendy Hiller (not pictured) from Separate Tables won the acting Oscars.

The shortest of all televised ceremonies was the 1958 Oscars, broadcast live on April 6th, '59. It was only 100 minutes long. Can you imagine it? 

Of course if you're just going to hand all the statues to something as dull as Gigi, which made a clean sweep with 9 wins from 9 nominations PLUS an Honorary Oscar for Maurice Chevalier, you'd best do it quickly you know? Fun fact: If you started watching Gigi as its Oscar ceremony began you'd still have 15 minutes of the movie left when the Oscars wrapped.

Gigi gets a bad wrap but it wasn't a terribly competitive film year and at least it wasn't quite the worst of the nominees. The other nominees were Auntie Mame, The Defiant Ones, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and (ugh) Separate Tables. I suspect the dread sixth 'just-missed' slot belonged to Robert Wise's I Want to Live! which received 6 nominations and a long awaited win for Susan Hayward. Which would you have voted for?

And no write in votes for the actual best movie of 1958, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo which got a measly two nominations and no gold. I suspect it was nowhere near a Best Pic nomination given the initial chilly response from audiences, critics, and the Academy. 

Saturday
Nov082014

The Honoraries: Maureen O'Hara in "The Quiet Man" (1952) 

In "The Honoraries" we're looking at the careers of this year's Honorary Oscar recipients (O'Hara, Miyazaki, Carrière) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Belafonte). Here's abstew on an Irish fav...

 

I have often said that "The Quiet Man" is my personal favourite of all the pictures I have made. It is the one I am most proud of and I tend to be very protective of it. I loved Mary Kate Danaher.

-Maureen O'Hara 'Tis Herself

The making of John Ford's Oscar-winning film The Quiet Man was a labor of love for all involved. Despite having already won the Best Director Oscar three times, Ford found it difficult to get his passion project off the ground. As far back as 1944, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara had agreed to star in Ford's love letter to Ireland. And it eventually found a home at the most unusual of places. B-movie studio Republic only agreed to make the film (which they thought would lose them money) if Ford, Wayne, and O'Hara first made a guaranteed money-generating Western together first. After 1950's Rio Grande for the studio, they headed to shoot on location among the lush emerald fields of Ireland itself and the affection for the country and its people is apparent in every frame.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct302014

The Honoraries: Harry Belafonte in Carmen Jones (1954)

Welcome to "The Honoraries". We're celebrating the careers of the Honorary Oscar recipients of 2014 and the Jean Hersholt winner (Harry Belafonte). Here's longtime TFE reader and new contributor Teo Bugbee, whose work you might have read at The Daily Beast, on Belafonte's biggest film...

Even in the fantastic canon of classic Hollywood musicals, Carmen Jones is a standout. It’s got all the colors—Deluxe, not Technicolor, which as any John Waters fan will tell you is the real deal—it’s got the timeless score by Georges Bizet, but before we talk about the film itself, let’s take a minute to look at the backstory, if only because what was going on behind the scenes in Carmen Jones is at least as interesting as what made it on film. 

Though he never really made particularly political films, director Otto Preminger was a modern man when it came to his politics, and he proposed the idea of adapting the Broadway smash Carmen Jones into a film as a means of showing off the black talent that he felt Hollywood was excluding. But despite Preminger’s substantial box office clout, no major studio wanted to take on a film with an all black cast. So Preminger took Carmen Jones to United Artists and set out making it basically as an independent film.

Harry Belafonte was brought on immediately as Joe, but Preminger took a longer time to find his star, testing a number of black actresses. 

Lusty affairs and a singular film after the jump...

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Monday
Sep082014

Robert Wise Centenary: I Want to Live! (1958)

We're celebrating the centennial of director Robert Wise this week. Previously: Tim on "Curse of the Cat People" (1944) and Nathaniel on "Somebody Up There...". Now, David on Susan Hayward's Oscar vehicle, with an exclamation point!
 


Though the internet seems to increasingly denigrate the importance of punctuation, once upon a time it was vital to our sense of understanding language. Would I Want To Live! have any of the same feverish impact without that exclamation mark at the end of its title? Perhaps. But it signifies the bold stance of this cry for social justice in a millisecond. I mean, just look at this poster! Only Britain's notorious newspaper The Daily Mail has taglines that long these days.

That boldness is a quality more of the film's frenzied marketing than of the film itself; director Robert Wise, whose centennial we're marking this week, excised the closing rhetoric that producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz was insisting upon, sure that if an audience wasn't convinced of the film's social statement by then, a few platitudes wouldn't make a difference. As our series of pieces has and will demonstrate, Wise was an extremely adaptable filmmaker who transcended genre, but he often pursued work that aligned with his anti-establishment politics.

Never more so than here [More...]

 

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