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Entries in Oscars (50s) (64)

Wednesday
Jul152015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Sunset Blvd" 

For this week's special edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- temporarily redubbed "Hit Me With Your Second-Best Shot" as I've declared that iconic finale off limits -- we're looking at the finest Movie About the Movies ever made. Or one of them at least. The point is it's entirely unmissable and a candidate for any sane All Time Greatest Movie list. The film never gets old or becomes irrelevant even though those are two of its best and most horrifically stared-down topics.

Billy Wilder's masterpiece (or one of them at least), immeasurably aided by inspired performances from William Holden as the screenwriter to Gloria Swanson's screen siren, is not just an acting and writing triumph. It's also a stunner in all the craft categories, particularly its Oscar-winning art direction and its cinematography by John F Seitz, a seven time nominee. His work is magnificent throughout, providing maximum pleasure to "those wonderful people out there in the dark" with his expressive lighting.

So let's get right to those (second) best shots...

A Visual Index of Sunset Blvd (1950)

(Second) Best Shot. According to these 15 movie-loving participants
Click on any image to be taken to the corresponding article
Images presented in rough order as to when they appear in the movie

My New Plaid Pants - this is not technically an entry but people, let this be a lesson to you. If you've already chosen a shot, write a sentence or two about it. The hard part is choosing after all. If you've chosen, do it. We'll link up! 

100% macabre
- Movie Motorbreath *video entry* 


'Stars are ageless.' This shot disagrees."
-I Want to Believe 

There is one entity who has never betrayed her: her 'celluloid self.'"
-The Entertainment Junkie 

Everyone, including Norma, can't help but look at Norma...
-Sorta That Guy 

This image sums up Sunset Blvd., and even more than that,  the entire psychological universe of noir... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

No matter how crazy Norma Desmond may be, I always find her incredibly sympathetic...
-Film Actually 


We might be entering the movie’s world through Joe Gillis’s point of view, but unlike him, we *are* here to see Norma Desmond. 
-Coco Hits NY 

It's easy to imagine she does this ever year, even without a handsome writer..."
-Awards Madness 

Already too attached to Norma and her gifts...
-Dancin Dan on Film 


If Norma Desmond is a fictionalized version of Gloria Swanson, Max Von Mayerling is a quasi-(auto)biographical portrait of Erich von Stroheim...
-Paul Outlaw 

We expect cold humiliating truth but what we get is the film's most genuinely warm moment... 
- The Film Experience 


Norma Desmond would be proud of the leading lady portraying her..."
-54 Disney Reviews 

A true star always finds the light...
-Jija Crazy Movie *first time participant*

A one-man army of servants, for her sake, steps back into his role as director once more..."
-Allison Tooey  

Please do visit each article, share, and comment. The more eyes the merrier when it comes to worshipping great stars. You haven't forgotten what a star looks like.

NEXT WEDNESDAY: 1995's [safe] starring Julianne Moore

Wednesday
Jul152015

Poor Joe. This Spotlight is For Norma Desmond

When I issued the challenge of Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd (1950), with the caveat that you couldn't use that final close up for Mr DeMille, I knew it would make for a great episode. What a stone cold classic it is, filled with potent images in every scene that are too often taken for granted given the combined impact of its haunting iconic opening and closing. What I had dumbly not remembered was how intoxicatingly full Sunset Blvd feels on every repeat viewing inbetween. You can go into each screening with one topic in mind ("I shall write about this") and come out with a dozen more topics boiling, your original thoughts crowded out of the mind's frame. So I must painfully set aside the self-deprecating script, the gestural bravado, the timelessness of its time capsule, its shame-trigger economics and sexuality. So much of it distracts from the real purpose of HMWYBS which is to zero in on a particular image from a public piece of art that seizes your individual imagination with its beauty or thematic resonance or what not, and discuss. 

So Joe McGillis will have to wait. Which is a shame. He's worth at least 11 essays of his own according to my easily distracted notes. They're messier than Norma's epic handwritten "Salome" opus which visually buries Joe long before she works up enough actual crazy to really bury him. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
May292015

Smackdown Summer - Revamp Your Queues!

We're just 9 days away from the launch of another Smackdown Summer. Rather than announce piecemeal, we'll give you all five lineups in case you'd like more time to catch up with these films (some of them stone cold classics) over the hot months. Remember to cast your own ballots during each month for the reader-polling (your 1979 votes are due by June 4th). Your votes count toward the final Smackdown win so more of you should join in. 

These Oscar years were chosen after comment reading, dvd searching, handwringing, and desire-to-watch moods.  I wish we had time to squeeze in a dozen Smackdowns each summer! As it is there will be TWO Smackdowns in June, a gift to you since this first episode was delayed.

Sunday June 7th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1979

Meryl Streep won her first of three Oscars while taking her co-star Jane Alexander along for the Oscar ride in Kramer vs. Kramer. The delightful character actress Barbara Barrie was nominated for her mom role in Breaking Away, Mariel Hemingway as Woody Allen's preternaturally wise teenage lover in Manhattan, and Candice Bergen played a singing divorcee in Starting Over - a role that supposedly helped win her Murphy Brown a decade later.

PANELISTS: Nathaniel R (TFE), Bill Chambers (Film Freak Central), Kristen Sales (Sales on Film), Brian Herrera (StinkyLulu) and novelist K. M. Soehnlein ("The World of Normal Boys," "Robin and Rudy")

 

Sunday June 28th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1948

1948's roster has a genuine movie star and one of the most iconic character actresses of all time in Jean Simmons who didn't get to the nunnery in Hamlet and Agnes Moorehead in Johnny Belinda respectively. Also nominated were two women from the immigrant family drama I Remember Mama, Barbara Bel Geddes and Ellen Corby. But taking home the gold was Claire Trevor in the Bogart & Bacall noir Key Largo. Will the panel agree with Oscar's decision? 

PANELISTS: TBA

 

Sunday July 26th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1995

The Oscar went to one-hit wonder Mira Sorvino (okay, two hit wonder: hi Romy & Michelle!) for her hooker with a heart of gold in Mighty Aphrodite but then no one knew what her future had in store. No one knew that for any of the contenders since they were all first timers. Sorvino was up against two familiar ensemble players Kathleen Quinlan in the popular hit Apollo 13, and critical darling Mare Winningham from Georgia, and two "new" faces who'd continue on to future Oscar glories and Great Actress reputations in Kate Winslet (Sense & Sensibility) and Joan Allen (Nixon).

PANELISTS TBA

Sunday August 30th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1954 

Eva Marie Saint dropped a glove and won an Oscar for On the Waterfront opposite Marlon Brando by any margin the most famous of 1954's Oscar nominated films. But what will the panel make of her competition? There's also the formidable Nina Foch in the all-star corporate drama Executive Suite, Katy Jurado, the first Mexican actress ever nominated, for the western Broken Lance and rounding out the category were two women from John Wayne's airline thriller The High and the Mighty, Jan Sterling and Oscar regular Claire Trevor.

PANELISTS TBA

 

Sunday September 27th
The Best Supporting Actresses of 1963 (Season Finale!)  

Since the 2015 film year really heats up in September with the Toronto Film Festival (10th-20th) and Prestige Season Kick-Off, we're taking it easy for the finale with the one of only two years when only three films were nominated in the Supporting Actress category. Margaret Rutherford won the Oscar for The VIPs, a Liz & Dick show, Lilia Skalia was also popular in nun mode for Lilies of the Field but it was the Best Picture winning sex comedy Tom Jones that was the informal star of this category with three of Albert Finney's co-stars nominated (the all time record in this category): Diane Cilento, Joyce Redman, and '60s Oscar fixture Dame Edith Evans (nominated shortly thereafter for both The Chalk Garden and The Whisperers

PANELISTS TBA

 

Queue up those DVDs, readers, and play along at home! Unless you're a semi-famous star or accomplished character actor, oft-employed industry professional, best selling novelists, popular film critic, or AMPAS member in which case, tell me which panel you want to be on! (Shameless Plug). You know you want to join in the movie merriment !!!

Tuesday
Mar172015

Visual Index ~ The Quiet Man's Best Shots

HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY!

One of the specific things the series Hit Me With Your Best Shot has taught me over the years is how great John Ford is as a director. When I was younger I never liked his films much but now I end up wanting to talk about every other scene in whichever film I'm watching of his; it's easy to marvel at the way he's staging and shooting his stories as an adult. His Ireland themed location-shot romantic dramedy classic The Quiet Man (1952) won the directing and cinematography Oscars in its year. It took the latter surely for those lush emerald landscapes and beautiful pops of color like blue dresses and flowers and The Queen of Technicolor's fiery mane. It inexplicably lost Best Picture in its year (to the oft-reviled The Greatest Show on Earth) but it obviously contributed to the decision to hand Maureen O'Hara's her recent highly deserved Honorary Oscar as its the movie most often cited when people talk about her gifts. But the movie sure is fun and sexy, too.

As usual the Best Shot participants wove interesting personal details and insights into their posts. We even have our first father & son article (!) as befits a film that's a clear family favorite in some homes.

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT ~ THE QUIET MAN (1952)
Click on any of the 10 images in rough chronological order to read the 14 corresponding articles at these fine blogs & pinterests.

Images that were made by an enormously talented pair of image-makers to be read as quickly and deeply as possible....
-Antagony & Ecstasy

 

 As if she's a forest spirit that has stepped out of Celtic folklore.
-The Film's The Thing (Son)

It’s thematically and technically effective, but it’s also a gorgeous and unusual shot. 
-Coco Hits NY 

There are plenty of images to pull from “The Quiet Man” that confirm the Academy’s judgement
- Nebel Without a Cause 

This may very well be the start of a new actressing obsession for me...
-A Fistful of Films 


I’m choosing this as my Best Shot because it reminds me that as husbands, we are called to scoop up God’s grace and bring it just a little closer to our wives.
-I/fwp 


They may have layers and layers of clothing on, but that is downright erotic. For 1952, it's practically porn
-Dancin Dan on Film 

'"a good Christian act.'"
- Sorta That Guy 


There's more to its cinematography than those outdoors scenes...
-Film Actually 


In every scene you can tell that they'd like to chuck the customs to get to the consummation. Except when it's time to get to the consummation...
- The Film Experience 

Ford was a master of filling every frame with visual information...
-The Entertainment Junkie

Unlike anything else in this particular film... 
-Dusty Hixenbaugh 


Imagine how an inhabitant from the fictitious 1920s Irish community of Inisfree might react to an episode of Fox’s EMPIRE...
-Paul Outlaw  

Although I respect any person’s right to say no—even married people c. 1950s rural Ireland—it really grinded my maidenly gears...
-Video Valhalla  

So, the story takes the same path as expected... the meeting, banter, spats and misunderstanding, conflict, and finally, reconciliation.
-The Film's The Thing (Father)

 

Tuesday
Mar172015

"Is this a courtship or a donnybrook?"

Top o' the morning...er... evening to you and a Happy St. Patrick's Day. To prepare for tonight's Hit Me With Your Best Shot we started the morning off right  by screening the John Ford classic The Quiet Man (1952). For those who haven't seen the film, it's about a rich American (John Wayne) who moves back to his ancestral homeland determined to settle down and immediately falls passionately in love with a fiery stranger (Maureen O'Hara) before he's even learned her name or bought that home which which to settle down into; O'Hara has that affect on people. One of the reasons I love watching old movies that I only have vague familiarity with (usually as a child) is that they're altogether different when you watch them as an adult. I've loved O'Hara since I was a child but I tended to avoid John Wayne movies (Red River is the only one of his films I've seen more than once, entirely due to Montgomery Clift). Which is why I was quite surprised to be drawn to John Wayne's stoic but expressive performance here and nearly chose this image as my best shot

I'm limiting myself to three images after the jump. It's so difficult because this movie is gorgeous. It won the Cinematography Oscar and its not hard to see why...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar052015

Cinderella Week: Disney's Animated Cinderella (1950)

With Disney's new live-action Cinderella nearly upon us, Team Experience is taking a look at some of the screen adaptations of Charles Perrault's classic fairy tale. Here's Tim to kick it off (the glass slipper et al.) - Editor

What better place to start Cinderella week, than with Disney's own version of the story? I give you the 2007 direct-to-video masterwork Cinderella III: A Twist in Time !


Wait, no, that's absolutely not right at all.

I give you Cinderella (1950)! The classic that saved Walt Disney Productions from extinction, birthed the studio's Silver Age Renaissance, and created the most princessy of all the characters in the Disney Princess marketing line-up, the one who will lead them into battle if they ever team up, Avengers-style, to save the world.

And it is kind of baffling to me that Disney has never apparently thought to go that route. [More...]

Click to read more ...