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Entries in Oscars (60s) (147)

Monday
Dec112017

The Furniture: Matte Paintings at the End of an Era

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve done an informal retrospective series on the Best Production Design nominees of 1967. It isn’t an especially “New Hollywood” lineup, despite being the year of “Pictures at a Revolution.” Four of the nominees are lush period pieces, three of them lengthy musicals. They often feel like extravagantly-designed chaos, whirlwinds of sets and props that spin out of control. This is true of both the hilarious brawls of The Taming of the Shrew and the dated, stereotype-laden adventures of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Camelot, the winner, manages to split the difference between Old Hollywood excess and New Hollywood sexuality.

The final two films, both Best Picture nominees, are a bit less of a thrill. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Doctor Dolittle are, respectively, the most realistic and most fantastical of the five nominees. However, despite their differences, they both underline the inadequate end-point of old-school studio design.

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Saturday
Nov252017

59 days til nominations. Time for a little Disney trivia

by Nathaniel R

Disney won every single short category plus Documentary Feature at the 1953 OscarsWith 59 days left until Oscar nominations, it seems an appropriate time to remind everyone that it's not Meryl Streep (20) or Woody Allen (24) or even John Williams (50) who holds the record for Most Oscar Nominations of All Time, but industry titan and one of the most influential people who ever lived: Walt Disney. His fingerprints... or mouse glove prints if you will, are still all over showbiz, especially the business part. But we're here to talk Oscar. He received an incredible 59 competitive Oscar nominations, winning 22 of those races.

So in addition to holding the record for most nominations, he also holds the record for most wins. The last of those nominations and wins was his only posthumous honor -- Winnie Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) took the Animated Short Oscar (then called "Best Short Subject, Cartoons")...

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Monday
Oct232017

The Furniture: Camelot, a Silly and Furry Place

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Back in August, I wrote about two dramatically different ways of portraying Arthurian Legend on screen. To recap: the bright silliness of Knights of the Round Table (1953) looks like psychedelic compared to the bland grit of King Arthur (2004) and the gruff, imperial fantasia of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). But even these at least share a mild interest in engaging with English historical design. Camelot (1967), on the other hand, is a flighty fantasy of utter nonsense.

Of course, this is why it’s such a delight to watch. It’s a furry, oversexed epic that sends its glamorous cast out into magical forests to sing Lerner and Loewe songs at the top of their extravagantly-adorned lungs. The film won Oscars for production designer John Truscott, art director Edward Carrere and set decorator John Brown, with Truscott taking home a second statuette for the costumes. Lavishly made and lavishly awarded, it’s a classic of committed inspiration.

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Monday
Sep252017

The Furniture: Death by Excess in What a Way to Go!

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Any excuse to talk about What a Way to Go! is a good excuse. But the centennial of Ted Haworth is an especially excellent excuse. He was nominated for six Oscars, starting with Marty in 1955. He won for 1957’s Sayonara. Highlights from the rest of his career include Some Like It Hot, The Beguiled, and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

But none of those movies could hold a candle to the astonishing level of creativity on display in What a Way to Go! The epic 1964 comedy of love and loss stars Shirley MacLaine as Louisa May Foster, a many-time widow and heiress.  Each husband, with one particularly tragic exception, begins the marriage as a near-pauper who wants nothing but love. But their passion inevitably leads them on a wild pursuit of wealth, which tends to end in a coffin. It should be noted, of course, that Louisa herself has little interest in cash.

There are far too many brilliant design elements to fit into a single column...

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Thursday
Aug242017

OTD: The Whisperers, Marlee Matlin, and "The Power of Love"

On this day (August 24th) in showbiz-related history...

1890 "Father of modern surfing" and part time movie actor Duke Kahanamoku born in Hawaii. We've written about him before. Where's his biopic?

1967 The Whisperers premieres in London. It's about an old poor woman living in solitude who is beginning to lose her grip on reality. Dame Edith Evans sterling work was instantly lauded - she won Best Actress at Berlinale and from such disparate groups as the NYFCC, NBR and the Golden Globes. She landed her third and final Oscar nomination in the Best Actress lineup (sadly only the winner, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner's Hepburn, was less than superb in that shortlist!). At the time Evans was the oldest Oscar nominee of all time in any acting category having just turned 80 years old. That record has since been undone but she's still the third oldest lead actress nominee after Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy (also 80, who won) and Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (who was 85).  Have you ever seen The Whisperers? It's haunting and quite a time capsule of contemporary British cinema of the time. [And check out Nick Davis' 5 star review of this legendary performance]

1985 Huey Lewis and the News hit #1 with their theme from Back to the Future "The Power of Love". The music video had a cameo by the car and Christopher Lloyd's "Doc" though it was mostly just the band playing in a bar. Best Original Song was one of the film's 4 Oscar nominations (it won for sound effects editing).  In case you haven't yet heard, 1985 will be our "year of the month" in September as we build to the next Smackdown.

2012 Remember that movie where Michael Shannon was evil (wait, that's not helpful) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a bicycle messenger (now that's more specific). Premium Rush opened on this day. Isn't it weird how some movies, like that one, feel much more ancient than they actually are while others from years earlier feel fresh as daisies? 

Happy Birthday to Them!
Oscar Winner: Usurper of Kathleen Turner's and/or Sigourney Weaver's Best Actress statue. More generously we must admit that it's super impressive that Matlin trailblazed by refusing to be a one hit wonder, turning that splashy debut into such an unlikely but full career. She's been working ever since!
Oscar Nominees: Ava DuVernay (13th), Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction), Ronee Blakley (Nashville), Robert Pulcini (American Splendor)
Cool Talents: Actress Elizabeth Debicki, Wit Stephen Fry, Auteur Takashi Miike, Novelist A.S. Byatt
80s Touchstones: Steve Guttenberg (Cocoon, Can't Stop the Music, and so many more) and Gordon Wanecke (My Beautiful Laundrette!)

Wednesday
Aug232017

Emmy Review: Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes

by Nathaniel R

The television Academy split up the costume categories at the Emmys just a few years ago. Given that all awards bodies default to period work over contemporary work if they have a choice between the two (sigh) it's good that they did this. Now contemporary costumes will be able to actually win prizes! This period category, then, feels more like a continuation of the original Emmy category "Outstanding Costumes for a Series"

The nominees are...

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