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Best Actress -- Who will be nominated?
Davis? Blunt? Adams? Chastain?

"I'm glad everyone is cheering Fences on, but I feel that people are overestimating its Oscar potential. The furor reminds me of when people were going ga-ga for August: Osage County. " - Jes

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Entries in Oscars (60s) (102)

Monday
Apr182016

The Furniture: The Wonderfully Weird Production Design of the Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm

With Tale of Tales and The Huntsman: Winter’s War both opening this weekend, we have a sudden double feature of fairy tale movies on our hands. That makes it an excellent time to revisit the only fairy tale film nominated for the Oscar Best Production Design, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. (That seems impossible, I know, but it's true.)

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was the first narrative feature to be shot in the original 3-panel Cinerama process. The second, and last, was How the West Was Won, which I showcased two weeks ago. While the epic Western, or at least some its directors, tried to smooth over the unwieldy 3-camera process with landscapes and the occasional single-camera 70-mm shot, directors Henry Levin and George Pal really ran with Cinerama for their fairy tale epic. The results were a bit bonkers...

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Saturday
Apr162016

Q&A: It's a zoo in here.

Hello! It's your host Nathaniel checking in from a screening frenzy. I'm at the Nashville International Film Festival briefly to serve on their New Directors jury but coming back to you, dear readers, on Monday night. Meanwhile here in New York, Jason and Manuel have already lept into Tribeca Film Festival reporting.

For this week's Q&A column I asked readers for a few animal questions since Monty, my baby boy and the world's first Oscar predicting cat (unfortunately he was never a very committed pundit), has been ill. While he's on the mend (hopefully) it's hard to pull my thoughts away from our four legged friends. Herewith 9 reader questions, some animal themed some not...

JAMES: Ever named a pet after an on-screen animal (or human)? 

My cat is named after Montgomery Clift and unfortunately the name suited him because he has been quite a moody thing from his teensiest days until now. He was found in the streets of the Bronx, as far as I know, as a tiny mewling mama-less thing and I got him way too young from the shelter. But even grumpy as he is, he is always right next to me no matter what room I'm in and every once in a while he looks at me like I'm Elizabeth Taylor and snuggles up and it's all worth it. 

(I was actually going to get a second cat years ago and name it Liz but for various reasons it didn't happen.)

HAAJEN: Which animal should be paired with Julianne Moore, Juliette Binoche and Jennifer Law in a movie?

What a weird freaking question that I love. It's like when Kidman's familiar was a monkey in The Golden Compass. So I'm going to say black panther for Julianne, seagulls for Juliette (I always picture her in the salty air near water -- is this a ghost image of Lovers on the Bridge (1990)?) I would also pay to see JLaw in the Clint role in a remake of Any Which Way You Can (1980) if only because I can't imagine the outcome of an absolute war to steal scenes between JLaw and an Orangutan. 

Naturally I have no photos to support this so please enjoy this photo of Idris Elba with a fake tiger.

It is extremely easy to enjoy. 

PEARL: What are your thoughts on Barbra Streisand and Barry Levinson embarking on yet another production of Gypsy for a start up studio? My spirit animal (fox) says they likely face a difficult and painful journey.

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Tuesday
Apr122016

Happy 100th: Why Doesn't Movita Have a Biopic? 

Today is the Centennial of the Mexican American actress Movita, who was born as Maria Luisa Castaneda but renamed Movita by MGM because the name sounded Polynesian to them. Well maybe it's her centennial. She claims the studio fudged with her age to make her older for legal reasons. She's surely best remembered today as "Tehani" one of two young island beauties (the other being "Maimiti" played by Mamo Clark) that got entangled in all that Mutinous Best Picture business on the Bounty back in 1935 (if you know what I mean).

Movita went on to international fame and married two famous masculine hunks, first the boxer Jack Doyle and then superstar Marlon Brando (quite atypically she was an "older woman" marrying a young superstar) so we're guessing she had a type...

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Tuesday
Apr052016

Best Shot Peck Centennial: Roman Holiday & To Kill a Mockingbird

Gregory Peck was an instant sensation at the cinema. He was nominated for Best Actor in his very first year of the movies for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) and the hits just kept on coming: The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Twelve O'Clock High (1949). The Academy became less interested in nominating him after that the 1940s but for his Oscar winning and most iconic role (To Kill a Mockingbird) but audiences never stopped loving him. He had key hit films for over 30 years in his big screen career.

Though he was a very politically active liberal he was never interested in running for office himself but he  proved to be an influential politician within the industry itself as a key AMPAS president. 

For this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot, in honor of Peck's Centennial, we gave participants the choice between what are arguably his two greatest films, Roman Holiday (1953) or To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

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Monday
Apr042016

The Furniture: Saloon Kitsch in "How the West Was Won"

New Series. Daniel Walber talks production design in "The Furniture". Previously we looked at The Exorcist, Carol and Brooklyn and Batman


Gregory Peck, whose centennial we’ll all be celebrating tomorrow, was in a grand total of six films that were nominated for Best Production Design. Two of the best, To Kill a Mockingbird (the only winner) and Roman Holiday, will be featured in this week’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. And so, in the interest of spreading the love, I’ll talk about a very different: 1962’s Cinerama epic, How the West Was Won.

The film, though it tells the story of a single American family, is broken up into five distinct sections. Peck is only in one of them, “The Plains.” This is actually good for our purposes, because it’s one of the three directed by Henry Hathaway. The John Ford and George Marshall chapters are much more about landscapes than sets, perhaps because they found the task of filling up the wide Cinerama frame with furniture to be too tedious.

Hathaway embraced the madness, however, and it makes all the difference. How the West Was Won is a cinematic victory lap for Manifest Destiny, an alternately uncomplicated and incoherent paean to the white conquest of the West. This can easily make it fall flat to 21st century eyes, particularly in its more earnest moments of breathtaking scenery and triumphalist narration (from Spencer Tracy).

But in Hathaway’s segments, with their exaggerated and falsified versions of Western style, suddenly it becomes kitsch...

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Wednesday
Mar302016

Patty Duke (1946-2016)

As I'm sure you've heard Patty Duke, the third youngest actor ever to win an Oscar (she was 16 when she took the industry's top prize for The Miracle Worker) and the former President of SAG, has died at the age of 69. Her birth name was Anna Marie Duke and by the time she was 14 she was already a famous thespian. She originated the role of blind and deaf Helen Keller in the hit Broadway play "The Miracle Worker". She and her Tony winning co-star Anne Bancroft both transferred over to the film version two years later to bring Helen Keller's incredible story to millions more. It really is a shockingly good movie, with two stellar performances, and it's devoid of the sentiments and easy comforts that you're expecting if you've only heard of it secondhand; that movie earns its "triumph of the human spirit" appeal. 

Photos, her son Sean Astin, and her charity work after the jump...

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Thursday
Feb182016

Happy Birthday to the Oldest Living 'Best Supporting Actor' 

10 DAY UNTIL OSCAR! Random Oscar Trivia This Morning...

Today is the 91st birthday of George Kennedy. In addition to getting to spend a lot of shirtless sweaty hours with Paul Newman (mmm) in Cool Hand Luke, he's the oldest living Best Supporting Actor winner. But who, you ask, are the others? (Just humor me and ask okay?)

Okay, okay. I'll tell you!

The Five Oldest Living Best Supporting Actor Oscar Winners
after the jump... 

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