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Entries in Oscars (70s) (73)

Thursday
Jul242014

That's What I Call Movies: The Hits of '73

To give the impending Smackdown some context we're looking at the year 1973. Here's Glenn on tickets sold...

1973 was like the end of a box-office era. While year-end charts weren’t suffocated with superheroes, CGI natural disasters, and dystopian visions of futuristic societies for a little while yet, but 1973 was as far as I can tell the last year to not have a single now-traditional effects-driven film in the top ten hits of the year. Just one year later in 1974 the end-of-year charts would include the one-two punch The Towering Inferno and Earthquake (plus Airport '75), and 1975 essentially ushered in the modern era of the blockbuster with Jaws and since then it's been a steady increase.

Here is what the top ten films of 1973 looked like.

01 THE STING $156m 
02 THE EXORCIST $128m
03 AMERICAN GRAFFITI $96.3m
04 PAPILLON $53.3
05 THE WAY WE WERE $45m
06 MAGNUM FORCE $39.7
07 LAST TANGO IN PARIS $36.1
08 LIVE AND LET DIE $35.3m
09 ROBIN HOOD $32m
10 PAPER MOON $30.9m

Just look at those films and let them sink in for a moment.

The runaway hit film of 1973 was a period-set heist movie. Then there was a religious horror film (always popular with audiences, but rarely to this extent), a nostalgic indie featuring mostly unknowns, a romance about class and marxism, a European X-rated erotic drama, a Disney kids cartoon and a black-and-white comedy set during the Great Depression. Only one franchise film (the weird Blaxploitation-themed James Bond entry Live and Let Die) is on the list, and not a single spaceship or flowing cape amongst them. 

It’s cliché and frankly rather boring to decry the so-called death of movies for adults in favour of Hollywood’s constant churn of male-centric fanboy action films. I think it misses the point in many ways, not least of which that it is predominantly adults that are making Man of Steel, Fast & Furious 6 and Star Trek Into Darkness the colossal hits that they are rather than just the teenage boys that they once may have been.

Still, it’s fascinating to look at this list and compare to it today’s. It seems crazy to realise the likes of Battle of the Planet of the Apes (the fourth and worst sequel), Soylent Green and Westworld were all beaten at the box office rather handily by Paper Moon, but let’s not pretend that the kids and their comic book and Young Adult adaptations are the ones to blame for the disparity of 1973’s Oscar best picture being no. 1 of the year and 2013’s (12 Years a Slave) ranking at no. 62 beneath adult-targeted films like Last Vegas, A Good Day to Die Hard and Now You See Me.

 For what it’s worth, the top film at the box office 41 years ago was Enter the Dragon  which was released not even a whole week after the death of its now iconic star Bruce Lee. It held the number one spot for four weekends.

Thursday
Jul172014

Introducing Pt 1... Supporting Actresses of 1973

You've met our awesome panelists (Dana Delany, Karina Longworth, Mark Harris, Bill Chambers, Kyle Turner, and myself, Nathaniel) and on July 31st when the Smackdown arrives you'll hear from us again. Let's meet the characters we'll be discussing.

As is our new Smackdown tradition we begin by showing you how the performances themselves begin. There's usually some point in every nominated performance when it clicks in... here's the scene that did it. That can come as early as the introduction for some characters. At the very least the intro is the springboard for every thing you'll see about the character from then on. Do these introductions scream "shower me with gold statues!"? Do the filmmakers prepare us for what's ahead? Here's how 3 of the 5 nominees are introduced in the order of how quickly they arrive in their movies.

[No Dialogue]

Immediately. Meet "Addie Loggins" (Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon)
This is the first shot of Paper Moon and the camera will rarely leave little Addie (Tatum O'Neal) again in the greatest case of Category Fraud ever perpetrated at the Oscars. She is staring tearless into her mother's freshly dug grave, flanked by unaffectionate adults who immediately pawn her off post-funeral to a stranger who bears a striking resemblance (Ryan O'Neal). He's meant to drive her to only kin, an Aunt she doesn't know. Tatum's/Addie's resistance to charming you or her co-stars actually proves better than charming, drawing you completely in to that poker face. Three minutes later she finally speaks and seems less child-like; she's all business, suspiciously scoping out her new situation and this "friend" of her mother's. 

Rita: Who is this?
Mrs Pritchett: Who do you think it is?
Rita: Why do you sound so strange?
Mrs Pritchett: I'm at Saks. 

5 minutes in. Meet "Mrs Pritchett" (Sylvia Sidney in Summer Wishes Winter Dreams)
We've spent enough time with Rita (Joanne Woodward), our protagonist, to know that she's neurotic and unhappy; the first scene is an actual nightmare. A phone call wakes her up. Disoriented from sleeping she doesn't recognize her own mother's voice. (That's Sylvia Sidney who today's moviegoers probably remember best from Beetlejuice.) Forget the dialogue as being at Saks is hardly a strange occurence judging from her expensive clothing and multiple shopping bags. The picture of their relationship is instantly clear: they bicker, they're terse with each other, they meet every week for lunch which is why the mother is calling and what they're about to do. One assumes then that the picture will be an acidic mother/daughter drama. But is that what's coming?

Now don't you drop nuthin' Imogene. You take care of those breakables, y'understand?

40 minutes in. Meet "Trixie Delight" (Madeline Kahn in Paper Moon)
This is one of those highlighted intros that a movie prepares you for, shouting 'New Chapter'.  It draws its comic energy from the "cut to". We're sitting in a hotel room with Addie and her exasperated shouting Daddy who explains that there'll be two new women in the car, a "lady" and her maid...

A REAL LADY AND SHE COMES FROM A GOOD FAMILY!"

Cut to: Madeline Kahn strutting out of the carnival's nudie tent "HAREM SLAVE - WORLD FAMOUS GIRLS", boobs bouncing. A real lady from a good family, eh? Kahn wins her first big laugh with literally her first second of screen time. There will be more. 

Do the introductions make you want to see more?
(In part 2 we'll look at the other nominees)

[If you'd like to participate in the Smackdown make sure to vote on the nominated performances (only the ones you've seen please, underseen performances are not penalized as votes are averaged out) by rating the nominees on a scale of 1 (inadequate) to 5 (beyond excellent) hearts.]

Monday
Jul142014

Meet July's "Smackdown" Panelists

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '73 arrives on July 31st, just over two weeks from now. You need to get your votes in too if you want to participate (instructions at the bottom of this post). If you've wandered in from elsewhere and are like, "What's a Smackdown?," here's how it started.

The Smackdown Panel for July

Without further ado let's meet our panel who will be discussing popular classics Paper Moon, The Exorcist, and American Graffiti as well as the more obscure title Summer Wishes Winter Dreams. All of the Supporting Actress nominees this Oscar vintage were first timers and so are our Smackdown panelists.

Special Guest

DANA DELANY
Dana Delany is an actress working on stage, screen, television and now internet. She was last seen starring in "Body of Proof" on ABC. In August you can rate and review the pilot "Hand of God" in which she co-stars with Ron Perlman on Amazon.com. [Follow her on Twitter | IMDb]

Why did a famous actress like you want to participate?

I wanted to do a Smackdown because there is nothing I like better than watching a movie and discussing it with smart people. Way better than being smacked. 

What does 1973 mean to you?

For me personally it was a hugely transitional year. My parents separated, we moved to Virginia and I escaped by going to the movies before I truly escaped by going to boarding school for my senior year. It was also a transitional year for our country and film. Marriages ended as women asserted their independence and Roe v Wade passed. Economically the US was a mess with gas shortages and NYC was bankrupt. American faith was shaken with the Watergate trial and the beginning of the end of the fruitless Vietnam War. I think that's why you see so much nostalgia in the movies with "The Sting", "American Graffiti", "Paper Moon" and "The Way We Were" in stark contrast to the European "Last Tango in Paris". Even at the Oscars the next spring, David Niven being surprised by a streaker was the embodiment of old Hollywood/new world.

 

And...

BILL CHAMBERS
Bill Chambers is the founder, editor, and webmaster of FilmFreakCentral.net, which recently turned seventeen. A graduate of York University's Film program, he is a member of both the Toronto Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. He just got a cat. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?:

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is Terrence Malick making his directorial debut, and Martin Scorsese formally introducing himself to moviegoers. The seismographic image of 1973 I have in my head is deceptively calm compared to the years that flank it, perhaps because while '73 produced no shortage of future classics, so many of them -- "The Last Detail", "Sisters", "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" -- seem like sleepers to this day, amassing cults without getting the splashy reissues or being front and centre in discussions of their directors' work. And when I factor in genre classics like "Enter the Dragon", "Westworld", even "Don't Look Now", this might be the year in film from that hallowed decade I'd most want with me on a desert island... though I'd probably just try to make a raft out of "Lost Horizon".

 


MARK HARRIS

Mark Harris is an editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, a Grantland columnist (about the Oscars and other things), and a contributor to New York magazine. He is the author of Pictures at a Revolution (2008) and Five Came Back (2014). He lives in New York City. [Follow him on Twitter]  

What does 1973 mean to you?

1973 was the first year I got to have any say in the movies I wanted to see, which, as I recall, were "The Sting", "Sleeper", "Paper Moon", "The Day of the Dolphin", and, because this is a place for truth, Burt Reynolds in "White Lightning". "The Exorcist" was high on my wish list, but only one friend my age had gotten to see it, and only because, as my mother tersely explained to me, 'His parents don't care about him.' That year's movies competed in the first Oscar show I was ever allowed to stay up and watch. Other highlights of that year for me: The televised Watergate hearings, Sonny and Cher, fourth grade.

 


KARINA LONGWORTH 
Karina Longworth is the creator/host of You Must Remember This, a podcast about the secret/forgotten history of Hollywood's first century. She is the author of books about George Lucas, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, and has contributed to Grantland, Slate, LA Weekly, the Guardian, NPR, Vulture, and other publications. [Follow her on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

"The Last of Sheila". "Blume in Love". "Scarecrow" winning the Palme D'or. Gloria Steinem with hair colored in emulation of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Situationism. "Coffy". "The Mother and The Whore".

 


KYLE TURNER
Born in 1994 and enamored of the cinema ever since, Kyle began writing on the internet in 2007 with his blog The Movie Scene. Since then, he has contributed to TheBlackMaria.org, Movie Mezzanine, and IndieWire's /Bent. Xavier Dolan's "I Killed My Mother" is basically his life story and "Bringing Up Baby" is his default favorite film. He likes coffee and is studying film at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He is relieved to know he is not a golem. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

From merely an appreciative perspective, it was the year "The Godfather" won Best Picture (for '72), Watergate happened, and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" was released.

 

And your host

NATHANIEL R
Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but also blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner and Michelle Pfeiffer. Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

I have no memories of that year but if I had any they'd surely involve my sister (she's the eldest and I'm the baby) and her friends who were approaching their teenage years and who I generally remember looking at with awe (bell bottoms, long hair and all) just a few years later. As for what it makes me think of now? Exactly 4 things: "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell"; Liza Minnelli's victory tour for her work in 1972 (the Oscar, the Emmy, the BAFTA, the Globe, and the Hasty Puddings Woman of the Year all came her way); political powderkegs Roe v Wade and Watergate; and that unique admirable window of time in America wherein confrontational subtitled art films like Ingmar Bergman movies could be big hits and up for multiple Oscars... the 70s were so weird (read: awesome). 

 

YOU'RE INVITED, TOO!
The readers are the final (collective) panelist. You have 12 more days to get your votes in on any of the performances you've seen grading them on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (perfect). (Paper Moon is on Instant Watch so you have no excuse to miss that one.) We excerpt quotes from reader ballots and your votes count toward the outcome. That matters because sometimes it's a real brawl for the win: see recent editions 1941 and 1964

1973 Supporting Actress Nominees
Linda Blair The Exorcist
Candy Clark American Graffiti
Madeline Kahn Paper Moon
Tatum O'Neal Paper Moon
Sylvia Sidney  Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

 

Say hi to our exciting panel in the comments and tell them what you think of when you think of "73". And like the film experience on Facebook while you're at it.

PROCEED TO THE SMACKDOWN EVENT

Tuesday
Jul082014

All That Link

It's been so long since we had a link roundup! You were all partying over the long weekend anyway. But we're back to normal. Please to enjoy these fine, discussable or just fun posts around the web...

Antagony & Ecstasy looks back at Thelma & Louise now that Susan Sarandon is on the road in Tammy's crime spree
VF Jennifer Lawrence meets Emma Watson
Leigh Alexander on internet sexism - the dos and don'ts 
BuzzFeed Matt McGorry and Samira Wiley from Orange is the New Black recreate Matthew McConaughey movie posters. Love.
WSJ Taylor Swift fancies herself a journalist suddenly and writes about the future of fandom, music careers and record sales 
AV Club on that potato salad kickstarter 
Deadline on new controversial strict rules for documentary eligibility at the Oscars. I understand the arguments against the new ruling but I would also like to caution documentarians to think about what they're asking for. The Oscars are larger than your particular craft and they really are supposed to be about CINEMA (i.e. things that play in theaters) so shush. These kinds of rulings may hurt at first but there should be a difference between television and movies. Television has its own awards for you to win if your film is great. Don't be greedy. I do agree with one complaint though: what's fair for docs should also be fair for features so Oscar needs to tighten up its eligibility rules across the board.

Hey, Look

It's the first image of Don Cheadle as Miles Davis in a forthcoming biopic. Filming has just begun. I guess Cheadle hasn't moved to TV for good (i *really* hate House of Lies) but at this point he seems far more likely to win an Emmy than an Oscar. The movie is apparently more about his marriage than his music. The best news about the project by far is that it gives Emayatzy Corinealdi a follow up leading role to her great work in Middle of Nowhere. She plays Miles first wife Francis Taylor.

Bob Fosse and Roy Scheider at Cannes for "All That Jazz"Fosse Fosse Fosse
Sound on Sight has an excellent retrospective of Bob Fosse's astounding but weirdly forgotten cinematic career from Mynt Marsellus. I wish Marsellus hadn't hedged on his ending - Fosse absolutely is equal to the other far more famous auteurs cited (Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, etcetera). They are only better remembered / respected I'd argue because they:

a) have comparatively gigantic filmographies
b) are still alive and working twenty-seven years after Fosse's death (Fosse was older than all the other crucial 70s breakout auteurs save Robert Altman and Fosse also died relatively young at only 60)
c) made their best films in genres that are more typically male than the film musical and thus escaped the pervasive destructive sexism that tends to devalue all rich work in more traditionally "feminine" fields like musicals, romances, and melodramas. We see this all the time in film criticism. Still.

Monday
May262014

Cannes Monologue: Norma Rae

Andrew's Cannes-inspired subseries in our Monday Monologue tradition ends with Sally Field in Norma Rae, one of only four Best Actresses to win both Cannes and the Oscar...

 

Is Julianne Moore finally going to get that Oscar? Blame it on the human urge to tie everything down to laurels, but it seems that's biggest wishful-thinking question coming out of Cannes after the awards ceremony. It’s not enough that she’s recently joined Juliette Binoche as one of the few  “European Best Actress Triple Crown” winners –the allure of Oscar is hard to resist. Cannes and Oscar rarely measure up, of course, but it seems like a good excuse to look back to one of only two performance to manage both Best Actress wins in the last 50+ years: Sally Field in Norma Rae (1979)...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May222014

Throwback Thursday FYC: Diahann Carroll in Claudine (1974)

The Film Experience time travels so consistently between the now, the future, the distant past and the recent past that Throwback Thursday, that grand internet tradition, hasn't meant much. But then I chanced upon this old FYC and a lightbulb appeared reflecting off my bald head "Throwback Thursday... The Oscar Campaigns"

Diahann Carroll in Claudine (1974)

click to enlarge

Diahann, deglamming to play a welfare mother in Harlem as MANY of the critical blurbs highlights, lost the Oscar to Ellen Burstyn in one of the all time greatest Best Actress rosters. The blurbs are interesting time capsules, both in the tell tale signs of 'this is still what people like for "bests" and in uniquely "holy hell" ways. Consider this provocative bit from the Gannett Syndicate:

...the first three dimensional portrait of a black woman."

I'm sure that Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson, both nominated two years prior would not approve! But it just goes to show you how deeply entrenched the problems were (and sadly still are) for actresses of color in terms of which films get made and what kind of roles are offered. The movies have made some progress, yes, but that we're still fighting this fight when we've got actresses as gifted as Viola, Lupita, Audra McDonaldAnikaAdepero, Kimberly Elise, and Emeyatzy Corinealdi available to us is, shall we say, maddening. 

Have you seen Claudine? Unfortunately it's on "very long wait" status at Netflix. (sigh)