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Entries in Oscars (70s) (121)

Tuesday
Mar292016

Today's Must Read: Streep's "Kramer vs Kramer" Breakthrough

This new book on Meryl's rise will be released at the end of AprilIf you haven't yet chanced upon it or been directed there by multiple excited tweets, make sure to read this excerpt / reworking of a passage from a forthcoming book by Michael Schulman on Meryl Streep's rise to fame via Kramer vs Kramer that's currently gracing Vanity Fair. We've talked about Kramer vs Kramer multiple times here at TFE and it's been heartening to see the critical tide at least slightly turning in the blockbuster drama's favor of late. For a long time cinephiles seemed to despise it, due in no small part to its Oscars. When you beat noticeably ambitious artistic and stylized masterpieces like Apocalypse Now and All That Jazz to the Best Picture crown there's bound to be a backlash if your film is merely human-sized, no matter how resonant and superbly acted it may be. But, a truth, that's always worth noting in movie buff wars: every year has multiple films worthy of praise and just because one gets singled out in the moment, it doesn't mean its worthy of your ire.

But I digress. Read this piece! Here's a bit about the fantasies, realities, and fictions around Meryl Streep's audition --  nobody actually knows which is which since the accounts are different depending on who is interviewed:

Meryl marched into the hotel suite where Hoffman, Benton, and Jaffe sat side by side. She had read Corman’s novel and found Joanna to be “an ogre, a princess, an ass,” as she put it soon after to American Film. When Dustin asked her what she thought of the story, she told him in no uncertain terms. They had the character all wrong, she insisted. Her reasons for leaving Ted are too hazy. We should understand why she comes back for custody. When she gives up Billy in the final scene, it should be for the boy’s sake, not hers. Joanna isn’t a villain; she’s a reflection of a real struggle that women are going through across the country, and the audience should feel some sympathy for her. If they wanted Meryl, they’d need to do re-writes, she later told Ms. magazine.

The trio was taken aback, mostly because they hadn’t called her in for Joanna in the first place. They were thinking of her for the minor role of Phyllis, the one-night stand. Somehow she’d gotten the wrong message. Still, she seemed to understand the character instinctively. Maybe this was their Joanna after all?

That, at least, was Meryl’s version. The story the men told was completely different...

Tuesday
Mar152016

Mercedes McCambridge in "The Concorde... Airport '79"

Tim here. Now we come to the sad part of our centennial tribute to Mercedes McCambridge. For like so many movie stars, her career ended with a damp fizzle, not with any last triumphs. Worse yet, her career started rolling to a close in the 1970s, when Hollywood hit upon its most degrading scheme ever for what to do with its old legends and workhorses: stuff them into the enormous ensembles of tacky disaster films. At its most prestigious, this phenomenon resulted in Fred Astaire getting his solitary career Oscar nomination for The Towering Inferno. At its least prestigious, you have living legends Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, and Fred MacMurray in a death race to see who can embarrass themselves the worst in The Swarm.

Or, for that matter, you have McCambridge herself, grossly misused and discarded in The Concorde... Airport '79. It's the fourth and final film in the rather dimwitted Airport franchise, which had once upon a time been kinder to its storied old troupers: 1970's Best Picture nominee Airport, the film that essentially got the disaster movie cycle rolling, netted Helen Hayes her second Oscar. But those days were long gone by the time McCambridge was called up to squander her talents along with the rest of a distressingly high-quality cast, including Alain Delon, Cicely Tyson, and David Warner. [More...]

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Monday
Mar142016

The Furniture: The Exorcist's Possessed Bedroom

Daniel Walber, new contributor, with the first episode of a weekly feature on production design. Every Monday morning we'll take a look at memorable sets and props, from classic Oscar nominees to the best new releases.

The Exorcist is a movie about a single room. Sure, it starts halfway across the world, on an archaeological dig in Northern Iraq. It’s true that Father Damien has a memorable, upsetting trip to a mental hospital in New York. And those iconic steps lurk just outside the house. Yet all of the violence, all of the vomit, all of Mercedes McCambridge’s legendary profanity issues forth from little Regan MacNeil’s tiny bedroom...

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Friday
Mar112016

Posterized: Hello, her name is... Sally Field 

M'lynn. Gidget. Norma Rae. The Flying Nun. Sybil. Edna Spalding. Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs Gump. We know her by many names but the one we'll always love best is "Sally Field," perfectly stage-name appropriate for instant recall and audience adoration... and also her real name since birth. 

Though she's been famous for literally half a century (!) she hasn't always been properly appreciated... a common fate for stars whose work looks effortless and who excel in "light" genres like dramedies and romantic comedies. But we like her. We really really like her. Don't you?

Her biggest hits: Forrest Gump, Mrs Doubtfire, Hooper, Lincoln, Steel Magnolias, and literally every film she made with Burt Reynolds from 1977-1980 -- audiences couldn't get enough of them together back then. Most frequent co-stars: Burt Reynolds (4), Jeff Bridges, Michael Caine, Dom de Luise, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, and Tommy Lee Jones (2). Awards haul: 3 Emmys, 2 Oscars, 1 SAG, 2 Golden Globes, 2 NYFCC, and for Norma Rae a bunch of one time prizes... Cannes, NSFC, NBR, and LAFCA

But let's talk about you + Sally. Do you   ? How many of her film roles have you seen? All 30 are after the jump...

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Saturday
Dec192015

Star Wars & Oscar. How Will "The Force Awakens" Fare? 

The second that people started realizing that everyone was actually loving the new Star Wars episode, you could feel the Oscar buzz wave building and building and broke with lots of "Best Picture nomination! demands online. The BFCA even announced a ridiculously embarrassing extra ballot measure to ask the members if they'd like to add the movie into their Best Picture lineup after the fact. In short: no one will ever take this group seriously again. (Sigh) 'The Force Awakens will be swimming in Oscars!' the internet seems to have proclaimed en masse.

But not so fast young padewans.

Oscar nominations can prove elusive, especially for franchises, family films, and genre films three groups to which Star Wars belongs. People will cite "Oscar voters grew up with the franchise -- they'll be nostalgic!" but, consider: I grew up with the franchise. I loved episode 7. And I wouldn't vote for it. 

This is not to say that I would make a typical Oscar voter. I would not. But typical Oscar voters tastes lie somewhere in the space between critics and general audiences. Put more plainly: there's a difference between totally enjoying a spectacle and wanting it honored as the very "Best" of its year.

Let's look back at Star Wars Oscar history to get some clues as to how The Force Awakens will fare after the jump...

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Saturday
Aug292015

Autumn Sonata: Ingrid's Swan Song 

Happy Ingrid Bergman Centennial! The great movie star was born 100 years ago on this very day in Stockholm, Sweden. Jose closes out our 10 film retrospective with a look at her final feature film - Editor

Jose here. True story: there was a time when I thought Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman were the same person. Not because I had seen Persona and dreamt of metaphysical unions between both great Swedes, but merely because I was a child.

I first laid eyes on Ingrid on the box of my grandma’s tape of Casablanca, when I was 6, and there was something about those eyes filled with longing and sorrow that one day drew me to insert the tape into the player. Bewitched by the earthy qualities and the warmth she exuded, I devoured as many of her films as I could get my hands on, until one day I heard someone talk of Ingmar. Convinced that it was merely a mispronounced version of Ingrid’s name I remained oblivious until the day I saw The Seventh Seal at age 12. The more I learned of Ingmar’s work in the following years, the less I thought there would be room for Ingrid in his world of damaged, oft cold human beings.

Then I watched Autumn Sonata and not only did she make sense in Ingmar’s universe, it seemed to be the place she was born to be in. Playing world famous pianist Charlotte Andergast, the director allowed her beautiful features to reflect a severity she had merely suggested in earlier roles during her career, as if she chose not to be breathtaking. The film has Liv Ullmann play Charlotte’s daughter Eva, who resents her mother for not having been around much when she was a child. To say that their exchanges are unkind would be an understatement, when every word seems like a dagger aimed for the ultimate kill.

Cinema's Legendary Bergmans. No relation.

Ingmar’s kind of existentialism often drew from his own life, but in Autumn Sonata he seems to have made a film all about Ingrid. For starters, the very notion of a mother abandoning her children was something that allegedly tormented Ingrid who left her own child in America to pursue a relationship with director Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, in traditional Bergman fashion though, Charlotte isn’t entirely filled with regret though, and she seems pleased with having Eva’s contempt, rather than having spent her life pretending she wanted to be with her children. It’s a bold performance that breaks from the nurturing qualities Ingrid had shown all throughout her career.

Charlotte turned out to be the Oscar winner’s big screen swan song, she would then go into semi-retirement only to act in a Golda Meir biopic that would win her an Emmy and a Golden Globe, but her work in Autumn Sonata makes for a beautiful bookend when juxtaposed with her first big role in Intermezzo. In fact, we could propose a theory that Charlotte is another version of Intermezzo’s Anita Hoffman, in fact she could even be the same woman, a professional musician who realizes her art is more important than anything else in the world, after being subjected to endless heartbreak at the hand of the man she loves. It’s a thing of beauty to realize that she had been showing us shades of Charlotte more than 40 years before. Could it be that Ingmar had seen Intermezzo as a young man and dreamed this part for his leading lady before he began his own career? Even though Ingrid and Ingmar weren't the same person after all, they were meant to do transcendental art together all along.

previouslyIntermezzo (1939), Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1941), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1942), Notorious, (1946), Joan of Arc (1948), Journey to Italy (1954), Indiscreet (1958), The Inn of Sixth Happiness (1958), Cactus Flower (1969) and 10 Best Ingrid Bergman Kisses (1935 through 1970)

Friday
Aug282015

Murder on the Orient Express: Ingrid Bergman steals the show - or does she?

We're near the end of Ingrid Bergman's career so here's the penultimate episode in our retrospective. Happy 100th to the superstar on August 29th. Here's Lynn Lee...

 

By 1974, Ingrid Bergman was a grande dame of film in the twilight of her career, with two Best Actress Oscar wins under her belt, and nothing left to prove.  Perhaps that’s why she deliberately opted for such a small part in the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express, despite director Sidney Lumet’s attempts to coax her into taking a bigger one.  And yet, despite her own efforts to stay out of the spotlight, it found her anyway, with her tiny role as a mousy, middle-aged Swedish missionary netting her an unlikely third Oscar.

We don’t see too many movies like Orient Express these days – A-list extravaganzas where most of the stars end up with little more than glorified cameos but just seem to be in it for fun.  And to be fair, the movie is fun and directed with flair, even as it plays up the absurd theatricality of the whodunit setup – something that doesn’t register as strongly when you’re reading Agatha Christie’s plummy prose.  It’s a bit much at times...

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