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Entries in Oscars (80s) (158)

Monday
May162016

Beauty vs Beast: Daughter Dearest

Howdy, folks - Jason from MNPP here with this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" is which we'll be celebrating the 61st birthday of the great Debra Winger. I assume most of you, being right and proper actressexuals, have seen the terrific documentary bearing her name Searching For Debra Winger, but if not, get on that. I haven't seen it since it came out in 2002 and part of me wonders if it's maybe, hopefully, begun to feel a bit dated? That film feeling dated can only be a good thing because it means roles for actresses are getting better. If nothing else, Winger herself has been working somewhat steadily over the past few years with recent roles on In Treatment and the Netflix series The Ranch.

All that said, we're really here today for Classic Winger...

PREVIOUSLY Two weeks back we celebrated the sexy time that is A Bigger Splash with a glance back at its original (and also sexy) incarnation, 1969's La Piscine - stuffing the ballot box like he did those speedos, Alain Delon carried off about 80% of your votes. Said Steven:

"Alain Delon>>>>>>>every young pretty boy out there in Hollywood."

Tuesday
Apr122016

The Act of Seeing in "Witness"

Peter Weir's Oscar nominated Witness (1985) was not chosen for our Best Shot series for its title, though that's as apt a logline for this series as any. The title refers to young Samuel Lapp (Lukas Hass, in a sterling child performance) but it neatly doubles as a surprisingly hushed command to the audience out there in the dark.

Lukas Haas figures it out at the police station

The story may spring from an abrupt violent murder in a public bathroom which Samuel sees, wide-eyed, from a bathroom stall but there's very little about the hit drama that is as in your face as its story beats and genre might otherwise suggest. From its earliest longshot of Amish villagers coming into view above a field of grass, to its sublimely casual farewell of its last shot (with two men crossing paths outside the home of the woman they both love), the movie is surprisingly gentle and patient.

Though violence bookends the events and the movie's sheer quality grants it that Oscar ready "Best" scale, Witness is actually something of a miniature. Weir focuses nearly all our energy on watching our good cop hero John Book (Harrison Ford, perfection), live among the Amish as he hides from the bad guys, figuring out his next move, rather than hunting them down. That atypical reserve gives the cop drama a unique contemplative charge within its genre. And Peter Weir and John Seale's beautiful work in composition and lighting keeps you entranced throughout whether you're watching barn raising, peach canning, or cow milking, or a very odd couple (city cop and Amish widow) hoping the other isn't seeing their longing. The light through windows and from sun or (often) lamps is always artfully caressing these marvelous faces (kudos to casting director Diane Crittendon for going with unknowns or barely knowns for the Amish characters and giving Viggo Mortensen his first feature film role). In another amazing shot about seeing, the Amish father finds his daughter and the cop dancing in the barn and they're lit behind by the lamp and the headlights from Book's car. It's one of the only shots that feel theatrically staged but it works because it's so heightened, the father's distorted suspicious understanding and the couple feeling guilty about sins they haven't yet committed.

But it's an atypical shot, in which we're essentially barred from looking, that emerges as one of this great film's most potent images

Harrison Ford earns this Oscar nomination.

In this phone call sequence, John Book realizes that his partner has been murdered. He hangs up the phone and the camera waits behind him as he processes and makes a second far more impulsive call. Though we're not seeing our star in the traditional sense his character and the details of his current situation are laid bare. The barely surpressed rage in his voice and his slew of profanities and threats paired with the camera angle seem to be protecting Book from himself, the way Book self-edits and is careful to behave as a guest in Rachel's home. The crisp details of the image (the textures of that borrowed Amish hat, the sweat on his hair, the minute shifting in his knotted neck) all add indelibly to this frightening flash of a good man letting the beast out.

Tellingly the very next shot of John Book, has him back in the horse and buggy, head bowed momentarily as if with shame. And then he explodes again when he sees a tourist taunting his new Amish friend (Alexander Godunov). Book may not be truly assimilating but his alien experiences are forcefully reshaping him in this exquisitely judged movie. 

Tuesday
Apr122016

Tuesday Top Ten: 1985 Favorites! 

Because we'll be seeing what various cinephiles around the web think of Peter Weir's Witness for "Best Shot" tonight here's an entirely rando top ten list of 1985, direct from my brain. Or, rather, from web archives or my brain. Which means it's an unholy amalgam of things I loved when I was young and things I love now after many watches over the years and things I possibly would only love ironically now because I loved them when I was young. 

1985 silliness after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar302016

Q&A: Artists in Movies and Uninspiring Best Pic Lineups

For this weeks Q&A I asked for an art theme to celebrate the joint birthday of Vincent Van Gogh and Francisco de Goya on this very day! So we'll start with a few art-focused topics before venturing to rando questions.

TOM: Which film about an artist (in any field of the Arts) that you were not particularly knowledgeable about made you want to see/hear the real work by that artist? 

I vastly prefer non-traditional biopics so I'm susceptible to stuff that piques curiosity rather than gives you a greatest hits. So I like bios like Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993). I have some problems with I'm Not There (2007) which is my least favorite Todd Haynes film but I respect the hell out of it conceptually. In terms of movies about painters I definitely became more interested in Francis Bacon after Love is the Devil (1998) and not just because of Daniel Craig in the bathtub! I already cared about Caravaggio before seeing Derek Jarman's Caravaggio but I hope people see that one, too. 

BRIAN: If you had to recommend a budding Cinephile a movie based on an artist, a work of art, or has artistic themes what would it be?

Hmmm. A lot of movies about painting aren't very good (Watching someone paint being only a notch more interesting than watching someone write). So let's do "artistic" theme and the answer there is easily Amadeus (1984). It's such a useful movie to reference in ways both commonplace ("too many notes!") and contemplative (what makes the difference between competent journeyman skill and true genius?). One of my other favorite "art" movies is High Art (1998)...

8 more questions after the jump

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar282016

The Furniture: Batman's Nightmare at the Museum

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

In the Oscar battle between Batman and Superman, there is no real contest. Superman’s three nominations, zero wins and one special achievement award have nothing on Batman’s fifteen nominations and three wins. And it doesn’t look as if we have to worry about the tally getting complicated by any nominations for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

However, the arrival of the newest Batman movie is an excellent excuse to discuss the oldest. Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman remains the only superhero movie to ever win the Best Production Design Oscar, an honor it certainly deserves to keep...

Click to read more ...

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