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Entries in Oscars (80s) (75)

Thursday
Feb212013

Posterized: Oscar's Well Loved Losing Dozen

"And the Oscar DOESN'T Go To..." The following dozen films are historically the biggest losers in Oscar history. All of them had 8 or more nominations and won zip on Oscar night. But, please to note, "loser" is a tongue-in-cheek title here. If you're well regarded enough to win nearly two handfuls of nominations as "best of the year" you're already a winner, even if you "lose".

How many have you seen?

The Little Foxes (1941) 9 nominations
Quo Vadis (1951) 8 nominations
Peyton Place (1957) 9 nominations 

THE NUNS STORY (59) - 8 noms
THE SAND PEBBLES (66) - 8 noms
THE TURNING POINT (77) 11 noms *tied for most noms without any wins*

THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980) 8 noms
RAGTIME (1981) 8 noms
THE COLOR PURPLE (1985) 11 noms *tied for most noms without any wins*

REMAINS OF THE DAY (1993) 8 noms
GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002) 10 noms
TRUE GRIT (2010) 10 noms

Trivia Puzzle: It happened most often in the 50s (3 films) and 80s (3 films) though I couldn't tell you why!

SPIELBERG NOTE: You'll notice that Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple still shares the title for "biggest loser" (with The Turning Point). Unfortunately, though he has been enormously well rewarded over the years, this weird notion that Oscar doesn't like him continues in the rhetoric you hear online sometimes particular in regards to Saving Private Ryan's loss and Lincoln's probable loss on Oscar night. If you ask me if you are among the ten most nominated directors in history (tied for fifth) and you already have two directing Oscars and a possible third on its way (which would put you in tied for second place of all time with director wins!), there's no chance in hell that they don't like you. (The internet is such a sweaty hysteric sometimes!)

THIS YEAR: If Hathaway (Les Miz) and Day-Lewis (Lincoln) are mortal locks in their respective categories this year than the only films that might break into this top (bottom?) twelve this year are Silver Linings Playbook (8 noms) if Jennifer Lawrence mysteriously fumbles at the finish line for Best Actress which some people think is more possible than others (I personally think she's way out front unfortunately) or The Life of Pi (11 noms) if Lincoln and other films mysteriously dominate in all the technical races which is HIGHLY unlikely. So in other words: this list of 12 Oscar Favorites That Had No Hardware To Show For It is unlikely to change this year. Basically abundantly nominated films that win nothing are rare beautiful creatures. 

Thursday
Jan242013

Posterized: BAFTA Honoree Alan Parker

Director Alan Parker, who our youngest readers will probably beunfamiliar with, used to be a prestige director. He's been retired for ten years but his taste in material was quite awards-baity. He's receiving the BAFTA Fellowhip (aka career tribute) in February at the BAFTA ceremony. Because the BAFTAs aren't aired live and weirdly only ever broadcast parts of that show who knows if we'll see it.

So I thought we should look back at his career through Posterized. (We haven't done one of those in a while!)

How many have you seen?

Bugsy Malone (76), Midnight Express (78), Fame (80)

Three arguable classics right off the bat? And 11 more movies after the jump

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec262012

RIP Charles Durning (1923-2012)

2012 has been, so definitively, the year for huge teeming male casts (Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark, Magic Mike) of stars and character actors playing anxious determined men that I felt an extra pang of sadness to hear about the passing of Charles Durning on Christmas Eve. He was 89 years-old. 

Charles Durning at the SAG ceremony in 2008 accepting his lifetime achievement award

Had any of those movies (well, not, Magic Mike) been made in the 1980s, he would with certainty have popped up --  100% -- growling great lines in a suit or stove pipe hat.

Since the seeds of my movie mania were planted in the early 1980s, Charles Durning was one of the very first actors that embodied and defined the term "Character Actor" for me. I absolutely loved him in Tootsie (1982), one of the all time great movie comedies, as Jessica Lange's widower dad who took an unfortunate shine to Dorothy (Dustin Hoffman in drag). I remember experiencing early onset Oscar confusion when I realized (a couple of years after the fact) that he had been nominated for an extended cameo in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas instead. So I rented that one in 1985 of 1986, I think, on the sly -- my parents did not approve of "raunchy movies" -- and just delighted in his "little sidestep ♫ "

Other roles I have slightly less vivid memories of from that decade were his Oscar nominated turn in Mel Brooks comedy To Be Or Not To Be (1983) and his monsignor in the gay drama Mass Appeal (1985). The Golden Globes got to him before the Academy -- as they so often do -- nominating him for Best Supporting Actor for his hostage negotiator in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) which we recently discussed. Durning won a Tony Award in 1990 for playing "Big Daddy" in a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Kathleen Turner (who he worked with onscreen immediately thereafter in the failed would be franchise launch VI Warshawski) but sadly he never won any major competitive acting award for his onscreen work despite Globe, Emmy, and Oscar nominations. His most recent Emmy honors were for a stint as Denis Leary's father on "Rescue Me".

What's your favorite Charles Durning role?
Have you ever seen his Oscar nominated roles?

Sunday
Oct072012

Oscar Horrors: Best Transformation Scene... Ever

[In the returning daily October series "Oscar Horrors" we look at those rare beasts. Film contributions in the horror genre that went on to Oscar nominations. Here's new contributor Peter Swanson...]

HERE LIES ... An American Werewolf in London, which won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Makeup, the first year that award was given in regular competition.

Peter from Armchair Audience here. A quick story first. As a film-obsessive I've tried hard to not be that guy (you know the one) who insists his/her friends watch all their favorite movies. However, a few years ago and in a mildly intoxicated state, I forced my wife and dinner guest to sit through An American Werewolf in London, accompanied by my own personal commentary track. When werewolf-bitten David Kessler (David Naughton) first turns into a hairy beast I (allegedly) repeated the phrase,"Best transformation scene ever," about twenty times. That phrase has come to haunt me through the years--my wife likes to spring it on me any time I suggest watching a movie to friends.

Here's the thing: It is the best transformation scene ever.

No amount of CGI wizardry will ever match Rick Baker's amazing use of latex and air bladders to convey the bone-popping pain of turning from man to beast. But even if An American Werewolf in London never had that transformation scene, it would still be deserving of the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup. There's so much good stuff, from the werewolf itself that rampages around on four legs, to the decomposing Griffin Dunne, to the Nazi mutants that appear in David's terrifying dream. 

Rick Baker has since gone on to receive eleven nominations in this category and to win seven times. But even his recent state-of-the-art digital work on the sub-par The Wolfman doesn't come close to matching the grisly perfection of what he did for John Landis's cult hit. It's crucial to the film, as well, since horror-comedy, now a staple of genre-filmmaking, was a pretty new concept in 1981. It wasn't just the notion that comedy would be mixed with horror elements (Abbott and Costello at one point cornered this market) but that the horror elements were so genuinely terrifying and gruesome. Griffin Dunne, playing David's ill-fated traveling companion Jack Goodman, kills in the movie because of his droll commentary, but his make-up work, especially the early scenes with his face half torn away are truly disturbing.

Make-up isn't the only reason to re-visit this film. Sure, David Naugton is a little hammy and stiff as the title character, but the movie works on all the different levels it aspires to: gothic tale, slapstick comedy, gore-fest, tragic romance. Griffin Dunne delivers his funniest role, and Jenny Agutter, currently playing a kindly nun on The Midwife Calls, elevates the material as a sad and sexy nurse.

And, of course, 'the best transformation scene... ever.'

Monday
Sep242012

"Inconceivable!" ~ a Princess Bride Reunion for NYFF

Hot off the presses! And given our wee Carol Kane tangent recently, we'll have fun storming this castle...

The director and cast of the adventure comedy classic The Princess Bride (1987), including Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Cary Elwes, Carol Kane, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon and Robin Wright, will reunite for a 25th anniversary special screening and Q & A at the 50th New York Film Festival on Tuesday October 2nd at 8:00 PM! Tickets will undoubtedly go fast for this one.

Oscar Trivia: It's worth noting that the Academy's bias against "light" movies can often cast them in an unflattering light historically. The Princess Bride only enjoyed one nomination -- a Best Original Song nomination at that -- in its year. It didn't even get a screenplay nomination which seems to strain all belief in hindsight. 1987's Oscar favorites were far from an anti-populist crop (Two Best Picture nominees, the wondrous Moonstruck, which definitely holds up in 2012, and the thriller Fatal Attraction were both blockbuster hits and Broadcast News was a major success, too) it's arguably The Princess Bride that remains 1987's most universally beloved film.

Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) and his wife (Carol Kane) in The Princess Bride (1987)

Does it make your top ten list from 1987? It made mine.

 

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