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Entries in Oscars (90s) (224)

Sunday
Aug182019

Five Underrated Edward Norton Performances for his 50th

by Abe Fried-Tanzer

Norton directs and co-stars with Bruce Willis in "Motherless Brooklyn"If you had asked me fifteen years ago who my favorite actor was, I surely would have said Edward Norton, though I’m not sure he’s worked enough since then to continue to hold that status. (My other choice of the time, Kevin Spacey, also bears reevaluation... for other reasons). With Edward Norton turning 50 today paired with the recent announcement that Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn, which he wrote and directed and stars in, will be closing out this year’s New York Film Festival, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at his career.

His feature film debut in 1996 in Primal Fear demonstrated an incredible ability to shift back and forth between different personas, earning him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an altar boy on trial for a brutal murder. Two years later, he scored a second Oscar bid for a more staggering and gradual shift in worldview as a reformed neo-Nazi trying to prevent his younger brother from going down the same path in American History X. It took sixteen years for Norton to return to the Oscar lineup, this time in Best Picture winner Birdman as an actor who, by many accounts, is closest to what Norton is actually like on set, with a penchant for attempting to exert control even if he’s not actually the one in charge... 

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Sunday
Aug042019

D.A. Pennebaker

by Glenn Dunks

D.A. Pennebaker, aka Donn Alan, the legend of documentary who famously captured the growing counter culture music scene, American presidents and a particularly memorable Original Cast Recording, died this weekend at age 94.

Like many of his contemporaries who are today regarded as among the most influential of the form like Albert Maysles and Frederick Wiseman, Pennebaker was never really embraced by the Academy. He was nominated alongside his wife and frequent collaborator Chris Hegedus in 1994 for The War Room about the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton, but was eventually awarded an honorary statue in 2013 for his undeniably immense contribution to film...

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Monday
Jul292019

Lunchtime Poll: What would you do with a $2 Million Tip?

by Nathaniel R

On this day 25 years ago It Could Happen to You was released, a romantic comedy in which a cop (Nicolas Cage) wins the lottery and shares half his fortune with a waitress (Bridget Fonda) who he was unable to tip. The original and far superior title was Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip. That year in its rejected honor, my friends and I would jokingly refer to movies by a single sentence plot rather than titles... Streep Goes White Water Rafting, Vampire Brad Feels Guilt, This Bus Is a Bomb! etc -- shut up, it was funny at the time.

In its honor today, what would you do with a $2 million dollar windfall? The catch is that you have to spend half of it on the movies. Would you invest in films, be a patron for an auteur, gift it to a struggling actor, or other? (After the jump, an Oscar-adjacent list for fun)

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Friday
Jul262019

Oscar Hopefuls from The Netherlands

by Nathaniel R

Romy's Salon is one of nine finalists to be the Dutch Oscar submission

Dutch films have been on our brains since Rutger Hauer passed away, so here's a timely bit of news. The NOSC (Nederlandse Oscar Selectie Commissie) will choose the Dutch Oscar submission in early September. Nine finalists are reportedly up for the honor...

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Saturday
Jul202019

"The Client" and Populist Oscar Choices in Acting

by Nathaniel R

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of The Client which was a big sleeper success in its summer, ending the year as the 13th highest grossing movie of 1994. Only that number wasn't bad luck since Susan Sarandon netted a Best Actress nomination for the legal drama. That nomination kept her momentum as "overdue for a win" going strong until the next year when she won the Oscar for something in Oscar's more typical wheelhouse, Dead Man Walking (1995) an issue drama based on a true story.

So let's discuss something no one talks about much. What are the lead acting nominations that would never have happened without the big hit status for the movies that housed them? This is NOT meant as a critique of the performances. Sometimes Oscar just needs to be convinced by enormous success to look at worthy pieces of acting within genres they take less seriously (their loss) or star vehicles they might not have stopped to mull over without all the general audience enthusiasm forcing the movie to be taken seriously... 

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Monday
Jun102019

"Speed" Turns 25

by Lynn Lee

When Speed was first released a quarter century(!) ago, the premise seemed ridiculous: Bomb on bus is triggered to go off if the speed ever drops below 50 mph.  A bus in Los Angeles, no less.  At rush hour!  (Actually, it’s always rush hour in L.A., then as now, which only reinforces the preposterousness of the scenario.)  Nevertheless, Speed managed to suspend viewers’ disbelief – and their breaths – with a combo of taut white-knuckle thrills that didn’t require elaborate special effects and light humor that relieved but didn’t distract from the constant tension. 

A major hit both critically and commercially, it went on to win two Oscars (for sound mixing and sound editing) and elevate the then up-and-coming Keanu Reeves to full movie star status.  Now that Keanu seems to be having another “moment” in his long and eclectic career, it feels like an especially opportune time to revisit the movie that vaulted him on to Hollywood’s A list.

How does it hold up?

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