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Entries in The Turning Point (5)

Monday
Aug012016

Podcast/Smackdown Pt 2: Richard Dreyfuss Double Feature of '77 and Films Oscar Ignored

As a companion piece to yesterday's Smackdown, a two-part podcast. If you missed Part One it's right here. Now we conclude our '77 festivities (did you enjoy or did we go to overboard?) with our panel, which includes Mark Harris, Guy Lodge, Nick Davis, Sara Black McCulloch, and Nathaniel R, discussing Tuesday Weld, Richard Dreyfuss, Diane Keaton, Looking for Mr Goodbar, The Turning Point and a few '77 extras.

Part Two Finale. Index (40 minutes)
00:01 One more anecdote on The Goodbye Girl 
04:45 Richard Dreyfuss' big year and Steven Spielberg's interest/disinterest in actors in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
15:30 Tuesday Weld's career and the divisive Looking for Mr Goodbar
24:00 The Turning Point and a female-heavy Best Picture lineup
32:15 Performances that weren't nominated from: Saturday Night Fever, Opening Night, Handle With Care, Roseland, and Three Women
39:00 Thank yous! 

You can listen to the podcast here or download from iTunes. Continue the conversations in the comments, won't you?  

Smackdown 77. Part Two. Close Encounters

Sunday
Jul312016

Smackdown '77: Melinda, Leslie, Tuesday, Quinn, and Vanessa Redgrave

Presenting the Supporting Actress Nominees of '77. A mother with extraterrestrial problems, a highly neurotic swinger, a wealthy political activist, a precocious daughter, and a timid ballerina.

THE NOMINEES 

John Travolta opening the envelope

If the characters weren't quite typical this time, the shortlist formation was a familiar mix of career glories. Consider the slotting: Oh look, there's the child actor slot that the Supporting Actress category is famous for going to Quinn Cummings; Tuesday Weld wins the underappreciated enduring talent nod; No typical shortlist is complete without a newish critical darling with momentum which in 1977 was Melinda Dillon (she had created the "Honey" role in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf  on stage but didn't get to do the movie and was finally making film inroads via her role in the previous year's Best Picture nominee Bound for Glory ); Finally, you have to have a current Oscar darling with considerable prestige and fame (Vanessa Redgrave) on hand in any given year. Oops, that's only four. The last type is more rare but not unprecented. The final player fell under what you might call the "novelty" slot (Leslie Browne). When the latter happens it's usually either foreign-born non-actors or famous musicians but in this case it was a soon to be principal dancer with the American Ballet Company.

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Here to talk about these five turns are our panelists: Mark Harris (Author of "Pictures at a Revolution," and "Five Came Back"), Guy Lodge (Variety, The Observer), Nick Davis (Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern), Sara Black McCulloch (Rearcher, Translator, Writer) and your host Nathaniel R (Editor, The Film Experience).

And now it's time for the main event... 

1977 
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN 

 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul272016

HMWYBS: "The Turning Point"

Bancroft & Maclaine reminisce in The Turning PointBest Shot 1977 Party. Chapter 2
The Turning Point (1977)
Directed by: Herbert Ross
Cinematography by: Robert Surtees

When The Turning Point is remembered today, on the rare occasion that you hear it name-checked, it is nearly always in connection to its status as Oscar's all time loser (11 nominations without a win). That "achievement" was later shared when Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985) met the same Oscar fate, entering the competition as a very big ticket and coming away empty-handed. It's surely no coincidence that both films are women's pictures. Oscar has grown increasingly wary of films about and for women over their 88 year history; that's not a mark on the films themselves but a stain on film culture and the Oscars. 1977 was in some significant ways, the very last Oscar year to be dominated by women. The sole "boys" movie up for the top prize was Star Wars, which perhaps also not coincidentally became the film which most Hollywood films aspired to be thereafter. Yes, 80% of the Best Picture nominees in 1977 were actually about women. Can you imagine it?!? That's a huge percentage which has, alas, not happened again in the 39 years since. Most Best Picture years since have been the reverse of those numbers, when in a more sane world it'd be about 50/50 since, you know, that's actually how the human race breaks down. 

Bronze. I think this is trying to be the film's signature image, but there are two many climaxes preceding it and following it to quite pull it off.

But now we're straying into Oscar stats when what we really want to talk about is this ballet melodrama and its gauzy prettiness. Worthy of 11 Oscar nominations? Surely not but that's not because of its subject, its genre, or its cast of accomplished women... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct222013

Crazy/Possessed Ballerinas. Are There Any Other Kinds? 

In preparation for our two part Horror Best Listing (pre-Exorcist and post-Exorcist which arrives tonight) I caught up with a few classic titles. One of them, briefly discussed on the latest podcast, was Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977). I can't say I took to it exactly, despite being partial to films which boozily strip naked and beg their Production Designer & Cinematographer to f*** them.

slumber parties in horror movies? never a good idea

Suspiria (have you seen it?) starts sort of well, flying right into an unnatural rainstorm with a weirdly off kilter urgency as ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in Germany to attend an prestigious ballet academy. But those first two kills are so yuck making the intro a mixed bag for me. For its middle section, which I assume is where the film's classic status derives, the movie does little cul-de-sacs in creepy/garish atmospherics punctuated by two perversely inventive murders. But then, oops, time is up. For its last trick, Suspiria speeds through a dud finale with mood-killing exposition (how was Udo Kier ever this young!?) and badly dated visual effects. By the time the credits appear, it's lost pretty much all of its intermittent unnerving power. For me at least; I understand others really do dig it.

After Suspiria ended, my mind wandered to a more general cinematic question: Are there any silver screen ballerinas that are happy?

See, it seems like screen ballerinas are always batshit crazy whether they're...

Suspiria

...possessed by the occult

 

The Red Shoes

...dancing feverishly as if possessed by toe shoes

 

Black Swan

...having psychotic feathered breaks

 

The Turning Point

...or engaging in neurotic Oscarbait-offs. 

 

Can you think of any well adjusted ballerinas in fiction?
And if you can't whose your favorite nutjob ballerina?

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.