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Entries in The Wizard of Oz (31)

Thursday
Mar102016

RPDR S8.1 Donut Come For Me! 

We're days late arriving to the conversation about RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8 but donut come for me (heh). There are only so many hours in the day. Watching the "Meet the Queens" teaser I predicted Bob, Kim Chi and Laila for the top three (in a betting pool) and then Laila landed in the bottom two the very first episode. Whoops! There goes a tenner.

Kim Chi, who describes herself as an anime character, did a Cowardly Lion homage (there are always movie references!). More after the jump if you're so inclined... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar072016

Beauty vs Beast: Man Made Woman

Jason from MNPP here, hoping y'all have by now nursed your Oscar hangovers from last week, whether literal or figurative, and are feeling at least somewhat happy about what won (or maybe what didn't win - no judgment here) this year. I go into the show as cynical as a storm cloud every year but there was a long stretch in the middle of the show, as Mad Max swept up everything in sight like one of its desert twisters, where I was making many happy noises, and that's as good as it ever gets.

But my happiest noise of all issued forth (kind of an ecstatic coo, you might call it) at the night's biggest surprise, which our friend Manuel gave good love to right after the show -- Ex Machina's out-of-nowhere win for Best Special Effects over a crowd of popular behemoths. Those gears glowing and shimmering inside Ava's mid-section were low-key, gorgeous movie magic, and there's one image in the film (of a robot's self-abuse) that I won't be forgetting any time soon.

That said it seems time to finally place the Woman against her Maker here in our "Beauty vs Beast" series; I'd have nominated both of these actors for their performances myself, so this will contest of ours have to suffice...

It's been a couple of weeks since our last edition, which faced off the Witches of Oz in honor of the release of The Witch, but I don't know about you - I still haven't stopped thinking and talking about The Witch. Anyway as for Oz it was a blow-out for her beautiful wickedness herself - The Wicked Witch of the West walked away with over 80% of your vote! Take that, goody-two-shoes Glinda. Said Yavor (sharing the sorts of factoids that make TFE great):

"Nicole Kidman says that watching the WWOTW was what first made her want to act."

Wednesday
Mar022016

Judy by the Numbers: "Over the Rainbow"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers…

How do you talk about this movie? How do you talk about this song? Sure, there are star-turns. There are underdog stories. But there is nothing in Hollywood legend so powerfully wedded as Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz. It's the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle marriage of star and song that comes once every couple of generations. This was the number that would define Judy Garland as she defined it. It would be her biggest hit; one she recorded and re-recorded. It would follow her throughout her career, and outlive her when she died. Every moment before and after in the story of Judy Garland, MGM, and Studio System Hollywood lives in the shadow of "Over The Rainbow."

The Movie: The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939)

The Songwriter: Harold Arlen (Music & Lyrics)

The Players: Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert LahJack Haley, directed by Victor Fleming

The Story: Louis B. Mayer did not take gambles. When he bought the rights to The Wizard of Oz, he wanted it to be the biggest, most expensive, most profitable musical in MGM’s history. Mayer started by assembling the best talent he had: producer Arthur Freed, director Victor Fleming, a cast of A-list comedians, and that no-fail, bonafide box office guarantee, Shirley Temple. By the time production was underway, 9,000 extras were dancing past cutting-edge special effects played on 65 sets built on all 29 MGM soundstages, totaling in a budget just under $2 million.

Of course, Fox wouldn’t release its tiny tapdancer, so Mayer had to resort to his second choice: Judy Garland. Since she was the new star of MGM’s biggest film, Judy’s studio education was put into high gear. Her teeth were capped, her hair was dyed, she was enrolled in dance and poise classes; all designed to polish down the rest of her rough edges. What this regimen couldn’t do was dull what made Judy unique.

Judy singing “Over The Rainbow” is the perfect distillation of star and studio power. She’d shown signs before of what would make her great - vocal power in “Americana,” joyful musicality in “Got a pair of New Shoes,”  deep longing in “Dear Mr. Gable,” - but with “Over The Rainbow,” the rest of the pieces fall into place. Judy loses her adolescent awkwardness, though she keeps her deep yearning. Accustomed to lip synching, she is able to act throughout the song - wistfulness, sadness, restlessness, hope. Judy Garland wasn’t even old enough to vote, but a combination of raw talent and rigorous training matured her into an exemplary performer.

previously: "The Land of Let's Pretend" (1930), "The Texas Tornado" (1936), "Americana" (1936), "Dear Mr Gable" (1937), "Got a New Pair of Shoes" (1937), "Why? Because!" (1938), "Inbetween" (1938), “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1938)

Monday
Feb152016

Beauty vs Beast: The Witches of Oz

Jason from MNPP here, trying to stop myself from making a deal with the devil to wish this entire week away before it's even really begun -- how can I hold off though? The Witch is out this weekend! I've been clamoring for the Sundance sensation since last year's Sundance, where it was a sensation, LAST YEAR, for Satan's sake. My patience is as worn-thin as the hair on a witch's chinny-chin-chin, yo. Anyway I was bothered and bewildered this morning to see that I have never used the most famous pair of witches of ever for our "Beauty vs Beast" series, so I'd say that it's high time we conjured this contest up (and we're talking about the 1939 film here, so keep Wicked out of it)...

PREVIOUSLY Turns out it wasn't just at the box-office that interest in the Zoolander films turned out to be very unpretty indeed - the contest between Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller's mad sexy creations was pretty uneventful too. It was the male model with the most-est who strutted off with the win though, taking 52% of the vote. Said Steven:

"The reason for Zoolander over Mugatu..... Magnum!!!!"

Friday
Jan222016

Ranking All 80 Winners of Best Original Song (Plus Where This Year's Contenders Would Place)

Glenn here with a look at everybody’s favourite category – best original song! Okay, so, sure, even if this year’s roster for best original song doesn’t look like a vintage one for the category, there’s actually some fun to be had when you consider who will win.

  • Will Diane Warren finally win an Oscar on her eighth nomination? And how strange will it be to see her win for a song from a documentary about sexual abuse alongside Lady Gaga rather than one of the chart-busting hit-singles that her first six nominations were for (lest we forget, Beyond the Lights’ “Grateful” didn’t chart because, well, Rita Ora).
  • Will an opera tune win for the first time? No work of opera has ever been nominated if my research is correct, which is kinda neat even though I think the song is dirge (albeit appropriately so for the film).
  • Will all the talk of diversity in cinema this year give us a winner that is either black (The Weeknd), transgender (Antony Hegarty), or gay (Sam Smith)?
  • It’s been 18 years since the last occurrence of a movie winning both a Razzie and an Oscar. Plenty of films have been nominated for both of the awards, but neither has won an award from each since Wall Street in 1988. Could Fifty Shades of Grey break a very unique drought?

Now, naturally because we all love lists so I thought it would be fun to rank every winner of Oscar’s best original song category and see where this year’s contenders would fit in when they take home that golden statue. What could possible go wrong with a completely subjective ranking of over 80 songs?!? Oh dear. You’ve been warned, I guess. Two things to note: I have not included "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from Lady Be Good since even the writer of that 1941 song was angry it was given an award when it wasn't written for the movie (it was subsequently the impetus for the category's rule change). Secondly, I have tried to rank as close to original film versions as possible so some songs that were improved upon in later recordings (like Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa”) may not rank as high. And, yes, before you ask, I am the person that hates Mary Poppins and who has never seen much of the appeal of the overtly twee “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”.

Go over the rainbow after the jump...

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