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Entries in They Shoot Horses Don't They (2)

Monday
Jan282013

Best Picture: What If There Were Only Five?

Life of Pi by Dean WaltonI was just looking as a series of graphic Best Picture prints designed by Dean Walton and my mind wandered into a geeky Oscaroborus that I couldn't break free of. The series of prints is referred to as a "full series" but there's only five: Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables, and Lincoln. Um. There are nine Best Picture nominees this year, Dean!

It got me to thinking. I don't even think those would have been "the five", had there been just five. It's not so easy to discount Argo, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook given the final vote tallies. I think we might have had a year of 3/5 Picture/Director split year. Or even gasp 2/5... which has happened before believe it or not.

Way back in 1955 the Best Picture nominees were: Marty, Picnic, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, The Rose Tattoo, and Mister Roberts. The directors branch felt quite differently going with only Delbert Mann (for Marty) who won and Joshua Logan for the big hit Picnic (we recently discussed that film and its Broadway revival) from the Best Picture list. Otherwise the director's branch threw their support behind David Lean's Summertime, John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock and Elia Kazan's East of Eden

But back to the here and now.

It's easy to twist yourself into pretzels devouring your own tail in trying to chase the "what if..." of five nominees. My guess is it would have been Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Les Miz, and Silver Linings Playbook... but maybe that's too simple of a guess? We'll never know but it's fascinating to wonder. Number of nominations doesn't always tell the story -- remember when Four Weddings and Funeral crashed the Best Picture party in 1994 with only one other nomination to its name?!. What if it was Argo, Beasts, Lincoln, Les Miz, and Silver Linings Playbook with Life of Pi taking over the long held title of "Most Nominated Movie Ever Without a Best Picture Nom"? That dubious honor currently belongs to a great great movie known as They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969) which won nine nominations but miraculous fell short of a Best Picture nod. (If you've never seen it you should drop everything and get right to that. It's better than almost all of the real Best Picture nominees)

Which five films do you think would have been nominated under the traditional system? Would Amour have been the first foreign film Best Pic nominated since Crouching Tiger (as it is know) or would we still be waiting for a subtitled picture to enter the race again?

Sunday
Jan162011

Susannah York (RIP)

Sad news to report. The lovely, talented 60s star Susannah York, aka Superman's Mom (the biological one back on Krypton) has died at the age of 72. Here's why she'll live on though... They Shoot Horses Don't They? (1969)

They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969)

They Shoot Horses is my personal favorite film of 1969 and an all-time Oscar record holder (most nominations without a corresponding Best Picture citation, a grand total of Nine!) but it's sadly underdiscussed these days. Susannah was nominated for playing Jane Fonda's main dancing rival in the marathon contest at the film's center, a neat metaphorical object, human suffering as entertainment. Susannah's psychotic break in the shower rivals any femme unravelling in Black Swan.

York also holds the distinction of being the only female cast member of Best Picture winner Tom Jones (1963) to not be nominated for Best Supporting Actress. I'm exaggerating but since an incredible three women were nominated from the film (the most ever -- though that 60% of the category trick has happened twice in Best Supporting Actor) it felt like it.

Other highlights include Freud (1962) with Montgomery Clift and Robert Altman's Images (1972) for which she won Best Actress at Cannes. She was so beautiful she could play an adult version of Michelle Pfeiffer in Falling in Love Again (1980, Michelle's first large film role after a few tv series and an itty bitty movie role)

Further Reading: Moving Pictures Blog and MUBI