Category Archives: Oscar Vault Monday
Oscar Vault Monday – Rachel, Rachel, 1968 (dir. Paul Newman)
Rachel, Rachel was Paul Newman’s directorial debut, which he also produced, from a novel published two years earlier. The film comes alone right after 1967 – the year cinema changed forever – as well as right in the midst of the sexual revolution. It’s a film that could never have been made under the production code, one that touches on so many taboos, that at the time were rarely discussed in the home, let alone on the big screen. I first saw it on Paul Newman day during TCM’s Summer Under the Stars in 2010. My mother and I watched it together and we were blown away with how moving it was. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Estelle Parsons, Best Actress Joanne Woodward and Best Picture. Though Newman as producer received a nomination, he was not nominated for Best Director – this was a year where two of the Best Director nominee were not for Best Picture nominees: Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gillo Pontecorvo for The Battle of Algiers. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Romeo and Juliet and winner Oliver! William Wyler also did not receive a Best Director nomination for his work on Funny Girl, though he still holds the record for most nominations, with a whopping twelve. There be many SPOILERS after the cut.
Oscar Vault Monday – Dog Day Afternoon, 1975 (dir. Sidney Lumet)
I think the first time I saw this film was on a hot August afternoon. I do know it was sometime in 2008 because it was the summer I moved to San Francisco the first time and I did a lot of Netflixing that summer. It was right around the same time I saw Sunset Blvd. for the first time. It was a good summer. This is a film just chock full of talent and energy and heart and soul and gravity and gaiety. It’s got everything. If you Google around, you can read about the events on which it was based; I won’t be discussing them here. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Film Editing (for Dede Allen, who was nominated for threes Oscars, though she never won and was in and of herself a ig player in the Hollywood New Wave), Best Supporting Actor Chris Sarandon, Best Actor Al Pacino, Best Original Screenplay Frank Pierson (won; more on this in a bit), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Barry Lyndon, Jaws, Nashville and winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There will be many spoilers after the cut.
Oscar Vault Monday – The Champ, 1931 (dir. King Vidor)
God I love this film. It’s so sweet and melancholic, as are most of Vidor’s films. If you read last week’s post, you’ll notice this film was released the same year as Skippy, however since that film was released before August of 1931, it was part of the 4th Academy Awards and The Champ, which was released in the fall, was considered for the 5th Academy Awards. This is because for the first six years, the Oscar year was August 1st – July 31st, until 1934, when it was changed to January 1st – December 31st, as we now have it. The Champ was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning two: Best Actor Wallace Beery (won; tie, more on this later), Best Story Frances Marion (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, Five Star Final, One Hour With You, Shanghai Express, The Smiling Lieutenant and winner Grand Hotel.
Oscar Vault Monday – Skippy, 1931 (dir. Norman Taurog)
I first saw this movie during that crazy month of February in 2011 when I watched 131 films in 28 days. That was a good month. Jackie Cooper, the star of this film, died just a few months after I watched it. Skippy was inspired by a very popular comic strip from the era by Percy Crosby. I could see how the film today might be a tough watch for modern audiences. It’s a bit rough as it was made during the sound transition and it shows aspects of American life we try to forget existed (although they still exist). I mean by this, child abuse and classism. Only one of the parents int he film (from the wrong side of the tracks, natural) appears to be what we would call abusive, most of the adults treat the kids rather harshly. This can be jarring in an era where, if you saw someone talking to their kid they way they do in this film, you’d probably interfere. Skippy was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Director (won) and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were East Lynne, The Front Page, Trader Horn and winner Cimarron.
Oscar Vault Monday – Places in the Heart, 1984 (dir. Robert Benton)
I can’t remember the first time I saw this movie, but it must have been a few years before 1997. I know this because in 1997 Con Air was released and at the time my favorite actors were Nicolas Cage (this was due to early viewings of his 80s films, and early 90s rom-coms), John Cusack and John Malkovich, thus I thought they made that movie just for me (it even had a Trisha Yearwood theme song!). The reason I loved Malkovich so much was this movie, so I would be lying if I didn’t say most of this piece is going to be about his performance. Places in the Heart was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning two: Best Costume Design, Best Supporting Actor John Malkovich, Best Supporting Actress Lindsay Crouse, Best Actress Sally Field (won), Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Director and Best Picture.
Oscar Vault Monday – Dead Poets Society, 1989 (dir. Peter Weir)
I’m trying to remember the first time I saw this film and I have a vague recollection of seeing it on TBS when I was in middle school. I do know that when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school one of my teachers showed it and we had an in-depth discussion of the film’s themes (well, as in-depth as you can in a podunk small town high school class filled with asshole 14 years old – I include myself in that description). A lot of what I’ll write about here is based on that discussion of the film, actually. I guess it was sophomore year because I think it was the class where the teacher who normally taught geography/history had to take over our English class, so mostly instead of reading books we watched films and discussed them. It was kind of a wonderful class if memory serves. At least, for me it was, because, well, movies. Dead Poets Society was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one: Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Actor Robin Williams, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Born on the Fourth of July, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot and winner Driving Miss Daisy.
Oscar Vault Monday – Inglourious Basterds, 2009 (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
There is so much to write about with this film. Lots of production history and awards history, etc. But those are all things you can look up elsewhere, or watch on the DVD extras, so I am mostly going to stick with various impressions and favorite parts of this film. when taking screencaps for the post I somehow wound up with 177 images. I have whittled this down to 34. It was difficult. I’ll probably post the extras on Tumblr over the week. It’s just such a beautifully composed film. The first post I ever made on this site was about how Inglourious Basterds topped the SAG nominations, so this movie and this site are forever linked. I saw this movie when I managed to get a Friday off from a job that I hated. My mother and I drove 100 miles to Klamath Falls, Oregon and saw this and then got coffee for an hour and then saw (500) Days of Summer. I like to think of that trip as either Inglourious Summer, or: (500) Days of Basterds. It was a good trip, if not a little emotionally draining. Inglouious Basterds was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning one: Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz (won), Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, District 9, Precious, The Blind Side, Up and Up in the Air.
Oscar Vault Monday – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000 (dir. Ang Lee)
I’m sure a lot has been written about this film, so this piece is mostly going to be a bit of personal reflection, my take on the feminist aspects of the film, Ang Lee’s love of Westerns and a bit of fangirling over the cinematography and music. I first saw this movie in Klamath Falls, Oregon in February of 2001 – a few months before the Oscars. My mom and I had gone up there from my hometown for some medical tests – we were pretty sure I was dying. That first day I got a halter monitor and we were really depressed. I was so ill I couldn’t eat chow mein (at the time probably my favorite food) so we went and saw Traffic and it was the perfect film for our depressed mood. When we had to stay an extra day, we took the time to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which we were pretty sure was never going to make it to our town (surprisingly, they did get the movie after the Oscars and it was probably the first foreign language film to play at that theatre in its 80 year history). On the medical side of this story, I wound up getting rushed to Sacramento the next week for pacemaker surgery and have had one implanted ever since. On the film side of this story, I love this movie with all of my heart and no matter how many times I watch it (I once watched it with French subtitles on; true story), it makes me weep by the end. It’s a rich and beautiful film in many ways. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (w0n), Best Original Song, Best Original Score (won), Best Film Editing, Best Foreign Language Film (won), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Chocolat, Erin Brockovich, Traffic and winner Gladiator. Beware: there be spoilers after the cut.
Oscar Vault Monday – The Hollywood Revue of 1929, 1929 (dir. Charles Reisner)
This is such a strange film. It was MGM’s second feature-length musical and one of the studio’s earliest sound films. Unlike most MGM musicals, this film really has no overarching plot. Like the title suggests, it’s just a revue – a series of skits, songs and dance numbers by basically everyone on the MGM lot (the only major MGM stars of the era missing are Lon Chaney, Ramon Navarro and Greta Garbo). The film was only nominated for Best Picture and the other films up for the top prize that year were Alibi, In Old Arizona, The Patriot (now a lost film) and winner The Broadway Melody (also an MGM musical).
Oscar Vault Monday – Johnny Belinda, 1948 (dir. Jean Negulesco)
I first saw this film in the weeee hours of the morning a few days into January of 2011. It was about six months into my new-found obsession with Lew Ayres and it was one of the films that really solidified my undying love for him. It’s a pretty racy film for 1948 and holds up quite wonderfully nearly seventy years later. It’s also one of the most nominated films in Academy history. Johnny Belinda was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, winning one: Best Sound, Best Score, Best Film Editing, Best B&W Cinematography, Best B&W Art Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Charles Bickford, Best Supporting Actress Agnes Moorehead, Best Actor Lew Ayres, Best Actress Jane Wyman (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and winner Hamlet.