Category Archives: Oscar Vault Monday
The trailer for The Longest Day calls this one of the most ambitious films ever made and I think that is still true today. It would take multiple posts to write about everything there is to write about with this film. Instead, I am going to write about a few of my favorite performers in the film (look at that cast list; it’s insane!). You can read a lot about the production of the film here. I used to love this movie when I was a kid and was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at the TCM Film Festival in 2012 (first thing in the morning, too!). If you ever get a chance to see it on the big screen, don’t miss it! It’s amazing. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two: Best Film Editing, Best B&W Art Direction, Best B&W Cinematography (won), Best Special Effects and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird and winner Lawrence of Arabia.
I’m not sure when I first saw this film, but I think it was probably on television some time in the 90s. I didn’t do a good rewatch of the film until my first semester of film grad school. One of my instructors used it a lot in his teaching screenplay form (it really is a great model), so on the last day we watched the entire film. Having just rewatched it again, I can’t help but think it really is a perfect film. It’s not the most realistic film (far from it); but it is storytelling at its finest. Tootsie was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning one: Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Original Song, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Teri Garr, Best Supporting Actress Jessica Lange (won), Best Actor Dustin Hoffman, Best Director and Best Picture. The other film nominated for Best Picture that year were: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, The Verdict and winner Gandhi.
I’ve written a lot about Woody Allen over the last few years and I’m sure I’ll be writing about him for many more years to come. He doesn’t always hit the mark, but when he does, he hits it better than just about anyone. Case in point: 2011’s smash hit Midnight In Paris. It may well be in my top five favorite of Woody Allen’s many films. Part of this has to do with my love of Paris in twenties (and the fact that pretty much everything mentioned in the film was something I studied in college) and partly because of the experience I had when I first saw it. I had just moved back to San Francisco (like, literally THAT DAY) and I went to see it with my roommate and one of my good friends (who was visiting from Florida!) and it had been raining and the showtime we wanted to go to was sold out so we had to wait an hour in the lobby and it was the most perfect experience I could have asked for. There’s a lot of things to write about with this film, but I’ve decided just to focus on a few facets of it that I really love. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one: Best Art Direction, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture in 2011 were: The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse and winner The Artist.
I remember seeing this film in theatres when I was in college and being completely blown away by it. I watched it again with my mother a few years later, but I don’t think I’d seen it in close to five years before rewatching it last night. I forgot how simple and elegantly orchestrated it is. It’s an ensemble, but you never get lost in a sea of characters, nor do you truly get invested in most of them. I don’t mean that as an insult, though. The ensemble works as one to fight the system and topple Senator McCarthy with his own words (more on that later). The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor David Strathairn, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich and winner Crash.
So I have watched this film every year around Passover for as long as I can remember. I love it dearly. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at the Castro Theatre here in San Francisco yesterday in gorgeous restoration (it’s a shame my DVD screencaps below aren’t from the restoration; they pale in comparison to what I saw projected yesterday). The Ten Commandments was the highest grossing film of 1956 and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Director, Best Color Costume Design, Best Special Effects (won) and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: Friendly Persuasion, Giant, The King and I and winner Around the World in Eighty Days.
So when I first rented this film about seven years ago, I thought it was pretty, but boring. I watched it again last night hoping maybe my opinion would change. This was not the case. There are moments in this film that are truly wonderful, but as a whole it, for me, feels lifeless. It’s a pretty sexy subject, too, so it’s a shame they didn’t find a way to capture that (see The House of Mirth for a film that does it right). The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three: Best Art Direction (won), Best Costume Design (won), Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Denholm Elliott, Best Supporting Actress Maggie Smith, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Mission and winner Platoon.
When I first saw Ang Lee’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, I had just finished reading the book and to be quite honest, I didn’t care for it all that much. Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her adapted screenplay and, when I first saw it, I was really unhappy with the changes she’d made to the story and some of the characters. But after repeat viewings, I fell deeply in love with the film, despite said changes. I think it’s really one of those times where you have to suit the story for a new medium and modern audiences (kind of like the 2006 version of The Painted Veil). Sense and Sensibility was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one: Best Dramatic Score, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay Emma Thompson (won), Best Supporting Actress Kate Winslet, Best Actress Emma Thompson and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino and winner Braveheart. Both Ron Howard (Apollo 13) and Ang Lee were not nominated for Best Director, despite their films being nominated for Best Picture. Those two spots were given to Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking) and Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas). Lee, however, was nominated for Best Director by several critic associations, as well as at the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes and the DGA. He was also named Best Director by the National Board of Review.
There is an awful lot that has been and can be written about this film. I touched briefly on 1967’s impact on American cinema a few years back, so I’m not really going to delve into that aspect of the film, though I will point out a few things that made it a game-changer. I remember when I first saw this film, I wasn’t all that impressed to be honest. But the more I watch it the more its genius reveals itself to me. I saw it on the big screen at the Castro last spring and I am so glad that I did. A few weeks ago some kind stranger anonymously bought it for me from my Amazon wishlist, so I decided it was time for another revisit. The result is going to be this rather epic look at what I now realize is one of the most exquisitely directed films of all time. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, though it only won one: Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Katharine Ross, Best Actress Anne Bancroft, Best Actor Dustin Hoffman, Best Director Mike Nichols (won) and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Doolittle, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and winner In The Heat of the Night.