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The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

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The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Old 02-22-13, 10:54 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

From my Letterboxd diary entry about It Happened One Night:
Spoiler:
I first heard of this film a few years ago through the Warner Archive Collection Podcast when it was discussed briefly during an episode about Love on the Run. Both sounded fun, but I never got around to seeing either. It Happened One Night played last summer during the classic film series at The Louisville Palace, but I missed that screening. A friend of mine went with his fiancee and they both enjoyed it quite a lot. Having now seen it for myself, I can appreciate why.

Movies like this are always dicey, because they rely not only on contrivances, but also on plot points that are predictable and cliched. The make-or-break element is always in the execution, and the appeal of the cast. Offhand, the only other Clark Gable performance I can name that I've seen is Gone with the Wind, which I didn't care for when I saw it eleven years ago. This was also only my second viewing of a Claudette Colbert performance, having just recently seen her for the first time in Imitation of Life a couple weeks ago.

They're instantly likable, have great chemistry together and were given some terrific dialog by Robert Riskin's screenplay. I can trace a lot of movies I've seen and enjoyed back to this film, from Roman Holiday to Star Wars. Their road trip was tremendous fun, particularly during the scene in which the musicians lead the entire group in a sing-along. Any movie that makes me want to actually be where the characters are has won me over, and by the end of that bit I was completely sold on this one.

I don't necessarily find myself attracted to Claudette Colbert. She's pretty, sure, but there's something about her that just feels so...innocent? Pure? Childlike? Whatever it is I'm trying to describe, the point is that she has an irresistible smile and I just like watching her. There's an aura of joy around her that I find warm and endearing. It's interesting that Gable and Colbert both won Academy Awards for this picture, given how unthinkable it would be for a romcom to net either a Best Actor and Best Actress award - much less both - today.

It Happened One Night entered my Flickchart at #158/1486

It Happened One Night
7th Academy Awards (1934)
(W) ACTOR -- Clark Gable {"Peter Warne"}
(W) ACTRESS -- Claudette Colbert {"Ellie Andrews"}
(W) DIRECTING -- Frank Capra
(W) OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION -- Columbia
(W) WRITING (Adaptation) -- Robert Riskin
Old 02-23-13, 07:15 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I just finished a first time viewing of It Happened One Night - thought it was fantastic.
Old 02-23-13, 09:04 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

We're in the home stretch! Watched Do the Right Thing the other day and I find it awfully ironic that Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 89 and DTRT wasn't even nominated. You couldn't find two films that have such different views on race relations. I don't think Spike Lee and Ernest Dickerson get enough credit for how amazing DTRT is. It's a testament to either how great the film is or how jacked up race relations in the United States is that you could change a couple costumes and a couple pop culture references, release the film today and it would still be relevant.

When I talk to my students about camera angles I use the pizzeria scene before everything goes to hell in a hand-basket. I know Danny Aiello didn't view Sal as a racist and didn't play him as such but film is a director's medium and Lee and Dickerson composed the scene in a way that framed Sal as a racist.

I always love reading reviews of the film from when it was released and I wonder if any of the critics who lambasted the film as being dangerous, irresponsible, and thought the film would cause riots in the street, ever walked back or apologized for that nonsense. I wish the Academy had viewed rap as a legitimate musical genre at that time because "Fight the Power" is a perfect fit for the film. It wouldn't have won, nothing was beating the songs from The Little Mermaid, but it's an honor to be nominated right.

You can always tell who hasn't seen the film before based on their reactions to the end of the film:
Spoiler:
the last few times I've screened DTRT, students who hadn't seen the film before audibly gasped when Radio Raheem was murdered by the police. They didn't see that coming at all


This is still my favorite Spike Lee theatrical film.
Old 02-23-13, 09:11 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
This is still my favorite Spike Lee joint.
Fixed.
Old 02-23-13, 09:19 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
From my Letterboxd diary entry about It Happened One Night:
"...Movies like this are always dicey, because they rely not only on contrivances, but also on plot points that are predictable and cliched..."
Disclaimer:
I've read enough of your reviews to believe my comment is *not* true about those you write.

Comment:
I frequently see statements like this made about older films, especially from younger viewers. Often it's from people who seem to refuse to watch a B/W film simply because it's in B/W. What many "modern" film reviewers/viewers fail to take into account is that the films they dismiss as "predictable and cliched" are often the ones that put those cliches in place and set up the hundreds of imitators that followed. Not unlike the "PC crowd" putting down/slamming older films because of perceived (whether intended or not) prejudices. They appear to not have the facility to view a film with the mindset of the era in which it was created.

That said...

It Happened One Night is my absolute favorite Clark Gable film, but I'm partial to comedies. I own Wife vs. Secretary (1936) (also starring Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy) but have yet to watch the film.

A Clark Gable film I highly recommend is Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). I prefer the 1935 version over the Marlon Brando film, but it also stars Charles Laughton who delivers a excellent portrayal of Bligh. It also doesn't hurt that I'm partial to pre 1960s films in general. This is probably due to growing up on a steady diet of pre 60s films on a local TV station (the owner was a film fanatic and purchased almost every old film he could to show on his station).
Old 02-23-13, 10:13 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by BobO'Link
I frequently see statements like this made about older films, especially from younger viewers. Often it's from people who seem to refuse to watch a B/W film simply because it's in B/W. What many "modern" film reviewers/viewers fail to take into account is that the films they dismiss as "predictable and cliched" are often the ones that put those cliches in place and set up the hundreds of imitators that followed.
An excellent point and one I meant to articulate in my review, actually. I had checked out the DVD in the mid-afternoon, originally planning to watch it later at night but wound up popping it in when I got home. I was in the middle of checking it off and reviewing it when I realized that if I left the house quickly enough, I could return it and check out something else in time to help with the last few things I needed for the checklist and I'm afraid I was a bit careless in my rush.

One other thing I forgot to mention is that despite having been shot in the 30s, it feels like a film from the 50s. I attribute that in large part to the sophistication of the cinematography and editing, which I found a lot less static than most films from its era.
Old 02-23-13, 11:54 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
Fixed.
My favorite Spike Lee joint is When the Levees Broke but that was made for TV (and I can't recommend that documentary enough). I guess I should have typed Do the Right Thing is my favorite theatrical Spike Lee joint.
Old 02-23-13, 06:02 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Getting warmed up for the Action Challenge, I put in my Blu-ray of UNSTOPPABLE (2010) yesterday, which got a Sound Editing nomination. And now I've seen something from every decade in which there have been nominations, the 1920s to the 2010s.

Since I had the Blu-ray machine on (which doesn't happen often), I put in THE WILD BUNCH but haven't finished it yet. Tonight is ON THE WATERFRONT on TCM and I'm planning to watch it as it's on.
Old 02-23-13, 07:03 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Watched a good first time view earlier today. Saw Cat Ballou was on TCM, so I decided to turn it on. It was a blind watch, as while I had heard the title, I knew nothing of the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, and Nat King Cole as one of the singing balladeers was an interesting surprise.
Old 02-23-13, 07:23 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just finished watching Beasts of the Southern Wild. Uhmm... yeah, OK. After dinner, I'm going to wrap up my final entry on the Challenge checklist by watching The Lion King in 3-D Blu-ray. Done! I love this challenge.
Old 02-23-13, 09:30 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I finished the checklist with 37 of the 39 movies that I watched being first-time views. At least 75% of the movies were excellent. I plan on wrapping up the challenge tomorrow night by watching/skimming the Awards show.
Old 02-23-13, 09:56 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I also plan to finish the challenge tomorrow by watching the awards show.
Old 02-24-13, 12:53 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Saw My Fair Lady, for the first time in years, and went into it more than a little annoyed that it beat Mary Poppins, sort-of wanting to dislike it... and didn't. As usual (particularly heightened by discussion here) I was amused by the innumerate casual-sexism moments - mostly explained by Higgins just being so far off a 'normal' human - and was more than a little surprised to find that I remembered all the songs, and enjoyed them a fair bit too. Mary Poppins is still one of the best films ever made (in my opinion), but I'm less bothered than I was that it was beaten to best picture by MFL. It's certainly interesting that Julie Andrews was the original 'Lady', replaced for the film version by a Real Star, and then wound up with a Best Actress Oscar anyway!

What does baffle me, though, is why Audrey Hepburn/Marni Nixon (everything I read said Ms Nixon did the singing, but was mum on whether Ms Hepburn was dubbed during the rest or not) get little-or-no flak for their mockney accents, while Dick van Dyke gets such bile hurled his way. I don't find DVanD's over-blown "Gor, blimey!"s nearly as annoying as most, but Eliza's dialogue was eye-wateringly bad! What Is Up Wiv' That?

The Greatest Show on Earth was indeed really great - if fairly predictable, with the requisite "would anyone actually do that selfless act?" moments - and doubly-so for all the stunts and showmanship. I'm not familiar enough with most of the faces on show to know which were acrobats and performers acting and which were actors performing, but either way... good job all round!

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer was also very well done. I was trying the whole time, though, to place the voice of the Colonel which seemed VERY familiar. Close scrutiny of the IMDb, though, suggests he must merely sound like some other gruff army-type. Excellent, well-cast film, that.

Pride and Prejudice (1940) was - shockingly - the first time I've seen any version of P&P, despite being brought up on BBC adaptations of the Classics. I think the problem was that the classic Firth P&P was supposedly so steamy it was never appropriate until I was old enough to not care to seek it out. So I was looking forward to this. And it was really, really good. The proper arch dialogue and slight-over-acting, the twisty inter-relations, the astute class interactions.. and Edmund Gwenn was utterly superb. Greer Garson, Maureen O'Sullivan, Laurence Olivier and all the rest of them were very good, but Gwenn's few scenes were an utter delight! The other thing that struck me was quite how much so many other films and shows borrow from P&P (or 'echo the same themes', or deal with similar subjects or whathaveyou): not only were there notable similarities between this and the other Garson film I saw this month (Mrs. Miniver), but it suddenly dawned on me that much of the first series (season) of Downton Abbey could be argued to be little more than an expanded iteration of Pride and Prejudice...!

(Oh, apropos of nothing, but the dancing months and puppets in the middle of A Farewell to Arms seemed wildly out-of-place.)
Old 02-24-13, 07:15 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by ntnon
Saw My Fair Lady, for the first time in years, and went into it more than a little annoyed that it beat Mary Poppins, sort-of wanting to dislike it... and didn't. As usual (particularly heightened by discussion here) I was amused by the innumerate casual-sexism moments - mostly explained by Higgins just being so far off a 'normal' human - and was more than a little surprised to find that I remembered all the songs, and enjoyed them a fair bit too. Mary Poppins is still one of the best films ever made (in my opinion), but I'm less bothered than I was that it was beaten to best picture by MFL. It's certainly interesting that Julie Andrews was the original 'Lady', replaced for the film version by a Real Star, and then wound up with a Best Actress Oscar anyway!

What does baffle me, though, is why Audrey Hepburn/Marni Nixon (everything I read said Ms Nixon did the singing, but was mum on whether Ms Hepburn was dubbed during the rest or not) get little-or-no flak for their mockney accents, while Dick van Dyke gets such bile hurled his way. I don't find DVanD's over-blown "Gor, blimey!"s nearly as annoying as most, but Eliza's dialogue was eye-wateringly bad! What Is Up Wiv' That?
I remember that at the time it was a big deal for Julie Andrews to have beaten out the actress who took the MY FAIR LADY film role away from her, esp. in NYC where Andrews' stage success in the role began. It was poetic justice and a huge kick-in-the-ass to the dying studio system which insisted a bonafide "movie star," even if she couldn't sing, carry a movie like that. Of course, Andrews was then cast in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, which went on to become, for a while at least, the biggest boxoffice hit in history.

Oh, and Hepburn was dubbed only for the singing parts.
Old 02-24-13, 12:30 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Happy Oscar Day, everyone!
Old 02-24-13, 01:38 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
I remember that at the time it was a big deal for Julie Andrews to have beaten out the actress who took the MY FAIR LADY film role away from her, esp. in NYC where Andrews' stage success in the role began.
I would hope so - and rightly so, too.

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
It was poetic justice and a huge kick-in-the-ass to the dying studio system which insisted a bonafide "movie star," even if she couldn't sing, carry a movie like that.
Quite, it's baffling. Of course, the Big Name Draws continue on, despite it all, but at least they tend to cast people who can (almost) sing in musicals now.

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Oh, and Hepburn was dubbed only for the singing parts.
I assumed that, given the comments, but... then all the more reason for her name to be listed ABOVE Dick van Dyke's for Actors Who've Done "Cockney" Badly. Weird!
Old 02-24-13, 01:50 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I doubt they will, but I feel that it would be timely and potentially helpful if the broadcast tonight showed the 1970/71 Animated Short winning film Is It Always Right To Be Right? in the hopes of hammering home it's message...
Old 02-24-13, 03:07 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Well, so far only 23 films (I didn't get to finish ON THE WATERFRONT last night or THE WILD BUNCH either) and only six first-time viewings. Sure, I re-watched several truly great films: STREETCAR, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, EAST OF EDEN, SUNSET BLVD, GRAPES OF WRATH, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, SHANGHAI EXPRESS, etc., and I hadn't seen either in a very long time--we need to revisit the classics from time to time to make sure they hold up--but I had a stack of tapes/discs on hand with films I really need to see that I've never seen before: HUD, CABARET, ALL THAT JAZZ, SOPHIE'S CHOICE, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, ONCE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, to name the most important.

And of the six first-time viewings (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, VIRGINIA WOOLF, GUESS WHO'S COMING..., THE LOVE PARADE, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, MADAME BOVARY), only one was, to me, a real classic. And that was Vincente Minnelli's MADAME BOVARY (1949), which was quite a surprisingly "adult" film for a studio like Golden-Age MGM, with a superb performance by the always underrated Jennifer Jones.

Speaking of Ms. Jones, I would like to have revisited one of my Hollywood favorites, PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948), for this Challenge, but I have seen it in recent years. I wish I'd thought to recommend it to the rest of you at the beginning of this challenge. It's a romance with fantasy elements and includes some incredible location footage with the stars (Jones and Joseph Cotten) in many different prime New York locations (e.g. Central Park in the snow, the Cloisters). Plus the score is based entirely on Debussy, with the theme derived from his "Arabesque No. 1."
Old 02-24-13, 03:43 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Managed to watch The Descendants (winner for Adapted Screenplay) to complete watching one winner from every category.
Old 02-24-13, 04:27 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I had to resort to checking out All Quiet on the Western Front from the library...on VHS. I'll review it later, but right now I just want a checklist ruling clarification. It won OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION for the third Academy Awards: 1929/1930. Can I count it as my 1920s winner even though it wasn't released until 1930? 'Cause I can't find a single damn movie from the handful of eligible titles for the 20s otherwise.
Old 02-24-13, 05:57 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I actually got through all of the films nominated for Best Picture! Of the 53 nominated films/shorts, I managed to watch 38. About to turn on the Red Carpet coverage!
Old 02-24-13, 08:14 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Only watched ten or so films this Challenge, and no shorts somehow, but I've enjoyed this thread, the year in film (saw several of the nominated films recently), and am enjoying the show tonight.
Old 02-24-13, 11:26 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I did manage to finish ON THE WATERFRONT before the Oscar show came on.

Interestingly, I had on TCM for a bit and watched a scene from GANDHI, in which one of the white South African hooligans harassing young Mr. Gandhi is none other than tonight's Best Actor Oscar winner...Daniel Day-Lewis!
Old 02-25-13, 01:48 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just finished going back and writing a review of All Quiet on the Western Front in my Letterboxd diary. I'm falling asleep, so a review of The Artist will have to wait till tomorrow, as will end-of-challenge remarks.
Spoiler:
Friday, I checked out It Happened One Night from the library, then watched it in time to return it before they closed and checked out two more titles to squeeze in for the last of this year's DVD Talk Oscar Challenge. I still needed a winner from the 1920s for my checklist. Since they didn't even start the awards until 1927, there aren't many eligible movies in the first place and even fewer in print or even digital circulation. How desperate was I to find something? When I returned It Happened One Night, I wound up checking out All Quiet on the Western Front...on VHS.

Like a time-traveler. Or someone whose entire home entertainment system is cobbled together from devices salvaged from the community recycling center. That's right, VHS. (You young kids might have to hit Wikipedia to find out what the hell I'm talking about.)

The title card at the beginning of the film declares that it is neither an accusation or a confession, which itself invites a certain suspicion before a single frame of the film has played across the screen. There's something about insisting up front that you have no bias that makes me consciously search for evidence to contradict the claim of neutrality and I didn't have to look hard or long to find it. All Quiet on the Western Front is about as subtle as Foghorn Leghorn's euphemisms for a lack of subtlety. I say, I say, that film is about as subtle as a locomotive inside a cavern with great acoustics.

It doesn't help that most of the character-centric content of the film is conveyed by actors clearly steeped in the melodrama of stage and the silent era. No one could help, of course, that the craft of acting in talkies was still a nascent art yet to be properly understood or developed. I allow for that by contrasting these performances with others I've seen from the era. Particularly good here was Louis Wolheim as Kat, who reminded me every time I looked at him of Nick Frost. His speech and mannerisms are noticeably more natural and organic than most of the rest of the cast.

I feel like I have a much better understanding of what Edward Neumeier (screenwriter) and Paul Verhoeven (director) had in mind when they made Starship Troopers. Their satirical point was always obvious, but I now have a better appreciation for the cinematic legacy they wished to invoke.

The picture was not nominated in any category relating to sound, and it's a shame because sound is so clearly one of the most powerful elements of the storytelling. Absent any score in those pre-King Kong days, All Quiet on the Western Front feels like a documentary with its dearth of music. Every skirmish we see is made overwhelming in large part because of the assault on our ears by sounds of bombs falling and detonating, gunfire and screams.

Though the character content is heavy-handed melodrama, the film is redeemed entirely by its action pieces. The sheer scale alone makes it a captivating film to view, but also the coldness of the lens. This is not glamorized warfare. Nor is it particularly stylized. There aren't many extras flying through the air, limbs flailing. Rather, the victims of explosives here mostly are slammed downward without much fanfare. The unflinching starkness of the combat set pieces doesn't even need the scenes of the young men being disabused of their notions of grandeur to make the film's point.

It's a particularly curious film to view for making its anti-war commentary (and despite its proclamation to the contrary, let's not kid ourselves that the film isn't an accusation) knowing that it was produced years before Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany. The original novel, of course, was penned in 1929 by German World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque. One wonders: had France and the United Kingdom leaderships listened to our President Wilson and been more measured about the penalties levied against Germany after WWI, might the more thoughtful perspective on warfare and humanity espoused by Remarque prevailed in that country?

We'll never know, of course, and "What if?" speculations don't really get us anywhere but I do like to know that even though Nazism ran roughshod over Remarque's peacefulness, that when World War II came to an end, Remarque's work was there to remind everyone that they had been cautioned already about subscribing to the deceptive elixir of warfare.

All Quiet on the Western Front entered my Flickchart at #178/1487

All Quiet on the Western Front
3rd Academy Awards (1929/1930)
(N) CINEMATOGRAPHY -- (Arthur Edeson)
(W) DIRECTING -- Lewis Milestone
(W) OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION -- Universal
(N) WRITING -- (George Abbott), (Maxwell Anderson), (Del Andrews)
Old 02-25-13, 06:55 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

So, with ARGO's win, I have yet another to add to my list of unseen Best Picture winners.

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