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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 02-09-13, 07:06 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Was in the mood for some horror today, so debated between An American Werewolf in London, or Bride of Frankenstein. Classic horror won out, so I broke open my Universal Horror DVD set, and watched Bride. They don't make horror like that any more.
Old 02-10-13, 12:14 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Decided to go ahead and shore up the checklist by knocking out a winner for Documentary (Short Subject). An online pal turned up Men Against the Arctic on YouTube. It's not an official upload, but it's good enough for the purpose of getting me that check mark! I had to add it to both The Movie Database (TMDb.org), the database that Letterboxd uses, and to Flickchart so I haven't actually put it through my standard rank-and-review process yet.

The footage is truly spectacular, but I found myself feeling that without hearing a single word from either of the crews, the doc was too sterile for my taste. This could have been a tremendous human interest story - man against extreme nature - but it feels more like generic recruitment propaganda. Plus, I kept wondering if these guys were responsible for the polar cap melting that's going to drown us all.


Man Against the Arctic
28th Academy Awards (1955)
(W) DOCUMENTARY (Short Subject) -- Walt Disney, Producer
Old 02-10-13, 01:36 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I returned to the Good for You Like Vegetables Challenge by seeing Skyfall before it left theaters.
Old 02-10-13, 01:44 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by davidh777
I returned to the Good for You Like Vegetables Challenge by seeing Skyfall before it left theaters.
Yeah, well, vegetables aren't always good for you! :P Skyfall just started playing the second-run theater here and even though I pre-ordered it on Blu-ray I think I'm tempted to plop down $3 and go see it again on the big screen this week. The only problem with that is that the same theater is also showing the Oscar nominated short films this week; $3 to see either all five Animated or all five Live Action noms. I could wait and catch all ten films for $10 at Cinemark on the 15th or the 22nd, though. I'd be paying an additional $4 but Cinemark has much more comfortable seats.
Old 02-10-13, 01:49 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Yes, as I said earlier in the thread, the song and effects nominees allow us to take breaks among the "healthier" stuff.
Old 02-10-13, 04:31 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

"Gung hay fat choi!"

Yesterday was the start of Chinese New Year, so I popped in SHANGHAI EXPRESS, a Best Picture nominee of 1931-32, set on the title train and starring Marlene Dietrich and Anna May Wong. A sheer masterwork of Dietrichian cinematic splendor, as are all the films she made for director Josef von Sternberg, who was nominated for Best Director. I love how the script, once all the thriller elements are adequately dispensed with (Chinese rebel leader takes over the train to choose a hostage from among the passengers in order to engineer the release of one of his compatriots), it becomes a meditation on love and faith, with an unexpected character becoming the voice of reason.

This is the only Oscar-nominated film Ms. Wong appeared in.

I wanted to watch a Hong Kong film also, but so few of them have been nominated for Oscars (have any?). I could have popped in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (a Chinese-U.S. co-production with Hong Kong stars), but I couldn't find my copy easily, so since it's the Year of the Snake--and I was born in the Year of the Snake--I decided to step out of the challenge and watch THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE (2011), starring Jet Li, one of several adaptations of the famous folk tale about the snake sisters, White and Green, who take on human form and enter into hot-and-heavy relationships with unsuspecting human males.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 02-10-13 at 06:03 AM.
Old 02-10-13, 02:26 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

An American in Paris and Crash today. Fairly different subject matter, although I noticed that American takes place around the New Year, and Crash must be around Christmas, so I can add those to a list of "Holiday" potentials for next year...!

I wondered, towards the end of American whether Gene Kelly had a contractual obligation to provide some sort of out-of-continuity dream-sequence-y dance number in all of his films that showcased his talent but really did nothing for the plot..?! So far this month (and I don't think I've seen many more of his films for a decade - if ever - to compare further) I've seen Singin' in the Rain and Anchors Aweigh as well as now An American in Paris. Singin' has the Cyd Charisse number that I didn't remember from watching it years ago, but - despite being heavily featured in the trailer - is really, really annoying! It's so far removed from the film as to be utterly tangential even to tangents - it's nothing more than a dream sequence within an extended preview for the musical retooling of the re-recorded silent film within the actual film. That's about four degrees removed from the action! And it goes on, and on and on... It is also almost the only low point (for me) in an otherwise near-perfect film, which really colours my viewing of it and thinking about it, because at any other point it would be very interesting and well done. Likewise, the dance with Jerry (of Tom & Jerry) within Anchors Aweigh is very well done, for what must be a relatively early live/animated hybrid scene... but it's utterly pointless, and really bizarre! It happens because Kelly's character decides not to tell a classroom-full of children how he REALLY won his medal, but instead to tell them that King Jerry gave it to him for introducing dance back into a cartoon kingdom. Which is far beyond strange.

Now, An American in Paris. Not a bad film - although I'm not entirely sure it's better enough than the others to win Best Picture - but then the last quarter of hour is just filler. As in Mary Poppins (but without the plot necessity), the character(s) head into paintings, here just to dance in Kelly's characters' artwork. It's interesting, it's technically well-done, but he's spent large parts of the film dancing, so it's not strictly needed to show off his talents - neither is the Singin' number, although Anchors might have needed it. It's just there, ostensibly, to give time for a character to come to their senses. So it could possibly be said to be useful to the plot, but... it's an odd trend!

I've never seen Brokeback Mountain, but I suspect that Crash deserved to win Best Picture, despite all the furore at the time. It's very complex and complicated, and the interactions are both fascinating and terrifying. It seems potentially VERY real - which is disturbing and hopeful in not-quite-equal part - and overall paints a fairly bleak picture of life. And not just life in America, but life as a whole. While it would detract from the brilliance of the film, I almost wish it had a five minute coda of someone shouting at the viewer what lessons they're meant to learn from it all. Judge not, and People are complicated and love and care for each other and GROW UP and SORT YOURSELVES OUT and so on and so forth.
Old 02-10-13, 02:32 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just a heads up. I just finished watching Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines on TCM, and after the movie went off, there was a commercial. Ben Hur, is on TCM next Saturday night at 8 PM EST. Also, just finished watching one of the shorts on between movies on TCM, Eyes of the Navy, and I don't know if this is true for all of the between movie shorts, but it seems even the shorts during 31 Days of Oscar are Oscar Nominated Material.

Last edited by shadokitty; 02-10-13 at 02:54 PM.
Old 02-10-13, 06:51 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by ntnon
An American in Paris and Crash today. Fairly different subject matter, although I noticed that American takes place around the New Year, and Crash must be around Christmas, so I can add those to a list of "Holiday" potentials for next year...!

I wondered, towards the end of American whether Gene Kelly had a contractual obligation to provide some sort of out-of-continuity dream-sequence-y dance number in all of his films that showcased his talent but really did nothing for the plot..?! So far this month (and I don't think I've seen many more of his films for a decade - if ever - to compare further) I've seen Singin' in the Rain and Anchors Aweigh as well as now An American in Paris. Singin' has the Cyd Charisse number that I didn't remember from watching it years ago, but - despite being heavily featured in the trailer - is really, really annoying! It's so far removed from the film as to be utterly tangential even to tangents - it's nothing more than a dream sequence within an extended preview for the musical retooling of the re-recorded silent film within the actual film. That's about four degrees removed from the action! And it goes on, and on and on... It is also almost the only low point (for me) in an otherwise near-perfect film, which really colours my viewing of it and thinking about it, because at any other point it would be very interesting and well done. Likewise, the dance with Jerry (of Tom & Jerry) within Anchors Aweigh is very well done, for what must be a relatively early live/animated hybrid scene... but it's utterly pointless, and really bizarre! It happens because Kelly's character decides not to tell a classroom-full of children how he REALLY won his medal, but instead to tell them that King Jerry gave it to him for introducing dance back into a cartoon kingdom. Which is far beyond strange.

Now, An American in Paris. Not a bad film - although I'm not entirely sure it's better enough than the others to win Best Picture - but then the last quarter of hour is just filler. As in Mary Poppins (but without the plot necessity), the character(s) head into paintings, here just to dance in Kelly's characters' artwork. It's interesting, it's technically well-done, but he's spent large parts of the film dancing, so it's not strictly needed to show off his talents - neither is the Singin' number, although Anchors might have needed it. It's just there, ostensibly, to give time for a character to come to their senses. So it could possibly be said to be useful to the plot, but... it's an odd trend!

I've never seen Brokeback Mountain, but I suspect that Crash deserved to win Best Picture, despite all the furore at the time. It's very complex and complicated, and the interactions are both fascinating and terrifying. It seems potentially VERY real - which is disturbing and hopeful in not-quite-equal part - and overall paints a fairly bleak picture of life. And not just life in America, but life as a whole. While it would detract from the brilliance of the film, I almost wish it had a five minute coda of someone shouting at the viewer what lessons they're meant to learn from it all. Judge not, and People are complicated and love and care for each other and GROW UP and SORT YOURSELVES OUT and so on and so forth.
Ntnon, you really, really need to wean yourself off of your attachment to plot. You're not supposed to watch Gene Kelly musicals for the plot, you watch them for the singing and dancing!!! And the sets...and costumes...and colors...and musical arrangements...not to mention attractive leading ladies. The total experience. Learn to live in the moment. (Don't feel bad about my scolding--I have this same argument with friends and family members all the time. And they usually ignore me.)

You should see Kelly's THE PIRATE (1948) next. Great songs, great dancing, but it also has a more intricate plot than the others. And its dream pirate dance sequence actually has a dramatic purpose. And then...ON THE TOWN (1949). Both had Oscar noms.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 02-11-13 at 10:22 AM.
Old 02-10-13, 06:59 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by shadokitty
Just a heads up. I just finished watching 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' on TCM, and after the movie went off, there was a commercial. 'Ben Hur', is on TCM next Saturday night at 8 PM EST. Also, just finished watching one of the shorts on between movies on TCM, Eyes of the Navy, and I don't know if this is true for all of the between movie shorts, but it seems even the shorts during 31 Days of Oscar are Oscar Nominated Material.
yes, that is the case. Check out on TCM's website and they even indicate the shorts and when they will be shown.

did you like TMMiTFM? I just watched my Twilight Time bluray and thought it was a hoot.
Old 02-10-13, 08:10 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by Giles
yes, that is the case. Check out on TCM's website and they even indicate the shorts and when they will be shown.

did you like TMMiTFM? I just watched my Twilight Time bluray and thought it was a hoot.
Well, being an aviation fan, and also a fan of comedies, I was quite entertained by it. Red Skelton as a caveman at the beginning was a nice touch as well
Old 02-11-13, 06:27 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

So I finally made it through Imitation of Life (1959) and in some ways it was more substantive than the original and in other ways it was more regressive. I'm still not sold on Annie "outing" her daughter in public multiple times. This time she did it after the boyfriend had beaten her daughter for being black (and can I just say that the upbeat jazz score playing during that scene was wholly inappropriate). At least in this instance Annie's disappointment is less about passing and more about the fact that Sarah Jane working in a gentleman's club.

What really struck me about the more recent version was how regressive the gender politics got. In the original, Bea is a successful businesswoman and in the remake, she's an actress (a slightly more gender appropriate profession). Not only that but you have the wonderful scene toward the end where Lora received the whole guilt trip about choosing her career over taking care of her daughter. Well Hollywood had to do their part after WWII to get women back out of the workforce and back into the home so there ya go.

There was one minute difference I picked up on as well. In the original version, when Peola comes home for the funeral, they put her in the front seat of the limo with the driver. In the remake, Sarah Jane is "allowed" in the back seat with everyone else. Progress of a sort.

I did love the fact that Annie called Lora on her self-absorption: before Annie gets sick, they are talking about her funeral arrangements. Lora is completely mystified at the fact that Annie has friends and Annie says without missing a beat "well, you never asked." Lora went on and on telling Sarah Jane that she was never treated any differently b/c she was black but Lora never took any time to even inquire about Annie's life outside of her duties. Then again, maids weren't supposed to have lives outside of their white families' homes. When I saw that scene I thought back to The Help which I watched a couple days ago and had some issues with. This doesn't reveal any huge plot points but I'll put it in spoilers anyway:
Spoiler:
When Minny come to Celia's house with a bruise Celia cares enough to a) treat the injury; b) tells Minny she knows damn well that injury didn't come from falling down some stairs; and c) tells Minny she needs to leave anyone who would hurt her. Now Celia and Minny didn't know each other for half as long as Lora and Annie but Celia showed more empathy in that scene than Lora did in almost the entire movie.


BTW, I finished the film list for anyone interested. I haven't used Google Docs before so bear with me and let me know if it doesn't turn out the way it's supposed to. Please PM me if you have additions or subtractions to the list.
Old 02-11-13, 10:19 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
So I finally made it through Imitation of Life (1959) and in some ways it was more substantive than the original and in other ways it was more regressive. I'm still not sold on Annie "outing" her daughter in public multiple times. This time she did it after the boyfriend had beaten her daughter for being black (and can I just say that the upbeat jazz score playing during that scene was wholly inappropriate). At least in this instance Annie's disappointment is less about passing and more about the fact that Sarah Jane working in a gentleman's club.

What really struck me about the more recent version was how regressive the gender politics got. In the original, Bea is a successful businesswoman and in the remake, she's an actress (a slightly more gender appropriate profession). Not only that but you have the wonderful scene toward the end where Lora received the whole guilt trip about choosing her career over taking care of her daughter. Well Hollywood had to do their part after WWII to get women back out of the workforce and back into the home so there ya go.

There was one minute difference I picked up on as well. In the original version, when Peola comes home for the funeral, they put her in the front seat of the limo with the driver. In the remake, Sarah Jane is "allowed" in the back seat with everyone else. Progress of a sort.

I did love the fact that Annie called Lora on her self-absorption: before Annie gets sick, they are talking about her funeral arrangements. Lora is completely mystified at the fact that Annie has friends and Annie says without missing a beat "well, you never asked." Lora went on and on telling Sarah Jane that she was never treated any differently b/c she was black but Lora never took any time to even inquire about Annie's life outside of her duties. Then again, maids weren't supposed to have lives outside of their white families' homes. When I saw that scene I thought back to The Help which I watched a couple days ago and had some issues with. This doesn't reveal any huge plot points but I'll put it in spoilers anyway:
Spoiler:
When Minny come to Celia's house with a bruise Celia cares enough to a) treat the injury; b) tells Minny she knows damn well that injury didn't come from falling down some stairs; and c) tells Minny she needs to leave anyone who would hurt her. Now Celia and Minny didn't know each other for half as long as Lora and Annie but Celia showed more empathy in that scene than Lora did in almost the entire movie.


BTW, I finished the film list for anyone interested. I haven't used Google Docs before so bear with me and let me know if it doesn't turn out the way it's supposed to. Please PM me if you have additions or subtractions to the list.
Fascinating list. I've seen most of the older ones on the list (pre-1990s), many in their initial release. I will PM you with some additional recommendations.

I saw COTTON COMES TO HARLEM in its New York premiere at the DeMille Theater in Times Square. The New York Times critic was at the same showing (this was before studios held advance screenings for critics) and in his review he expressed confusion at the obvious audience sympathy for the ostensible bad guy, Deke O'Malley (Calvin Lockhart), which amused me no end when I re-read the review a few years ago.

SHAFT was the first film I saw on New York's famous 42nd Street. I can re-watch that for this challenge. It won Best Song. (I'll never forget Isaac Hayes' performance of it during the Oscar show that year and his acceptance speech.)

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 02-11-13 at 04:42 PM.
Old 02-11-13, 01:00 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

So for the delay in posting on thoughts on the short documentaries. This month has been pretty hectic with my thesis work and teaching. This was the first time I sought out the short documentaries during my Academy Awards viewings, and I am so thrilled that I did. I will definitely make this part of my Oscar routine. Warning: Mild spoilers throughout.

Kings Point
Despite the potentially heavy topic, this doc felt wistful to me. Sure there is a lot of sadness and negativity, but I liked the way the people presented were facing their situations. It was interesting to see a dying community presented. Having lived in college towns for most of my life, my environment is usually changing all the time: people moving in and out, businesses coming and going, everyone rushing. Kings Point is a community sunk in stasis.

Mondays at Racine
One of the strongest entries. The filmmakers wisely used the salon and the sisters sparingly and focused on the women who use the salon and their stories. It raised several points about living with cancer that I had never considered (how it can change a marriage for the worse or put a hold on adoptions). There was a sense of hope and resilience despite setbacks that I really appreciated. By the end, I was sobbing as were the two women sitting in front of me and the mother and son sitting behind me.

Inocente
I loved it! the quirky artist reminded me of my undergrad days. It was interesting to see so much focus on one individual, especially after the large groups of subjects in the other features. However, Inocente was definitely able to carry the whole documentary. I really liked her artistic style and was so glad to see an organization of people dedicated to helping struggling kids and teens connect to art and strive to create their own visions. Truly beautiful!

Redemption
I didn't cry during this one which was refreshing. While it was the weakest (I agree with Giles's "so what" response), I connected to it mostly because I graduate in May, my future is up in the air, and that irrational part of my mind is convinced I will have to pick up cans to survive. I think the documentary would have been more interesting if it looked at the ramifications of "canning" and how widespread it is instead of focusing on a handful of personal narratives. It felt listless.

Open Heart
I thought this was the strongest of the bunch, a tearjerking yet uplifting look at children from Rwanda going to a heart clinic in Sudan. The facts presented at the beginning were shocking and provided a context for the children's narrative stories. I was very invested in their situation by the end of the forty minutes.

Went to see the live action and animated short on Friday and will try to get my thoughts sorted out soon! My advice is to go see all of the shorts. It is such a different medium from feature length films, and this batch was awesome! I need to figure out how to support and see more shorts throughout the year.
Old 02-11-13, 01:57 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just revisited The Black Stallion for the first time since I was a kid as I saw it was on HDNet Movies, and I got to thinking. It has been a long time since I had seen National Velvet, but the role of Mickey Rooney as a former jockey who trains a horse for a race kind of reminded me of his role in National Velvet as a younger man.
Old 02-11-13, 02:02 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by shadokitty
Just revisited The Black Stallion for the first time since I was a kid as I saw it was on HDNet Movies, and I got to thinking. It has been a long time since I had seen National Velvet, but the role of Mickey Rooney as a former jockey who trains a horse for a race kind of reminded me of his role in National Velvet as a younger man.
IIRC, the picture they use in BLACK STALLION of Rooney's character as a young man was a still from NATIONAL VELVET.
Old 02-11-13, 04:11 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
So I finally made it through Imitation of Life (1959) and in some ways it was more substantive than the original and in other ways it was more regressive. I'm still not sold on Annie "outing" her daughter in public multiple times. This time she did it after the boyfriend had beaten her daughter for being black (and can I just say that the upbeat jazz score playing during that scene was wholly inappropriate). At least in this instance Annie's disappointment is less about passing and more about the fact that Sarah Jane working in a gentleman's club.
It has been years since I've seen either version of Imitation of Life. I should check those out again. I'm a big fan of leading ladies Claudette Colbert and Lana Turner as well as director Douglas Sirk. Sirk is so over-the-top with his stylistic choices and his movies tend toward the uber melodramatic, but gosh darn it, I love his films and their campiness. I remember being a bit uncomfortable with some of the portrayals of race, but I cannot remember why specifically.

Also, I checked out your list, and it looks awesome! There are so many films that I haven't seen!!! Have you seen 1943's Cabin in the Sky? It seems like a worthy film for this list. Also, have you seen Mr. Blanding's Builds His Dream House? While her screen time is incredibly short, there is an interesting African American maid in that film.
Old 02-11-13, 04:30 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by ntnon
I've never seen Brokeback Mountain, but I suspect that Crash deserved to win Best Picture, despite all the furore at the time. It's very complex and complicated, and the interactions are both fascinating and terrifying. It seems potentially VERY real - which is disturbing and hopeful in not-quite-equal part - and overall paints a fairly bleak picture of life. And not just life in America, but life as a whole. While it would detract from the brilliance of the film, I almost wish it had a five minute coda of someone shouting at the viewer what lessons they're meant to learn from it all. Judge not, and People are complicated and love and care for each other and GROW UP and SORT YOURSELVES OUT and so on and so forth.
I think the 2006 Academy Awards showed an essential problem with awarding a "Best Picture." Comparing films is often like comparing apples and oranges or domestic felines and a really nice piano concerto. While I really enjoy Crash and use it as a teaching aide every year, in my opinion Brokeback Mountain is a better film. However, how can you really compare the two? They have vastly different objectives, agendas, and stories to tell. (I know I'm not saying anything new here.) Brokeback Mountain is definitely (from my definition of "definitely") more visually interesting and nuanced than Crash which (like its subject matter) is clunkier and less polished. Of course, privileging visual technique and character development over theme and tone is a personal preference. Anyway, I will stop rambling, and you should check out Brokeback Mountain which is a visual treat and tells a very emotional story. (It's also the film that made me love Anne Hathaway.)

It's always interesting to me to hear others opinions on films. That's one of the great things about the Awards season. Everyone is watching the same things and discussing them. I remember when I was watching a lot of nominated films with friends for the 2008 Academy Awards, and I was the sole person championing There Will Be Blood while everyone else was either indifferent or intensely disliked it. We got into heavy discussion about the film. That's the reason I love the Oscars! (I still believe that it is one of the best films about America. My best friend still believes it is nonsensical and awkwardly plotted. I haven't gotten a chance to watch my BD copy yet... perhaps next week!)
Old 02-11-13, 05:15 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by mrcellophane
Also, I checked out your list, and it looks awesome! There are so many films that I haven't seen!!! Have you seen 1943's Cabin in the Sky? It seems like a worthy film for this list. Also, have you seen Mr. Blanding's Builds His Dream House? While her screen time is incredibly short, there is an interesting African American maid in that film.
I like Cabin in the Sky but I prefer Stormy Weather if we're voting for best black musical released in 1943. Let's be clear, the Nicholas Brothers dance sequence in Weather is probably the best dance sequence ever put to film. I even show it in my non-film classes just because I can and because it's awesome (and because the majority of my students have never heard of the Nicholas brothers). I have never heard of [b/]Mr. Blanding's[/b]. It has Cary Grant, I love Cary Grant, how did I miss this?

Did a Kurosawa double-feature today. Watched Ran for the first time and my goodness those costumes were gorgeous (and hand-made - no wonder they took 2 years to make). The costume designer deserved that Oscar! Rashomon never gets old.
Old 02-11-13, 05:34 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by mrcellophane
I think the 2006 Academy Awards showed an essential problem with awarding a "Best Picture." Comparing films is often like comparing apples and oranges or domestic felines and a really nice piano concerto. While I really enjoy Crash and use it as a teaching aide every year, in my opinion Brokeback Mountain is a better film. However, how can you really compare the two?
The point of a comparison isn't equation; it's to expose and explore the differences. This is why I love using Flickchart. It's way too easy to only compare similar movies. General consensus holds that The Phantom Menace is inferior to The Empire Strikes Back, but what happens when you compare it with My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Those kinds of cross-genre/cross-era comparisons demand some scrutiny and thought and they lead you to different realizations about each film.

Expanding that to five (or more) films as they do with Best Picture gets to the core of what we look for in movies. Film A may be obviously superior on technical ways (better cinematography, more elaborate production design, etc.) but perhaps Film B resonates more with you on an emotional level. Film C may be more thought provoking than either. So it goes, and at the end of it all the voter is left picking the film with the intrinsic qualities that are most satisfying relative to the others.

Or, they vote for whatever they're pressured to vote for by their employers if you're into that line of thought about awards.
Old 02-11-13, 06:30 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by mrcellophane
Went to see the live action and animated short on Friday and will try to get my thoughts sorted out soon! My advice is to go see all of the shorts. It is such a different medium from feature length films, and this batch was awesome! I need to figure out how to support and see more shorts throughout the year.
All of the animated shorts can now be found individually on youtube.

I'm going to rent the Live Action Short Films next week....if you're interested, they'll be available on iTunes and other cable/VOD channels next Tuesday:

http://theoscarshorts.shorts.tv/itunes.php

Wish they were going to be on Vudu.....I have some credit!

Last edited by Mao; 02-11-13 at 06:40 PM.
Old 02-11-13, 06:38 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by mrcellophane
I think the 2006 Academy Awards showed an essential problem with awarding a "Best Picture." Comparing films is often like comparing apples and oranges or domestic felines and a really nice piano concerto. While I really enjoy Crash and use it as a teaching aide every year, in my opinion Brokeback Mountain is a better film. However, how can you really compare the two? They have vastly different objectives, agendas, and stories to tell. (I know I'm not saying anything new here.) Brokeback Mountain is definitely (from my definition of "definitely") more visually interesting and nuanced than Crash which (like its subject matter) is clunkier and less polished. Of course, privileging visual technique and character development over theme and tone is a personal preference. Anyway, I will stop rambling, and you should check out Brokeback Mountain which is a visual treat and tells a very emotional story. (It's also the film that made me love Anne Hathaway.)

It's always interesting to me to hear others opinions on films. That's one of the great things about the Awards season. Everyone is watching the same things and discussing them. I remember when I was watching a lot of nominated films with friends for the 2008 Academy Awards, and I was the sole person championing There Will Be Blood while everyone else was either indifferent or intensely disliked it. We got into heavy discussion about the film. That's the reason I love the Oscars! (I still believe that it is one of the best films about America. My best friend still believes it is nonsensical and awkwardly plotted. I haven't gotten a chance to watch my BD copy yet... perhaps next week!)
Have you seen "The Master" yet?

I truly believe that PTA can do no wrong! Even at his most "non-sensical", his work is more interesting than most drivel being shoveled today....
Old 02-12-13, 12:03 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I gorged on all the Skyfall bonus content, including both commentary tracks. Being bonus content, I won't bother copying and pasting my Letterboxd diary remarks (especially as they're a bit lengthy) but anyone who may be interested can find 'em here.

In the context specifically of this challenge, I will say that if Roger Deakins wins for Cinematography this year for his work on this film, it won't merely be a "consolation" award to rectify for previous losses. I was impressed by his work when I saw the film myself, but the explanations of just what he did that are recounted by Sam Mendes, Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson and others leaves little doubt that he did an amazing job marrying different locations and sets with various effects shots to create a seamless visual aesthetic. It's a very clean looking film, easy to follow and while part of that has to do with Stuart Baird's editing, credit clearly also goes to Deakins for framing and lighting the way he did.

Skyfall
85th Academy Awards (2012)
(N) CINEMATOGRAPHY -- Roger Deakins
(N) MUSIC (Original Score) -- Thomas Newman
(N) MUSIC (Original Song) -- "Skyfall" Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
(N) SOUND EDITING -- Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
(N) SOUND MIXING -- Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Old 02-12-13, 04:22 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Re-watched Glory. My Letterboxd diary entry:

SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE READING EMAILS
Spoiler:
I don't even know how many times I've seen this film. I can vividly recall the first time seeing it, at my dad's. He rented it on VHS. It wasn't surprising that he watched it in front of my brother and me since it was rated R; he didn't give a damn whether my brother and I were in the room or not. What was surprising is that my dad has some very antiquated views on race. I can't even begin to describe the sense of pride and triumph I felt watching Glory. Or, more to the point, the pride and triumph I felt watching him watch it.

Later, it was shown in my U.S. History class in high school. I bought it on widescreen VHS in the late 90s, then subsequently got it on DVD. A friend gave me his Special Edition DVD. I recently finally got around to getting Glory on Blu-ray Disc, making this the fifth home video edition I've watched of the film.

Like every other first-time Blu-ray viewing of old favorites, I was distracted by scads of little details I never noticed in previous viewings. I'm sure I was ever conscious that there's a "54" in the center of the symbol on Matthew Broderick's cap, but I am entirely certain I never saw the stitching of it until this viewing. It isn't the best looking HD transfer I've ever seen, but I attribute that to the heavy location shooting more than anything deficient with the processing of the movie.

Sure, I know about its inaccuracies and I do feel a bit irked about the end inscription informing us that Fort Wagner was never taken. That's technically true, but the South did abandon it in part because of the damage that the 54th Massachusetts inflicted during its suicidal siege.

Ultimately, though, Glory is a masterwork in deconstruction. Until this film, many had no idea there had ever even been a regiment of African-American soldiers to serve during the Civil War. For that matter, in my pre-adolescent world, no one even really admitted that racism was rampant in the North as well as in the South. Glory was an epiphany, and one of the first films to truly stoke my personal fascination with history. Even today, it reminds me how many popular perceptions need to be challenged.

I watched the film this time as part of the 2013 DVD Talk Academy Awards Challenge. It was nominated in five categories, winning three of them. Denzel Washington won for his portrayal of Trip, a composite character culled from various real soldiers. It's a heartrending performance, but also he's the heart of the film. Everyone else is orderly and reserved, but not Trip. Washington's performance humanizes the movie in crucial ways, reminding us that soldiers are first and foremost people. It's impossible to imagine Glory without him.

Also recognized with awards were Freddie Francis for his cinematography, and Donald O. Mitchell, Gregg C. Rudloff, Elliot Tyson, Russell Williams II for Sound. One thing that's striking about watching Glory is that it's shot almost like a documentary more than a Hollywood feature. That really helps establish its verisimilitude, allowing us to trust the movie. The sound is also pretty impressive, given that about 90% of the film was shot outside.

The other two nominations were for Art Direction and Film Editing. The former lost to Anton Furst's design for Batman and there's no shame in that. I haven't seen Born on the Fourth of July to comment on whether that film ought to have won over Glory.

What I can say is that the Academy completely screwed up by not even nominating James Horner's beautiful score. He's done some great work over the years, but never finer than this. It's one of my top five favorite movie scores of all time and to think it wasn't even nominated only undermines the whole awards system in my mind. Stupid Academy.

Glory was re-ranked from #38 to #12/1480 on my Flickchart


62nd Academy Awards (1989)
(W) ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Denzel Washington {"Trip"}
(N) ART DIRECTION -- Art Direction: Norman Garwood; Set Decoration: Garrett Lewis
(W) CINEMATOGRAPHY -- Freddie Francis
(N) FILM EDITING -- Steven Rosenblum
(W) SOUND -- Donald O. Mitchell, Gregg C. Rudloff, Elliot Tyson, Russell Williams II
Old 02-12-13, 08:54 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Got in a musical mood last week, saw Les Mis in the theater, and then Mary Poppins and The King and I at home.

Also saw Silver Lining Playbook in the theater. Walked into it literally blind, and loved it.

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