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The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

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The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Old 02-18-14, 10:58 AM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by LJG765
Also, can anyone rec a good foreign film winner? I looked at titles last night but I honestly didn't recognize that many and those that I did, didn't really interest me. Something not too depressing would be ok, too! Thanks!
If you don't want depressing, steer far away from The Broken Circle Breakdown. Holy cow! THAT is a depressing film! Well done though, and good music.
Old 02-18-14, 11:07 AM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by pacaway
Which cut did you watch? I know some like to be purist and watch the theatrical cut for this challenge, but the so-called director's cut is FAR FAR superior. If you are an Alien fan, you really should watch that cut at some point.
The theatrical cut I believe is the one that came in my box set.
Old 02-18-14, 11:09 AM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
Completing the checklist is only one of my goals. This year I'm aiming for 40 first-time viewings and watching 100 total titles. The challenge is as challenging as you make it. It is all about the discussion..

Speaking of discussion, it was World War II night in my household yesterday. The Caine Mutiny was interesting. I love Bogart films and I was racking my brain trying to remember the last time I watched him in an antagonist role. The romance sub plot was completely unnecessary IMHO and took away from the tension of what was happening on the ship. Jose Ferrer was awesome as the lawyer and Fred MacMurray was a slimy hoot. I don't think this is a spoiler but just to be on the safe side
Spoiler:

It seemed to me watching this several decades after the fact that Queeg is suffering from a mental illness and I wonder whether it was brought on by PTSD (the trial brings up that Queeg had been in the Navy for quite some time). Though I'm sure the Navy would not allow it considering how difficult it was to get the film made the first time, I think it would be interesting to remake this film in a contemporary setting.

Next up was Stalag 17 which really seemed like two different films slammed together. The first half of the film was really annoying with the Hogan Heroes levity associated with being in a POW camp. I can see why William Holden walked out of the play when he initially watched it. The second half of the film had a much darker tone and was way more interesting than the first half as they try to figure out who the snitch is. I must say their method of dealing with the informant was surprising and ingenious. Holden was amazing and I love it when the protagonists aren't squeaky clean perfect.

I was going to watch [b]The great Dictator[/c] last night too but I was done with WWII. Becket is on my watch list too as is Reds but I'll save the super long films for the weekend.
RE: STALAG 17 - do you have the DVD with the commentary by two of the cast (Richard Erdman and Gil Stratton Jr.) and the co-author of the original play (Donald Bevans)? I bought the DVD just for the commentary and watched it for last year's challenge. I was kind of disappointed. It's rare to get such a lineup of original participants (two of whom have since died) for a commentary for a film that old, but they really need a moderator to ask them questions and keep them on topic and keep them talking when the conversation flags, which tends to to happen when they're unmoderated.
Old 02-18-14, 12:44 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by shadokitty
...finally watched the last of the eligible Alien moves last night. While it was decent, I didn't think Alien 3 was quite up to the par of the first two movies in the series. Maybe that is just me though.
Originally Posted by pacaway
Which cut did you watch? I know some like to be purist and watch the theatrical cut for this challenge, but the so-called director's cut is FAR FAR superior. If you are an Alien fan, you really should watch that cut at some point.
I agree but honestly feel watching *any* of the sequels is a frustrating experience as none of them live up to the quality of Alien. I'm probably the only person on the planet who did *not* like Aliens and consider it to be just another action film with SF trappings. I also like Alien 3 better than Aliens.

When I first saw the previews for Alien I felt it was just going to be another lame "SF horror in space" film (there had been *lots* of lame SF films in the years prior to its release). It was months before I broke down and let some friends convince me to watch the film. Boy was I surprised! It's one of the *best* psychological horror films as well as a excellent SF film. The build up is superbly done and the way the alien keeps morphing so you don't know quite what to expect is excellent. It was years later before I found it borrowed copiously from several prior films, only one of which I'd seen at that point. Notably The Thing from Another World, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, and Planet of the Vampires. I've since seen all three of those and the similarities in many scenes are fairly obvious. In spite of it being a mostly recycled affair I *still* get goosebumps and a sense of dread while watching Alien!
Old 02-18-14, 12:55 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by Travis McClain
"Vejur" is used in the novelization ghost written by Alan Dean Foster and in Jerry Goldsmith's score titles, until we learn the origin of the name in the finale. I started reverting back to "Vejur" after seeing Star Trek: Voyager abbreviated VGR online. "VOY" has since come to be the standard, but too late. I'm sticking with the phonetic spelling "Vejur"!
Fine... be that way...

Interesting... I've never read any of the novelizations nor looked at the score titles. You would think they would try to be consistent across all media, eh?
Old 02-18-14, 01:05 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
RE: STALAG 17 - do you have the DVD with the commentary by two of the cast (Richard Erdman and Gil Stratton Jr.) and the co-author of the original play (Donald Bevans)? I bought the DVD just for the commentary and watched it for last year's challenge. I was kind of disappointed. It's rare to get such a lineup of original participants (two of whom have since died) for a commentary for a film that old, but they really need a moderator to ask them questions and keep them on topic and keep them talking when the conversation flags, which tends to to happen when they're unmoderated.
Nope, I recorded it off of TCM so no commentary. Maybe I'll see if the library has the DVD so I can listen. After being completely jerked around by my student loan provider this afternoon I have to chuck my original viewing plans of Last Tango in Paris and Shawsank and go with some lighter subject matter.
Old 02-18-14, 01:31 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by BobO'Link
Fine... be that way...

Interesting... I've never read any of the novelizations nor looked at the score titles. You would think they would try to be consistent across all media, eh?
They were consistent, though. Alan Dean Foster and Jerry Goldsmith both used "Vejur" as that was how Kirk and Spock understood its name to be until the end, when they discover its actual name. The spelling reflects how our point of view characters perceived it, until corrected. As a reader, I always thought the phonetic spelling made the most sense, since there's no reason hearing it spoken would tell anyone that it's a corruption.

I just checked, and the original album only had one use of the name in title: "Vejur Flyover", which covers the Enterprise's initial arrival and entry. The 20th Anniversary edition added "Vejur Speaks". It wasn't until La-La Land Records released the three-disc complete score in 2012 that "V'Ger" appeared in track titles. Ergo, Goldsmith only ever used "Vejur". You can argue that he didn't need to worry about spelling it for soundtrack listeners - most, if not all, of whom could reasonably be expected to have already seen the movie and known the big reveal - but I've always appreciated that he was mindful of reflecting where we, the viewer, were in the story.

I've never seen A Little Romance (had never even heard of it until just now), but I have a very hard time believing that its score was truly greater than Goldsmith's TMP work. God, but that's a truly perfect film score. I try not to get into "should have won" commentary about movies and awards, but somewhere out there needs to be an alternate universe where Jerry Goldsmith got the trophy for that music.
Old 02-18-14, 01:34 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Sneaked in my first short film of the challenge: Der Fuehrer's Face. From my Letterboxd diary:
Spoiler:
I don't know the reasoning behind it, but my local library branch has a handful of DVD's shelved not with the rest of the DVD's, but instead with books. Among these is Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines - The War Years, a two-disc compilation of propaganda shorts produced by Disney during World War II. I'm not sure if anyone knows about this. In case you're ever at that library and you're looking for this DVD set, it's in with their selection of books about movies.

I've always had a soft spot for wartime propaganda. It was like built-in recess during my history studies. I've thought often over the years of conducting a formal study of it. Sitting on just a bachelor's degree precludes the chance of such a work ever being published in a scholarly journal, but that's okay. I've largely made my peace with my career ambitions having been derailed by my stupid health.

My reasoning for selecting this today was so that I could find a short film that had won an Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated), one of several remaining categories on my DVD Talk Oscar Challenge. I've focused so far exclusively on movies that I already own, but have not logged viewing, but with under two weeks remaining on the challenge, I'm starting to get antsy about the checklist. A quick Google search of the contents of this DVD compilation identified Der Feuhrer's Face as winner of the 1942 Best Short Subject (Cartoon) award.

I wasn't fazed by all the swastikas or the exaggerated, racist caricatures; those things, I expected. What did throw me, though, was to see that Donald Duck's nightmare version of being a Nazi subject felt more like the opening to Joe versus the Volcano's commentary on the mind-numbing, soul-crushing nature of corporate/factory work. Hitler comes off as little more than an overbearing boss than as architect of the darkest period of modernity.

It's important to remember that the full scope of atrocities was not widely known outside Hitler's concentration camps. Ergo, no one at Disney could be expected to see Hitler the way we see him in the full understanding of the horrific genocide he and his ilk were perpetrating. Still, watching this short today, my chief reaction was, "That's it? That's all you've got? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HITLER HERE! Go on, let him have it!"

Der Fuehrer's Face entered my Flickchart at #1049/1615

1942 Academy Awards (15th)
(W) SHORT SUBJECT (Cartoon) -- Walt Disney, Producer
Old 02-18-14, 03:42 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
Gentleman's Agreement was interesting and obvious at the same time. It was one of the more interesting Kazan films I've seen.
Next on my list yesterday... now gone from Amazon Prime.
Old 02-18-14, 04:26 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by pacaway
If you don't want depressing, steer far away from The Broken Circle Breakdown. Holy cow! THAT is a depressing film! Well done though, and good music.
Good to know! Maybe next year...

I did watch "The Godfather: Part III" last night. I thought it, well, sucked. It was boring and I agree with everyone about Sophia Coppala's acting (even she knew she wasn't doing a good job according to the trivia bits I read). But mostly, well, I'll put the rest in spoilers as I know I didn't watch the film until now, so there are probably others out there too.

Spoiler:
OK. Did no one else this it just odd that no one other than Michael though it was BAD for cousins to be sleeping together? I know they didn't grow up together, but they knew who they were before they started getting really close, even though Mary started flirting with Vincent from the moment she saw him. And she knew he was family before she really pushed it. No one had any complaints about it. Even Kay. Or some of the priests, I think, who commented on it thought it was bad. Michael, the criminal, leader of the mafia, was the only one who thought it was wrong. Hello, incest? I can handle and be tolerant of a lot of things. But not incest.

Also, the whole church thing? Well, I get they were tying into real happenings of the Catholic Church at the time with the Pope and the Vatican, but I just found this whole story line boring and plodding and way over done. Perhaps I'd have different feelings if they brought the church more into the original, but by 1990, let's be a little more original in subject matter. Or at least, do the theme in a more interesting way.

By the end, I just was focusing in on looking for oranges so I'd know when to pay full attention to see something exciting.


So, I guess, overall, I'm glad to have watched this so I never have to watch it again. And really, I did go into it knowing it wasn't the best movie ever made and it really lived up to that expectation. I'm surprised that it got as many Oscar nods as it did, though, I did think, in the movie's defense the actors (with one or two notable exceptions) really did do a good job. They just didn't have much to work with. (I do know that the director only had a year to write, film and edit the film-it shows!)
Old 02-18-14, 04:32 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

I bought the Jurassic Park trilogy in order to replace my scratched up discs that I got when I was in the desert, but have yet to actually sit down and watch the movies for this challenge. That is the one set I actually bought just for this challenge too. Sometime in the next week and a half I'll have to sit down and watch them.
Old 02-18-14, 05:07 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by Mondo Kane
As far as my queue goes, Becket looks like the next big LONG movie I've got lined up.
That's a film that's *worth* the time spent! It's one of my favorite historical films. Burton and O'Tool both give stellar performances! Had it been released in any other year it probably would have won Best Picture but it had some *very* still competition. My Fair Lady (the winner that year), Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins, and Zorba the Greek. I'd hate to have to pick just one of that group! It's also one of the very few years where I've seen every flim nominated for Best Picture.
Old 02-18-14, 09:07 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by ntnon
Next on my list yesterday... now gone from Amazon Prime.
Time to burn Amazon HQ to the ground. Road trip, y'all!
Old 02-19-14, 05:18 AM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

The third in my Best Picture five-pack brought me to revisit Chicago. From my Letterboxd diary:
Spoiler:
Chicago has the distinction of being one of the few musicals I've seen that I actually, truly enjoyed. I think the reason it works for me is that we break away during some musical numbers and present a non-musical version of what's taking place. This helps create a sense that what we're seeing is the world as a musical because that's how Roxie perceives these people and events. They're hallucinatory. I buy it.

The only song that doesn't work for me is John C. Reilly's performance of "Mister Cellophane". Partly I think it's partly because it's kind of a boring song, but mostly because Roxie isn't there to witness it. It's the only number in the picture where she's missing. Everything else supports my interpretation of the film being interpreted by Roxie except "Mister Cellophane".

The other reason that I think Chicago works for me is that it isn't an over-the-top love story. It's cynical, it's satirical, it's even savage at times. Though we end on a celebratory note, it isn't a happy ending. We don't need to see it happen to know that Roxie and Velma only eek out a few more minutes in the public eye before being discarded yet again. They can't stop chasing the rainbow, even though they've both seen time and again how futile that chase will prove in the end. They're tragic characters, and knowing this makes the ending bittersweet. I stop shy of saying Chicago is brilliant, but it's awfully clever.

I've heard a lot of gripes about Zellweger, and maybe it's because I don't have a background in musicals, but I'll never understand it. It's not easy to play a character as naive in some scenes, but conniving in others, but she deftly threaded the needle. Both sides of her Roxie are believable, because at her core she's as ambitious as she is ignorant of the world. Roxie plays for the sympathy of others, but Zellweger never plays for ours. She was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, but lost to Nicole Kidman (The Hours). I've only seen one of the other nominees, Salma Hayek's performance in Frida. I'd have voted for Hayek over Zellweger, but that's not a knock on the latter.

Catherine Zeta-Jones commands the screen in every scene she's in, and in large part because, she just completely went for it. Watching her song and dance performances, there's a sense that she threw herself into them fully. It's the acting equivalent of watching a truly special athletic performance, where as soon as the athlete leaves the field of play, you know you've just seen someone give it their all.

The Academy awarded Catherine Zeta-Jones with Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Her competition included co-star Queen Latifah, recognized for her performance here as the corrupt warden, "Mama". She's terrific, and her introduction ("When You're Good to Mama") is one of the best bits in the whole film. She can vamp it up with the best of 'em and it's a blast to watch her do it. I think what may have hurt her is that her only musical number is at the beginning of the film, whereas Catherine Zeta-Jones performs at the beginning, middle, and again at the close of the show. I haven't seen any of the other nominees from that year's field.

John C. Reilly was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, losing to Chris Cooper (Adaptation, which I've not seen). Other nominees included Ed Harris (The Hours), Paul Newman (Road to Perdition) and Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can; I suppose Tom Hanks's role was considered too big to qualify for this category?). I'd have voted for Newman.

Best Actor in a Leading Role is the only acting category where Chicago didn't net a nomination. It's okay, Richard Gere; Hanks was snubbed, too, and so was Leonardo DiCaprio, who gave strong performances in two nominated films: Catch Me If You Can and Gangs of New York (Daniel Day-Lewis was nominated over DiCaprio). No one asked me, but I'd have put DiCaprio in Leading Role for Catch Me, and Hanks and Day-Lewis in Supporting Role. Whatever, Academy.

Chicago's other wins:

Best Art Direction (Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim) - This beat Frida, Gangs of New York, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Road to Perdition. I've actually seen all five of these. My only real knock on The Two Towers as a nominee is that it's hard for me to applaud the middle chapter in a trilogy designed all at once. They're all great looking movies, but I think here I would also favor Frida by a hair.

Best Costume Design (Colleen Atwood) - I've seen two of the other four nominees, the aforementioned Frida and Gangs of New York. I can see a strong case for any of them.

Best Film Editing (Martin Walsh) - Again, I've seen half of the other nominees; Gangs of New York and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Given the enormity of the production of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy all at once, and how important the middle film is - and how demanding I can only guess it was to keep everything straight - I'd have cast my vote for The Two Towers here. That said, I do recognize that a musical has its own demands and intricacies, and the fact that I enjoyed it must surely be a testament to some fine editing.

Best Sound (Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella, David Lee) - Another category where I've seen all nominees. The rest were Gangs of New York, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Road to Perdition, and Spider-Man. Reflexively, I'd have voted for Spider-Man, but that's without much scrutiny.

And, of course, Chicago won the big one: Best Picture (Martin Richards, Producer). Gangs of New York and The Two Towers are the two other nominees I've seen. The Two Towers is the most satisfying film in that franchise for me, but I can see me shying away from bestowing upon it Best Picture. That leads to Chicago vs. Gangs of New York. It's hard for me to pick against any movie with Daniel Day-Lewis in it, so I'd have gone with Gangs. I would have voted for the not-nominated Frida over both, though.

Chicago was also nominated in, but lost, these:

Best Cinematography -- Dion Beebe
Best Directing -- Rob Marshall
Best Music (Original Song) -- "I Move On," Music by John Kander; Lyric by Fred Ebb
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) -- Screenplay by Bill Condon

Chicago was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #200/1614

2002 Academy Awards (75th)
(N) ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- John C. Reilly {"Amos Hart"}
(N) ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE -- Renée Zellweger {"Roxie Hart"}
(N) ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Queen Latifah {"Matron Mama Morton"}
(W) ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Catherine Zeta-Jones {"Velma Kelly"}
(W) ART DIRECTION -- Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
(N) CINEMATOGRAPHY -- Dion Beebe
(W) COSTUME DESIGN -- Colleen Atwood
(N) DIRECTING -- Rob Marshall
(W) FILM EDITING -- Martin Walsh
(N) MUSIC (Original Song) -- "I Move On," Music by John Kander; Lyric by Fred Ebb
(W) BEST PICTURE -- Martin Richards, Producer
(W) SOUND -- Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella, David Lee
(N) WRITING (Adapted Screenplay) -- Screenplay by Bill Condon
Old 02-19-14, 06:54 AM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

I finally took the time this challenge to sit down and rewatch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. While I didn't love it as much as the night I saw it on opening night in the theater, it was still a good movie. I guess, it's just hard to be in the mood for a 3 hour movie on a whim. Now I have to find the time to watch the other two. I know last year, I never even made it to Return of the King.
Old 02-19-14, 01:12 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by shadokitty
I finally took the time this challenge to sit down and rewatch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. While I didn't love it as much as the night I saw it on opening night in the theater, it was still a good movie. I guess, it's just hard to be in the mood for a 3 hour movie on a whim. Now I have to find the time to watch the other two. I know last year, I never even made it to Return of the King.
I enjoy all three films and prefer the Extended versions, although in all fairness I've only seen the theatrical of each *once* during the original release showings. Length is the killer for those as I *really* prefer to watch all three in a single sitting and that's just *not* a whim viewing. It makes for a *very* long day but it really doesn't feel long. My biggest problem is convincing people to leave me alone for the day. Since I plan those viewings a few weeks ahead of time I can notify people but most just do not "get it" and I typically get at least one interruption. I'm really wanting to view them again as it's been over a year since the last time and I try to work in a annual viewing. If Game of Thrones S3 had not just come out I'd seriously consider a LOTR viewing this Saturday but I've not yet seen that season and it's screaming to be watched along with repeat viewings of S1 & S2. That will pretty much consume the weekend.
Old 02-19-14, 04:24 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Some musings in this year's challenge so far:

I am quite envious of those that have the time to watch 3 - 4 or 7 movies a day. My life and work allows me to watch 1 or 2 (if I'm lucky)...hence my yearly goal of 30 movies in 30 days...I sometimes find myself stretching at the finish line to get in 30!

I make it a point to screen all of the Best Picture nominations each year as part of this challenge. That eats up 9 slots of the 30.

This year, I didn't have a plan or a short list of titles I wanted to screen. Sometimes some of the titles mentioned in this thread will jog me to a certain movie. Just when this started, I decided I didn't want to do any repeats. I wanted to crack open some of these titles that are gathering dust on my shelf (I swear, I'm more into collecting than watching!).

This challenge has unexpectedly become a Woody Allen film festival. His recent issues notwithstanding, I've been bent on acquiring import Blu-Rays of his work. I already own all of his feature films and am now upgrading. So far, I've watched "Blue Jasmine" (of course!), "Manhattan", "Crimes And Misdemeanors" and "Bullets Over Broadway"..."Mighty Aphrodite" is on tap in the next day or so..."Hannah And Her Sisters" and "Match Point" can't be far off.

But getting down to the wire, I feel like there are so many that I'd like to squeeze in: "Captain Phillips" is on tap tonight as part of the Wednesday / Friday Best Picture offerings. And next week at least 2 nights will be eaten up when I rent the Animated and Live Action Shorts on PPV.

Ugh! So many movies, so little time!
Old 02-19-14, 07:57 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by Mao
Ugh! So many movies, so little time!
The story of my life!
Old 02-19-14, 09:13 PM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by ntnon
Next on my list yesterday... now gone from Amazon Prime.
I am glad I got to Gentleman's Agreement when I did then. It was a solid watch.

I am kinda getting the second half of the challenge blues now. I have watched 28 films so far out of an original goal of 40+ and am on pace, but am feeling like I should have watched more. I have fallen into the distraction of having a bunch of Hit Bliss free Amazon rentals that were reaching their expiration date and watching stuff like House of Cards. Oh well, that is a good problem to have I guess.
Old 02-20-14, 05:28 AM
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Continuing through my Best Picture five-pack, I revisited No Country for Old Men. From my Letterboxd diary:

Spoiler:
When I first saw No Country for Old Men, I found it an engaging crime story but I didn't see it as much more than that. I think one thing that hurt was that I watched it during the daytime then, whereas I started it this time a little before 3:00 AM. I try not to watch movies during daytime, because the world is too distracting.

This time around, I also already knew the story and plot points. That eliminated the surprise factor, but it also freed me up to get caught up in little things without fear that I would miss something important. For instance, this film is rough on dogs but cats not only go unharmed; they precede death to people, like oranges in The Godfather movies. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die alone and be eaten by the cats, so I was a lot more attuned to that this time than I was when I watched it the first time (when I was still happily married and wasn't concerned about my fate).

I drew a parallel of personalities between Josh Brolin's Llewelyn and my brother, and likewise between Tommy Lee Jones's Ed Tom and myself. Two years ago, I relied heavily on blogging to help me process depression. I felt useful to people, based on the kind of feedback those posts generated. But then last year, all that dried up. I came to feel like all I was doing was contributing to the world's plentiful supply of white noise. I felt a lot like Ed Tom feels about the escalation of depravity in his world. At some point, I think we all wonder what the point of even trying to do anything about the nature of the world even is.

What I appreciated most was what Barry Corbin's Ellis says to Ed Tom, noting "What you got ain't nothin' new." My education background is in history. I know how depraved and cruel the worlds before ours were. I know better than to buy into the myth that things used to be great but have deteriorated only within recent memory. And because I understand these things as I do, I found myself oddly comforted by Ellis making that argument. "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity," warns Ellis.

The last scene is brilliant. Sitting at breakfast with his wife, newly retired Ed Tom clearly has no idea what to do with himself. I have no doubt that he earned his retirement, just as I don't doubt that he's the kind of man who will never be able to enjoy it. He didn't retire to do anything; he retired to get away from things like Anton Chigurh. The rest of his days will be spent feeling guilty for walking away from the war, and frustration at having to stand back and watch the world burn.

No Country for Old Men was nominated for several Oscars and won some of them. I've lost my interest in writing more right now so all I want to say is that of all the great mysteries of the universe, one of the few that I'd truly care to understand is how Roger Deakins has gone so long without winning for his cinematography. I've never seen a movie he shot that didn't look amazing.

No Country for Old Men was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #433/1615


80th Academy Awards (2007)
(W) ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Javier Bardem {"Anton Chigurh"}
(N) CINEMATOGRAPHY -- Roger Deakins
(W) DIRECTING -- Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
(N) FILM EDITING -- Roderick Jaynes
(W) BEST PICTURE -- Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
(N) SOUND EDITING -- Skip Lievsay
(N) SOUND MIXING -- Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
(W) WRITING (Adapted Screenplay) -- Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Old 02-20-14, 07:18 AM
  #271  
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by Mao
Ugh! So many movies, so little time!
Isn't this a great problem to have?

I watched Meet e In St. Louis last night and it was a decent films. I found that I recognized a lot of the songs in the film and I was quite happy that dancing was kept to a minimum. The plot itself wasn't particularly interesting but it was cute. The Great Dictatorwas the more interesting film of the evening. Wow, doing a satire on Hitler in 1940 was a huge risk. I didn't find the film particularly funny but I understood what Chaplin was going for and the speech at the end was quite profound.
Old 02-20-14, 11:48 AM
  #272  
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Streamed a pair of documentaries this morning so I could make some more progress on my checklist.

Nine from Little Rock - from my Letterboxd diary:
Spoiler:
I'm trying to work on my DVD Talk Oscar Challenge checklist, and one category that's always frustrating is finding a Documentary (Short Subject) winner. I was excited to find Nine from Little Rock streaming on Hulu. (I was also excited that it's run time is just under twenty minutes.)

I have tremendous admiration for the Little Rock Nine. I cannot fathom the fortitude demanded of each of them, at such tender ages, to alter the course of history.

Nine from Little Rock, despite such a compelling subject made by one of its own, is unfortunately too perfunctory and flat to be engaging. Most of this doc is dedicated to a "Where Are They Now?" segment, though not all nine are covered fully. Part of me feels like they could have spared another few minutes to give each of the group equal time, and part of me, I hate to say, feels like with so much redundancy (all but one went to college, wanting to make the world a better place, most of them changing majors along the way like so many students) that more judicious editing could have trimmed several minutes.

It's almost embarrassing to hear Jefferson Thomas talk about the pre-integration period as though its folly was something everyone sat around and laughed about a whole seven years later. The blatant racism that still dominates so much of our society 50 years after this documentary was made attests to how naive that view was.

Ultimately, I think Nine from Little Rock faltered because there just wasn't enough water under the bridge. Remarkable as those young men and women were, they really hadn't had time to do anything of note in just seven years. All that said, my interest in the Little Rock Nine was sufficient to carry me through these twenty minutes, so there's that.

Nine from Little Rock entered my Flickchart at #1520/1616

1964 Academy Awards (37th)
(W) DOCUMENTARY (Short Subject) -- Charles Guggenheim, Producer

Kon-Tiki - from my Letterboxd diary:
Spoiler:
Sometimes a movie can win me over just by creating a setting and situation where I enjoy being vicariously. It's not often that I find this in a documentary, but here we have Kon-Tiki. I got the thrill of recalling my early adulthood, taking off on little jaunts with my friends. Nothing on the scale of what these researchers undertook, mind you, but I think if we had seen this and could have ever figured out how to finance it, we'd have tried to replicate this voyage.

Ordinarily, the temptation after hearing of something so extraordinary would be to want there to be a dramatization of it that would turn the researchers into characters to get to know and care about. If this doc has one deficiency, it's that we don't learn a single thing about these adventuresome young Norwegians or their group relationship dynamics. I suppose this was in the footage taken inside the hut that was irrevocably damaged. On the other hand, I think on some level, part of what captivated me was that these six men were so undefined that I could easily mentally substitute my friends and myself in their stead.

I was also impressed how this film created suspense by reminding us several times how difficult it would have been to have rescued anyone who strayed or fell from the raft. Similarly, the presence of dangerous fish - including sharks - and whales was both exhilarating and unnerving. I'm grateful that none of the footage shown was shot at night, because dark water is one of my two phobias (the other being heights). I couldn't possibly go on such an expedition for real just because five minutes after sundown, I'd be an absolute mess.

The only caveat I would add for any potential viewers is that we do see the crew catch - read: kill - several fish and a few sharks, mostly by clubbing them repeatedly. One anxious crewman harpoons a whale shark who may or may not have even had any malicious intent. We're only told that it backed off and wasn't seen again, so there's no way to know the extent of the injury sustained by the beast. If you'd like to believe it was a superficial, glancing blow and the whale shark skulked away complaining about human rudeness, I don't think you're contradicted by anything on-screen.

Those moments that made me feel badly for the fish aside, I was entirely enthralled from start to finish. I was reminded of reading Robert Morgan's sublime Boone: A Biography, and his wonderful descriptions of the famed pioneer's legendary solo scouting expedition through Kentucky. Just imagining that kind of extended isolation thrills me. The crew of the Kon-Tiki are on my list of people who have done things I wish I'd done.

Kon-Tiki entered my Flickchart at #212/1617


1951 Academy Awards (24th)
(W) DOCUMENTARY (Feature) -- Olle Nordemar, Producer
Old 02-20-14, 11:52 AM
  #273  
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Originally Posted by Mao

Ugh! So many movies, so little time!
I'm still trapped in the TV on DVD Challenge! So many TV episodes, so little time! I've purchased more classic TV box sets since the beginning of this year than I have in all of the previous 13 years I owned a DVD player! I have to stop!

It's the TV on DVD challenges that have gotten me back into classic TV.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 02-21-14 at 10:28 AM.
Old 02-21-14, 06:52 AM
  #274  
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Completed my Best Picture five-pack with Crash. From my Letterboxd diary:
Spoiler:
I didn't first see Crash until after its controversial Best Picture win. I have a soft spot for ensemble movies where different characters interact with another without necessarily having an actual relationship of any kind. That's harder to do well than I suspect the average viewer considers. On that, Crash scores high marks.

Here's the problem with Crash: All of its conflicts are rooted in characters making terrible decisions and escalating things much more quickly than reasonable people would. I thought about the spate of prolific "stand your ground" killings. If Paul Haggis's interpretation is to be believed - and, sadly, I think it should be - most of those incidents take place because hotheads with guns simply want there to be problems in the world. Calm, rational people don't maintain an arsenal in the name of "being prepared".

It's difficult to really like many of the characters, in part because Haggis insists that everyone have a "good" scene and a "bad" scene. Look, I get it: things are "complicated". They really aren't; a jerk is a jerk, and just about everyone in this movie deserves to be miserable because they so actively contribute to the misery in the world. But because the formula is so straightforward, halfway through the movie it's easier to just decide not to like anyone, except Thandie Newton and Michael Pena (whom I'd have picked as the Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee ahead of Matt Dillon).

Maybe I was just in different moods on the occasion of the two viewings. Maybe I've become more critical. I don't know. But unlike the first viewing, I finished this one feeling a lot like I felt in 1999 when I first saw American Beauty - put off by what I perceived as self-importance. Oh, suburbia isn't picture perfect and racists can sometimes be nice people? Gee, I'm astounded by this grand insight into the world.

Two asides: I forget completely that Marina Sirtis is in this movie, as the Persian mother. Also, I couldn't stop thinking that both Rhodeys (Terrence Howard and Don Cheadle) are in this movie. It's a shame they don't have a single scene together.

Crash was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #910/1617

2005 Academy Awards (78th)
(N) ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Matt Dillon {"Officer Ryan"}
(N) DIRECTING -- Paul Haggis
(W) FILM EDITING -- Hughes Winborne
(N) MUSIC (Original Song) -- "In The Deep," Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; Lyric by Kathleen "Bird" York
(W) BEST PICTURE -- Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, Producers
(W) WRITING (Original Screenplay) -- Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco; Story by Paul Haggis
Old 02-21-14, 07:56 AM
  #275  
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Re: The 8th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1 Feb - 2 March)

Went to a theatre last night and saw Nebraska. Bruce Dern was awesome, but best picture? Not so sure. Also, I didn't think the 'best supporting actress' was all that great either. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood.

However, saw Dallas Buyers Club a couple of days ago, and if Leto doesn't win for 'best supporting actor' there's been a terrible mistake!

Now the only best picture nominees I need to see are 12 Years a Slave and Philomena. Guess I've got about a week.

Last edited by pacaway; 02-21-14 at 08:03 AM.

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