Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: Looper (2012)

Willis and Gordon-Levitt are both Joe.

Directed by Rian Johnson 
Produced by Ram Bergman and James D. Stern 
Written by Rian Johnson 
Starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, and Jeff Daniels

Friday, September 28, 2012

Best Cinematography: 1990s

1990: Dreams (Takao Saitô and Shôji Ueda)
Oscar winner: Dances with Wolves (Dean Semler)
Was this film nominated?: No

Thursday, September 27, 2012

FYC: Anthony Mackie in Half Nelson (2006)

Mackie gives a career-best performance.

Ruth at FlixChatter has devised this intriguing little blogathon, aptly titled Small Roles... Big Performances, that highlights great performances by overlooked actors. I ask you to consider Anthony Mackie's performance in Half Nelson...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oscar Campaign Bust #4: I've Loved You So Long

I haven't done one of these since April, so I thought I'd finally post a fourth entry. You can see the previous ones here, here, and here.


In 2008, this French film starring Oscar nominee Kristin Scott Thomas was released to rave reviews. As a woman returning to society from a lengthy prison stint for murder, Scott Thomas gave a devastating, heartfelt performance, backed by a strong performance from Elsa Zylberstein as her sister. Both actresses received some awards recognition, and Scott Thomas even received BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Cesar nominations. The film also had Sony Picture Classics backing it, which only improved its awards campaign. Despite these credentials, it did not receive much Oscar consideration, because The Class - by rule - was the only film that France could submit for Best Foreign Language Film. So, the film's best shot was Best Actress, and it came up just short. 

Did it deserve to be nominated? Yes, if not for Best Foreign Language Film, then at the very least for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Double Feature: Blossoms in the Dust (1941) & The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Blossoms in the Dust:

Greer Garson teams up with Walter Pidgeon in their first of many pairings, as Edna Gladney and her husband Sam. After losing their child, Edna starts a nursery for children with working mothers, which she runs from home while Sam runs his wheat mill. She feels fulfilled caring for these children now that she hasn't a child of her own. When they go bankrupt and lose the mill, Edna operates a small adoption service, finding unwanted orphans new homes with respectable families. Unfortunately, she is forced out of her establishment for legal reasons and must start from scratch to acquire better facilities. It is here that she is inspired to pursue legal action against the "illegitimate" label that orphans must face, placing shame on them for their entire lives. While she pursues this, she continues to care for the orphans, trying to give them better homes and better lives in the process.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Art Direction (Color), and Best Cinematography (Color). It deservedly won Best Art Direction (Color).

The Ox-Bow Incident:

This classic western stars Henry Fonda as a visiting cowboy named Gil who gets mixed up in the murder of a local farmer. When the news comes through, he and his friend join the posse, which will track down the three men who stole some of the deceased's cattle and killed him. Once they find the men, the story really turns on its head. The three men appear to be innocent, claiming they bought the cattle from the farmer and that he was alive when they left him. Although this is possible, it isn't believed by most of the posse because the three men have the man's cattle, his gun, and no bill of sale. How can either side prove their case? The posse must decide what to do with the men, as both sides argue back and forth and amongst themselves. On a side note, this would make a great double feature with 12 Angry Men.

The film received a single nomination for Best Picture. Though it had no shot at beating Casablanca, it's a very worthy nominee that benefited from the Academy's ten-film lineup.

Trivia: Both films feature Marc Lawrence in a small, but pivotal, role.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Trouble with the Curve (2012)

Adams and Eastwood love baseball.

Directed by Robert Lorenz
Produced by Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, and Michele Weisler
Written by Randy Brown
Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: The Master (2012)

Anderson's odd couple.

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, Daniel Lupi, and Joanne Stellar
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern

Friday, September 21, 2012

Best Cinematography: 1980s

1980: Raging Bull (Michael Chapman)
Oscar winner: Tess
Was this film nominated?: Yes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What Would "Drive 2" Sound Like?


In honor of the great amount of '80s throwback synthpop that I've been listening to lately, I've "written" Drive 2 to create a what-if soundtrack. Bear with me, as I usually don't care for sequels. But this is all in good fun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September Oscar Predictions


With awards season starting soon, I've updated my Oscar predictions. I might not do another update for awhile, as predictions can change drastically on a weekly basis starting in November.

Predictions with brief commentary after the cut. Potential winners indicated with an asterisk (*).

Monday, September 17, 2012

Conan the Barbarian (1982) vs. Conan the Destroyer (1984)


Both fantasy films feature Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan, the Cimmerian warrior and future king. (SPOILERS)
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Review: Thief (1981)

Caan is a jewel thief in Mann's classic.

Directed by Michael Mann
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Ronnie Caan
Written by Michael Mann (adaptation); Frank Hohimer (book)
Starring James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky, Willie Nelson, and James Belushi

Friday, September 14, 2012

Best Cinematography: 1970s

1970: The Conformist (Vittorio Storaro)
Oscar winner: Ryan's Daughter
Was this film nominated?: No

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Double Feature: A Touch of Class (1973) & The Goodbye Girl (1977)

A Touch of Class:

This lighthearted film features Glenda Jackson in an Oscar-winning performance as a fashion designer who gets involved with a married man (George Segal). Having met in London, he invites her to vacation with him in Spain, which she agrees to for the physical aspects of their relationship. However, his producer friend is meeting his wife and kids in Spain, causing all sorts of problems with their plan for a secret getaway. After getting back to London, the pair continue to see each other, even renting a flat to use for their rendezvouses. All of the hustle and bustle of their affair takes it toll on them, and they must decide whether to keep seeing each other, or go their separate ways.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song. Glenda Jackson's win for Best Actress was her second Oscar win (after one for 1970's Women in Love).

The Goodbye Girl:

Written by playwright Neil Simon, this romantic comedy stars Richard Dreyfuss in his own Oscar-winning performance as Elliot, an actor who's just moved to New York City. His new apartment, it turns out, was sublet by his friend, who ran out on Paula (Marsha Mason) and her daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings). Under the circumstances, Elliot agrees to let them live there, even though he is the rightful owner of the place. He's charming and funny, but has his share of quirks. While he practices for the role of Richard III, Paula tries to get back into dancing and Lucy takes a liking to Elliot. She even tries to sway her mother into liking him, which Paula can't help but do. But Paula's heart has been broken, and she has to find out if Elliot is like the others, or if he will stay with her and Lucy.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Cummings), and Best Original Screenplay. This was actually one of two Best Picture nominees directed by Herbert Ross that year, the other being The Turning Point.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Actors, AKA Musicians

Russell Crowe singing.

Inspired by Fisti's post on singers turned actors at A Fistful of Films.

Many actors seek to branch out, dabbling in writing, directing, producing and such. But some of them play in bands or even sing. For this post, I primarily selected actors who became musicians, and not the other way around, like Frank Sinatra, Will Smith, etc. I even threw in a couple of classic actors for good measure. There are obviously several I didn't mention, but I tried to make some less obvious choices.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top 10 Worst Best Picture Oscar Winners

"Oh no they didn't."

By request, I've put together a list of Oscar's worst decisions for Best Picture of the Year. Some picks might surprise, but I stand by them. See who made the list after the cut.

And check out another take by Fisti here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm a LAMB!


After months of waiting, I'm proud to say I'm LAMB #1360! Not much else to add here, except thanks so much for sticking with the blog, readers! :D

Proper post coming tomorrow.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: A Separation (2011)

Leila Hatami and Peyman Moadi in this powerful drama.

Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Produced by Asghar Farhadi
Written by Asghar Farhadi
Starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Saren Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, and Merila Zarei

Friday, September 7, 2012

Best Cinematography: 1960s

1960: Psycho (John L. Russell)
Oscar winner: Sons and Lovers (B&W),
Spartacus (Color)
Was this film nominated?: Yes

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cover Girl (1944) vs. Pal Joey (1957)


Both of these classic musicals feature bombshell Rita Hayworth. Find out the winner after the cut. (SPOILERS)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Tape (2001)

Ethan Hawke gives an outstanding performance.

Directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Alexis Alexanian, Anne Walker-McBay, and Gary Winick
Written by Stephen Belber (play/screenplay)
Starring Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Uma Thurman

Monday, September 3, 2012

Top 10 Best Picture Oscar Winners


For the past 84 years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has held an annual awards ceremony honoring the "best" in film. Though, their picks are not always deserved, and many of their decisions - both contemporary and classic ones - are strongly questionable, to put it lightly. While films like Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, and Apocalypse Now have been nominated, they have been beaten by films like How Green Was My Valley, Ordinary People, and Kramer vs. Kramer. But the Academy occasionally makes the right decision, or at least a very good one. Check out some of the great picks after the cut.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: Jackie Brown (1997)

Grier and Jackson in Tarantino's fine film.

Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Produced by Lawrence Bender
Written by Quentin Tarantino (script); Elmore Leonard (book)
Starring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, and Robert De Niro

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Films I Saw in August

Monroe is adorable in The Seven Year Itch.

I had an extremely good month of films, tying last month's tally.

The Best:
1. The Seven Year Itch - ****
2. Ghost World - ****
3. The Thing (1982) - ****
4. No End - ****
5. Werckmeister Harmonies - ****
6. Snatch - ****
7. La Promesse - ****
8. White Heat - ****
9. Manic - ***1/2
10. They Drive by Night - ***1/2

More after the cut.