Sunday, February 28, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 12

Year: 1977
Movie: Star Wars
Best Picture Winner: Annie Hall
Annie Hall over Star Wars? How about no, Annie Hall is a good movie but does NOT have the same excitement, joy and adventure that Star Wars has and Star Wars was seriously robbed!
Star Wars was a leap forward in movie making and If they can hand Avatar a Golden Globe and most likely the Oscar for Best Picture there is no reason they should of deprived Star Wars of that honor.
Yes, I'm a huge fan of Star Wars - the prequels weren't great but the original trilogy had it all. When I first watched Star Wars as a kid it was thrilling and if you watch it today you get the same feeling.
The movie takes place after the Jedi Knights (except for a select few) have been exterminated and the Empire rules the galaxy with an iron fist. A small group of Rebels have dared to fight back by stealing the secret plans to the Empire's mightiest weapon, the Death Star, a battle station that can destroy planets.
The Emperor sends his Apprentice, Darth Vader, to find the plans.
Princess Leia, a captive Rebel leader, sends out a distress message hidden away in R2-D2 (along witht he plans) that is soon discovered by a farm boy, Luke Skywalker. The message is asking for the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
One thing leads to another and he soon takes up the challenge to rescue the princess and help the Rebellion overthrow the Empire, along with such unforgettable allies as the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi, the cocky Han Solo, the loyal Chewbacca and the droids R2-D2 and C-3P0.
Star Wars is awesome and if you haven't seen it you are really missing out. Annie Hall was good, but there is something about the original Star Wars that was new and exciting that just had you glued to the screen.

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 11

Year: 1976
Movie: Taxi Driver
Best Picture Winner: Rocky

Disrguntled war vet and cabbie Travis Bickle (DeNiro), a lonely man obsessed with pornography and violence. As events in Travis' life begin to turn for the worse, he slowly descends into the depths of his own paranoia, driving away the one woman willing to love him, eventually exploding in an orgy of killing against the "scum" of the streets he hates so intensely.
Rocky did deserve best picture but Taxi Driver should not be forgotten, because it is one of those movies that stays with you long after its done.
Martin Scorsese does a fantastic job with this film. It's one of those movies that you need to see multiple times in order to really see it all.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 10

Year: 1975
Movie: Jaws
Best Picture Winner: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Here is one of my favorite movies from director Steven Spielberg and based off of the best selling novel by Peter Benchley.
In this movie it’s the height of the beach season at a Massachusetts resort town of Amity Island. Soon this peaceful summer town begins to be terrorized by a man eating shark.
It is then up to three unlikely partners to team up to hunt down the shark and destroy it. We have Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), a young university-educated oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and a crusty old-time fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw), which is one of the best casts I’ve seen in a movie.
This film was the first to ever surpass 100 million dollars and it is also the reason for so many people to be scared to go into the water.
The shark is also one of the notorious movie villains of all time. If you haven’t seen this movie you really need to invest and watch this movie, it’s a classic.
Also, the theme by John Williams has become a theme of doom.
Jaws had everything that a best picture needs. I fine this movie more effective and far more enjoyable than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in my opinion. Yes, Nest has a lot of good things going for it but Jaws is a movie that has lived on generation after generation only proving the amount of power the film has.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 9

Year: 1973
Movie: The Exorcist
Best Picture Winner: The Sting

I'm a huge horror fan and when a horror movie is nominated for Best Picture it's just a big deal for me, because it doesn't happen that often.
The Exorcist, the movie many consider the scariest movie ever made. The film was released to the public in 1973 and quickly became a nationwide success. People were actually fainting in theaters after seeing the horrific images the movie shows and religious groups constantly boycotted it. Yet, it had huge box office returns.
The film centers around a young girl named Regan (Linda Blair), a 12 year-old who has been recently possessed by a demon. Her mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), becomes aware of her daughters strange behavior and exhausts ever medical effort to find a cure. She soon discovers that her daughter’s condition can’t be solved medically but spiritually and recruits Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to perform an exorcism.
Karras is not only dealing with the supernatural in this film, he also has scarce faith and displaced quilt over his mother’s recent death.During the exorcist he is joined by a strange Jesuit exorcist Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and together they have to confront the evil that possesses young Reagan.
The great thing about this movie that I really admired about it is how it grounds itself in realism and has the everyday tone, and then it lets the terror come in slowly and then hits you hard with it.
Watching the movie now, it still holds up and remains a classic. This film should of won best picture, forget about The Sting - The Exorcist and American Graffiti were better films in my opinion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 8

Year: 1973
Movie: American Graffiti
Best Picture Winner: The Sting

For those of you who don't know there was a George Lucas before Star Wars and he made some great films and one of those films was American Graffiti.
The movie is about four teenagers on their last summer night before they head off to college. They rediscover drag racing, inspiration point and the classic drive-ins, in this nostalgic look back at the early '60's.
Besides the story and the performances from Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Somers and pre-Han Solo Harrison Ford, the movie is all about it's music. The soundtrack that the film has brings back all those memorable rock 'n' roll hits from the '60's, surrounding you in that time period.
The Sting has a classic score and it's a good movie but not one of my favorites. American Graffiti was definitely a better film in my opinion but for the year of '73 there was another film that was nominated that also deserved a best picture win and I'll talk about that tomorrow.

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 7

Year: 1971
Move: A Clockwork Orange
Best Picture Winner: The French Connection

The French Connection is a great movie but the effect of A Clockwork Orange will stay with you forever.
Derby-topped teddy-boy hooligan Alex (Malcolm McDowell) has his own way of having a good time - at the expense of others. His journey from amoral punk to brainwashed proper citizen and back again forms the dynamic arc of Stanley Kubrick's future-shock vision of Anthony Burgess' novel. Controversial when first released, A Clockwork Orange won New York Film Critics Best Picture and Director awards and earned four Oscar nominations, including best picture. The movie still has the power to grab you and keep you tangled up in the messed up world of Alex until the very end.
The French Connection is a great movie that everyone should watch but A Clockwork Orange is an experience that you won't get from any other movie.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 6

Year: 1967
Movie: The Graduate
Best Picture Winner: In the Heat of the Night

a social satire that launched the career of Dustin Hoffman and cemented the reputation of acclaimed director Mike Nichols. Pulsating with the rebellious spirit of the '60s and a memorable score sung by Simon and Garfunkle, The Graduate is a classic and a landmark in film making.The movie is about Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) who returns home from college with an uncertain future. He soon meets the wife of his father's business partner, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) and she seduces him, and the affair only deepens his confusion. That is, until he meets the girl of his dreams.
This film had tough competition going up against In the Heat of the Night but also deserved a Best Picture win. Some years you get multiple movies that deserve the title, but this should have been a tie at least.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 5

Year: 1964
Movie: Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Best Picture Winner: My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady is a good movie, but it’s not a film that I can watch again and again but when it comes to Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about an “accidental” nuclear attack, well now there something that’s worth multiple viewings.
Dr. Strangelove came out when the paranoia about the Cold War was at an all-time high. A crazed General (Sterling Hayden) is convinced that communist are polluting America’s “precious bodily fluids”, so he orders a surprise nuclear air strike on the USSR.
His aide Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) sees the Generals’ crazy ways and tries to figure out a recall code to stop the bombing.
In America the President (Peter Sellers) gets on the hot line to try and convince the drunk Soviet premier hat the attack is a mistake. This is all happening as the President’s ex-Nazi scientist, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers), confirms the existence of the Doomsday Machine. A machine that is a secret Soviet retaliatory device guaranteed to end the human race.
This movie has so much to keep you entertained and to keep coming back for more. The performances by Peter Sellers is what made this film, they were all funny, strange and unique. This film had a lot of competition when it came to My Fair Lady but it should have won Best Picture.
Dr. Strangelove was a unique experience, something no one had thought of or could ever recreate.

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 4

Year: 1956
Movie: Giant
Best Picture Winner: Around the World in 80 Days
Want to talk about a film being robbed, well Giant is that film. I never cared much for Around the World in 80 Days, yeah it’s entertaining but it doesn’t have the emotion that Giant had.
Giant is such a large movie in scale and in story. It covers three generations of land-rich Texans and all the goings on in their family. Director George Stevens won the Academy Award for this film and that is no surprise.
The cast made up of Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. This is by far James Dean’s best work. I know a lot of people remember him from the movie “A Rebel Without a Cause” but that performances does not even compare to his work in this film.
Everything in this film was put together so well, from the settings, to the story to the performances there is something that will grab everyone.
If you haven’t seen Giant you’re missing out on so much.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 3

Year: 1953
Movie: Shane
Best Picture Winner: From Here to Eternity

Director George Steven’s brings to life the defining western myth. The movie is about Shane (Alan Ladd), a drifter and retired gunfighter, to the assistance of a homestead family terrorized by a wealthy cattleman and his hired gun Jack Wilson (Jack Palance). In fighting the last decisive battle, Shane sees the end of his own way of life. Mysterious, moody and atmospheric, the film is made by its intense performances from a stunning cast.
They don't make westerns like this anymore and I don't care what anyone says the Western genre isn't dead and they should really stat bringing it back (not remakes though).
The character Shane is by far one of the greatest movie hero’s of all-time and if you haven’t seen this piece of American History you should go and BUY it, because this movie is something you’ll watch again and again because its simply one of the best westerns ever made.
I will say that this movie deserved the title of Best Picture.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 2

Year: 1947
Movie: The Bishop’s Wife
Best Picture Winner: Gentleman’s Agreement

Gregory Peck gives an outstanding performance in Gentleman’s Agreement but its Carey Grant’s performance of Dudley the angel that is truly memorable.
Yes another Christmas movie. Christmas was the holiday to base you’re movie around back in the ‘40’s. A year before, It’s A Wonderful Life was nominated, and the same year as The Bishop’s Wife, A Miracle on 34th Street was nominated, all three of them now Christmas classics.
The Bishop’s Wife is about Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) a man who is having trouble building his new cathedral so he prays for help. Dudley (Carey Grant) is an angel who is sent to answer his prayers.
Dudley’s mission isn’t to help with the cathedral but to guide the people around Henry especially Henry’s wife, Julia (Loretta Young), who is depressed and feels neglected by her husband.
Dudley spends a lot of time with Julia, trying to cheer her up and then finds himself strongly attached to her; this is what makes the movie. The relationship and performances between Grant and Young makes the movie feel real and it’s done so well that I believe it should have won Best Picture.
This is one movie that everyone should view, because they don’t make movies like this anymore. Like It's A Wonderful Life this movie has been mandatory viewing for me when Christmas comes around.
I believe that this movie deserved more than just a nomination; it deserved the title of Best Picture.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best Pictures That Never Were: Day 1

For the next 18 days I will be listing movies that were nominated for Best Picture but didn’t win even though they deserved it.

Year: 1946
Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life
Best Picture Winner: The Best Years of Our Lives

There is no doubt that both these movies are great. For those of you that haven’t seen The Best Years of Our Lives its definitely a movie worthy of a Best Picture title, like most of the Best Picture winners on this list, but when compared to It’s A Wonderful Life it comes up short for me.
I viewed It’s A Wonderful Life for the first time as a kid in the early ‘90’s and it has become a movie that I watch every year when the Christmas season rolls around. To me the movie is flawless, with great performances from Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed and an engaging story that still holds up today.
Yet in 1946 the movie opened up in New York City to mixed reviews. The contemporary critical reviews were considered to be mostly negative by the films director Frank Capra. This only goes to show you that critics don’t know what movies are going to stand the test of time and become classics in American Cinema. I guarantee you if you go out and ask people if they saw the movie The Best Years of Our Lives they’re going to say no, but if you ask people if you saw its A Wonderful Life, 99 percent of people will say yes.
It’s A Wonderful Life is just simply a wonderful movie that didn’t deserve to get mixed reviews or be a box office flop, it deserved to be an outstanding success and in my opinion deserved to take home the Best Picture honor. At least it will be a movie that will mean so much to generations to come.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oscar Nominations Are In

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Avatar (2009): James Cameron, Jon Landau
The Blind Side (2009): Nominees to be determined
District 9 (2009): Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham
An Education (2009): Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
The Hurt Locker (2008): Nominees to be determined
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Lawrence Bender
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Magness
A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Up (2009): Jonas Rivera
Up in the Air (2009/I): Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (2009)
George Clooney for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Colin Firth for A Single Man (2009)
Morgan Freeman for Invictus (2009)
Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (2009)
Helen Mirren for The Last Station (2009)
Carey Mulligan for An Education (2009)
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia (2009)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon for Invictus (2009)
Woody Harrelson for The Messenger (2009/I)
Christopher Plummer for The Last Station (2009)
Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones (2009)
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Penélope Cruz for Nine (2009)
Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart (2009)
Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Best Achievement in Directing
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)
James Cameron for Avatar (2009)
Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
The Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger (2009/I): Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
An Education (2009): Nick Hornby
In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher
Up in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Avatar (2009): Mauro Fiore
Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009): Christian Berger
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): Bruno Delbonnel
The Hurt Locker (2008): Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Robert Richardson

Best Achievement in Editing
Avatar (2009): Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron
District 9 (2009): Julian Clarke
The Hurt Locker (2008): Bob Murawski, Chris Innis
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Sally Menke
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Joe Klotz

Best Achievement in Art Direction
Avatar (2009): Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): David Warren, Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith
Nine (2009): John Myhre, Gordon Sim
Sherlock Holmes (2009): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
The Young Victoria (2009): Patrice Vermette, Maggie Gray

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Bright Star (2009): Janet Patterson
Coco avant Chanel (2009): Catherine Leterrier
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): Monique Prudhomme
Nine (2009): Colleen Atwood
The Young Victoria (2009): Sandy Powell

Best Achievement in Makeup
Il divo (2008): Aldo Signoretti, Vittorio Sodano
Star Trek (2009): Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow
The Young Victoria (2009): John Henry Gordon, Jenny Shircore

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Avatar (2009): James Horner
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker (2008): Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
Sherlock Holmes (2009): Hans Zimmer
Up (2009): Michael Giacchino

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Crazy Heart (2009): T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham("The Weary Kind")
Faubourg 36 (2008): Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas("Loin de Paname")
Nine (2009): Maury Yeston("Take It All")
The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Down in New Orleans")
The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Almost There")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Avatar (2009): Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Tony Johnson
The Hurt Locker (2008): Paul N.J. Ottosson, Ray Beckett
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Mark Ulano
Star Trek (2009): Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson, Peter J. Devlin
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009): Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Geoffrey Patterson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Avatar (2009): Christopher Boyes, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
The Hurt Locker (2008): Paul N.J. Ottosson
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Wylie Stateman
Star Trek (2009): Mark P. Stoeckinger, Alan Rankin
Up (2009): Michael Silvers, Tom Myers

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Avatar (2009): Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andy Jones
District 9 (2009): Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros, Matt Aitken
Star Trek (2009): Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Coraline (2009): Henry Selick
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Wes Anderson
The Princess and the Frog (2009): John Musker, Ron Clements
The Secret of Kells (2009): Tomm Moore
Up (2009): Pete Docter

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Ajami (2009)(Israel)
Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009)(Germany)
El secreto de sus ojos (2009)(Argentina)
Un prophète (2009)(France)
La teta asustada (2009)(Peru)

Best Documentary, Features
Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (2008): Anders Østergaard, Lise Lense-Møller
The Cove (2009): Nominees to be determined
Food, Inc. (2008): Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009): Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith
Which Way Home (2009): Rebecca Cammisa

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province (2009) (TV): Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner (2009): Daniel Junge, Henry Ansbacher
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (2009) (TV): Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Królik po berlinsku (2009): Bartosz Konopka, Anna Wydra
Music by Prudence (2010): Roger Ross Williams, Elinor Burkett

Best Short Film, Animated
French Roast (2008): Fabrice Joubert
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (2008): Nicky Phelan, Darragh O'Connell
La dama y la muerte (2009): Javier Recio Gracia
Logorama (2009): Nicolas Schmerkin
Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' (2008) (TV): Nick Park

Best Short Film, Live Action
The Door (2008): Juanita Wilson, James Flynn
Istället för abrakadabra (2008): Patrik Eklund, Mathias Fjällström
Kavi (2009): Gregg Helvey
Miracle Fish (2009): Luke Doolan, Drew Bailey
The New Tenants (2009): Joachim Back, Tivi Magnusson