Friday, August 18, 2017

Class of '86: Bette Davis Takes the Stage and Best Actor

Family's in town, so forgive the delay.

It's a little difficult to watch post-stroke Bette Davis get through her Best Actor presentation, but good Lord did that woman know how to hold the spotlight. Paul Newman wasn't present to accept the Oscar, but accepting on his behalf was Oscar winner Robert Wise - the President of the Academy! That's power, baby. But Bette's not about to be upstaged...

It's Newman's first win after seven previous nominations, and he would be nominated a ninth and final time for Road to Perdition. Many call this a "gold watch" Oscar, an honor for a body of work instead of the performance - but good Heavens, it's not like the performance is lacking! Still, it was a formidable slate of competitors: jazz musician Dexter Gordon making his acting debut in 'Round Midnight, Bob Hoskins as a whore's chauffeur in Mona Lisa, the previous year's Best Actor Oscar Winner William Hurt as a speech therapist for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in Children of a Lesser God, and James Woods as real life photojournalist Richard Boyle in Salvador.

Let's talk about them, shall we?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Class of '86: Best Original Song

I love Bernadette Peters. Don't you wish she was handing you an Oscar? I love even more that the Original Song nominations named the songs' performers. Do they still? It seemed new when I watched this presentation. Or old, I guess.

It should be no surprise that Top Gun's "Take My Breath Away" went home with the win. Sure, "Glory of Love" from The Karate Kid: Part II spent more weeks at #1, but "Take My Breath Away" was the music of Maverick, baby! It was the number one movie of the year - hell, it was the number one soundtrack of the year, nine times platinum, one of the best-sellers of all time! You can't compete with those numbers baby.

Except on an awards ballot. So let's take a took at the nominees - in order of my rankings, from the bottom to the top. After the jump.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Class of '86: No Shows, Double-Dippers, and Best Original Screenplay

We're back at the spaceship! And what an evening for no-shows, huh? The first two categories of the evening, and not only are both winners absent - this one didn't even send a proxy to accept on his behalf. And the way Shirley MacLaine handles it

But, of course, Woody Allen is notorious for never going to the Oscars, for years claiming it interfered with his evenings playing clarinet with his Dixieland jazz band back east. In 40 years and four wins, he's only shown up once: post-9/11, presenting a tribute to New York in the movies.

We know at least three of his fellow nominees were there: actor Paul Hogan, who opened the proceedings, and not only played Crocodile Dundee but helped write the screenplay; Oliver Stone, whose Platoon lost here but went on to win big; and Oliver Stone, also up for Salvador. He's only the fourth writer to ever double-dip in this category; Preston Sturges did it in 1944, and Maurice Richlin and Stanley Shapiro did it in 1959, two of four credited contributors to both Operation Petticoat and Pillow Talk (which won!).

And as for the others? Well, let's discuss all of them, after the jump.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Class of '86: Nervous Sigourney and Best Supporting Actor

Supporting Actor is interesting this year, in that it seems, to me, to consist entirely of the B Squad. Not to deride the accomplishments of these fine men, but most of them aren't even the Best Supporting Actors in their own films, much less of the whole year. The one actor I would argue belongs here is Dennis Hopper, and he's nominated for the wrong movie!

On Oscar night, Jeff Bridges and Sigourney Weaver presented - remember, the previous year's winners teamed up to do Best Supporting Actress - and good Lord people, could it be that presenter banter has actually gotten better in the 30 years since? Were they ad-libbing? Sigourney seems nervous, which is understandable; even though this is her third Oscars as a presenter, it's her first as a nominee, and Best Actress is still to come.

Then comes the anticlimax of a no-show winner - but fortunately, Weaver knows Caine, having worked with him in Half Moon Street, just released the previous September. So it's a sweet moment.

Anyways, after the jump, the nominees - the adulterer of Hannah and Her Sisters, the recovering alcoholic of Hoosiers, the dueling sergeants of Platoon, and the retired journalist of A Room with a View....

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Class of '86: Liz and Best Director

Let me tell you, there is no one I would rather get an award from than Elizabeth Taylor. Listen to that pure joy when she announces the name of the winner!

It's a sure tonic after the camera focuses on the wrong person for a solid 20 seconds - pity the poor camera person, who I must assume did not cover Best Original Screenplay, where Stone was nominated twice! But good on Stone - his "Cinderella story" began when he wrote the screenplay in 1976, had a few false starts, no one wanted to fund it - and ended as a Time cover story, multimillion-dollar grossing box office hit, and Oscar winner!

And all he had to beat were previous winner Woody Allen, returning nominees Roland Joffé and David Lynch, and newbie (!) James Ivory. But let's get into the particulars after the jump....

Friday, August 11, 2017

Class of '86: Hurt Gets to the Point and Best Actress

They must have been running out of time because William Hurt leaps into the nominees almost as soon as he reaches the podium. And if you think they cut it down for YouTube, may I direct your attention to the remaining 30 seconds of the Live Action Short category:

As you'll see, there is no patter. The man could not wait - and neither could we! After all, this is crowning the creme de la creme! Previous winners Jane Fonda (two times, NBD) and Sissy Spacek are here! Kathleen Turner and Sigourney Weaver are here for the first time, but they're known entities finally being honored! And then there's all-around first-timer Marlee Matlin, who made her film debut playing the lead in an adaptation of a play where she was in the ensemble. As if that wasn't enough of a Cinderella, her boyfriend is presenting her category. And sure enough:

This was a difficult category for me. I've tried to keep to a rule that says I can only repeat the same grade once - as in, two films can be ranked four stars, but not three. And that self-imposed rule meant I had to ding a star from one of my favorites.

Then I realized I make the rules, it's my blog, so who's really going to hold me accountable? Fuck that noise. Read on...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Class of '86: Light Blue Bette and Best Original Score

To the theme from The Rose, out comes Bette Midler, quick to skewer the proceedings with some light blue humor, a dig at the People's Choice Awards, and even good-humored calling-out of people who insist on "whoo-ing" for their favorites:

See how her eyes just light up when she reads the winner's name aloud! And dig how that fine-ass Mr. Hancock is adorably nervous at first, then delivers an elegant tribute to Jazz, "this American-born artform" for which "praise has long been overdue".

But, you know, I have my own tastes - or lack thereof, depending on how you feel about this category! The nominees for Best Original Score, in the reverse order of how I'd rank them; bottom's up, in other words. After the jump....