Thursday, August 31, 2017

Part One: 1986 Retro Hollmann Awards

It's the first day of the 1986 Retro Hollmann Awards - a day late, but it did, indeed, take me a while to finally choose my Number One picks in each category.

The first nine categories will be presented here, beginning with Best Supporting Actor. If you'd like to know all the names of the nominees, do consult the complete nominations announcement.

And now - our first winner!

Best Supporting Actor

Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth
Blue Velvet
2. Daniel Day-Lewis in A Room with a View; 3. Andy Garcia in 8 Million Ways to Die; 4. Wang Xiao in A Great Wall; 5. Simon Callow in A Room with a View

A perfect outlet for Dennis Hopper's particular brand of intensity, Frank Booth is one of the most frightening characters in cinema. His sudden outbursts make him unpredictable - are they strategic, or the result of a truly diseased mind? Hopper suggests it's both, and they get worse as the movie continues, as Frank unravels. But then there's that look when he hears "In Dreams" - Hopper knows what that song means to Frank, you see it in his eyes - and it's a moment that haunts.

In second, DDL's "decadent" snobbery. Andy Garcia's drug lord, calm and collected until the unexpected occurs, in third. Wang Xiao as a poor Chinese teen jealous of his beautiful neighbor's American cousin in fourth. Simon Callow's gleefully indulgent vicar in fifth.

Best Actress, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more - after the jump.

Monday, August 28, 2017

1986 Retro Hollmann Awards Nominees

Ladies and gentlemen, readers both faithful and transient, here they are, my nominees for the 1986 Retro Hollmann Awards! The actual doling out of awards will take place Wednesday and Thursday, giving you time to read this post, stew over the choices, and comment!

For further reference, check out the Top Ten here. And, of course, each flick received a mini-review, which you can read by clicking the title the first time it shows up.

Now, then, the nominees in 18 categories, presented in the order in which I figured out my final picks...


David Lynch

Peter Wang & Shirley Sun

Woody Allen

Hanif Kureishi

Jerry Leichtling & Arlene Sarner

The rest after the jump....

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Top Ten of 1986

This was a tough Top Ten to make, and it changed shape many times - I wish I had room for Heartburn, Howard the Duck, and The Mission. But I don't.

In alphabetical order.

8 Million Ways to Die
dir: Hal Ashby
scr: Oliver Stone & R. Lance Hill (as David Lee Henry), from the novel by Lawrence Block
cin: Stephen H. Burum
Apparently not a great experience for Ashby, and both he and the cast are on the record in saying the movie could have been more than the final cut. They want more? Jeff Bridges turns in one of his better performances as the alcoholic Matt Scudder; Andy Garcia's role as a "classy" LA drug lord is his best, and the two play off each other beautifully.


dir: James Cameron
scr: James Cameron, story by Cameron and David Giler & Walter Hill, based on characters created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett
cin: Adrian Biddle
An imaginative continuation, shifting the "old dark house in space" horror of the original to a feminist action thriller. Really, this movie is the reason the franchise has lasted as long as it has, with its development of Weyland-Yutani, the xenomorphs, and Ripley. It's Cameron, so the action is stellar, the dialogue delicious. And Sigourney Weaver? A five-star performance, honey.

The rest of the ten, after the jump....

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Class of '86: Best Picture

As Babs said in 2010, the moment has come. The award for Best Picture could go to any one of these movies.

It could go to the romantic drama about a speech therapist who teaches deaf people to speak...and his love for a deaf woman who refuses to conform to his world, his standards.

It could go to the dramedy about three sisters loving and hating themselves, each other, and each other's husbands in New York.

It could go to the epic about two priests in the South American jungle, struggling to maintain peace, and their vows, as colonialism threatens the lives of the indigenous population.

It could go to the war flick about an intelligent young man who goes to Vietnam to fight alongside his fellow Americans, and witnesses the horrors and degradation of war.

Or it could go to the romantic-comedy about a young woman who becomes transfixed by Italy and spends the next summer fighting her own spirit.

Let Dustin Hoffman tell us who the winner is...

What stands out the most to me as I look at the old-school Best Picture presentation is the acceptance speech. Nowadays, it's customary for everyone to take the stage alongside the producers, a celebration for all involved. Here, it's more focused on the individual, and while Arnold Kopelson certainly deserves his moment in the sun, it feels almost anticlimactic. A night of a thousand stars...and we end on this guy standing on stage alone? After having to sit through Dustin Hoffman's monologue about...something?

None of the Best Pic nominees went home empty-handed. Children of a Lesser God took Best ActressHannah and Her Sisters won Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay; The Mission was awarded Best Cinematography; A Room with a View took home Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. But Platoon was the big winner of the night in numbers, too, winning a total of four: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Director - and of course, Best Picture.

Did it deserve it? Let's talk, after the jump...

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....

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Class of '86: Shirley MacLaine's Spaceship and Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay was the first award presented this Oscar night, before host Chevy Chase even took the stage for his opening monologue! Instead, it was preceded by "Crocodile" Dundee star (and Best Original Screenplay nominee) Paul Hogan giving the traditional "keep the speeches short" warning - I watched it last week, but for some reason, the Oscars official YouTube page has taken it down. All that remains is his confusion about where to exit at the beginning of the Writing Oscars presentation, a prelude to further insanity:

It is legit crazy that Shirley MacLaine exited a UFO to present screenwriting awards. Her face when she exits! That cut to the crowd with Jane Fonda looking up into the audience as though to ask, "Who is laughing?" Then, God bless, Shirley's joking about writing and cave-painting and Hollywood. And then, the wall of nominees that looks like it should light up like a game board but does not.

Anyway, James Ivory accepts for Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, writer of A Room with a View. Deservedly? Read on, after the jump....

Monday, August 7, 2017

Class of '86: A Song, Some Dance, and Best Supporting Actress

The year is 1987, but the year being honored is 1986. That was the year the Challenger exploded, the year the People Power Revolution ousted Ferdinand Marcos and his wife from power, the year of the Chernobyl disaster. The Legend of Zelda made its debut, Geraldo opened Al Capone's vault, The Phantom of the Opera opened in London, and The Oprah Winfrey Show began airing in syndication. Oh, and Oliver North started shredding documents related to the Iran-Contra affair (where's that movie, by the way?).

In Oscar Land, meanwhile, we had other concerns. Like, is it possible to acknowledge with a wink and a nudge the crassness of the ceremony in the 80s, how it's been reduced to yet another dog-and-pony betting pool? Honey, not only is that a yes - you can sing about it:

But goodness, we are not gathered here today to talk musical numbers performed by Kojak, Arnold, and Burt Reynolds' BFF. Today, we talk about Best Supporting Actress. And honey, it was all about family this year: Southern cousins who don't get along, distant mothers honestly trying to give intimacy a shot, lonely English relatives who won't stop reminding you how sad they are, neurotic New York sisters who trade husbands - and, just for some variety, a hard-bitten girlfriend with secrets and pluck.

But there can only be one winner...

What kind of order is that for nominees, by the way? It's not alphabetical by name, nor by film title. It's like they picked it out of a hat. Meanwhile, Wiest does well by her co-stars and her character, thanking the members of her fictional immediate family: parents first, then the sister she gets along with, then Hannah herself.

Was Wiest the right choice? Let's talk, after the jump...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

1986: The Final 10

The last of the movies screened for our 1986 retrospective!

dir: Sidney Lumet
scr: David Himmelstein

Richard Gere has a mustache in this political...thriller? Fast-paced - two hours went by in thirty minutes, I swear! - and with an intimidating performance from Denzel Washington. But I'm still not sure what happened or why the character reacts the way he does. Gene Hackman doing Tennessee Williams is bizarre, too. Great sets, though.

[one last Best Picture nominee and a sleuthing Sean Connery, after the jump...]

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

1986: A Quick 5

We continue our journey through 1986 - but briefly today. Just a quick five.

Invaders from Mars
dir: Tobe Hooper
scr: Don Jakoby/Dan O'Bannon, from the 1953 screenplay by Richard Blake

What on earth is Hooper going for here? Usually, I like something about his films - Lifeforce's opening sequence, Funhouse's tension, Eaten Alive's central performance - but this left me cold. A wasted cast led by a nightmarish child.

[great horror and Bowie in foine form, after the jump]

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

1986: 10 More

August is here, and so is our official month-long celebration of 1986. We've got Oscar Retrospectives ahead, as well as my personal picks with the Retro Hollmann Awards. But first - more reviews of the films screened. In this edition, we hit the big 5-0....

dir: David Anspaugh
scr: Angelo Pizzo
Oscar Nominee: Best Supporting Actor (Dennis Hopper), Best Original Score

There are only six or seven players, and I feel like I didn't get to know them, what this sport means to them, how they're bonding with each other/the coach. It's a loss that keeps me somewhat distant. Gene Hackman and the score are doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

[sequels and Streep, after the jump...]