Sunday, July 15, 2018

Day Four: Best Supporting Actor

Now that we've honored The Nun's Story for its lead actress and score, Porgy and Bess for its orchestrations, and Wild Strawberries for its screenplay, its time to let another film into the fold. And we'll do that by looking at the nominees for Best Supporting Actor, made of four first-timers, only two of whom would be back for more.


Hugh Griffith in Ben-Hur
***

Notes: First of two nominations, first and only win; National Board of Review Winner for Supporting Actor

An unlikely winner, Griffith's Sheik Ilderim is just a dash less broad than you think it is. He has a fantastic scene where he entices Stephen Boyd's Messala to take a very rich gamble on the chariot race. And he's a good time entertaining Judah Ben-Hur in his tent, trying to get him to belch in appreciation of the fine dining. It's some welcome comic relief that goes beyond the dye job, but I'm still shocked this is the performance from Ben-Hur that got nominated.

Arthur O'Connell in Anatomy of a Murder
***

Notes: Second of two nominations

Folksy alcoholic attorney whose arc from mess who can't get hired to unexpected hero of the hour plays more or less in the background, subtly. It helps that his second chance comes up within the first thirty minutes of the movie. O'Connell, to his credit, does not overplay a moment. Not the drunkenness, not the career rehab, not the chemistry with James Stewart: it's all natural.

George C. Scott in Anatomy of a Murder
*****

Notes: First of four nominations

Much like the character, a performance that sneaks up on you. Quiet at first, with a respectfully condescending manner that grates - Scott even gives him an odd highfalutin' accent: something about his vowels sounds practiced, a great choice that makes Claude Dancer's distance from this small town even more deliberate. And when he fights, he fights hard: the sweaty, clobbering evisceration he attempts on Mary Pilant; the quiet, confident redirection he gives the local DA; his "embarrassed" manipulation of Laura Manion's rape accusations - this guy plays to win.

Robert Vaughn in The Young Philadelphians
**

Notes: First and only nomination; Golden Globe Nominee for Supporting Actor

Mind-boggling. How is this the sole performance to be honored by the Globes and the Oscars? He's solid, delivers witticisms with the appropriate drollness, plays pathetic drunkenness at the just the right pitch for this kind of movie, but that's it. It's not especially unique or revelatory - it just...is.

Ed Wynn in The Diary of Anne Frank
***

Notes: First and only nomination

Wynn is convincing as the oft-annoyed, doom-and-gloom dentist who can't stand the close quarters of the attic. He annoys you to the brink of insanity, but then there's this hopelessness in his slackened face and downcast eyes. He's our last hint of what's happening outside, and it's not pretty. Wynn, mostly known as a comic actor, delivers the goods.

Also in the conversation:

  • Fred Astaire, On the Beach (Golden Globe Nominee for Supporting Actor) - A surprise snub, though maybe his come-and-go "British" accent was a hurdle. His scientist-turned-lush is a welcome change of pace: cynical, straight, but not without heart. *****
  • Stephen Boyd, Ben-Hur (Globe Winner for Supporting Actor) - As Messala, the villain and object of Ben-Hur's obsessive revenge quest, Boyd is, surprisingly, the film's beating heart. There is always something going on just beneath the surface. You can't take your eyes off him. *****
  • Peter Finch, The Nun's Story (BAFTA Award Nominee for British Actor) - BAFTA had no lead/supporting distinctions, but he's probably in less than 15 minutes of the movie; still, he has a great impact, and you miss him...much like Hepburn's nun. *****
  • Laurence Olivier, The Devil's Disciple (BAFTA Award Nominee for British Actor) - A scream as a British commander during the Revolutionary War. No villain; indeed, he's almost comic relief, in an already light film! ****
  • Tony Randall, Pillow Talk (Golden Globe Nominee for Supporting Actor) - Funny; delivers dick jokes with class. ***
  • Joseph N. Welch, Anatomy of a Murder (Golden Globe Nominee for Supporting Actor) - As the out-of-town judge with the Huckleberry Hound voice, Welch steals the movie with aw-shucks comic timing and dignity. *****

------------------------------------

Griffith benefited from the Ben-Hur sweep.


But I just don't see it. In fact, I only see one nominee that comes close to deserving the Oscar...

GEORGE C. SCOTT
for
ANATOMY OF A MURDER


In our next adventure, we'll look at Best Director: Jack Clayton (Room at the Top), George Stevens (The Diary of Anne Frank), Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot), William Wyler (Ben-Hur), and Fred Zinnemann (The Nun's Story).

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Day Three: The Scores

A music break, and a large one at that. If you've been here before, you may recall that the category for Music Score used to be split into two categories: Original and Adapted. The names sometimes changed - this year, they were called Scoring of a Dramatic/Comedy Picture and Scoring of a Musical Picture - but the kinds of films nominated in each category remained the same. The one exception would probably be On the Beach, whose "original score" gets quite a boost from its use of "Waltzing Matilda."

Let's have a listening party, shall we? Starting, after the jump, with.....

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Day Two: Original Screenplay

We began our 1959 adventure yesterday with the nominees for Best Actress; today, we look at Best Original Screenplay. Long the place to honor comedies and foreign films, the 1959 roster is made up entirely of just such films. Oh yes - according to the WGA Awards, which at this point divided nominees by genre and not by whether they were original or adapted, even North by Northwest is a comedy. Do we agree? Did it deserve to lose to Pillow Talk? Check after the jump, will ya?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Day One: Actress, 1959

The year is 1959. My parents are born. Berry Gordy founds Motown Records. The Clutters are murdered in cold blood. And the nominees for Best Actress are....

(after the jump....)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Come Monday

Meant to post a tease earlier this month, but what are you gonna do? Starting tomorrow, we take a look at the films of 1959, featuring:


Ben-Hur
Winner: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Charlton Heston), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), Best Dramatic Score, Best Cinematography - Color, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Color, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design - Color, Best Sound Recording, Best Visual Effects


Black Orpheus
Winner: Best Foreign Language Film


The Diary of Anne Frank
Winner: Best Supporting Actress (Shelley Winters), Best Cinematography - Black-and-White, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Black-and-White


A Hole in the Head
Winner: Best Original Song ("High Hopes")


Pillow Talk
Winner: Best Original Screenplay


Porgy and Bess
Winner: Best Musical Score


Room at the Top
Winner: Best Actress (Simone Signoret), Best Adapted Screenplay


Some Like It Hot
Winner: Best Costume Design - Black-and-White


....and many, many more, including non-Oscar-nominated films like A Summer Place, House on Haunted Hill, and The Crimson Kimono!

It all starts tomorrow with Best Actress: Doris Day in Pillow Talk, Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story, Katharine Hepburn in Suddenly, Last Summer, Simone Signoret in A Room at the Top, and Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly, Last Summer.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The 1987 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part Two

Finally, the finale of our 1987 retrospective: Part Two of the Retro Hollmann Awards.

Nominations are here. Part One is here.

And now....

Best Director
Jûzô Itami
Tampopo


2. James L. Brooks for Broadcast News; 3. Bernardo Bertolucci for The Last Emperor; 4. Steven Spielberg for Empire of the Sun; 5. John Huston for The Dead


Itami's satirical chops are on display in both The Funeral and Tampopo, but the latter is truly remarkable for the way it combines comical observations on the culture, etiquette and fetishization of food with loving tributes to various genres: western, romance, gangster pic, erotica, etc. It's hilarious, even absurd, yet there's a throat-catching beauty to Tampopo's hopes, to a homeless man's attention to cuisine, to a dying man's final words to his mistress being a cherished recipe. There's a real fascination and love of life and people here.

In second, James L. Brooks' finds the right comic tone in Broadcast News. In third, Bernardo Bertolucci's epic intimacy in The Last Emperor. In fourth, Steven Spielberg's staggering scale in Empire of the Sun. In fifth, John Huston's authentic party dynamics in The Dead.

Best Actress, Best Picture, and more after the jump - starting with Best Original Screenplay....

Monday, June 4, 2018

The 1987 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

Part One of the 1987 Retro Hollmann Awards begins....now!

Best Production Design

Empire of the Sun
Norman Reynolds, production designer
Charles Bishop, supervising art director
Harry Cordwell / Michael Ford, set decorator

2. La Bamba; 3. The Last Emperor; 4. Tampopo; 5. The Lost Boys

The vast layout of the airfield-adjacent prison camp alone earns Empire of the Sun its place here; doubly so for the details within, from the hierarchy of the American barracks to the lack thereof in the English ones to the scarceness of the hospital. There's also the abandoned stadium, filled with riches confiscated from white man's mansions. The mansions themselves, going from pristine to abandoned to newly-decorated. And the recreation of 1930s Shanghai and its foreign concessions.

In second, La Bamba's rags to riches as expressed through living conditions and performance venues. In third, The Last Emperor's time-sealed Forbidden Kingdom, superficial Manchukuo, and anonymous grey prison. In fourth, Tampopo's ramen houses, hotel rooms, dishes. In fifth, The Lost Boys' vampire cave, cluttered family home.

Just below the jump is my winner for Best Supporting Actress - and long after it, my pick for Best Score. Much more in between, so do continue...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Top Ten of 1987

A difficult top ten to make, but here we finally are! In alphabetical order, here were my favorites of the 71 films I screened for the 1987 retrospective.

La Bamba
dir/scr: Luis Valdez
pr: Bill Borden, Taylor Hackford
cin: Adam Greenberg

A biopic of the short-lived teenage singer Ritchie Valens, La Bamba surprises with the equal weight and focus it puts on his whole family: Esai Morales as ne'er-do-well brother Bob, Rosanna De Soto as loving and shrewd momager Connie, and Elizabeth Peña as Bob's baby-momma Rosie. I love the way the film handles cultural identity - Ritchie doesn't speak Spanish and has never been south of the border, but he's still classified as a Mexican...even though his label has him change his name from Valenzuela to something more mass-palatable! Mind, that's just one part as experienced by Ritchie; it's through Bob's experiences that we see the vicious cycle that both keeps Mexican-Americans down and vilifies them for not "trying harder". A keenly-observed, intelligent film, politically and musically. And if you don't fall in crush with Lou Diamond Phillips here, I don't understand you, and I'm not sure I want to.

Broadcast News
dir/scr/pr: James L. Brooks 
cin: Michael Ballhaus

I've written quite a bit about what Broadcast News means to me personally, as well its strengths as a movie in general. So it should be no surprise that it winds up here on my Top Ten. It's great!

The remaining eight after the jump...

The 1987 Retro Hollmann Awards Nominations

After 71 movies over a month and a half, I am proud to present the 1987 Retro Hollmann Awards! Eighteen categories, in order of how I figured them out, beginning with:

Best Actress

Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman
Dirty Dancing


Holly Hunter as Jane Craig
Broadcast News

Sarah Miles as Grace Rohan
Hope and Glory


Nobuko Miyamoto as Tampopo
Tampopo


Maggie Smith as Judith Hearne
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne

The remaining 17 categories, after the jump......

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Best Picture, 1987

Now we come to it - the Best Picture nominees of 1987. Broadcast News, up for seven Academy Awards, named Best Film by the New York Film Critics' Circle. Fatal Attraction, up for six Academy Awards, named Best Dramatic Film by the People's Choice Awards. Hope and Glory, up for five Academy Awards, Golden Globe winner for Best Picture - Comedy or Musical, named Best Picture by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The Last Emperor, up for nine Academy Awards, Golden Globe winner for Best Picture - Drama, named Best Film by British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Moonstruck, up for six Academy Awards.

The winner was...


The nominees - ranked, from lowest- to highest-scored, after the jump....

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Best Actress, 1987

On Twitter, the great Nick Davis, a man who has seen every performance nominated for the Best Actress Oscar from 1927 through to the present, named 1987 as among the greatest lineups in the category's history.  From my limited exposure, I may have to agree. Each nominee is a gay-gasp icon, every performance perfectly realized, and here's the fun part: there are more Best Picture nominees here than in Best Actor, a rarity. And I just love that we get to say "Academy Award-winning actress Cher."


More, after the jump...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Writing Awards, 1987

The Writing Awards! It's late, we're doing eight films in two categories, there's much to get into, let's just do the Oscars clip...


And start with Best Adapted Screenplay after the jump....

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Best Director, 1987

For the first time in its history, the Best Director lineup at the Academy Awards had no room for Americans! That was the controversy at the time, at least, and became the subject of many an article about the nominations. It's perhaps a wee overstated: this isn't exactly a group of Hollywood outsiders, and even the ones that were wouldn't remain so for very long.

Canada's Norman Jewison already had five Oscar nominations at this point, while Britain's John Boorman was previously up as producer-director of Deliverance; his fellow countryman Adrian Lyne gave the world Flashdance and 9 1/2 Weeks. Sweden's Lasse Hallström was a newcomer, but he adapted very well to Hollywood life: two Best Picture nominees (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat), two Nicholas Sparks flicks (Dear John, Safe Heaven), and two more "dog" pictures (Hachi, A Dog's Purpose). Italy's Bernardo Bertolucci, though nominated for The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris, always did his own thing, more of an outsider. But not on this Oscar night...


Deserved? Let's talk after the jump...

Monday, May 21, 2018

Best Actor, 1987

Very late, but family was in town, so I have no regrets. Besides, why not start the week with five legendary leading men?


Let's get into them, after the jump.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Best Original Score, 1987

There are two kinds of movies usually guaranteed a spot in this category: historical epics, and anything scored by John Williams. For the former, the obvious representatives are The Last Emperor, the almost three-hour bio of the last representative of empirical rule in China, Pu Yi, and Empire of the Sun, Steven Spielberg's three-hour narrative of a young English boy's experiences in a Japanese POW camp in China; for the latter, look no further than the sexy supernatural fantasy-comedy The Witches of Eastwick...and also Empire of the Sun. Double-dipping! We may be tempted to include Cry Freedom in the historical epic category, but good Lord, no. Which just leaves The Untouchables, a 1920s-set gangster thriller, scored by the legendary Ennio Morricone.


I find Cong Su's remarks, as translated by David Byrne, about wishing for more interest in the arts of China especially poignant, given that, as the only Chinese composer on the film, his work is relegated to but one track - "Lunch" between Peter O'Toole's Reginald Johnston and Wu Tao's young Pu Yi.

Anyway. Let's listen to the music, shall we? After the jump....

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Best Original Song, 1987

I love Best Original Song. It's such a kooky category for the Academy to stubbornly cling to, all while neglecting stunt performers, casting directors, and more options for hair and makeup. The 1980s were the heyday for this category, giving us TOP 40 hits and karaoke classics like "Fame", "Take My Breath Away", "Flashdance...What a Feeling", "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - and of course, this year's winner.


Honestly, I think the latter half of the 2010s is proving to be one of the stronger periods, as well, but take a look at the full slate of 1987's nominees and tell me this isn't a formidable lineup. Well, mostly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Best Supporting Actor, 1987

This has got to be the first time this happened in Academy Awards history: the studio made the right call...but the voters committed category fraud! Two of the nominees for Best Supporting Actor - Broadcast News' Albert Brooks and Cry Freedom's Denzel Washington - were being pushed for Lead by their respective campaigns. Washington even received a Golden Globe nomination in that category. Yet when the nominations were announced, both men found themselves here.

Another arguably leading man taking up a spot was Street Smart's Morgan Freeman. Though already named Best Supporting Actor by NSFC, the LA Film Critics Association, and Independent Spirit Awards, Freeman's Bill the Butcher to Christopher Reeve's Amsterdam Vallon. Also: this was the first time in history two black men were nominated in the same acting category.

Then there's former James Bond Sean Connery, with his first and only nomination, and not just a sentimental favorite but a worthy choice, for The Untouchables. And Vincent Gardenia, previously nominated for Bang the Drum Slowly, was up for Moonstruck, which took the Academy by storm, as first evidenced yesterday. So who took home the gold?


(It is so odd to me that in both Supporting categories, the presenters were two co-stars of a nominee who really didn't have a shot at winning.)

This is one of the strongest lineups in the category's history, I think. Let me tell you why...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Best Supporting Actress, 1987

1987's Best Supporting Actress lineup was all first-timers, which wouldn't happen again until 1995. But these weren't new names on the block, by any means. Anne Archer, the youngest, was Miss Golden Globe 1971, while 59-year-old Anne Ramsey was the newest kid on the block - and she'd been in movies since...well, since Anne Archer was Miss Golden Globe. The other nominees were first lady of the Argentine theatre and star of 1985's Foreign Language Film Winner The Official Story Norma Aleandro; Broadway vet and New York character actress Olympia Dukakis; and Golden Age stalwart, Maisie star, and pioneering four-time Emmy nominee Ann Sothern, in what would be her final role (she retired, deciding the nomination was the right high note to go out on).

And of course, only one could win, though it wasn't exactly a shock. Only one of these five actresses had been previously named Best Supporting Actress by the Golden Globes, LA Film Critics Association and National Board of Review, in addition to being nominated by the New York Film Critics Circle. It was the same actress whose own cousin Michael was also in the running for a nomination - that of President of the United States.


Not a surprise...but that doesn't make it any less wonderful! Let's talk more about each nominee, after the jump...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Oscar '87 Prelude: God I Hope I Get It

We're taking a look at the 60th Academy Awards for the next two weeks. Don't you think we owe it to ourselves to watch the opening number from that year?

The year is 1988. The host is Chevy Chase. And when you tune your TV to ABC, this is what you see:


The best part is obviously the dancing Oscars around 5:22, a genuinely thrilling effect. The second best part is the cut to the unamused actors at 6:34. "Ugh, please don't involve me," Michael Douglas wants to scream. Meryl looks mildly amused until she realizes she's on. Albert Brooks is actively hiding!

Tomorrow, we dig into Best Supporting Actress. Do join us...

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Reviews of '87: Monsters-A-Go-Go

Each of these film involves something that isn't human...sometimes not of this world...monsters - but not necessarily monstrous.

Harry and the Hendersons
dir: William Dear
scr: William Dear and Bill Martin & Ezra D. Rappaport
Oscar Winner: Best Makeup

Family finds sasquatch and takes him home. Works in its own wacky family-friendly comedy way. Brilliant casting: John Lithgow in Lithgow mode, of course; Melinda Dillon as a deadpan-irked but also devoted wife and mom, duh; but a pre-Poirot David Suchet as a French bigfoot hunter?! GENIUS! Impressive makeup effects aid in Kevin Peter Hall's sweet execution of the titular Harry. I love a movie that knows what it is and embraces it.

The Lost Boys, Prince of Darkness, and more - after the jump.....

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reviews of '87: Read a Book, Read a Book....

These were all based on books.

The Princess Bride
dir: Rob Reiner
scr: William Goldman, based on his novel
Oscar Nominee: Best Original Song ("Storybook Love")

Terrific fun. Large cast of heavy-hitters delivers the goods: Mandy Patinkin stands out, but Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon, Billy Crystal...all great! Bad electronica orchestration of an otherwise good score; wish Robin Wright had more to do.

Full Metal Jacket, The Living Daylights, and more, after the jump....

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reviews of '87: Keep It Brief

The following films should be easy to remember - they are, after all, only one word apiece!

RoboCop
dir: Paul Verhoeven
scr: Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner
Oscar Winner: Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing
Oscar Nominee: Best Film Editing, Best Sound

Near future cop becomes law-and-order cyborg. Fierce critique of commodification of public services increasingly relevant; glorification of violence also biting (RoboCop is a good guy with a gun!). Not a detail missed: the ads, the cheery news reports, murder as minor setback at work. Peter Weller's performance a ballet of understatement. Lean, mean, sharp. Dare I say...perfect?

Ten more, including Predator and Mannequin, after the jump...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Reviews of '87: Everything But...

The following films were all nominated for Academy Awards - and won nothing. HOWEVER! They did win other awards, like a BAFTA or a critics' award, and I have noted those wins in each entry.

Empire of the Sun
dir: Steven Spielberg
scr: Tom Stoppard, based on the novel by J.G. Ballard
Oscar Nominee: Best Score, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound
Award Winner: BAFTA Award for Best Score, Best Cinematography, Best Sound; National Board of Review for Best Film, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Outstanding Juvenile Performance (Christian Bale)

Experiences of an English boy in China during Japanese occupation. Stands alongside the great epics. Large-scale evacuation of Shanghai, playful run through the POW camp, dreamlike tour of the abandoned stadium, wrenching "I can save everyone!" moment among Spielberg's greatest achievements.

Eleven more, after the jump...

Friday, May 4, 2018

1987: Woody Allen Double Feature

The last year we went without a Woody Allen movie was 1981. Maybe that's why Allen felt he needed to fit two into 1987. 


By the time Hannah and Her Sisters was winning Oscars, filming was already underway on Radio Days, a fact Dianne Wiest alluded to in her acceptance speech. Radio Days was already out by the time September was in reshoots - this according to Thierry de Navacelle's Woody Allen On Location. A year later, one would be up for Academy Awards, while the other would be tossed aside, doomed to become an "oh yeah" title in the writer-director's filmography.

Let's discuss!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

1987: Robert Altman Double Dips

Robert Altman is my favorite filmmaker.


I've seen 22 of his films (just a small dent in his filmography, but why blow through everything before I'm 30? Let me keep finding the gems!), and really only have a problem with two or three of them. He released an average of one film a year over a period of 40 years, making him one of the most prolific filmmakers in modern history. And wouldn't you know? He released two movies in 1987! Let's talk about them!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Hello May, Hello 1987

A new month, a new retrospective: for the next five weeks, the Silver Screening Room is dedicated to the films of 1987, from the Oscars to the also-rans! I'm talking The Last Emperor and The Lost Boys; The Princess Bride and Prince of Darkness; Broadcast News and House II: The Second Story!

Of the 71 movies screened, 66 will be reviewed by next Friday; the remaining five are Oscar's Best Picture nominees - Broadcast News, Fatal AttractionHope and Glory, The Last Emperor, Moonstruck - which we'll discuss at the end of the two-week Oscar retrospective; and we'll close out the month with the Top Ten, Nominees, and two-part "ceremony" for the 1987 Hollmann Awards.

The films screened:


84 Charing Cross Road
Adventures in Babysitting
Angel Heart
Anna
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Baby Boom
La Bamba
Barfly
The Believers
Beverly Hills Cop II
Beyond Therapy
Blood Diner
Broadcast News
Cry Freedom
The Dead
Dirty Dancing 
Empire of the Sun
Fatal Attraction
Flowers in the Attic
Full Metal Jacket
The Funeral
Gaby: A True Story
Good Morning, Vietnam
Gothic
Harry and the Hendersons
Hellraiser
The Hidden
Hollywood Shuffle
Hope and Glory
House II: The Second Story
Innerspace
Ironweed
The Last Emperor
Lethal Weapon
The Living Daylights
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
The Lost Boys 

Mannequin

Masters of the Universe
Matewan
Maurice
Moonstruck
The Monster Squad
My Life as a Dog
Near Dark
Nuts
O.C. and Stiggs
Ping Pong
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Predator
Prick Up Your Ears
Prince of Darkness
The Princess Bride
Radio Days
Raising Arizona
River's Edge
RoboCop
Roxanne
September
Street Smart
Surf Nazis Must Die
Tampopo
Three Men and a Baby
Throw Momma from the Train
The Untouchables
Walker
Wall Street
The Whales of August
Who's That Girl?
The Witches of Eastwick
Withnail & I


We begin properly tomorrow, with a look at the films of Robert Altman, who double-dipped with O.C. and Stiggs and Beyond Therapy - and not on purpose...

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Yes, Now: Early Oscar Predictions

Over at The Film Experience, Nathaniel Rogers has begun his annual April Foolish Oscar predictions, which means the race can finally begin again! Here's what I think may be nominated next February at the 91st Academy Awards, keeping in mind that none of these films have screened, no one knows anything, and I am spotty with my advance predictions.

Previous editions: 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Best Picture

Backseat
If Beale Street Could Talk
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
On the Basis of Sex

These first five are my "most likely". I know, I know: three biopics? In a post-Shape of Water world? What is this, 2005? But hear me out.

Adam McKay returns with his first film since The Big Short, finding political filmmaking to his liking with the Dick Cheney biopic Backseat. If it doesn't leave too bad a taste in people's mouths - it could go either way between "Boy, we thought we had it bad then" and "And that's why we're in this mess now" - this could be the frontrunner.

I also have the creative teams behind Moonlight and La La Land facing off once again with, respectively, If Beale Street Could Talk (an adaptation of a novel by James Baldwin) and First Man (an adaptation of a biography of Neal Armstrong). And let me say this,: if Backseat isn't the frontrunner, expect First Man to step in, as both a look back at a time you could be proud to be an American and an apology for La La Land not actually winning.

It'd be crazy not to have a woman-led film in the conversation, so expect Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex to hit big. And for my fifth slot, after some hemming and hawing, I went with another woman-led film...blockbuster crowdpleaser Mary Poppins Returns. Because right now, anything is possible!

As for the rest of the lineup, here's what I expect, in order of likelihood:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Gays and Gamers

What have I seen lately in the cinemas?

Love, Simon
dir: Greg Berlanti
scr: Elizabeth Berger & Isaac Aptaker, based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
seen: Regal LA Live

Very sweet high school dramedy about a teen's coming-out struggles. Imperfect, but does a nice job of portraying flawed people honestly trying, sometimes coming up short, sometimes giving way too much credit, but always striving. Phenomenal supporting cast, satisfying ending. Accurately portrays drunkenly practicing Cabaret choreography your senior year.

More, including Ready Player One, after the jump.

Friday, March 16, 2018

And Now The Screening Starts...

I have not seen very many new releases so far this year - just ten in three months! Here are a few thoughts on what I have seen...

Annihilation
dir/scr: Alex Garland, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer
seen: Pacific's The Grove Stadium 14

All the tweets I saw about how "mind-blowing" this movie is, could not prepare me for how often I dropped my jaw and silent-screamed at the screen. I don't know what to say because half the experience is the surprise and realization of what this kooky little flick is doing, and the less you know, the better. Just see it so we can bond over the dreamy climax, a sequence that had my brain at a meditative level that felt almost religious, spiritual. Annihilation, man. Wow.

More after the jump, including Fifty Shades FreedBlack Panther, and even a friend's film!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Super Last-Minute Oscar Predictions

Best Picture
 
It's the most up-in-the-air category this season, making for one of the most exciting Best Picture races in history. Best Picture is decided by a preferential ballot system that I am not going to explain but recommend you look up, which for many means that the least divisive nominee with the most fans wins - thus, The Shape of Water, which few dislike and which won the big prize at the PGA Awards and DGA Awards. But each Oscar year tends to follow a pattern, meaning your Best Picture winner is most likely whoever's won the most going in - thus, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, which triumphed at the SAG Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTA Awards. But also, the past four winners first triumphed in the Best Film category at the Independent Spirit Awards - thus, Get Out, which just became the latest to win that honor on the eve of the Academy Awards.

(twists and turns, after the jump....)

Friday, March 2, 2018

The 1982 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part Two

Yesterday, Victor/Victoria and Poltergeist led the pack with two wins each out of the nine categories. Today, we conclude our trip back to 1982. Again, check out the 1982 Retro Hollmann Awards Nominations and Top Ten for more context.

Now - on with the show!

Best Editing

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
David Bretherton / Nicholas Eliopoulos / Walt Hannemann / Pembroke J. Herring / Jack Hofstra

2. Tootsie; 3. The Road Warrior; 4. The Long Good Friday; 5. Edo Porn

Everything hits at the right time in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: every dance step, musical sting, double entendre. It takes its time for "Hard Candy Christmas" and the date night between Mona and Ed Earl, then ramps up the energy for "The Aggie Song", "Little Bitty Pissant Country Place" and the encounter between Ed Earl and Melvin P. Thorpe. Not a wasted moment.

In second, the laughs and confusion of Tootsie. In third, the high-speed action of The Road Warrior. In fourth, the violence of The Long Good Friday. In fifth, the erotic exuberance of Edo Porn.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The 1982 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

It's the 1982 Retro Hollmann Awards, celebrating the best in cinema 35 years ago!

For full context, remember to check out the Top Ten, which includes a complete list of the film screened. Also, take a look at the Retro Hollmann Awards Nominations, for a complete list of the nominees.

With the exception of Best Ensemble, which doesn't exist at the Oscars, the categories are presented in the same order as they were at the original 55th Academy Awards on April 11, 1983. Shall we begin?

Best Ensemble
Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Scott Bushnell

2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High; 3. Eating Raoul; 4. Tootsie; 5. Best Friends

If you want an effective cast, have them do the play first! It worked for Fences, and it worked for Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, which transfers the entire cast from the original Broadway production to the big screen. Smart move for a story about women who've known each other 20 years; there's a real sense that everyone not only knows one another but has for decades. An easy, unmistakable familiarity.

In second, the students and faculty of Ridgemont High. In third, the offbeat assemblage of personalities in Eating Raoul. In fourth, Tootsie's New York showbiz types. In fifth, the families at the center of Best Friends.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The 1982 Hollmann Award Nominees

The 90th Academy Awards are just five days away, but here at the Silver Screening Room, it's still 1982. You've taken a look at my Top Ten of that year - now I present the complete best-ofs: the nominees for the 1982 Retro Hollmann Awards. Order of categories was decided by random drawing. So let's begin with...

Best Adapted Screenplay


The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Larry L. King & Peter Masterson and Colin Higgins
based on the musical play by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson


Edo Porn
Kaneto Shindô
based on the play Hokusai Manga by Seiichi Yashiro


Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Cameron Crowe
based on his book


The Thing
Bill Lancaster
based on the short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr. (alias Don A. Stuart)


Victor/Victoria
Blake Edwards
based on the 1933 film written by Reinhold Schünzel

The rest of the nominees, starting with Best Actor, after the jump....

Monday, February 26, 2018

My Top Ten of 1982

After two months, I am ready to unveil my Top Ten of 1982. Before I do, I'd be remiss not to name some honorable mentions... Blade Runner and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

 

Blade Runner's groundbreaking future-noir aesthetics. Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean's incredible ensemble of women. Fast Times at Ridgemont High's poignant sense of humor. Their absence from the Top Ten is greatly felt, and is in no way a reflection of their quality. I wish I had room in my Top Ten for thirteen titles, but that's not how numbers work. As it stands now, these will do. The Top Ten of 1982, in alphabetical order, after the jump...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

It Might Be You: Best Picture, 1982

We make a big deal of "precursors" in today's awards landscape, with a full nine awards ceremonies to go before we get to the Oscars: the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, LAFCA, NYFCC, National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics (NSFC), Critics' Choice Awards, SAG Awards, PGA Awards....and that's just if you're following Best Picture! To try to predict how this year's Oscars may turn out, those of us obsessed with awards look to these nine bodies to help us see which way the wind is blowing. In a year like 2017, that's proving especially difficult.

Here, let's look at the nine films currently nominated for Best Picture, and see which ones have already won a Best Film prize:

Call Me By Your Name: LAFCA
Darkest Hour 
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird: Golden Globes (Musical/Comedy)NSFC, NYFCC
Phantom Thread
The Post: National Board of Review
The Shape of Water: Critics' Choice Awards, PGA Awards
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: BAFTA Awards, Golden Globes (Drama), SAG Awards (Ensemble, which many consider the Best Picture equivalent at SAG)

It's a much bigger spread than usual. Compare that to 1982. Back then, there were only six awards besides the Oscars competing for attention - no PGA, no SAG, no Critics' Choice - but they all still played before the Academy Awards. No one dare compete outright with The Big One. Here's how things went then:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Golden Globes (Drama), LAFCA
Gandhi: BAFTA Awards, Golden Globes (Foreign Film - they used to put the Brits in this category and it's bonkers), National Board of Review, NYFCC
Missing
Tootsie: Golden Globes (Musical/Comedy), NSFC
The Verdict

It also looks fairly spread out, but Gandhi has the edge, having won over the British Film Academy, the Hollywood Foreign Press, the National Board of Review, and the New York Critics. And of course, what wound up happening Oscar Night?


A different time, but now, as then, people like to make a statement with their vote. Obviously you have to like the film, but as Attenborough and Kingsley averred in their speeches, a vote for Gandhi is a vote for world peace. What is the equivalent in 2017? What film not only represents the best in filmmaking, but the best of intentions? And will that combination result in an Oscar win?

We'll find out March 4th. Until then, let's look at the Best Picture lineup of 1982. After the jump...

Friday, February 23, 2018

All the Lies I Have Told: Actress, 1982

Meryl Streep famously won her second Academy Award for Sophie's Choice:


It's not hard to see why. The movie saw her speaking three languages, all in a Polish accent, while also physically transforming into both a starving concentration camp inmate and the heartbreakingly beautiful object of lust for the main character, called Stingo (the movie is, frankly, ridiculous). It's de-glam and sexy - something for everyone!


If there is an equivalent today, I have to believe it's Margot Robbie. For I, Tonya, the native Australian beauty affects an American accent, wears braces, dons a variety of wigs for unflattering frizz, and goes from ice princess to female boxer, with some age de-glam thrown in. It's a transformation, and Oscar loves that.


Thirty-five years later, Meryl Streep is back. Today she's a veteran whose Best Actress nomination is, increasingly, more reliable than tomorrow's sunrise. This year, fortunately, she got some of the best reviews of her career for The Post. I'm not sure who is the 1982 equivalent, but I think Sissy Spacek comes closest. Though Missing is only her third Oscar nomination, she was coming off a win for Coal Miner's Daughter and dominated the 1980s. There's a reason this is the fourth retrospective in a year to feature Spacek: girl was prolific.


Another veteran, and one very likely to take the prize this year, is Frances McDormand in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. A friend of mine explained the appeal of the performance this way: "Frances McDormand was an avatar for the cauterizing power of rage." Ok! I have to think that was part of the appeal of Jessica Lange's performance in Frances, too - beyond "just" being a biopic, Lange gives us fire and fury as a woman who doesn't behave as prescribed, and gets branded as crazy because of it. Do not underestimate a fearsome female.


Nor a romantic one. The high school comedy and the romantic drama are not the most respected of genres, regarded as being more "slight" (read: female-driven) than others. But sometimes there comes a movie, and a performance, that's so perfect, its worthiness is undeniable. This year, Saoirse Ronan helped lead Lady Bird to five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture; in 1982, Debra Winger helped make An Officer and a Gentleman into the third highest-grossing movie of the year (even Richard Gere admits she stole the show!).


Where does that leave The Shape of Water's Sally Hawkins and Victor/Victoria's Julie Andrews? These ladies landed their nods thanks to physicality, expressiveness, and their voice - or lack thereof. Hawkins plays a mute janitor, but you don't need subtitles to know what she's thinking; it's there on her face, in her posture. Andrews is anything but mute, but the way she adjusts the timbre of her voice and body language to appear more masculine, the way she fights and dances, make for an impressive showcase. These ladies are limber!

Enough of now, let's talk then. The 1982 nominees, after the jump....