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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