Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Day Eleven: The Others, 1969

As you see, I only go in on about eleven categories in these Oscar retrospectives. Naturally, that doesn't cover all the nominees. Here are four more films nominated at the 1969 Oscars:

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Gaily, Gaily
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration nominee (lost to Hello, Dolly!)
Best Costume Design nominee (lost to Anne of the Thousand Days)
Best Sound nominee (lost to Hello, Dolly!)

Light comedy about a naive small-town boy who goes to Chicago to escape sin. Charming - it needs to be to get away with so slight a narrative. Melina Mercouri purrs a Henry Mancini tune in one scene; it's delightful.

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Krakatoa, East of Java
Best Visual Effects nominee (lost to Marooned)

In which a ship of treasure hunters crosses paths with the infamous eruption of Krakatoa. An all-star disaster film released one year before Airport figured out the right formula. The visuals are striking: kudos to the effects team and production designer Eugene Lourie. But subplots are picked up and immediately forgotten, there's a boring mutiny, and while much of the cast is capable, they don't seem very interested in being here. Best as a curiosity.

Winner - Best Visual Effects
Best Cinematography nominee (lost to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
Best Sound nominee (lost to Hello, Dolly!)

Astronauts in space can't get back to Earth - how will they survive? Extremely straight-faced and serious, a fascinating dramatization of what NASA procedure could be, a hype job painfully aware of public perception against the organization (though I'm sure the filmmakers had a big, "Well, hell, now what?" moment when the moon landing occurred five months before the release date). Those effects really are the real deal, though, and it's further bolstered by fine performances from Richard Crenna, Lee Grant and Gene Hackman.

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Stolen Kisses
Best Foreign Language Film nominee (the previous year, lost to War and Peace)

The continuing adventures of Truffaut's 400 Blows protagonist Antoine Doinel. Legitimately hilarious, great ensemble cast led, naturally, by the adorable Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud (Doinel would be kind of insufferable in anyone else's hands), all the way down to Delphine Seyrig, a luminescent presence whose work was justly cited by many critics organizations at the time as among the year's best. Zany but grounded.

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