Wednesday, November 25, 2020

This December: 1970

Tuesday, December 1st, marks the beginning of the Silver Screening Room's 1970 Retrospective, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the US release of...well, of a lot of movies. I watched 74 in all, including 30 Academy Award nominees, so be prepared for discussions of:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The 1931-32 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

This first part of the 1931-32 Retro Hollmann Awards focuses on the eight categories not yet added to the Academy Awards - the Supporting Acting categories, the Music categories, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, and Visual Effects - as well as Best Ensemble. Which is where we're starting:

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The 1931-32 Hollmann Awards - Nominees

For the umpteenth time, here are the nominees for the Retro Hollmann Awards - this time, covering 1931-32.

A note: While the Fifth Academy Awards only had nine feature film categories, with the number of nominees in each fluctuating (but never five!), I have the full 18 regular Hollmann Awards categories here, five nominees per category. The order below was determined by random drawing.

The nominees are:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Top Ten of 1931-32

Here 'tis, my Top Ten for the films released between August 1, 1931 and July 31st, 1932. Apologies to the almost-made-its: À nous la libertéBroken LullabyGrand HotelMata Hari, Million Dollar LegsMurders in the Rue Morgue, and Waterloo Bridge.

Now, the list proper, in alphabetical order:

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Best Motion Picture of the Year: 1931-32, Day Fourteen

The Fifth Academy Awards was the place for screen history: movie debuts, ties, and the one trivia piece everyone gets a kick out of, Grand Hotel winning Best Picture with no other nominations.

What's funny about that Grand Hotel bit wasn't the only lone Best Picture nominee. Of the eight films competing, four were unnominated elsewhere. In addition to the ensemble drama Grand Hotel, there was Five Star Final, about a tabloid ruining the life of a woman trying to get her life back on track; One Hour with You, a musical-comedy in which a happily married couple find their marital bliss threatened by the wife's best friend; and The Smiling Lieutenant, a musical-comedy in which a lieutenant merrily living in sin with a female orchestra leader finds himself betrothed to the princess of a small nation. It's a curious mix of loners, especially alongside based-on-a-bestseller Arrowsmith, two-time Oscar winner Bad Girl, hit weepie The Champ, and dangerously sexy Shanghai Express. So let's talk about it!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Best Actress, 1931-32, Day Thirteen

The story of the fifth Best Actress race is that of the stage. Marie Dressler was already a Hollywood powerhouse and Oscar winner - indeed, she was the reigning champion for Best Actress, thanks to her performance in Min and Bill - but the other two nominees were better known for their theatrical, rather than their cinematic, output. (For more on Marie Dressler, I recommend the You Must Remember This spin-off show Make Me Over; Dressler's career and why it was so unique is covered in one episode by Farran Nehme.)

Lynn Fontanne and husband Alfred Lunt were the King and Queen of Broadway. Though Fontanne had appeared in two earlier films in the silent era, the stage was her true metier. Look up her credits on IBDb, and you'll find consistent work from 1910 - 1958; look up her credits on IMDb, and you'll see four films, two television guest appearances, and three teleplays, including The Magnificent Yankee, which earned her and Lunt Emmy wins. Much was made in 1931 of MGM being able to nab the couple to recreate their smash stage hit of 1924, The Guardsman, and even more so once the success carried over into cinema. Despite Thalberg's best efforts, however, Fontanne and Lunt were not to be swayed: back to the boards of New York they tread.

Helen Hayes was an accomplished stage actress - she would eventually come to be known as the First Lady of the American Stage - when she joined her writer husband in Los Angeles. Once again, MGM did the coaxing, landing Hayes for her screen debut in The Sin of Madelon Claudet...provided they hire her husband to do the adapting, of course. Hayes wasn't crazy about the role or the film, but it led to a long and illustrious screen career, one that she was able to balance alongside a healthy stage career. Her asthma pushed her to retire from theatre work in 1971 after the revival of Harvey, but she continued doing films and TV roles through 1985. She's an EGOT-er, including two Oscars and two Tonys.

And with that intro done, here's they work they were honored for:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Best Actor: 1931-32, Day Twelve

Norma Shearer presented the award for Best Actor - and to go by Inside Oscar, it was an exciting way to present it. She did the nominees, then the winner was revealed via an audio clip from their performance as the star's photograph was projected behind Norma. Fredric March accepted...and then some time later, the ballot-counters realized that there was only a three point difference between two of the nominees. According to the rules of the time, that meant...A TIE!

Wallace Beery went up a little late, but he accepted his Best Actor trophy. It was the first of only six times this happened, and the first of only twice in the acting categories. Beery and March had just adopted children, so March made a joke about them winning for "best male performance," ha-ha. The third nominee, Alfred Lunt, probably would've felt crunchy about it had he cared. He and his wife Lynn Fontanne were both up for Academy Awards for The Guardsman, recreating their hit stage roles; both also declined MGM contracts so that they could return to treading the boards in New York.

The nominees:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Best Director: 1931-32, Day Eleven

Five years in, and already the Academy was repeating itself!

The nominees for Best Director, 1931-32, had all been here before. Josef von Sternberg had just been nominated the previous year for Morocco, when he lost to Skippy's Norman Taurog. King Vidor was on his third go-round, having been previously nominated at the Third Academy Awards for the all-Black musical Hallelujah, which he lost to Lewis Milestone for All Quiet on the Western Front, and at the First Academy Awards, where he was nominated for The Crowd. The man he lost to, the first-ever winner for Best Director, was none other than Frank Borzage, nominated then for Seventh Heaven.

And now we have Borzage on his second nomination, for Bad Girl. And guess what? He won again! Two for two? Not so bad, Mr. Borzage. But let's take a closer look, shall we?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Best Adaptation: 1931-32, Day Ten

Monday, we discussed the nominees for Best Original Story, as presented by the reigning winner for Best Adaptation, Howard Estabrook. Estabrook also presented for, of course, Best Adaptation, which saw three nominated films from a classic, an award winner, and a recent bestseller.

Arrowsmith was published in 1925, the ninth novel by Sinclair Lewis. Lewis won the Pulitzer Prize, but declined it, saying, among other things, that, "All prizes, like all titles, are dangerous." And here we are now discussing its feature film adaptation's Oscar nominations. Lewis is known for his socially conscious novels tackling American issues through various occupations. Among his best-known works are Main Street (adapted for film in 1923 and 1936), Babbitt (adapted for film in 1924 and 1934), Elmer Gantry (adapted for film in 1960), Dodsworth (adapted for film in 1936), and It Can't Happen Here (never adapted).

Bad Girl was published as a novel by Viña Delmar in 1928. She was 23 and it was her first novel, and with the provocative title and subsequent banning of it by some cities, she was bound to be a sensation. A novelist, short story writer, playwright, and screenwriter, Delmar adapted the novel for the stage, and would later write the screenplays for Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) and The Awful Truth (1937, nomination for Best Screenplay).

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came from the 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a mystery with an unbelievable ending written by Robert Louis Stevenson. My goodness, you know Stevenson's work: Treasure Island (1883, over 50 adaptations), Kidnapped (1886, at least nine adaptations), The Black Arrow (1888, at least eight adaptations), A Child's Garden of Verses (1885). Jekyll and Hyde (as it sometimes known) has been adapted countless times, starting in 1908. This is one of the most famous versions, alongside the 1920 version with John Barrymore and the 1990 Broadway musical by Frank Wildhorn.

That's how they started; here's how they ended up:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Best Original Story: 1931-32, Day Nine

On November 18, 1932, the Motion Picture Academy held its fifth annual awards show at the Ambassador Hotel in the heart of what is now Los Angeles' Koreatown. Academy President Conrad Nagel (an actor whos appeared in five films released during the eligibility window, none of which were nominared or seen by yours truly) was the Master of Ceremonies; he also presented the Short Subject awards as well as a Special Award to walt Disney, for the creation of Mickey Mouse. All that business followed the awarding of Sci-Tech Awards, Sound Recording, Interior Decoration, and Cinematography. And then the writing awards, presented by Howard Estabrook.

Estabrook was the reigning winner of the Best Adaptation Academy Award, which he received for Best Picture Cimarron. I don't know which writing category came first, but I'm starting with....Original Story. Not screenplay, mind you: story. Adaptation and Dialogue were often credited to different writers than the story, a holdover, I imagine, from the scenarist days of silent film. Starting in 1940, there were three writing awards: Story, Story and Screenplay, and Screenplay (for adaptations and screenplays not written by the original scenarist). Things were simplified after the awards for 1956, and from then on, it was just Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay.

That is now, but this was then. The four (?!) nominees for Original Story, 1931-32, were:

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Some Nominees: 1931-32, Day Eight

A week from today, I'll discuss the eight Best Picture nominees, eventually crowning my personal favorite. But there were nine other films nominated in seven categories at the 5th Academy Awards, and while we'll delve into some of those individual elements so honored, here I'd like to talk about the films as a whole.

The Fourth Quarter: 1931-32, Day Seven

These are films released May 1, 1932-July 31, 1932 - the final qualifying quarter for the Fifth Academy Awards:

Monday, October 5, 2020

The First Quarter: 1931-32, Day Four

Today and into Thursday, we're looking at the films released in each quarter of the qualifying period. Excluding the nominated titles, I present the films of August 1, 1931, through October 31st, 1931:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sounds Like Paramount: 1931-32, Day Three

Among the many ways the Fifth Academy Awards differed from the ones to come: this was the second and last ceremony in which the Sound Recording category went to the studio's sound department instead of an individual film and its sound engineers. For the second year in a row, the winner was Paramount.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Joan Blondell Show: 1931-32, Day Two

She wasn't nominated (this year, at least), but how do you talk about the films of 1931-32 without talking about Joan Blondell, she of the bright yellow hair, sardonic wit, and big doe eyes? 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Checking In To The Grand Hotel: 1931-32, Day One

Today we begin our month-long look at the films of 1931-32 - that is, the Fifth Academy Awards.

The Oscars of yesteryear were markedly different from the ones we know today. For instance: the Academy didn't officially adopt the nickname of "Oscar" until 1939! They were held at the Ambassador Hotel, long since demolished, the property now the site of Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools. Votes were being tabulated during the ceremony - a twist that resulted in the show's first tie. Gosh, and Best Picture - eight nominees, four of them with no other nominations...including the eventual winner, Grand Hotel

Let's talk about Grand Hotel a little.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The 1931-32 Watchlist

Starting October 1st, the blog is taking a month-long journey through the winning, nominated, and qualifying films for the 5th Academy Awards, honoring movies released between August 1, 1931, and July 31st, 1932. If you'd like to join in the fun, the 72 films screened are:

Thursday, September 3, 2020

In the Months Ahead...

Powering down in September to focus on back-to-back retrospectives.

In November, we'll look at the films of 1970, featuring these Best Picture nominees:

But first, in October, it's the cinema of August 1, 1931-July 31, 1932 - the Fifth Academy Awards - featuring these Best Picture nominees:

See y'all in October!
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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

And Finally, For Now...: 2020, Day Thirteen

This is the final day for my 2020 catch-up capsules. More to come, of course, throughout the rest of the year, but until then...

Friday, August 28, 2020

For Rent: 2020, Day Twelve

All these titles are available to rent - the cheapest at $1.99 on iTunes, the highest at $12 via Kino Marquee, a "digital cinema" that sends your ticket purchase to support the independent theater where you would have seen the movie, were we not in shutdown.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Nominees' Latest: 2020, Day Eleven

One of today's directors is an Oscar nominee for his previous work behind the camera; another is a two-time nominee for writing. Do you know who?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Here's Some More: 2020, Day Nine

You know the drill by now, surely. Five reviews of 2020 releases, all currently available through either VOD and/or its home streamer...

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Monday, August 17, 2020

Chef's Kiss: 2020, Day Seven

Of the films released up to this date (that I have seen), I really do consider today's Best of the Bunch picks to be among the Top Ten...

Monday, August 3, 2020

It's About Time: 2020, Day One

More than halfway through 2020, and I'm finally talking about this year's releases, something I'm planning to do weekdays in August, five movies a day, in order of viewing. So let's start with:

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The 1992 Retro Hollmann Awards, Day Two

Yesterday, Bram Stoker's Dracula championed with five wins, while the remaining four awards were split among four films. Today, the final nine of my 1992 Retro Hollmann Awards, including Best Picture of the Year. Remember to check out the alphabetized Top Ten for further writing on those, and the full list of nominees.

Now, the show....

Friday, June 26, 2020

The 1992 Retro Hollmann Awards, Day One

The awarding of the 1992 Retro Hollmann Awards begins! Reference the Top Ten, check out the full list of nominees, then sit back and enjoy as we cover the first nine categories, including Director, Original Screenplay, and Score, and beginning with....

Monday, June 22, 2020

Top Ten of 1992

So, we've talked about the Oscar picks of 1992, and what I would have chosen from the nominees. We've discussed the horror offerings of 1992 and my personal Top Seven. Now, having seen 73 films from 1992, I can safely say that this is my Top Ten - with apologies to the almost-made-its: Glengarry Glen Ross, Shadows and Fog and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

1992, Day Fourteen: Best in Horror

Herewith is our third and final Screen Drafts-inspired perusal of the horror offerings of 1992. I've talked about the Oscar-nominated titles, the theatrical releases, and the home video selections. But as anyone who has listened (or participated) can tell you, the fun in Screen Drafts isn't just hearing the debates and choices, it's coming up with your own list.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

1992, Day Thirteen: Horror at Home

Continuing our look at the horrors of 1992, as inspired by the 1992 Horror episode of the podcast Screen Drafts.

It is up to each new panel of guests to decide for themselves, but there is a rule that allows for titles not released in cinemas to be eligible for the draft. In this case, Joe Begos and Graham Skipper opted to allow for DTV titles to count towards their final seven, and one even made it on there! Following are six direct-to-video titles (one of which was the title played), one made-for-TV movie, and one theatrical release that was just one title too many for yesterday's.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

1992, Day Twelve: Horror in Cinema

As I said on day one, the impetus for choosing 1992 was an episode of Screen Drafts, the movie podcast that pairs experts and enthusiasts in a competitive collaboration to come up with best-of lists. The episode in question was 1992 Horror, drafted by Joe Begos and Graham Skipper, which posited that the 90s in general was an underrated decade for horror, but 1992 in particular boasted some gems. Their final list of seven included both theatrical and straight-to-video releases, and I did my due diligence and watched everything. I listened to the podcast once more and sought out not just their top seven, but films discussed that didn't make the final list, plus a couple of other flicks.

Here's just a sampling: ten horror films theatrically released in US cinemas in 1992, nine of which were mentioned on the podcast:

Thursday, June 11, 2020

1992, Day Nine: Supporting Actress

If you've talked to anyone who was following the 1992 Oscar race, you will hear an oft-told urban legend about hoSupporting Actress shook out. 

Basically, going into the Oscars, this was a three-woman race between Judy Davis (the ninth of sixteen actors nominated for a woody Allen film), Joan Plowright (never nominated veteran and widow of Laurence Olivier) and Miranda Richardson (the critics' darling). Looking back at Inside Oscar's account and contemporaneous sources, Richardson was the favorite, not just for delivering a killer monologue à la Network's Beatrice Straight, but for also having central roles in sleeper hits Enchanted April and The Crying Game. Smart money was on Davis or Richardson; I know one person who put money on Plowright; and of the two "surprise" nominees, Vanessa Redgrave would be the obvious spoiler pick.

No one saw it coming:

You can hear the screams! It's one of Oscar night's biggest shockers, and immediately gave rise to a number of theories. 

The most prevalent one purports that Jack Palance, that doddering old fool, read the wrong name. The Academy, not wanting to start the night by embarrassing an elder statesman of Hollywood, let it slide. That's not how the Oscars work, and if you think it does, then you somehow missed the time Moonlight won Best Picture while the La La Land producers were giving their acceptance speeches - there are measures put in place to prevent it, starting with the damn envelope. But you don't even need to get into the 2016 Oscars to see why the Palance theory doesn't work: just watch the clip! Having told the TelePrompTer to take a hike, less he be distracted, he takes his time reading the card, making sure he gets it right. People have also said he was going off of the memory of the last time he read aloud, but you're telling me Jack Palance isn't aware of Joan Plowright or Vanessa Redgrave?

Even those who accepted that it was the right name had a horrid little theory: it must be because Tomei was the only American nominated - Palance himself points this out before he reads the name - and in a xenophobic fit of solidarity, conferred the honor on her rather than these upstart Brits (well, and Aussie Davis). It's a bizarre theory that flies in the face of both the Academy's international membership ranks and its willingness to award the British. Hedda Hopper used to write op-eds about it. Redgrave herself was a previous winner! That very evening, Emma Thompson won Best Actress. That dog don't hunt.

Finally, there comes the "crotch vote" theory, which is very simple: the mostly male membership voted for Tomei because she was the most fuckable. She's the youngest nominee, undeniably beautiful, and while her character, Mona Lisa Vito, may have a smart mouth, she stands by her man...who just happen to be twice her age. She's not the cold ball-buster Davis plays, nor the cheated-upon housewife portrayed by Richardson, and she's certainly not Plowright or Redgrave.

The theories are not nice, and speak more to the gatekeeping of howe define "An Oscar Movie" than anything else, a gatekeeping that has made certain Oscar ceremonies seem more medicinal than celebratory. Still...if one actually takes the time to sit and watch the performances, did she deserve the win? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

1992, Day Eight: Score

Here are three scores that one assumes almost made it - they were, after all, nominated or awarded elsewhere - but didn't make the final cut. Each album cover will bring you to the score's playlist on YouTube, so treat yourselves!


From left to right, you're looking at the Golden Globe-nominated score to 1492: Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis, the LAFCA Award-winning score to Damage by Zbigniew Preisner, and the BAFTA Awards- and Golden Globe-nominated score to The Last of the Mohicans by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman.

Great work, but not the nominees! The nominees are:

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

1992, Day Seven: Actor

Personally, I think it's interesting to look at the 1992 Best Actor lineup and not only see that there is one former winner, but that it is neither Clint Eastwood (this was his first acting nomination), nor is it Al Pacino (though that would soon be corrected). It's Denzel Washington.

Washington was already on his third nomination in 1992, having been nominated as a Supporting Actor for Cry Freedom and Glory; it was the latter that resulted in his first Oscar win. Malcolm X was his first nod for Lead Actor; his next five nominations would all follow suit: 1999's The Hurricane, 2001's Training Day (another win), 2012's Flight, 2016's Fences (for which he should have won a third Oscar) and 2017's Roman J. Israel, Esq. All told, that's eight nominations, exactly the tally Pacino had before he finally won his first:

Since then, there's been some debate over who should have won this year. Hell, it's a debate that goes even further back, to 1974-75: if Pacino won for either The Godfather: Part Two (as he could've) or Dog Day Afternoon (as he should've), would there have been less pressure to give him a career Oscar, thereby allowing Washington to take what Spike Lee claimed was rightfully his? Would Washington have even won? A second Oscar in three years doesn't always happen, and there were three other nominees, all on their first time; I can especially see a case for veteran Eastwood becoming the first actor-director to claim both prizes in one night. And what about Stephen Rea, star of the indie film du jour and Best Picture contender The Crying Game?

Fortunately, I'm here to settle once and for all not just the coulda-woulda - but more importantly, the shoulda:

Friday, June 5, 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020

1992, Day Three: Original Song

Except for the recent phenomenons of "Shallow" from A Star is Born and the dance remixes of Frozen's "Let It Go", popular music and Oscar's Original Song category just don't have the same relationship as they did in the '80s and '90s. This year in particular: at the 36th Grammy Awards the following year, these same songs would compete against each other, and not just in the specialty categories for soundtracks. The Bodyguard's soundtrack won Album of the Year, Aladdin's "A whole New world" won Song of the Year, both competed against each other for Record of the Year (tho' The Bodyguard did so with the Dolly Parton cover "I will Always Love You" - and won), and, just like here, they made up 4/5 of the nominees for Best Song written for Visual Media.

OK, so I guess it was mostly The Bodyguard and Aladdin that dominated, but it's not difficult to see why. They're good songs! Actually, overall, it's an exceptional group of nominees, as you can hear for yourself:

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

1992, Day Two: Actress

You can't call the 1992 Best Actress competition a "race" - or even a competition. Sure, there were five nominees, four of them named at previous awards shows, but the season had already decreed a winner by Oscar night. And that winner was Emma Thompson:

It's not just that Thompson was nominated across 16 different critics groups and awards bodies around the world; it's more so that she won all of them. All of them. Not a loss in the bunch. It was a total and complete domination. Everyone else was just happy to be nominated.

And who was that everyone else? Let's talk:

Monday, June 1, 2020

1992, Day One: Intro and Adapted Screenplay

Today begins our month-long look at the films of 1992!

As I mentioned last month, this isn't just the usual Oscar-focused retrospective. This year was selected after listening to Screen Drafts, one of my favorite podcasts (full disclosure: I guested on the Original American Musicals episode with my best friend and Kipo writer Ben Mekler), in which "experts and enthusiasts competitively collaborate to create screen-centric best-of lists" - I think that's the logline, I'm doing that from memory. The specific episode: 1992 Horror, in which filmmakers Joe Begos and Graham Skipper select the seven best horror flicks domestically released in the United States in 1992. In addition to those seven, I'll also take a look at the other films discussed on the episode that did not make the final list.

But, of course, because this is how we do things around here, I'm also focusing on that year's Oscar race. It's the year Clint Eastwood suddenly became one of the great American auteurs (yes, he had directed plenty before, but not to this level of critical and awards success), Al Pacino finally got his Oscar, people were win to Marisa Tomei, and the Disney Renaissance once again dominated the music categories thanks to Aladdin.

We'll talk about all that, plus the horror picks, later this month. Today, we're starting the journey with Best Adapted Screenplay....

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Coming in June....

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already guessed this, but there’s a new retrospective starting June 1st: the films of 1992! Inspired by the 1992 Horror episode of Screen Drafts (with special guest GMs Joe Begos and Graham Skipper), I’m catching up with the theatrical releases drafted therein, as well as that year’s Best Picture nominees from the Academy Awards and Golden Globes:

There will also, of course, be a handful of other 1992 US releases, from Captain Ron to Raise the Red LanternThe Muppet Christmas Carol to Edward IIBebe's Kids to Newsies - just to name a few.

It starts Monday, June 1st, with the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay: Enchanted April, Howards End, The Player, A River Runs Through ItScent of a woman.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The 1956 Hollmann Awards, Part Two

So far, of the 28 films nominated in eighteen categories, six films have divided the first nine awards among them. The Ten Commandments, which led the nominations with 15, also leads the wins with far.

Best Supporting Actress
Mercedes McCambridge as Luz Benedict

2. Nina Foch in The Ten Commandments; 3. Mildred Natwick in The Court Jester; 4. Helen Hayes in Anastasia; 5. Yvonne De Carlo in The Ten Commandments

I still can't believe McCambridge is only in Giant for 10 minutes and change. It's a marvelously thorny performance that haunts the rest of the movie - her tenacity, her jealousy, her idea of what Benedict means. And she does it without unclenching her jaw. A subtle power.

In second, Foch's Bithiah is as loyal a mother as anyone could want. In third, Natwick's Griselda is straight-faced no matter what kooky incantations she spouts. In fourth, Hayes' Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna is bitter, heartbroken, skeptical. In fifth, De Carlo's Sephora is patient beyond reason.

The rest after the jump.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The 1956 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

The first nine winners.

Best Director 
Elia Kazan
Baby Doll

2. Cecil B. de Mille for The Ten Commandments; 3. Akira Kurosawa for Seven Samurai; 4. George Stevens for Giant; 5. Henri-Georges Clouzot for Diabolique

In Elia Kazan's hands, Baby Doll transcends its scandalous, trashy premise, but does so without looking down its nose at the material. There's dark comic energy, feverish sexuality, characters who are so comically alive, they must be real. Kazan understands the Southern Gothic appeal way better than most other filmmakers who try their hand at it.

In second, de Mille's incredible scope. In third, Kurosawa's understanding of human drama serving the action. In fourth, Stevens' assured hand over scenes both expansive and intimate. In fifth, Clouzot's claustrophobic grip.

Eight more categories, including Best Original Song, Best Actress, and both screenplay categories, after the jump.