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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The 1956 Retro Hollmann Awards!

Here they are, the nominations for the 1956 Retro Hollmann Awards. The order of categories was determined by random draw, which means the five nominees for Best Picture are somewhere in the middle.

Best Sound

The Eddy Duchin Story
George Cooper, sound
John Livadary, sound recording

Forbidden Planet
Bebe Barron / Louis Barron, electronic tonalities
Wesley C. Miller, recording supervisor
James Brock, sound
Kurt Hernfeld / Kendrick Kinney / John Lipow, sound editors

Moby Dick
Jon W. Mitchell, sound recordist
Alex Pront / Len Shilton, sound

Seven Samurai
Masanao Uehara, sound recordist
Ichirô Minawa, sound effects editor

The Ten Commandments
Louis H. Mesenkop, sound recording supervisor
Howard Beals, sound editor / supervising sound editor
George Dutton, sound effects designer
Charles Grenzbach / Hugo Grenzbach / Don Johnson / Gene Merritt / Harry D. Mills / Loren L. Ryrder, re-recording mixers

Best Costume Design

Alexander the Great
David Ffolkes

Invitation to the Dance
Rolf Gerard / Elizabeth Haffenden

The King and I
Irene Sharaff

Seven Samurai
Kôhei Ezaki / Mieko Yamaguchi

The Ten Commandments
Arnold Friberg / Edith Head / Dorothy Jeakins / John Jensen / Ralph Jester

The remaining nominees after the jump....

Monday, April 27, 2020

Top Ten of 1956

Here we go! 65 films screened, whittled down to my Top Ten! Apologies to Bigger Than Life, CarouselThe Eddy Duchin Story, The Killing, The King and I, Nightfall, The Proud and the Beautiful and The Trouble with Harry, but there are only ten slots...

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Day Twelve: Best Picture, 1956

Every Oscar year begins the year before. Colin Firth's Oscar win for The King's Speech starts the minute Jeff Bridges' vehicle Crazy Heart gets a release date; the backlash over Green Book lays the groundwork for the outside-the-box Parasite; and the 1956 slate of nominees - epic in scope and length, big at the box office, based on great works from Jules Verne to Moses - was almost pre-ordained by the near-sweep of 1955's Marty, a humble dramedy based on a teleplay.

At 90 minutes, Marty still stands as the shortest film to win Best Picture. By contrast, the shortest Best Picture nominee for 1956 was Friendly Persuasion at 137 minutes; of the others, three of them - Around the World in Eighty DaysGiantThe Ten Commandments - run over three hours! Movies were an event again, something the industry needed to compete with the increasing threat of television. There is a noticeable deluge of films shot in Cinemascope, VistaVision, Cinemascope 55; bold proclamations of the brighter, more realistic color of Eastman and Deluxe: for the first time, all five Best Picture nominees were full-color productions.

And those nominees were:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Day Ten: Original Song, 1956

Sometimes I think Best Original Song nominations (and wins) should also go to the performer. We can pretend that it's the song, not the singer, and certainly various versions of "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" attest to the individual strength of those tunes. But Celine Dion is the secret sauce that makes "My Heart Will Go On" immortal. Irene Cara is key to both "Fame" and "Flashdance...What a Feeling." Without the combination of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, "Shallow" is, well....

Besides, the singer is part of the success of the song. I've heard many versions of "True Love," and I'm telling you, it doesn't hit the same without Bing Crosby. Pat Boone sells "Friendly Persuasion." And guys, Doris Day has two songs here - you think either of them gets in without her vocals? Well, one of them probably does, but fucking "Julie"??

Judge for yourselves. The songs:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day Nine: Supporting Actress, 1956

In a move that's exactly opposite the Best Supporting Actor race of the same year, 1956's Supporting Actress lineup had already been predetermined by the Globes - with one exception...

That was Marjorie Main, Golden Globe nominee for her cameo as the widow Hudspeth in the Quaker drama Friendly Persuasion. Main's only flirtation with Oscar came in 1947, when she was nominated in this very category for her performance in The Egg and I. She didn't win (she should have!), but she did get the eight-film Ma and Pa Kettle franchise out of it - not bad for a then-57-year-old character actress! Indeed, following Friendly Persuasion, Main would only make one more film - The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm.

So. Main in at the Globes, out at the Oscars. In her place: Mercedes McCambridge, in her only nomination following her win for All the King's Men. And besides Main, McCambridge, and the four actresses nominated here and at the Globes, only one other performer was in the conversation: Debbie Reynolds, National Board of Review nominee for The Catered Affair, a film in which she is, arguably, a co-lead with her screen parents Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine. Clearly, it was a year of terrific options. Still, with 1.5 exceptions, this is a marvelous lineup:

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day Seven: Adapted Screenplay, 1956

This is the first sign of the juggernaut to come: Around the World in Eighty Days. Here Was its first great triumph - and the separate acceptance speeches, a sign that the true author of the film Was one Mr. Michael Todd, producer.

I mean: three writers, one of whom accepts on behalf of two, the other represented by Hermione Gingold, both speeches making clear that these are separate authors/teams. It's as amusing as the Academy Award-winning writers of Pillow Talk having never met until Oscar night!

The competition:

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Day Six: Director, 1956

John Ford has an unbeaten record of four Oscars for Best Director. I note this because he was not nominated in 1956, despite this being the year he gave us The Searchers, largely regarded as perhaps the greatest western of all time! Could be that his record worked against him: after all, it was just four years earlier that he got the fourth for The Quiet Man, and he was never nominated again, despite all that came after: MogamboThe Searchers, The Man who Shot Liberty Valance...

Also absent: Cecil B. DeMille of The Ten Commandments, not just the helmer of the year's biggest moneymaker, but the only director of a Best Picture nominee left off the Best Director nominations. I guess he was seen more as a producer than a director: the one time he was nominated in the second category, was the year Ford won his fourth. Still, DeMille won Best Picture for The Greatest Show on Earth that same year, stunning many and subsequently going down in history as one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time. I've not seen it, I can't say, but I guess, like Ford going four-for-five, they figured he was honored enough. The Ten Commandments wound up being his final film.

In DeMille's stead was King Vidor, a fellow veteran of Early Hollywood, who received his first Oscar nomination at the first Academy Awards, for directing The Crowd. He had not been nominated since 1938's The Citadel, and wouldn't win until 1979 - an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.

Still, he did get to be part of this lineup:

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Day Five: Supporting Actor, 1956

Although the Academy had been honoring supporting actors and actresses since 1936, other awards bodies were slower on the uptake. The Golden Globes followed the Academy's example from its very first ceremony, launched in 1943, but it took the National Board of Review another 11 years to do the same. The BAFTA Awards had no such category until 1968, but they had divided their acting categories between "British" and "Foreign" anyway, with a mix of lead and supporting performances in both; the NYFCC Awards had no supporting awards until its 35th ceremony in 1969.

So I don't quite know how they charted buzz or "surprises" back in 1956. What I do know is, of the five eventual Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominees, only one had been cited by another major awards body. So it makes sense that he was the one who won the Oscar:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Day Four: Motion Picture Story, 1956

I went back and forth trying to decide what to do with High Society. Oh, not the 1956 Cole Porter musical remaking The Philadelphia Story, of course, but the 1955 Bowery Boys comedy about estate fraud and murder - the first and only film of the series to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Day Three: Actress, 1956

Sometimes, it really is a coronation with four also-rans. That certainly seems to be the case with Ingrid Bergman's second Oscar triumph for Best Actress, not insignificant considering seven years prior, she was denounced on the Senate floor for having an affair with director Roberto Rossellini, bearing his child, and leaving her own family to wed him in Italy. Hollywood turned its back on her; now, having seen her play a downtrodden woman who may be the Russian princess Anastasia, it welcomed her back with open arms. The premiere was the hottest ticket in town, says Inside Oscar, and she went on to win Best Actress honors from both the New York Film Critics' Circle Awards and the Golden Globes, two of the only three precursor awards of that era. (I would count the National Board of Review as the other; they awarded Dorothy McGuire in Friendly Persuasion). The Oscar? An inevitability.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Day Two: Musical Score, 1956

It's easy to underestimate just how prolific the musical genre was pre-1970s. Nowadays, we get a Disney movie, maybe a stage adaptation of a Broadway hit, every once in a blue moon an original like The Greatest Showman, and it's enough to make us go, "wow! The musical is back!"

But man, the way the studios just pumped these babies out in the '50s! The volume! The variety! Enough so that there sub-genres within sub-genres: jukebox musicals, bandleader bios, remakes of non-musical hits, ballets - all in addition to the standard Broadway adaptations, even re-workings of past stage hits (Anything Goes, for example, completely rewrites a book that had already been re-written). And how do I even categorize something like The Girl Can't Help It? Showcase musical?

Anyway, there are over a dozen musical or musical-adjacent films from 1956. These are the five that were nominated for their score:

Monday, April 13, 2020

Day One: Original Screenplay, 1956

Best Original Screenplay wasn't exactly a new category, but it had gone through enough iterations and name changes since its introduction in 1940 to feel like one. Basically, its intention was to honor a work where the story and screenplay were written by the same person or persons; a separate category was available for story writers who did not write the screenplay.

It's an eclectic mix, this class of '56. Consider what could have been, just from the films I saw: 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Movies and Memorial

This look back at 1956 is starting a week late because my father passed away. It is completely accurate to say that I would not be where I am today without him. He claimed that the first time I sat up was to get a better look at a movie on TV, and from that moment on he nurtured my passion for film. He had me watch Stripes and Young Frankenstein when I was way too young. He indulged my fascination with the Marx Brothers and Universal Monsters, often doing my makeup for my Halloween costumes referencing same. One Halloween in third grade, he took me to the local theatre to see the Lon Chaney version of The Phantom of the Opera, with live organist, instead of trick-or-treating. As I got older, he'd recommend The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (one of his favorite films of the 21st century) or Wendy & Lucy ("depressing, but real" was his review) or Wind Across the Everglades (as a Floridian, a blast for him and us to see the swamp in untouched color).

When I started this a month or so ago, I did not fully appreciate how much of my past would be part of it. Sure, The Ten Commandments, which my entire family watched annually on ABC, but I hadn't realized how many of these movies I had first seen with him: The Bad Seed, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Ladykillers, Moby Dick...and all before middle school! As a toddler, his mother had a blowup photo of The Creature Walks Among Us - large enough to scare the grandkids. He loved westerns like Stagecoach to Fury, noir like While the City Sleeps, and Bogart vehicles like The Harder They Fall. And I was excited as I watched The Searchers, knowing that once it was over, he'd be out of surgery and I could call him and tell him about how much I loved this classic of one of his favorites, John Wayne. Only 90 seconds were left in the movie when I got The Call.

I can't really dedicate The 1956 Retrospective to my dad - I was already 70% through my screenings when he died, and I know he'd rather talk b-flicks like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers than nominees like Around the World in Eighty Days or Anastasia. But in another sense, he's very much a part of my continuing affair with the movies, even in my laser-focus on the Academy Awards. He didn't like them after the one-two punch of The English Patient winning Best Picture ("boring!") and Kim Basinger winning Best Supporting Actress ("a nothing role!"), but we still watched them. He rooted for Toni Collette just based on her Oscar clip alone. He was with me when Crash won Best Picture ("is it over? can we go to bed?"). He recorded the 2010 ceremony for me when I was scheduled to work during it (I kid you not, it cut off during Best Picture, just as they said, "And the Oscar goes to..."). You could say this is all his fault.

So tomorrow, I'll carry on - watching movies, writing about movies, and telling the Academy where, in their long history, they've done wrong. Starting with Best Original Screenplay - The Bold and the Brave, JulieThe Ladykillers, The Red Balloon, and La Strada.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Year Ahead: 2020 Oscar Predictions

In this time of self-isolation, I find comfort in continuing my routine where I can. Work is suspended, the library is closed, and going to the movies is completely out of the question - so I blog. I watch oldies at home, I make sandwiches, and I blog. On Sunday, I'm beginning a series on the films of 1956, but today, I'm looking at 2020, and films that could be up for next year's Oscars. I know the state of cinema is up in the air right now, but there is an international crisis about us, so why not escape for a moment, play the role of pundit, look into the crystal ball and see if we can foresee what titles will tale the stage of the Dolby Theater next winter?

I did take current events into account on a practical level, and so, with one exception, everything here is already listed as being in post-production. Too, I considered general tone: considering how dour this year's events have already been, expect a lot of Triumph of the Human Spirit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

This April

The Oscar Flashbacks and Retro Hollmann Awards return April 5th with our look at the year in cinema for 1956! Including:


And those are all just the Best Picture nominees from the Oscars and Golden Globes - we've also The Killing to discuss, and Bigger Than Life, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Seven Samurai (1954 in Japan, '56 in USA), Carousel, Moby Dick, Bride of the Monster, and oh, many, many more!

April 5th! Mark your calendars!

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