Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The 1985 Retro Hollmann Awards in 2021

And the nominees for the 1985 Retro Hollmann Awards are:

Best Visual Effects

Back to the Future
Kevin Pike, special effects supervisor
Ken Ralston, supervisor of visual effects (ILM)

Cocoon
Greg Cannom, special alien creatures and effects
Peter Anderson, creature development / visual effects
Ken Ralston, visual effects supervisor
Mitch Suskin, visual effects production supervisor

Enemy Mine
Bob MacDonald, Jr., special effects supervisor
Don Dow, visual effects supervisor

Lifeforce
John Gant, special effects
John Dykstra, special visual effects
Robert Shepherd, special effects producer

Young Sherlock Holmes
Stephen Norrington, animatronics supervisor
Kit West, special effects supervisor
Dennis Muren, visual effects supervisor

More, after the jump....

Monday, July 5, 2021

Top Ten of 1985

Honorable Mentions: Fright NightMad Max Beyond Thunderdome, The Return of the Living Dead, Smooth Talk, The Trip to Bountiful, Trouble in Mind, Twice in a Lifetime, Wetherby.



And now, the Top Ten, in alphabetical order.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Oscar '85: William Hurt and Best Actor

My two all-time favorite actors are William Hurt and Vincent Price. Only one of them won an Oscar:



It was the first of a three-year streak of the Academy loving Hurt's performances, which I've discussed before in my coverage of 1986 and 1987 (linked below). You can tell that the room was with him - a semi-standing ovation, a shout of support, an incredible wave of adulation. And being that he is my favorite actor, you could perhaps assume what my take on his performance, his win, and his competition may be. But read it for yourself:

Friday, June 25, 2021

Oscar '85: Steven Spielberg, Sydney Pollack, and Best Director



The nominees for Best Director this year do not include Steven Spielberg for The Color Purple. It's a significant point, for two reasons. Number one: The Color Purple led with eleven nominations, and while Picture and Director are rarely a five-for-five deal (even these days with the expanded lineup in the former, lone directors such as Thomas Vinterberg still pop up), one would think that the most-nominated film of the year would have the director who brought it all together lauded. Number two: not only was he nominated for the Directors Guild Award - against Huston, Pollack, Weir, and Cocoon's Ron Howard - he won the damn thing. In the 38 years of the DGA Awards, Spielberg was the first to win without even being nominated for the Oscar, a "feat" that's only been accomplished twice more: Howard for Apollo 13 in 1995 and Ben Affleck for Argo in 2012. Frankly, I think the Academy's directors branch got it right: I like The Color Purple, but I think some of Spielberg's choices are to its detriment. But even if he had been nominated at the Oscars, could he have forestalled the inevitable?:



Probably not. A sweep is a sweep is a sweep. What a tough choice to make, though! Look at the contenders:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Oscar '85: The Writing Awards

The Best Picture lineup consisted of four adaptations and one original work. All were nominated for their screenplays. Looking back, one sees the obviousness of these wins - the Best Picture juggernaut for Adapted, the lone Best Picture nominee for Original, duh!:



But I don't know that it would turn out the same way today. Maybe Witness would still be the one to beat, given its WGA Awards win, but the way campaigns and buzz run now, I can see a reality where Prizzi's Honor and The Purple Rose of Cairo come out ahead on Oscar night due to precursor support and a spreading of the wealth. Is it a reality I prefer? Find out after the jump...

Monday, June 21, 2021

Oscar '85: John Barry, Lionel Richie, and the Music

The leads of Singin' in the Rain came out in yellow raincoats to present the music awards, beginning with Original Song. The Color Purple was the only Best Picture nominee to make the cut, though I believe Kiss of the Spider Woman was also the only other Best Picture nominee to even have an original song. The other films nominated were Back to the Future, Richard Attenborough's tepidly-received but, to my eyes, very underrated adaptation of the Broadway smash A Chorus Line, and the Cold War dance drama White Nights - twice! Clearly, it was too good to deny:


But would I deny it? Let's find out:

Friday, June 18, 2021

Oscar '85: Geraldine Page and Best Actress

Best Actress! A lineup of three winners, a newcomer, and a perennial bridesmaid on her eighth nomination. Finally, a nomination that turned to a win:


There's hope yet, Glenn Close! The nominees are:

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Oscar '85: Anjelica Huston and Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actress saw competition between five performers from four films: Best Picture nominees The Color Purple, in which Celie Johnson experiences heartache after heartache in the rural South at the turn-of-the-century, and Prizzi's Honor, in which mob hitman Charley Partanna falls in love with a freelance hitwoman; Twice in a Lifetime, a grounded, wonderful drama in which a family man ends his 30-year marriage after falling for a barmaid and the fallout from it; and the curiously dull melodrama Agnes of God, in which a court-appointed psychiatrist investigates the state of mind of a novitiate accused of murdering her newborn child. Much as Supporting Actor went to a long-beloved veteran, this one went to a legacy:



Unfair to characterize the win as such? Let's talk performances:

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Oscar '85: Don Ameche and Best Supporting Actor

It's a lineup of one-and-done, where absolutely no one was nominated before, nor would they ever be nominated again. Not long ago, someone on Twitter called this the worst Supporting Actor lineup in history. I can understand that feeling, honestly, as many of the performances seem "lightweight," or at least less memorable compared to some of the year's other choices (John Lone in Year of the Dragon, Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future, Danny Glover in The Color Purple...though I suspect he had a Best Actor push). On the other hand, I think a lot of the disappointment comes from the bastardization of what this category has become. These are all clearly character actors in supporting roles, even Roberts', none of them with towering subplots, no one a mega-star "slumming" it for an easy get. The closest you get to that is Don Ameche, a star in the 30s and 40s who'd aged into supporting roles. That veteran status is probably what catapulted him to the win - peep that standing ovation:



The film for which he won isn't the usual usual, either. Cocoon is a sci-fi-fantasy dramedy about a clique of senior citizens who frequent a neighboring pool during the off-season, when its renters aren't home. This year, unbeknownst to them, the home is occupied by aliens using the pool to rejuvenate cocoons of their left-behind brethren; suddenly, it becomes the Fountain of Youth, and our old-timers enjoy a renewed vitality. A surprisingly moving treatment of mortality and loss, with a great ensemble and beautiful score from James Horner. Other films nominated here: Best Picture nominees Out of Africa and Prizzi's Honor; Jagged Edge, a wonderful pulpy legal thriller in which a defense attorney falls in lust with her client, accused of raping, then murdering, his wife; and Runaway Train, an uninvolving thriller about two escaped prisoners on a speeding train with no crew, and no signs of stopping. And the performances nominated? They are:

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Oscar '85: How To Make History Without A Nomination

Today, every distributor who can afford to do so sends screeners to Academy members for films that are "for their consideration." Wasn't always so: before, members had to attend special screenings in cinemas, presenting their membership cards for admission. Then and now, these screenings/-ers are, of course, in addition to the print ads in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times and Variety. Embassy Pictures could not afford these luxuries, but John Boorman could, so in order to get The Emerald Forest seen by Academy members, he made VHS tapes and made them available for free to Academy members at select rental outlets. And so, the first Oscar screeners were born.


The Emerald Forest, based on a true story, begins with an American family newly arrived in South America, the patriarch heading a construction project that's destroying the Amazon; when he takes his family to see the site, his son is taken by an Indigenous tribe known as The Invisible People. Ten years later, they finally meet again, though now the son has completely assimilated, the son of the chief, reluctant to return "home" with Dad. It's another Boorman winner, a thoughtful examination of colonial exploitation of Native lands and natural resources, a difficult fathers-son drama about defining home and family. Gone from the Oscar conversation since Deliverance, and two years away from his return with Hope and Glory, it would make some sense to honor this Boorman film; if not in Picture or Director, difficult fits for box office also-rans, then certainly in categories like Cinematography, Production Design, Makeup.


The strategy did not work then. It received three nominations at BAFTA (Score, Cinematography, Makeup) and one at the Césars (Poster). Still, it kicked off a way to reach voters that changed the industry forever. One-week qualifying releases that depended more on screeners and word-of-mouth than on an actual release include films like Still Alice, Biutiful, The Father, Minari. Screeners are also not just relegated to home video materials like VHS and DVD, but streaming links as well, particularly important in this COVID age.

So, The Emerald Forest made history but could not crack the crafts. Here are films that did, with special attention paid to films we won't get to discuss elsewhere:

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Worst of '85?

The Golden Raspberry Awards were founded in 1980. They've been shitting on fun ever since: consider their first Best Picture lineup not only included my favorite film of all time, Xanadu, but William Friedkin's best film Cruising. Five years later, they still struggled with how to appraise parody, targeted actors who weren't bad but were obnoxiously popular, and found a groove they would never get out of - dishonoring Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta. And, as if that wasn't enough, they had the audacity to nominate the great The Last Dragon in Worst Original Song...for the two best tunes on the soundtrack! Risible. Among the many which I did not see, here were nine films nominated for Razzies:

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Old Friends of '85

As I looked at the films of 1985, I realized that I had seen many of them before, not just once, but many times. In addition to the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust and Oscar nominees Out of Africa and Ran, I reacquainted myself with such familiar faces as:

Monday, June 7, 2021

Horror '85

Many agree that the genre films of the 1980s are unlike anything that came before and cast long shadows over that which came after. This particular genre, horror, is a favorite of mine, and 1985 seems a particularly fertile year for it. Vampires and zombies, some fantasy (though I've saved pure fantasy for another day), a good balance of scares and laughs, here is the year in horror (going by US release dates).

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Why 1985?

1972 is barely cold, but we forge ahead with the films of 1985! So why 1985? I blame Juan Carlos Ojano and his podcast The One-Inch Barrier.

The One-Inch Barrier takes a look at the Academy Awards' Best International Feature category, known through 2018 as Best Foreign Language Film. Its name is derived from one of Bong Joon-ho's acceptance speeches, in which he said he hoped more people would take to watching films in other languages and not be put off by the "one-inch barrier" of subtitles. The podcast's host Carlos takes that idea and runs with it; every episode, he and a guest watch and discuss the five nominees of a given year, some of them readily available, some of them hard-to-track-down rarities, a good many of them forgotten - yesterday's Oscar nominee is today's footnote.

Carlos asked me to guest for the episode concerning 1985 back in February, which featured this lineup:

Monday, May 31, 2021

The 1972 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part Two

Our final day of looking at the films of 1972. With three (performance-based) wins for 1776 yesterday, three for Cabaret, and one apiece The Poseidon Adventure and Super Fly (in its only nomination), here are the remainder of the 1972 Retro Hollmann Awards winners. As always, re-familiarize yourself with the Top Ten and nominees, then come back here to witness:

Best Cinematography
1. 1776
Harry Stradling, Jr.
2. Across 110th Street
Jack Priestley
3. Cabaret
Geoffrey Unsworth
4. The Godfather
Gordon Willis
5. Lake of Dracula
Rokurô Nishigaki

The remaining eight awards, after the jump...

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The 1972 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

The Top Ten is done, you've seen the nominees - now the winners of the 1972 Retro Hollmann Awards...Part One:

Best Original Song
1. "Pusherman" from Super Fly
music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield
2. "Money, Money" from Cabaret
music by John Kander
lyrics by Fred Ebb
3. "Sister" from Black Girl
music and lyrics by Ed Bogas and Jesse Osborne
4. "Mein Herr" from Cabaret
music by John Kander
lyrics by Fred Ebb
5. "The Song from The Poseidon Adventure" from The Poseidon Adventure
music and lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn

Eight more categories, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Director, after the jump...

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Top Ten Films of 1972

Here it is, finally: my Top Ten Films of 1972! With apologies to Buck and the Preacher, DeliveranceFrogsThe King of Marvin Gardens, Malcolm XMurmur of the Heart, and What's Up, Doc?.

Now, without further ado, in alphabetical order:

Monday, May 24, 2021

1972: The Watchlist

The 81 films I watched for 1972:


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Sunday, May 23, 2021

1972: The Best Picture Oscar

The evening ends with Clint Eastwood (of Joe Kidd) presenting Best Picture, with, as he points out, a diverse slate of nominees. Cabaret (ten nominations, eight wins so far) is a musical about a showgirl and a tutor living it up as the Nazis rise to power in Germany. Deliverance (three nominations) is a thriller about a group of friends from the city who go camping and wind up in a fight for their lives against backwoods locals. The Emigrants (four nominations) is an epic about Swedish farmers who make the desperate decision to immigrate to the United States. The Godfather (ten nominations, two wins so far) is a family saga about a crime family adjusting to a new age. Sounder (four nominations) is a drama about a family of Black sharecroppers and their dog just trying to live with some dignity against the odds.



Man, The Godfather really made it count with those last categories! Did it deserve the win? Tell me what you think - I know what I believe, which you can read after the jump:

Thursday, May 20, 2021

1972: Liza Minnelli and Best Actress

Now that Sacheen Littlefeather was off stage, Rock Hudson and Raquel Welch (of Kansas City Bomber) came to present Best Actress, and were very harrumph-y about what just happened. "Hope none of them has a cause," Welch said. Unfortunate!



As far as people go, it's a good lineup. A past winner, Judy's daughter, a foreign language performance, and, for the first time, two Black actresses nominated (the next time it would happen was...just this past year, Viola Davis and Andra Day). The actual performances in the films? Let's talk:

1972: Sacheen Littlefeather and Best Actor

In a category where The Godfather had no competition from Cabaret, it was an easy win for leading actor Marlon Brando. Yet, famously, it was not he who received the trophy from Liv Ullmann (nominated for The Emigrants) and Roger Moore (currently filming Live and Let Die). Instead, Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage, and delivered remarks protesting the treatment of the Indigenous communities by the United States and Hollywood.


It was a moment that was a punchline for decades afterward, though I think history has since vindicated Brando and Littlefeather, especially since, 50 years later, Hollywood still hasn't gotten its shit together and the nation's gnat-swatting treatment of the First Nations people continues unabated. For years afterwards, however, there was a rule against acceptance speeches being delivered by a "representative;" on the other hand, the "stunt" probably inspired similar uses of the global stage in future acceptance speeches. 

Anyway, the nominees:

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

1972: Puzo, Larner, and the Screenplays

So now we come to the last five categories: Screenplays, Lead Acting, and Best Picture. Up to this point, the only Best Picture to have won anything at the ceremony was Cabaret, cleaning up with seven awards, and only three to go! Deliverance? Zilch. The Godfather? Nada. Sounder? Not a thing. The Emigrants? It won for Best Foreign Film last year, so it was fine. And now came Jack Lemmon, who just bared all in Avanti!, to present the writing awards:



Good news for The Godfather, finally, and for poet/critic/novelist/political speechwriter Jeremy Larner! It's his second and final credited screenplay, following the adaptation of his own novel, Drive, He Said, the previous year.

Anyway, here's my take on both lineups:

Monday, May 17, 2021

1972: Bob Fosse and Best Director

Yes, yes, I know, I said this would be Adapted Screenplay, but I have been trying to emulate the order of the Oscar ceremony and realized I'd made a mistake. So today, we look at the nominees for Best Director! Mostly terrific films, all Best Picture nominees with the exception of Sleuth, a fun, sophisticated cat-and-mouse game with a cast of two (more on them later). Also, with the exception of Sleuth's, all the nominees were first-timers, so it was quite an exciting night. Of course, given the way the evening had been going, the winner - presented by Julie Andrews and director George Stevens - was a little expected:


Deserved? Let's talk:

Saturday, May 15, 2021

1972: Original Song

Having just accepted the Oscar on behalf of Charles Chaplin, Candice Bergen returned to the stage, this time with Billy Dee Williams (of Lady Sings the Blues). The category was Best Cinematography, a loss for 1776, but another feather in the cap for Cabaret - this now made it six wins from six categories. Somehow, despite two new songs written for the film, both of them much better remembered than many of the nominees, Cabaret missed out on any nods for the next category: Best Original Song, presented by the remarkable Sonny and Cher:


I really can't believe Cabaret had nothing here, nor indeed did qualifying titles like Black Girl, Georgia, Georgia, Savage MessiahShaft's Big ScoreSounder, Super FlyTrouble Man. Instead...well, take a look for yourself: 

Friday, May 14, 2021

1972: Charlie Chaplin and Scores

An Honorary Oscar was awarded to Charles S. Boren, who for almost 40 years worked to improve labor relations in the industry - 'twas he who negotiated the five-day workweek, pension plan, and nondiscriminatory policies - presented by Richard Walsh. Following that, spouses Robert Wagner (of Madame Sin) and Natalie Wood (who cameoed as herself in The Candidate) announced Marjoe as the Best Documentary Feature of the year. Marisa Berenson (of Cabaret) and Michael Caine (nominated for Sleuth) awarded Best Costume Design to Travels with My Aunt's Anthony Powell. Eccentric legend and past Oscar winner Greer Garson came out with Laurence Harvey (of Escape to the Sun) to give Cabaret its fourth award of the night, this time Best Art Direction. Now came the Music Categories, starting with the Original Dramatic and Musical/Adaptation Score nominees. Burt Reynolds (of Deliverance) and Dyan Cannon presented.


There is a lot happening in the Original Score category this year. The winner is Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, a 1952 film about a fading music hall performer and his romance with a suicidal ballerina. Because of Chaplin's politics and legal struggles, it took twenty years to come and play in Los Angeles theaters (it played in New York, though, and was cited in 1952 by both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review). It was Chaplin's only competitive Oscar win and instigated a rule change where the time between a film's initial release and LA release had to be a much smaller window.  

The Godfather originally received eleven nominations, the highest of any movie that year. Nino Rota's score was later rescinded when it was discovered that the "Love Theme" was a new arrangement of a theme he wrote for 1958's Fortunella. Now, I think there's plenty of other music besides the "Love Theme," but it seems so did the Academy - they allowed the Music Branch to vote one more time from a smaller pool of shortlisted titles. They changed their minds the second time around - Sleuth took the film's spot. Oddly, The Godfather: Part II would later win this category in 1974, despite being made up of arrangements of the original's themes and old Italian standards.

Here's what wound up getting nominated:

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

1972: Joel Grey and Best Supporting Actor

With Eileen Heckart having won, the ceremony continued. Elke Sommer (of Baron Blood) and Jack Valenti (head of the MPAA) presented the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, while John Gavin and Katharine Ross (who had two movies out, Get to Know Your Rabbit and They Only Kill Their Masters) revealed that The Hot Rock lost its only Oscar bid to, wouldn't you know it, Cabaret. Then Diana Ross, nominated this evening in Best Actress for Lady Sings the Blues, took the stage alongside James Coburn, having a very prolific year of US releases with Duck You Sucker, The Carey Treatment, The Honkers and A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die. The category? Best Supporting Actor, which accounted for three of The Godfather's ten nominations. The mob blockbuster already lost two categories to Cabaret ... this one would make it a third.



I'll have more to say about The Godfather and Cabaret when we discuss Adapted Screenplay, Director, and Picture. Let's look at the individual nominees:

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

1972: Eileen Heckart and Best Supporting Actress

The 45th Annual Academy Awards held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles began with an Angela Lansbury musical number, as everything should (Seventh Heaven! What a callback!). Father-and-son team Eddie Albert (nominated for The Heartbreak Kid) and Edward Albert (star of Butterflies Are Free) presented Best Sound to Cabaret, Merle Oberon gave The Poseidon Adventure a Special Achievement Oscar for its visual effects, and Beatrice Arthur and Peter Boyle (of The Candidate) did the short subjects. Now it was time for reigning champion Cloris Leachman and The Godfather's Robert Duvall to present Best Supporting Actress:



What a group of films to honor! There's The Heartbreak Kid, painfully hilarious in its depiction of a newlywed abandoning his bride (Jeannie Berlin) during their honeymoon. Fat City is a depressing drama about a fading alcoholic boxer repeatedly falling off the wagon alongside a barfly (Susan Tyrrell). Pete 'n' Tillie is a rom-com with dramatic elements about the relationship between two people, brought together by a mutual friend (Geraldine Page). The Poseidon Adventure is a disaster epic, more an effects showcase than a performance one, and yet its large ensemble (Shelley Winters, et. al.) is undeniably superb. Finally, there's the winner, Butterflies Are Free, whose synopsis about a young hot blind man falling in love with a kooky free spirit, much to his mother's (Eileen Heckart) chagrin, makes you wanna roll your eyes...and then you see it and realize what a thoughtful, effective film it really is! Five very good movies. And as for the performances...:

Monday, May 10, 2021

1972: Some Nominees

Cinematography, documentary, and film editing - these are the films honored in those categories only, who didn't break the threshold into the music, screenplay, acting, directing, or Picture categories - though, frankly, one or more of them definitely should have:

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Other Golds from 1972

Yesterday, we looked at the Golden Globes. Today, we look at the films honored by other awards ceremonies, keeping movies and their makers in the minds of Academy members up to the moment they turned their nomination ballots in.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The 30th Golden Globes

Ah, the Golden Globes! Awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association since 1944, they're a guaranteed mix of future Oscar nominees, bizarre curiosities, and genuinely good movies. As it is now, so it was in 1972 when, alongside eventual Academy Award nominees, these were the honored films:

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Crimes of '72

When The Godfather won Best Picture, it became the fourth crime drama to do so. Crime seemed to be on the mind of the 1970s film community: The Godfather was the second of four consecutive Best Picture winners in the subgenre, and the first of three to completely center the criminals as the protagonists. Maybe it was the pessimism of the ongoing Vietnam War, maybe it was the way the Tate-LaBianca murders brought a violent end to a hopeful decade, maybe it was the loosening of restrictions and complete dismantling of the Production Code in 1968. Whatever the reason, crime was a big focus for the industry, from independent exploitation efforts to big studio programmers. Such as:

Monday, May 3, 2021

Old Friends of '72

In addition to what I'd never seen before, there are, of course, a good amount of 1972 movies I had. Cabaret, The Godfather, Man of La Mancha, and these...

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Why '72?

I told myself I wasn't going to do another 70s retrospective.

After all, with 1970 just in the books back in December, that would make six editions of this retrospective series devoted to that one decade - more than any other! It was time to give more love to the 30s, the 40s, the 90s...

But then I went back home for an extended period of time. I saw family. And they all had recommendations. Well, not so much the kind of "You should see this!" recommendations, more like they reference a movie, I said I'd never seen it, they said, "You've never seen it?! You?! Oh, Walter, you got to see this movie!" So I started noting them down and, whether it says something about that year or their age, realized that every single movie they recommended was from 1972! The signs were clear: I must close the gap between 1968-1971 and 1973-1976.

These were the films they recommended:

Friday, April 30, 2021

A Year Ahead: 94th Oscars Predictions

The Oscar dust has settled, as far as I'm concerned. I only correctly guessed 14/22 of the winners, was a little disappointed by the Best Actress, pleasantly surprised by Best Actor, kicking myself for having changed my Cinematography prediction...water under the bridge now.

This means it's time to start thinking about next year's Oscars! Will next year's qualification period run from March 1, 2021-February 28, 2022, to keep with the weird timeline established out of panic? Or March 1, 2021-December 31 2021, a truncated version to get us back on track? Or will they go back to January 1, 2021-December 31, 2021, allowing January/February releases to qualify as long as they weren't nominated at the 93rd Oscars? Stranger things have happened, certainly. 

Still, Oscar does have its favorites. When I predicted this past Oscar ceremony a year ago, I foresaw the nominations for Minari in Best Picture, Anthony Hopkins in Best Actor, and LaKeith Stanfield in Best Supporting Actor, among other nods. Meanwhile, I went 0/5 in both Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, though the fact that six of the eight films I predicted across the two categories were pushed to late-2021/early-2022 absolves me of any guilt. 

Let's see what happens, shall we?

BEST PICTURE
Annette
Belfast
Canterbury Glass
Cyrano
Dear Evan Hansen
Dune
The Harder They Fall
In the Heights
King Richard
Red, White, and Water

I don't know, I'm taking a swing - four musicals nominated, one of them an original from an arthouse French director and Sparks? In addition to a Black western, a sci-fi epic, a tennis biopic, a 1930s period piece that may be a comedy, a drama about The Troubles, and Red, White and Water? Ah, who knows, probably, maybe.

BEST DIRECTOR
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Leos Carax, Annette
Jon M. Chu, In the Heights
Lila Neugebauer, Red, White and Water
David O. Russell, Canterbury Glass

Baby, I'm telling you, either neither of them gets nominated at all, or the Oscar win goes to (only once nominated previously) Branagh or Chu. Maybe! All foreign arthouse favs get here eventually, maybe this is Carax's time to shine. Russell for that in-the-club prestige shine, Neugebauer just because, there you go.

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, Canterbury Glass
Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey
Peter Dinklage, Cyrano
Anthony Ramos, In the Heights
Will Smith, King Richard

Feels like people want to nominate Collins or Dinklage for something - why not both? Charismatic Ramos in the lead role of what's sure to be a popular musical. Smith as King Richard, father of Venus and Serena, seems like either pure commercial play or his winning role. Bale in 30s suits for the director who got him a win and a surprise follow-up nod.

BEST ACTRESS
Caitriona Balfe, Belfast
Ana de Armas, Blonde
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Jennifer Hudson, Respect
Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water

Belfast sounds like one of those coming-of-age stories, but set around the Troubles; the mom roles in these tend to be pretty good (Sarah Miles in Hope and Glory, Cicely Tyson in Sounder), so expect Balfe to make it in. Bombshell De Armas as bombshell not-quite-Marilyn seems too perfect, and they love a biopic - hence, too, why I predict nods for past nominee Chastain's Tammy Faye Bakker and past winner Hudson's Aretha Franklin. Winner Lawrence returns after some time away from the public.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Willem Dafoe, The Card Counter
Richard E. Grant, Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Brian Tyree Henry, Red, White and Water
Delroy Lindo, The Harder They Fall
Mike Myers, Canterbury Glass

Lindo, never nominated, getting a nod a year after he should have won - that sounds right. Four-time nominee Dafoe, thisclose to a win, in a Paul Schrader film. Nominee Grant, the most pleasant man in showbiz, in drag in a musical. Henry, never nominated, probably will be one day, has multiple roles in some buzzy titles - just a matter of guesswork. Myers, never nominated, a comedian, in a 30s period piece for David O. Russell - hey, it could happen.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Dear Evan Hansen
Chanté Adams, A Journal for Jordan
Judi Dench, Belfast
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Olga Merediz, In the Heights

Amy Adams and Glenn Close are the two "when's it gonna happen?" actresses; it's only right that they finally triumph in musicals, but Adams gets there first. Chanté Adams was terrific in The Photograph, a movie that didn't quite rise to her talents, and maybe a Denzel Washington flick will do her better. Houdyshell won a Tony for the same role; Merediz was nominated for a Tony for the same role. And Dench? She's been here before, but never for her work with frequent collaborator Branagh.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Belfast - Kenneth Branagh
Canterbury Glass - David O. Russell
C'mon C'mon - Mike Mills
The Harder They Fall - Jeymes Samuel / Boaz Yakin
Red, White and Water - Elizabeth Sanders

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Cry Macho - Nick Schenk / N. Richard Nash
Dear Evan Hansen - Steven Levenson
Dune - Jon Spaihts / Denis Villeneuve / Eric Roth
The Humans - Stephen Karam
The Many Saints of Newark - David Chase / Lawrence Konner


Those are all the categories I guess this far in advance. 

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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Predicting The Oscars, 2020-21 Edition

Lean and mean predictions for who's winning Oscars tomorrow night. 

I believe this will be a true "spread the wealth" year, with each of the eight Best Picture nominees getting at least one Oscar.


Here we go:

LIVE ACTION SHORT: "The Letter Room"
ANIMATED SHORT: "If Anything Happens I Love You"
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "A Love Song for Latasha"
DOCUMENTARY FILM: Time
ANIMATED FILM: Soul
INTERNATIONAL FILM: Another Round
SONG: "Husavik" from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
SCORE: Soul
VISUAL EFFECTS: Tenet
SOUND: Sound of Metal
EDITING: The Trial of the Chicago 7
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Pinocchio
COSTUME DESIGN: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mank
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Nomadland
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari
ACTOR: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
ACTRESS: Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Father
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Promising Young Woman
BEST PICTURE: Nomadland


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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Coming Attraction, 2021 Edition

OK, let's get back to blogging...

Later this month, Oscar predictions - both this year's winners and next year's nominees.




In May, we're looking at the films of 1972, featuring Best Picture nominees Cabaret, Deliverance, The Emigrants, The Godfather and Sounder.




In June, it's the films of 1985, featuring Best Picture nominees The Color Purple, Kiss of the Spider WomanOut of Africa, Prizzi's Honor and Witness.





In July, it's the films of 2021 so far.

And that's what's to come...soon.


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Monday, March 15, 2021

The 93rd Oscar Nominations: Surprises, Etc.

Forty-one feature films nominated this morning, led by Mank with ten. By my count, there were five big surprises this Oscar Nomination morn. In order of shock:

1) 
Lakeith Stanfield nominated in Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. A shocker for two reasons: first of all, he was not tipped in any previous awards ceremony before this; but more importantly, he wasn't even campaigned as Supporting by Warner Bros.! So as not to compete, Stanfield was pushed for Lead and Daniel Kaluuya for Supporting. Both made it in Supporting, which makes me wonder how close Kaluuya came to pulling a Kate Winslet in The Reader-style category switcheroo. It's worth mentioning: I predicted Stanfield's nomination here back in April.

2) 
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom under-performs. Nominated by almost every guild, leading the conversation in Best Actor, and my second favorite movie of 2020, Ma Rainey managed only five nominations - Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman), Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling - getting shut out of Best Adapted Screenplay (madness) and Best Picture (lunacy). 

3) 
Da 5 Bloods gets a nomination! I had feared that it would be completely shut out (certainly its absence in Best Editing and Best Actor makes one wonder how voters define "Best"), but fortunately, this top-tier Spike Lee joint will not go down in history as a This Had Oscar Buzz entrant. Lee's longtime collaborator Terence Blanchard was nominated for Best Score.

4) 
Only eight nominees in Best Picture. Many of my friends were predicting as many as ten, I predicted nine. The aforementioned absence of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom broke my heart; the absence of One Night in Miami..., which for a time looked to be a big contender for Best Director as well, was also pretty surprising. Nothing shocking included.

5)
Another Round's Thomas Vinterberg nominated for Best Director over Aaron Sorkin. An alternate choice for many predictors (my Oscar trivia teammate recently made this very prediction on Facebook, you'll have to take my word for it). Still, I'm surprised that he unseated Sorkin instead of David Fincher or Emerald Fennell. 

The final roster of nominees after the jump:

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Oscar Nomination Predictions

Like it says on the box - or, in this case, the headline - these are what I think may be announced Monday morning when Nick and Priyanka Chopra Jonas present the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards. A lot of guesswork this year, especially when it comes to the acting and writing categories, but I'd rather a hard-to-predict year than a trudge towards the inevitable, ya know?

My predictions, after the jump... 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The 2020 Hollmann Awards: Part Two

Nine films were honored yesterday in the first day of awardage. Take a look at what I said there, what I said about my Top Ten, at the full slate of nominees...then come back here and see if you saw any of this coming. You probably did! Anyway, day two begins.....now:

Best Original Screenplay
Miss Juneteenth
Channing Godfrey Peoples
2. Ainu Mosir, 3. Promising Young Woman, 4. Driveways, 5. A Sun

Miss Juneteenth really just missed my Best Picture lineup. Peoples' writing is specific and intimate, and while it makes sure we know exactly what Turquoise's situation is, a former beauty queen on trying to make ends meets, unable or unwilling to shake her ex, trying to make a better future for her daughter, it never feels blunt, never underlines unnecessarily. And it doesn't pull punches either, throwing realistic obstacles that aren't always overcome. Things get a little better, maybe; people get stronger, definitely. I can't wait to see what Peoples has in store for us.

The remaining eight, including Best Actor and Best Picture, after the jump...

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The 2020 Hollmann Awards: Part One

You've had a week to look at my Top Ten and my nominees, a week to disagree and process. Today, we begin. It's Day One of the 2020 Hollmann Awards in 2021, with our first nine categories:

Best Supporting Actor
Brian Dennehy as Del
Driveways
2. Glynn Turman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 3. Paul Raci in Sound of Metal, 4. Colman Domingo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 5. Courtney B. Vance in Uncorked

Dennehy's swan song is a beautiful performance delivered with a light touch. Through glances and subtleties of bearing, he communicates Del's loneliness, regrets, and care for others. Like the bingo game,  the seemingly offhanded way he gets nine-year-old Cody to help out Roger, a friend increasingly displaying symptoms of dementia, welcoming one person into the fold and helping the other without embarrassment. A tender portrayal. 

Eight more, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, after the jump:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The 2020 Hollmann Awards in 2021!

120 films qualified. You saw the Top Ten. Now, here are the 42 films nominated for the 2020 Hollmann Awards across 18 categories. That is the highest number of nominated films in the 15 years I've been doing these - and I still feel bad over what I didn't include!

In no particular order (truly - each category is on scraps of paper that I ball up, toss around, then select from at random to determine the order), the nominees are:

Monday, January 25, 2021

Top Ten of 2020

From the 120 films that qualified, here is my Top Ten of 2020! Apologies to the films that just missed the cut: Ammonite, Dear Comrades!Driveways, I'm No Longer Here, Minari, MisbehaviourA Sun.


And now....the Ten!

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Films of 2020

The films I saw, released in the United States between January 1, 2020, and December 31st, 2020. Top Ten on Monday:

Monday, January 11, 2021

These I Like: 2020, Day Eighteen

And we're back, with five more 2020 releases, and filks - all of these are at least a 3.5/5 for me. Recommended!

Vitalina Varela
dir: Pedro Costa
pr: Abel Ribeiro Chaves
scr: Pedro Costa & Vitalina Varela
cin: Leonardo Simões

An Ivory Coast woman arrives in Lisbon to find her husband's died; she remains to piece together who he was and what now. Based on a true story, played out by the people who lived it. Predominately set in an endless night, buildings and people lit like they exist in an infinite void - I've not seen a Costa film before, but it appears to be his "thing," and it's very effective in visualizing the feeling of loss and of trying to get your bearings after. A waking dream, one that's stuck with me since I first watched it. On Criterion Channel.

Mank
dir: David Fincher
pr: Ceán Chaffin / Eric Roth / Douglas Urbanski
scr: Jack Fincher
cin: Erik Messerschmidt

Screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz reflects on his years in Hollywood and possible influences he can use while writing Citizen Kane. The story of a man in search of redemption, and all the reasons why. Thrilling when focused on the 1934 gubernatorial race and the insidious ways in which people with resources can manipulate information to sway things their way. Beautiful depiction of "platonic romance" between Mank and Marion Davies. Great performance, glowing cinematography, dazzling costumes, sets, makeup... Ironically, for a film about one of the greatest screenplays ever crafted, the writing is the weakest element: it limps to a conclusion, clumsily interrogates Welles' contributions, undercuts a tale of humility and close-enough redemption. On Netflix.

The Personal History of David Copperfield
dir: Armando Ianucci
pr: Armando Ianucci / Kevin Loader
scr: Simon Blackwell & Armando Ianucci
cin: Suzie Harman / Robert Worley

Young man's life from destitute orphan to success. Gets into the details not just of the author as a writer, but the then-practice of author as public speaker. Energetic, almost manic, at times; through that, it conveys a breathless joy of life, always moving yet never missing a detail, seizing the cup of life and drinking it in one go, memorizing the rich flavors passing the tongue. Dev Patel's at his floppy-haired winningest. Great fun.

Let Him Go
dir/scr: Thomas Bezucha
pr: Thomas Bezucha / Mitchell Kaplan / Paula Mazur
cin: Guy Godfree

A retired couple go to save their newly-married former daughter-in-law and grandson from an abusive family. Patient, reflective of the sturdy performances from quiet Kevin Costner and watchful Diane Lane. Uneasy throughout, a thriller of set jaws and cautious conversation, of violence and terror waiting to strike. Doesn't rest on rescue and revenge, either, but observes the strains of family and survivors of tragedy and trauma. Subtle period detail. Meat-and-potatoes filmmaking.

Ammonite
dir/scr: Francis Lee
pr: Iain Canning / Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly / Emile Sherman
cin: Stéphane Fontaine

Fossil hunter Mary Anning trains a wealthy young married woman in her work; they end up having a steamy affair. Kate Winslet's giving one of her best performances: she's focused in her work, possessed of an intense but highly-guarded well of emotions, not what you'd think of as happy but there's a certain steadiness to her, a kind of...well, she's more than you expect, let us say. Camera captures a prehistoric, perhaps even alien beauty in the slate and mud of the Dorset coast, reflected in the deceptively simple production design of the village: sparse, off-white, one with the rock. Adore the costumes. 

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