Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The 1998 Retro Hollmann Awards Winners!

It has been difficult to actually sit down and write my personal winners for 1998. Familiarity is, I think, partly to blame: many of the past retrospectives have been treasure troves of discoveries, whereas 1998 was a year I actually experienced, so there were a lot of rewatches this time around. Shouldn't that make me more ready to write about films I've loved and enjoyed for years? Well, I guess it should, but knowing much of my readership has already heard me wax on about many of these films in real life or on social media, there's a feeling of redundancy. 

Still, winners I promised, and winners I shall deliver. To reacquaint yourself with all the parties involved: my Top Ten of the Year, and the full list of nominees

Now, on with the show...

Sunday, November 5, 2023

My Top Ten of 1998

I watched 75 films, whittled that down to a list of 21 favorites, came to a final 13, and now - with apologies to the three almost-made-its, The Last Days of DiscoPleasantville, and Spice World - I present my Top Ten Films of 1998:

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

1998: Best Picture

Nothing was more certain in 1998 than Saving Private Ryan's Best Picture Oscar. It had nearly swept all the "precursors," it was the second-highest-grossing film of the year, it was Spielberg - it was inevitable. But those in the know already heard the buzz going about. Saving Private Ryan is uneven, it was six months ago, what about a movie that makes you happy to be alive? And so came the surprise winner of the night:

And people still debate the two. Are you for Private Ryan or Shakespeare? The Greatest Generation or the Elizabethan Age? "Earn this" or "It is a new world"? 

Here's where I stand:

Monday, October 30, 2023

1998: Best Director

Of course, the big story in 1998 was the return of Terrence Malick.

I'm going by Oscar Wars (incredible work by Michael Schulman) and Inside Oscar 2 (incredibly bitchy work by Damien Bona) when I give these details. Malick was beloved by critics, artists, and cinephiles for his 1970s releases Badlands and Days of Heaven. Then he left for Paris, just dropped out, doing the odd uncredited rewrite here and there but otherwise kept out of the whole Hollywood thing. Producers Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau coaxed him out after 19 years, and The Thin Red Line is the result. It would be another 13 before he would follow up with The Tree of Life, and now the man can't stop churning them out! By his standards, anyway.

Malick's return was a triumph critically and Oscarally - nominations-wise, at any rate. Because, at least in Best Director, there was no stopping the inevitable:

Was the inevitable the right choice, though?

Friday, October 27, 2023

1998: The Screenplays

Was it last year or earlier this year when Kyle Turner asked whether people who discuss/nominate/award screenplays actually read the screenplays, or do they just go off the vibes of the finished film? 

Anyway, ask this he did, and I felt directly indicted because, while I tried in 2007 and 2008 to only nominate screenplays I'd read, I stopped this because...well, mostly, it's difficult to find them the further back you go, but also because, ugh, the time and the energy. But he's right. If we're going to discuss screenwriting, we can't just look at the finished product with all the edits, rewrites, performances, etc, that interpret the work. We have to look at the source of all this, the blueprint. Is it a 1:1 transfer? Did the final product let down the promise of the written word; did it improve on it? Are script and film completely different? How much could the actors, crafts artists, director work from?

These are the questions I asked as I went through these nominees and reflected on how much reading determined the wins for Shakespeare in Love and Gods and Monsters:

Where available, I've linked to the available drafts (and for the real students of all film craft, Ian McKellen's official site has his Gods and Monsters script scanned page by page - with his notes!).

We start with Adapted Screenplay:

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

1998: Best Actress

Best Actress 1998 is a heated one. The winner was Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love:

And it's a win that's gone through all the phases of backlash, backlash-to-the-backlash, mild "not a bad performance but shouldn't have won" criticism, etc. And to be fair, even at the time there was no guarantee that Paltrow would triumph. Yes, she won the Screen Actors Guild Award and the Musical/Comedy Globe, but Elizabeth's Cate Blanchett won the BAFTA and the Drama Globe and had genuine "a star is born" notices, while Central Station's Fernanda Montenegro was lauded by the National Board of Review and the LA Film Critics (the New York Critics went for...Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary). 

Even today, the conversation continues: when Fritz And The Oscars polled "Film Twitter," Montenegro was the overwhelming favorite, and just three years ago Glenn Close brought it all up, concurring with the chorus of Montenegro support. Still others (including the Guest GMs on the 1998 Mini-Mega episode of Screen Drafts) rhapsodize over Blanchett's "a star is born!" performance. Few stick up for Paltrow, and has essentially become a much-debated, three-way race.

Which side do I fall on? I was surprised...

Monday, October 23, 2023

1998: Best Original Song

Was Best Original Song the most competitive category at the 71st Academy Awards? It feels that way. Of the five nominees, only two were also nominated for the Golden Globe: The Prince of Egypt's "When You Believe" and Quest for Camelot's "The Prayer" which won. The other songs nominated were "Uninvited" from City of Angels, "The Mighty" from The Mighty, "Reflection" from Mulan, and "The Flame Still Burns" from Still Crazy.

Too, only two were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Film or TV - in separate years, due to the Grammys' weird eligibility calendar. Armageddon's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" lost to Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On," in a lineup that also included, from 1997, Tomorrow Never Dies' "Tomorrow Never Dies", and from 1998, the aforementioned "Uninvited" and Mulan's "True to Your Heart." A year later, The Prince of Egypt's "When You Believe" lost to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me's "Beautiful Stranger," in a lineup that also included, from 1998, A Bug's Life's "The Time of Your Life" and, from 1999, Music of the Heart's "Music of My Heart" and Tarzan's "You'll Be in My Heart."

And what actually charted? Looking solely at the Top 40, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" was the #3 song of the whole year, while "When You Believe" charted at #16. Any other movie songs? Unsurprisingly, two from the Spice Girls film Spice World make it: "Too Much" at #37 and "Viva Forever" at #27. Another City of Angels track, The Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" hit #8 - how many people remember that that song is from City of Angels? Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page's collab for Godzilla, "Come with Me," was #35, though the fact that it's basically Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" with Puff Daddy lyrics would have made it ineligible for any Original Song categories. And"Ghetto Superstar (That is What You Are)" was #15 for the year - the single made its debut in the Warren Beatty political satire Bulworth, of all things. Also, while Faith Hill's "This Kiss" was not written for Practical Magic - indeed, it came out a full eight months before the movie - once you see Practical Magic, the song forever becomes part of Practical Magic. And yes, it falls just outside the Top 40 at #41, but who doesn't want to see this?:

So what actually was at the Oscars? Here:

Sunday, October 22, 2023

1998: Best Actor

Another week of 1998 Oscaring begins! We've covered James Coburn's late-career Oscar triumph, Judi Dench's brief screen time resulting in the win, and an unusual music split. Today, we look back at Best Actor, won for the first time by non-English-language performance:

Some people - mostly the cinephiles and Oscar folks - look back in retrospect and just cannot believe Life is Beautiful was such a triumph: not just seven Academy Award nominations, but three wins! This does not happen with non-US/UK films. In the 25 years since Benigni's win, only two "foreign language" performances have been nominated for Best Actor, Javier Bardem in Biutiful and Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory. Neither were from Best Picture nominees, neither won (two other bilingual performances have been nominated, too: Demián Bichir in A Better Life and Steven Yeun in Best Picture nominee Minari; again, neither won, and both are US productions about the immigrant experience). That Benigni could break through on such a level ... it's a testament to tenacity of US distributor Miramax, run at the time by Harvey Weinstein, but those of us who were around 25 years ago remember how genuinely popular it was. My own fourth-grade teacher talked about it, my aunts recommended it, Ebert gave it three-and-a-half was a hit! Trust me, no one had heat going into Oscar night like he did.

But was his the best performance? Let's talk...

Friday, October 20, 2023

1998: The Scores

To close out the week, we're looking at two categories: Best Original Musical Or Comedy Score and Best Drama Score.

The Best Original Musical Or Comedy Score has its antecedents, of course, in the Original Song Score, Original Musical Score, and Adaptation Score categories, categories separate from Original Score or (briefly) Original Drama Or Comedy Score to delineate between wholly new compositions, orchestrations of previously existing music, and musicals written for the screen. The last time any of these were used was 1984, when Prince won for Purple Rain. Just 11 years later, the Academy, reportedly in response to Disney's domination of the Song and Score categories since 1989's The Little Mermaid, once again came up with an alternate honor for musicals. The weird thing is, comedies were mixed in this time, even though they're not similar approaches at all: a score for a comedy is still a score, different from composing music and lyrics that are later adapted into underscore. The category only lasted four ceremonies, with this one being its last:

Listen to the scores and you tell me who should've won:

Thursday, October 19, 2023

1998: Best Supporting Actress

Following James Coburn's triumph in Best Supporting Actor, Gwyneth Paltrow named her Shakespeare in Love cohorts the winners for Best Art Direction, while fellow Elizabethan drama Elizabeth walked away with Best Makeup. "Election Night (Valgaften)" and "Bunny" were named Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short, respectively. And now comes Robin Williams to present Best Supporting Actress.

Did the right one win? My thoughts:

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

1998: Best Supporting Actor

Having discussed many of the yeat's releases, we finally get down to the 71st Academy Awards, starting with the first award of the night: Best Supporting Actor. Everyone here won something: Duvall got the Screen Actors Guild honor, Thorton won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award, Rush would win the British Academy Award a month later, Harris won both the Golden Globe and the National Board of Review, and Coburn, the man who'd spent 45 years in the business, won the Oscar. A surprise to him, clearly:

A deeper look at the nominees:

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

1998: Final Four

Say what you will for last-minute release dates, all four of these films went to be nominated for Oscars - impressive especially for Affliction, considering it first screened at the 1997 Venice Film Festival the previous September! That's a long time to keep the buzz going, but hey, it made it.

Mighty Joe Young
release: December 25
nominee: Best Visual Effects

Christmas continues, this is the fourth release for the day! Remake of the 1949 film about a large gorilla and the girl who grew up with him; here, to protect him from poachers, he is moved to a Los Angeles animal sanctuary - but of course, a villain from the past returns. The VFX hold up impressively: I truly believe that giant gorilla is there playing hide-and-seek with Charlize Theron. Theron, of course, has great chemistry with the much older Bill Paxton, but they are two of the most charismatic screen presences - as witness the wonderful way they perform against the CGI Joe. Solid big studio entertainment.

Patch Adams
release: December 25
nominee: Best Original Musical or Comedy Score

The true story of a medico who wanted to heal chiefly through personal connection - including, yes, laughter. Didn't think it was so bad, just rote, then they invented a fictional girlfriend that gets murdered and while inventing drama for a "true" story is par for the course, surely inventing trauma and a full murder goes beyond the pale, especially as it relates to people struggling with mental health issues? Gross!

release: December 30
winner: Best Supporting Actor (James Coburn)
nominee: Best Actor (Nick Nolte)

A small-town cop with demons starts to suspect bigger things are afoot in his community as he investigates a hunter's death. The story of a man so terrified of becoming his father that he is determined to try to prove himself a good man, the only man who can stand up for and uncover the truth...even as his obsession drives him deeper into a despair that, of course, draws him closer to his father than he'd like to be. An involving portrait of mental disintegration.

Hilary and Jackie
release: December 30
nominee: Best Actress (Emily Watson), Best Supporting Actress (Rachel Griffiths)

Bio of sister musicians Hilary and Jackie du Pré, with Jackie and her struggle with loneliness, fame, and multiple sclerosis being the central focus. Never heard of them before, movie does a poor job making them interesting, impressive considering they share a husband for a season. Anand Tucker does some whoo-ee things with the camera to keep things interesting, but it's more distracting than anything. The actors are doing their job. Not a good movie.

That just leaves the five films nominated for Best Picture. And we'll get to them, eventually. First, let's take a look at the individual nominees, starting tomorrow with Best Supporting Actor: James Coburn (Affliction), Robert Duvall (A Civil Action), Ed Harris (The Truman Show), Geoffrey Rush (Shakespeare in Love), and Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan). 

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Monday, October 16, 2023

1998: Holiday Hits

Past years, you can see a good spreading of the wealth when it comes to release dates for Oscar nominees. As we go further along through the 90s and 00s, you'll notice a lot of nominees come from the last two months of the year...the time when ballots go out and so whatever's fresh in the memory gets their box ticked. Of the following 14 films, seven were nominated for Academy Awards. Deservedly so? You tell me...

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

1998: Wilde Things

I had wanted to begin in the month of April, when Lost in Space - starring William Hurt, in his third of four 1998 films - finally dethroned Titanic to take the #1 spot at the weekend box office. But, timing and availability difficulties worked against me, and so now I must skip a William Hurt film and go straight to May, beginning with...

Monday, October 9, 2023

1998: The Year Begins

With this 1998 retrospective, we complete what we started over a year ago: watching every Shakespeare film nominated for Best Picture. Shakespeare in Love is not based on the Bard directly, of course, but given that it weaves Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night into a story centered on the man himself...well, come on, it belongs here. Besides, 2023 also happens to be 25 years since 1998! A whole quarter century!

I turned nine in 1998, and while I don't remember seeing a lot of releases in the theater - one was, after all, at the mercy of parents - I'm pretty sure I saw at least six. There was A Bug's Life, which I saw before they added "bloopers" to the end credits; Everest, a Father's Day treat at the local IMAX (one of the last films my dad saw in a theater, followed by lunch at Creolina's); Paulie; The Prince of Egypt; Spice World, which my sister and her then-boyfriend took me to; and The Truman Show, my first foray into "grownup" cinema. Most 1998 films I wound up seeing through the 00s on home video. Some of those I rewatched for this project, some I didn't, and therefore won't count them towards the "movie count," my memory of them being extremely vague...and 25 years old. Mostly, I took the opportunity to watch films I hadn't seen before. Not just Oscar nominees, but stuff like the Godzilla remake or Happiness or There's Something About Mary.

So, where do we start? Well, hell, where does the year usually start? It starts in January...

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Coming Soon: 1998!

Starting Sunday it's the 25th anniversary of...everything! Yes, We're looking at the films of 1998, including these 32 films nominated at the 71st Academy Awards.

All these, plus: the films of Drew Barrymore! Kenneth Branagh in '98! Indie gems like High Art! Cult flicks turned canon like The Big Lebowski! And so much more! All starting Sunday, October 8th!

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Thursday, August 31, 2023

The 1984 Retro Hollmann Awards: The Winners, Part Two

Part One yesterday. Today, we complete the 1984 Retro Hollmann Awards - the fiftieth Hollmann Awards overall! Keep reading to see my picks for the year's Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Score - and Best Picture of the Year:

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The 1984 Retro Hollmann Awards: The Winners, Part One

Here we are - and on time - the first half of the 1984 Retro Hollmann Awards!

These first nine winners are more than just my favorites from films made ~40 years ago. Combine the contemporary and retro editions, and this makes, overall, the Fiftieth Hollmann Awards! 

Here are the first nine 1984 Retro Hollmann Awards winners, starting with the fiftieth winner for Best Director:

Monday, August 28, 2023

The 1984 Retro Hollmann Awards - Nominees

Almost a week late, and for a few reasons, though the one important one is: this was hard! Even last night I was second-guessing my choices and changing lineups and just...nothing seemed 100% right. It's just such a good year.

Well, anyway, now I've managed it from 76 films to a Top Ten, and now I've narrowed all the elements into 18 categories with five nominees each - and 32 films honored.

The nominees are:

Monday, August 21, 2023

Top Ten Films of 1984

A reminder - these were the 76 films screened for this 1984 retrospective.

Against All Odds
All of Me
Beverly Hills Cop
Body Double
The Bostonians
Broadway Danny Rose
The Brother from Another Planet
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo
The Company of Wolves
Conan the Destroyer
The Cotton Club
Crimes of Passion
Falling in Love
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
Harry & Son
The House by the Cemetery
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Karate Kid
The Killing Fields
The Lonely Guy
Mass Appeal
Mike's Murder
Mrs. Soffel
Moscow on the Hudson
The Muppets Take Manhattan
The Natural
The NeverEnding Story
Night of the Comet
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Nineteen Eighty-Four
El Norte
Once Upon a Time in America
Paris, Texas
A Passage to India
Places in the Heart
The Pope of Greenwich Village
Purple Rain
A Question of Silence
Repo Man
The River
Romancing the Stone
Secret Honor
Sixteen Candles
Sleepaway Camp
A Soldier's Story
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Stop Making Sense
Stranger Than Paradise
Streets of Fire
A Sunday in the Country
Swing Shift
The Terminator
This is Spinal Tap
The Times of Harvey Milk
Top Secret!
Under the Volcano
Unfaithfully Yours
The Woman in Red

Now - with apologies to Honorable Mentions The Cotton Club (my #13), Harry & Son (my #11), and Mass Appeal (my #12) - my personal Top Ten Films of 1984, in alphabetical order.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

1984: Best Picture

After winning seven of its other ten nominations, it was inevitable that Amadeus would end up the night's winner for Best Picture:

Do we feel the same way? Read on...

Thursday, August 17, 2023

1984: Best Actor

Perhaps no surprise in retrospect, the Academy named as its Best Actor F. Murray Abraham, one of the two lead actors of the film that eventually won Best Picture:

It is interesting how we got there. The leads of Amadeus, first of all, are the non-stars of this lineup - maybe you can argue Sam Waterston was always more of a character/TV/theatre actor, but at this point, he was already a Golden Globe, BAFTA Award, and Emmy nominee. And even then, of the two bigger stars, Albert Finney was representing Under the Volcano, a film that got little Oscar love elsewhere, while Jeff Bridges was his Starman's sole nominee in any category.

All five were nominated at the Golden Globes, and many had critics' prizes, but none of them had the honor of being named Best Actor by both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. That honor was claimed by none other than Steve Martin for All of Me: the physical comedy combined with his genuine tenderness and chemistry with Lily Tomlin all contributed, I'm sure.

The nominees:

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

1984: Best Actress

This was the year Sally Field won her second Academy Award and made her (in)famous "You like me" speech:

The film in question was Places in the Heart, a Best Picture nominee that we have discussed at least thrice before, and one of just three rural-based films nominated in the Best Actress category. The others were The River, where Sissy Spacek cedes most of the narrative to Mel Gibson, and Country, a Jessica Lange vehicle - both films openly critical of then-current policies that saw the small-time farmer being pushed out of home and work, eagerly bought up by corporations and the banks. President Reagan even wrote about Country being propaganda, though all three take a look at government opportunism and the impact on communities, disaster relief, even other communities and occupations outside. 

The other nominees were Judy Davis (the only first-time nominee and only non-winner) from A Passage to India, another Best Picture nominee we've discussed before, and Vanessa Redgrave from The Bostonians, a Merchant-Ivory adaptation of Henry James' novel about turn-of-the-century feminists and the young woman who comes between two cousins (of opposite genders!), slow even by their standards. 

The nominees:

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

1984: Best Adapted Screenplay

Even as a child, I fantasized about winning this category, so imagine getting to discuss a lineup like this, all killer, no filler, and the winner is none other than a man whose plays I inhaled throughout high school:

Find copies of these screenplays. They are great samples of setting, characterization, action, dialogue. They are all readily available, as they've all gone on to be held up and taught as how to write a screenplay. Gosh, I love them all.

The nominees:

Monday, August 14, 2023

1984: Best Original Song, Best Original Score

A week ago today, we discussed the three nominees for Best Song Score. Today, we look at two categories: Best Original Song and Best Original Score. That's nine movies nominated - and only one of them, A Passage to India, was up for Best Picture. The others?
  • Against All Odds, a remake of the 1947 noir classic Out of the Past, with Jeff Bridges as a football player on the way out who picks up an odd job finding the runaway daughter of a millionaire...and winds up in over his head (I liked it - more than I did the original, as a matter of fact, and you better believe Jeff Bridges' whole look in this movie is a big reason why...);
  • Footloose, the story of a city boy who moves to a small town where dancing is illegal; its "cheesy 80s dance-ical" reputation belies the fact that much of it is made up of intimate conversations about values, faith, and fear - miniature chamber pieces stitched together by a great soundtrack (and, full disclosure, as a teen I did the stage version twice - once as the reverend, once as Kevin Bacon);
  • Ghostbusters, the lightning-in-a-bottle filmmakers keep trying to recapture about professional ghost hunters - goofy, uneven, fun;
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark with game performers and incredible production values brought together in a surprisingly uninteresting package, just a deadweight, nonsense script;
  • The Natural, a fantasy sports drama about a natural ballplayer given a second chance at the big time - if he can resist the temptations put before him. Lightweight, interesting, serene;
  • The River, which is also up for Best Actress, about a farm family faced with economic crises;
  • Under the Volcano, a Best Actor nominee, about the last day in the life of an alcoholic diplomat in Mexico;
  • And The Woman in Red, a remake of a French film about a man tempted into adultery by a sexy model and the mishaps he encounters along the way - bad movie, great Gilda Radner.
These are the films hosting the best music in 1984 cinema - according to the Academy, at least. Let's listen to Song first:

Sunday, August 13, 2023

1984: Best Director

Miloš Forman's Oscar win for Best Director was inevitable. Before that ceremony, he had already been named Best Director by the Hollywood Foreign Press, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Directors Guild of America. The only competitive film award he lost was BAFTA, and that may be because Amadeus was a 1985 release - he had to wait a whole year, by which time new and shiny films had come along (oddly, too,, it's the only year where directors did not have their own category but shared the Best Film award and nomination with their producers). But for the 1984 film year, Forman's Oscar was a shoo-in:

A past winner himself, he was up against a first-timer and three other past winners. These folks, in fact:

Thursday, August 10, 2023

1984: Best Supporting Actor

History was made at the 57th Academy Awards when Dr. Haing S. Ngor won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor:

Not because Ngor was a non-actor: Harold Russell already accomplished that at the 19th Academy Awards. But here, Ngor became the first East Asian performer to win a Supporting Actor Oscar, in a lineup where, for the first time in any acting category, non-white performers made up the majority. In addition to Ngor, John Malkovich, and Sir Ralph Richardson (posthumously nominated for a Tarzan film), the Academy nominated Adolph Caesar, a  longtime theatre performer and the voice of a generation of Blaxploitation trailers, repeating a stage triumph in a Best Picture nominee, and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, nominated for his performance in the fifth-biggest money-maker of the year, The Karate Kid. The Karate Kid is the only film nominated nowhere else, not even Best Original Song, despite being both a hit and a genuine, honest-to-God, holy cow great movie! Everything about it crackles: the acting, the editing, the score, the cinematography, the finale! Gosh, what a film!

 OK, so Morita was in a great movie, and he and Caesar and Ngor were part of history. How are their performances? Let's see:

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

1984: Best Supporting Actress

What qualifies one as a lead? Peggy Ashcroft went back and forth the whole awards season for her performance in A Passage to India, winning three Best Actress awards and two Best Supporting Actress awards before finally getting the Oscar:

But was she lead or supporting? One can make the case that the leads are solely Judy Davis and Victor Banerjee, for reasons we shall get into when we cover A Passage to India in future posts. One can also make the case that Davis, Banerjee, Ashcroft, and James Fox all share lead status, or that Ashcroft and Davis are both leads, or that only Banerjee is the lead, or...well, as I said, we'll get into it. The only clear thing about Ashcroft is that she was going to win, period. There was not a single award that she was up for that she lost, and she was nominated for everything

As was Christine Lahti for Swing Shift, a dramedy about women who went to work in the steel factories while the men were overseas serving their country during World War Two. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell star, but Lahti steals the show, and received the film's only nomination (by the way, although it doesn't have the best reputation, I quite like Swing Shift - it's more complex than its critics give it credit for, and if Hawn's protagonist seems a bit muddled...well, yeah, she is, so what?). 

Another lone acting nominee here is the oft-nominated Geraldine Page for The Pope of Greenwich Village. The movie's about a pair of cousins, perpetual screw-ups who feel they can never catch a break, wind up causing a cop's death while trying to rip off mobsters. Page is the cop's momma, basically a cameo. I'm surprised hers is the only nod for her movie: while a little overlong and tonally all over the place, there are some solid performances throughout, the most notable being Eric Roberts as the most irritating piece-of-shit you've ever seen.

Also nominated were Lindsay Crouse, whose film Places in the Heart we've discussed before and will again, and Glenn Close for The Natural, where she plays the good girl hometown love of the titular character, a miraculously gifted ballplayer given a second chance. Interesting fantasy-sports drama, one we'll get into next week. Anyway, the nominees:

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

1984: Best Original Screenplay

Best Original Screenplay, 1984. What do we see in this lineup? A nomination for a writer-director that seemed to get invited any time he sneezed, even though he never showed up; a low budget "arthouse" non-English language film with sociological heft; a Best Picture nominee; and, bookending these, the #1 and #10 box office hits of the year. I'd make a comparison like, "That'd be like if last year's Original Screenplay nominees were..." except that the biggest film of last year that would have qualified here - i.e., wasn't a sequel or adapted from a comic book - was #12. 1984 was a different time in many ways.

The only nominee here that didn't show up at the WGA Awards was Beverly Hills Cop - the aforementioned #1 movie of the year - taking the slot held at the Guild's ceremony by Romancing the Stone. We'll see what I think of that. We'll also see what I think of the eventual winner which, unsurprisingly, was the aforementioned Best Picture nominee:

And we'll see those

Monday, August 7, 2023

1984: Best Original Song Score

The Academy has awarded Scores since the 7th Academy Awards, but they've always been futzing with what does and does not qualify as Original...or how such things should be categorized. The 11th Academy Awards introduced the idea of two categories, one for Original Scores, the other for Scoring - that is, orchestrations of either the said Originals or of previously existing music incorporated into the film. Longtime readers will have seen how, over the next four decades, the Academy kept adapting that second category to satisfy Original Musicals, then Adaptations (of Original and Pre-Existing Music), eventually ending with...Original Song Score. Yes, the Oscars honoring the films of 1984 finally put an end to the madness - for a little while, anyway - with one final award, impressive enough to have the Academy go, "You know what? Stick a fork in 'er, she's done, we'll never top that." And to be fair, how does one top giving an Oscar to Prince?

Well, let's see if we can...:

Sunday, August 6, 2023

1984: Also Nominated...

We can finally talk about Oscar's favorite films of 1984. That year was a perfect meeting of audience appeal, industry appeal, and genuine quality - three distinct things, strangely. Of the year's Top Ten box office hits, only three - Gremlins at #4, Police Academy at #6, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock at #9 - did not go on to nominations at the Academy Awards. 

Today's different: of the nominees we're discussing today, only two - Romancing the Stone at #8, 2010 at #17 - even hit the Top 20. We concern ourselves today not with performances, screenplays, directors or even music. These films saw their Academy accolades in craft, technical, and specialty categories: Art Direction, Costume Design, Documentary, Editing, Makeup, Sound, and Visual Effects.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

1984: Sex and Violence

Yesterday, I mentioned this lineup of films includes works from four of my favorite directors - all-timers, the best of the best. I'm sure many of you can guess, but let me know which films/directors you think I'm talking about. And please - join in the convo! What do you think of these flicks? Seen them? Love them?


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

1984: The Year Begins

Why 1984? I hadn't planned on it - actually, I had wanted to do 1998 after 1948, then move on to Hollywood's Golden Age. But sometimes The Universe takes you on another journey. In the past two years, thanks to appearances on the Screen Drafts podcast and recommendations by friends horrified at the "classics" I've missed, I have had the films of 1984 thrust upon me. It took one such recommendation to finally get me to go, "Oh, OK, I have to see this year in full." And while a slate of 76 films isn't necessarily full, it is a lot! I think!

This week, we focus on the releases not nominated at the Academy Awards. Today, it's the films released between January and April...and one before that...

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

And Next Week...

Taking a break from 1948 to talk about what's next. Starting August 1, we look back at the films of 1984! I screened 76 films for this project, including these 32 Academy Award nominees:

It all begins Tuesday, August 1st, right here at The Silver Screening Room.

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