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...