Oscar Nominated Films

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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:31 am

Trader Horn (1931) - W. S. Van Dyke

An epic adventure from a man who would soon come to dominate that genre in Hollywood. Hollywood got ambitious, and they took their project to the jungles of Africa, shooting on location. The result is that the film looks like a travelogue frequently more often than a film. Some great shots abound, and even the rear projection is handled remarkably well. The film itself was shot silent with audio added. Like many films of the time this has no orchestral score, but relies on the "sounds of Africa". As one would expect the film is remarkably imperialist, with Africans depicted as little more than animals, frequently silent, and even at the end referred to as "monkeys" by the title character. Lots of gratuitous nudity abounds and this film would have been impossible if made after 1934. Not to detract from any of this, but it has a very sensational nature. The picture is a little long, and some of the acting is weak, but the spectacle of it all will eventually carry it through.

*Trader Horn was nominated for best picture
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:11 am

Five Star Final (1932) - Mervyn LeRoy

Oh sweet lord this film is fantastic. It can get melodramatic and for a long time you get a feeling this will be another badly dated overemphasized piece of clunky early sound cinema. However the more the film progresses the more fantastic it gets. When drama hits, it hits hard. LeRoy's direction is nothing short of brilliant, with the same penchant for off screen space and a quietly mobile camera that made Lewis Milestone's earlier Front Page so vital. Edward G. Robinson takes awhile to shine here, but once he is given the opportunity to let out some emotion he instantly has us on his side. He even makes us forget what a horrible act he has comitted. Unfortunately Five Star Final has never been released on VHS or DVD, so finding it is a supreme problem. However it is one of the most exciting of early pictures, even outperforming LeRoy and Robinson's now landmark Little Caesar. The connection can be made that the newspaper men aren't much different from gangsters, they're responsible for murders, they're motivated by money, and are amoral. Some characters in this film are stereotypes and used for a specific role in society rather than as a character, but with the concise nature of the plot, you can't slight the director for oversimplifying in a few instances. The film is also a point of curiosity for another supporting turn from Borris Karloff, before movie stardom hit him.

*Five Star Final was nominated for best picture.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:49 am

A Farewell to Arms (1932) - Frank Borzage

Hemmingway's first big crack at Hollywood came when his then immensely popular novel was adapted by Paramount. Hot off the heels of a best actress Oscar, Helen Hayes gets top billing as Catherine Barkley the nurse-cum-love interest of Gary Cooper's Lt. Henry. The two are an interesting pair onscreen with the barely 5 foot Hayes looking up at the 6'3" Cooper. However they are great together, and Hayes was never more radiant. Borzage compacts much of the story, and in one brilliant montage covers nearly all the combat. Much of the weight is concentrated on the love scenes, and in these Cooper and particularly Hayes sparkle. Photography throughout is great courtesy of Charles Lang, and the film is a very well made production, certainly better than some of Borzage's work. I will admit to not having read the book, so I can't make any comparisons. The film was remade in typically overblown fashion by David O'Selznick.

*A Farwell to Arms was nominated for best picture, best art direction, best sound, and won for best cinematography.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Feb 08, 2007 6:36 am

Viva Villa! (1934) - Howard Hawks and Jack Conway

A wildly "loose" biography of Villa, is a prime example of history via Hollywood. Wallace Beery plays Villa like a complete ignorant hick, which he may have been, but Beery is more of a dumb bully. There are times however when he truly excels in his role. Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay and this is a damn fine collection of dialogue. Although Hawks was replaced during filming, much of his footage survives, and I can be willing to guarantee Hawks shot the first "wedding" of Villa's, it is pure Hawks in every element. However as a film Viva Villa is more a collection of decent moments. There are good scenes, witty dialogue, and occasional moments of brilliance from Beery, but the film lacks a really compelling unity, and is all too often dumbed down history. Some of the crowd scenes recall Conway's work in A Tale of Two Cities, and much of the latter parts of the picture are overblown spectacle.

*Viva Villa! was nominated for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best sound, and won for best assistant director (John Waters).
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:23 am

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - Sidney Franklin

MGM production chief Irving Thalberg seemed to love his wife. Throughout the decade he kept throwing her in films more and more melodramatic. This production is another pull out all the stops pictures. Charles Laughton is nearly cartoonish in his super villian oppresive near incestuous father, not leaving much room for a well developed character. In fact none of the characters really seem to be developed, instead they're all playing a type. Shearer as the sick poet turned love object, she doesn't seem to develop much. Sure the performance was enough to impress 1934 audiences to give her yet another Oscar nomination. Truly a family affair as usual, Norma's brother Douglas was the sound recordist. Frederic March once again is underutilized in an MGM production, with his character clearly supporting, and barely given any reign to convey emotions, other than silly infatuation. These are the type of films that make me sick to my stomach, stuffy, melodramatic horse @#%$ that seemed to cranked out by the dozen. I'm starting to develop a contempt for everying emanating from MGM during this time period. Thank god the Academy wasn't as impressed with this, and rightfully rewarded Frank Capra's infinitely superior It Happened One Night.

*The Barretts of Wimpole Street was nominated for best picture and best actress (Shearer).
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:05 am

Naughty Marietta (1935) - W. S. Van Dyke

Wow, all 12 of 'em are now done, and by that I mean all the best picture nominees from 1935, the second and last year that 12 films were put in contention. Naughty Marietta was a historical marvel, the first pairing of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, a duo who would become the most popular singing couple in all of film. Sure today their films are largely forgotten as their operatic style of singing has fallen far out of favor, but in the mid-thirties these two were golden. Naughty Marietta is a decent film. MacDonald plays Marietta as a mixture of her own aristocratic beauty with Chevallier's rebellious charm, as if her character had learned something from their earlier romance. Sure it is another excuse for large pageantry, but what makes the film endearing, at least to audiences of the day is that the leads are from two separate worlds, but can find a common ground. They can only be together in America, and despite being royalty, MacDonald willingly throws away her title, prestige and all the luxury that comes with it. The songs are alright, with everything building up to the final duet, which is of course their symbolic sexual intercourse. I have heard good things about one of the duo's later musicals, but I'll stick to this one as a point of historical importance, and of course for my own research purposes.

*Naughty Marietta was nominated for best picture. It won Douglas Shearer another one of many Oscars for Best Sound.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:18 pm

Three Smart Girls (1936) - Henry Koster

A film very charming at times and hard on the ear drums. Deanna Durbin might have a voice, but lord it is high, and with three shrieking young ladies in the cast, blood will surely run from your ear drums. Now the plot is so easy to figure out, its a little shocking to the average man's intelligence. Girl's divorced father plans on remarrying, the girls want him back with their mother. Of course things are made horrifically easy because the new bride to be is an intolerable gold digger. Things are simple here, characters are good or bad, everyone falls in love, except for Durbin. Her character is meant to be innocent and young, and she doesn't even pretend to be interested in a man. In fact she doesn't even have a hidden crush here. Instead her love affair is with singing, and the picture makes several excuses to get her into song without necessarily being a musical. Now I found the chemistry between the sisters great, and liked some of the characters, but this is certainly light entertainment. Durbin was originally rejected by MGM as part of a double act with Judy Garland. She then went to Universal where this film is credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy, although who knows how much truth is in that. The film was followed by a sequel 3 years later called Three Smart Girls Grow Up, and Durbin's next film 100 Men and a Girl was nominated for a best picture Oscar the next year.

*Three Smart Girls was nominated for best picture, best original story, and best sound.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:17 pm

Hope and Glory (1987) - John Boorman

An affectionate and autobiographical look back at youth, with the unlikely backdrop of WWII. As the film progresses it generally keeps a light hearted tone, and certainly is such at its conclusion. Thus avoiding the usual pratfalls of tragedy in a war film. Told with much of Boorman's usual visual theatrics, this one however supresses them later in the film for a more conventional narrative. Perhaps this makes the film's later section suffer, but it also doesn't make it more of a visual gimmick as some of his earlier pictures may have been. The film is endearing, and I have preferred it to Spielberg's similar Empire of the Sun, but I still think I'm burnt out on WWII films. Hope and Glory's greatest competition didn't come from Spielberg however, but from The Last Emperor, which won all 9 of its Oscar nominations.

*Hope and Glory was nominated for best picture, best director, best art direction, best cinematography, and best original screenplay.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:09 am

Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) - Franklin J. Schaffner

Oh god my eyes are bleeding. Let me begin this review by saying "@#%$ this god damn horseshit, limp dick excuse for a movie". Absolutely @#%$ awful on nearly all acounts, and just as I was beginning to defend Schaffner as a worthwhile director. Hard to begin where to complain on this one. The acting is attrocious by nearly everyone, particularly the children. The film itself should not have been made. The picture makes all Russians out to be either blood thirsty radicals or morally alloof old fogies who are completely out of touch with the world. There is no good side here, just every Russian, whether white or red is a worhtless piece of filth and the world would be a great place if all of them were dead. That is in a nutshell the message of the film, in addition to, how many horribly elaborate palaces and costumes can we use? This film is at least 2 decades out of date, and had it come out twenty years earlier I still would probably say it sucked. Even with the loosened production code and the freedom of modern filmmaking, the film is still weighed down immensely by old world garbage. Even when the film is trying to be "provacative" it is done on such a G-rated scale to affectively alienate everyone. Now there were some decent deep focus compositions here, and I was glad to see Tom Baker in a somewhat significant non-Dr. Who role, but his makeup was so bad that he was a scarcely convincing Rasputin. He was impressive enough to warrant a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor though. @#%$ Christ this film was even more out of touch than Mankiewicz over the top Cleopatra. Stay away from it on all acounts, and for a better film on a similar theme Klimov's Rasputin is a much better place to go. For what its worth, this film received a best picture nomination from the Academy, The Conformist on the other hand didn't get nominated.

*This piece of @#%$ was nominated for best actress (Janet Suzman), best cinematography, best drama score, and best picture. It won for best art direction and best costume design.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:00 am

Now I'll have to check this one out.
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