Oscar Nominated Films

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Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:13 am

At the request of A, I have started this thread, because believe me it'll get a lot worse before it gets any better. This is a spot to discuss films nominated for a best picture, actor, actress, or director Oscar, with a primary emphasis on the top prize (simply because far more films have been nominated for this than the others). So I'll start with one of the films nominated for the top prize. With each film I'll try and list what it was nominated for.
wpqx
 


Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:22 am

Smilin' Through (1932) - Sidney Franklin

Oh lord sometimes I wonder why I bother. Franklin's film is not as hated as it probably deserves to be, it is a melodramatic love story that is so laughably over the top its rather difficult to watch. Now perhaps some of my disappointment comes from the misleading title. Based on a stage play, and a remake of a 1922 film of the same name, also directed by Franklin perhaps MGM didn't feel a need to give it a more accurate re-titling. With something like Smilin' Through you'd expect something of a musical, or at the very least something light hearted. Norma Shearer goes laughably over the top, crying and yelling and throwing herself around a much better restrained Frederic March. Leslie Howard is somewhat useless as the patriarchal figure, and his own love affair is dealt with all too quickly. Besides the makeup job on him is laughable at best. Take the man, make his hair gray, and that's it, not a wrinkle on his face. Still perhaps better than the aging job done on Gene Tierney in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. March is clearly the highlight of this film, particularly in his late scene returning from the war. The plot itself is so non-sensicle that even something that might have worked gets mutilated and butchered into crap.

*Smilin' Through was one of 10 films nominated for best picture in 1932/33. This would be the last year that the award season didn't coincide with the calendar year. It has only been released on VHS, and has long since gone out of print.
wpqx
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:36 am

Damn you, A. No one can help us now.

wpqx: I'm sure readers would love to know about the origins of your fascination with Academy Award nominated films.
arsaib4
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:50 pm

Well let me try and explain this fascination.

A long time ago I started to take recomendations for movies. Not so much from friends and family but from critics and people of some credibility. Well a quick list would be films that won the best picture Oscar. So I started watching these films and went through them fairly easily. Around this time I found a book from Danny Peary called Alternate Oscars. I had read his Cult Movies and Cult Movies 2, and these books were a great help to what I was checking out. Now after a few years of being into film, I started to run through lists, and was needing some more films to watch. Always being a fan of Peary's style, and appreciating the lay out of the book, I started to think. Long before I thought about the films that I would have given a best picture Oscar to, and this book started to let the parasite loose in my brain.

So I started watching films that Peary picked, and thought about my choices for picture, actor, actress, and director (a separate thread). Now around this time a separate germ started to take route. If I were going to offer my choices for best picture, I had to have a decent frame of reference. Even more specific how could I bitch about the Oscar's choices if I hadn't seen the films they nominated? For example, most people can look at 1952 and say "High Noon is by far the best film nominated". This is a fair assumption, but can you say this with complete conviction if you haven't seen The Greatest Show on Earth, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, and The Quiet Man? In my opinion, no hence the reason I can say with little doubt that High Noon is the best of this bunch. That said I still wouldn't give it an Oscar nomination, but to bitch about the films nominated, I need to have seen them right?

So this to put it plainly is an attempt to see everything. I can not call myself an expert, and I can certainly not go to press with my own Alternate Oscar choices until my frame of reference is adequate. Hope that explains some of it, and I shall be patting myself on the back when I finish this extremely long process.
wpqx
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:06 am

Immitation of Life (1934) - John M. Stahl

Well for the first time in Oscar history one performer would appear in three nominated films for best picture. That performer was Claudette Colbert, who took home that year's best actress Oscar in It Happened One Night. Lets make it clear that of the three films nominated, It Happened One Night was the only one that actually deserved a nomination. This melodrama was remade in an infinitely better version by Douglas Sirk in 1959. Colbert's acting here is mediocre, and Delilah's Aunt Jemima routine is embarassing to watch. The way the film is laid out is almost too concise. Like this dramatic love triangle is playing out over mother-daughter drama and a death in the family. Its laid out too thick and in one too many layers.

*Imitation of Life is available on DVD, as a double feature with Sirk's version. This was nominated for best picture, sound, and assistant director (a category that was soon removed).
wpqx
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:52 am

"For example, most people can look at 1952 and say "High Noon is by far the best film nominated". This is a fair assumption, but can you say this with complete conviction if you haven't seen The Greatest Show on Earth, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, and The Quiet Man?"

Excellent point!

"...and I shall be patting myself on the back when I finish this extremely long process."

Don't worry, we'll be doing that for you. Thanks for your post.
arsaib4
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Sat Jan 27, 2007 10:39 pm

Anthony Adverse (1936) - Mervyn LeRoy

Oh heavens not another one of these. Huge in scope and full of changing scenery and lots of things that remain unsaid, this extremely overblown film from Warner Bros. is far too characteristic of all too many films of its day. Buying into an attitude that's still somewhat in favor with Academy voters, which is to say a big budget must mean its a good film, because why else would they spend so much money on it. Frederic March, one of those actors you had to get in order to make your film credible gives another one of his performances, but not to a very great and exhilarating extent. He seems to be treading water here, and much of his period work has the same traits as previous prestige pictures he was involved in, most particularly Les Miserables. Olivia De Havilland makes a good turn for herself, despite a blatantly dubbed opera voice, but this is hardly a point of contention. Most of the remaining cast are irritating stereotypes and the "bad" people spend the entire time looking evil, which seriously beats things to a dull and bloody point. At 138 minutes this film is far too long for its own good, and with all the titles announcing narrative points, it just seems pointless. Sure it was based on a rather long book, but Christ almighty the time does not fly here.

*Anthony Adverse was nominated for best picture in 1936.
wpqx
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Sun Jan 28, 2007 2:34 am

Romeo and Juliet (1936) - George Cukor

Another spare no expense lavish MGM production perpetuating the decade long task of making Norma Shearer a respectable actress. George Cukor already in favor with his grade A job on the previous year's David Copperfield, was tapped yet again to bring another classic piece of literature to the world. His directorial skills may have been in demand, but Cukor the skilled technician was not yet fully developed. Some of the continuity (particularly the final swordfight) is laughably mismatched, and the film's inherent fault is how to have Leslie Howard (43) and Shearer (34) as the teenage lovers. The battles have a Hollywood tendency to be more spectacle than carry any remote weight. However with a story of this magnitude its hard to really do a bad job of it. I can't help even now to watch the film praying that Juliet wakes up before Romeo takes the poison or that all important letter reaches Romeo before taking off. In that regard this film differs greatly from the majority of Hollywood films produced before or after by fiercely denying the happy ending. John Barrymore, something of a Cukor regular at this point, does a fine job as the over the top Mercucio, a performance very much in the same vein as his turn in Twentieth Century.

*Romeo and Juliet was nominated for best picture, best actress (Shearer), best art direction, and best supporting actor (Basil Rathbone)
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:07 am

All This and Heaven Too (1940) - Anatole Litvak

MGM had Norma Shearer, and Warner Bros. had Bette Davis. Both actresses scored an Oscar early in their career, and found themselves as perennial nominees for the next decade. Davis appeared in a best picture nominee for the third straight year, in fact appearing in two in 1940. For this reason Litvak's picture gets buried under the reputation of William Wyler's The Letter. Both Wyler and Litvak's film also shared nominations in the cinematography category as well. However, the acting isn't bad. Both Davis and Charles Boyer hand in exemplary performances, but lord this film is long. At two and a half hours the picture just seems to suffer for it. Not to say that any of it is particularly slow or dragging, but the pace could be livelier. The loose plot is with Davis the governess of a group of regular child actors, who's father (Boyer) starts to fall in love with. Scandal ensues and the film becomes a melodramtic snore fest. I'm starting to wonder if the Academy had a rule to nominate 3 period films for every contemporary picture. This was set in mid 19th Century France.

*All This and Heaven Too was nominated for best picture, black and white cinematography, and best supporting actress (Barbara O'Niel)
wpqx
 

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:39 am

Blossoms in the Dust (1941) - Mervyn LeRoy

Well in the early 40's Greer Garson became the prestige queen. An actress who very carefully chose her roles, and nearly every performance she gave garnered at least an Oscar nomination. Blossoms in the Dust was another film about a strong willed woman who doesn't seem to have a bad quality to her. LeRoy has to go to great lengths to make Garson human in this story, but thanks in part to Garson's performance it is conveyed. The model of caring and devotion does show signs that things aren't as wholesome as they may seem, and up until the end a level of doubt creeps up in her. The film was shot in glorious technicolor, part of which by the legendary Karl Freund, who earned one of the films four Oscar nominations. Unusual for a prestige picture of this kind to get the technicolor treatment, but I'd say the color does wonders for Garson's beauty. It is nearly impossible to talk about this film without mentioning her, this is a vehicle for her talents, just Ray was for Jamie Foxx. Like Hackford's film this too was based on a real person, one who was still alive when the film premeired.

*Blossoms in the Dust was nominated for best picture, actress (Garson), color cinematography, and color art direction. It won for best color art direction.
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