Oscar Nominated Films

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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:44 pm

How the West Was Won (1963) - John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall

Just as the Hollywood of the thirties believed that prestige was everything, in the 50's and 60's Hollywood came to regard big budgets as great films. 1963 continued the trend, with 3 of the films approaching or exceeding the three hour mark, and all but one of them a period picture. How the West Was Won was Hollywood's final send off for the genre that gave so much justification to techinicolor in its early days. It also continued the trend of The Longest Day and Around the World in 80 Days with an all star spectacle, a subgenre that would carry into the seventies as well. Produced in Cinerama the first thing anyone will notice is that the screen is divided into three sections much like Abel Gance's innovative widescreen process in Napoleon. This serves as distraction, because the contrast between the three sides doesn't always match up, and a blatantly obvious line separates them. Divided into 5 sections there is no clear "Ford's section" or "Marshall's section", but you're led to believe that to handle a project of this magnitude several hands were necessary. Even by cast you can't quite tell, considering Widmark worked with Ford and Hathaway, Stewart worked with all three, and on it goes. With a cast like this it is easy to suceed. Sometimes the film tries to accomplish too much, but what a raucous send off. The very next year, Sergio Leone would direct A Fistful of Dollars, which permantently altered the face of Westerns. Here however is one last grand salute. Despite the nearly three hour running time, there really isn't a moment in the film where it drags. Each story gets to its point and gets their fast, hard to think that a film of this size could leave you actually wanting more.

*How the West Was Won was nominated for best picture, best sound, best original screenplay, best color costume design, best score, best color cinematography, and best color art direction.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Jan 30, 2007 6:27 am

Sayonara (1957) - Joshua Logan

Ah dated cinema. Sayonara is the stale and boring tale of prejudice towards Japanese natives through military policy. Marlon Brando dons a somewhat unconvincing southern accent as the Air Force Major who undergoes the transition towards tolerant individual. The film's Japanese characters are played rather poorly, case in point the very Hispanic Ricardo Mantalban plays a Japanese actor. The film was an Oscar favorite garnering too many nominations and winning the supporting Oscars for the year. It borders on the meldoramatic, but thanks in part to Brando it maintains a certain level of self restraint.

*Sayonara was nominated for best picture, best actor (Brando), Best Adapted Screenplay, best cinematography, best director, and best editing. It won for best sound, best supporting actor (Red Buttons), best supporting actress (Miyoshi Umeki), and best art direction.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:46 am

Auntie Mame (1958) - Morton De Costa

There are some roles that come around for actors that are so damn good, you imagine everyone rampantly pursuing it. Rosallind Russell scored a career defining role in the stage produciton of Auntie Mame, and seemed a perfect choice for the film version. Even if her status as a movie star may have slipped a little over the years, she was still "big" enough to lead a film, and her personality was enough to carry this picture through. At times overly theatrical, the films inherent eccentricity make it worthwhile. The same people put off by Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby would most likely despise Russell here. Life is a banquet indeed. The film was nominated for six Oscars and took home none, so people obviously liked the film, but apparently not enough. Most of the films best moments seem to be taken from the stage, particularly the modifications in sets and costumes, but as predictable as it may be, the film is still rewarding. Ironically the films most horrifically annoying character Agnes Gooch was another performance singled out by the academy.

*Auntie Mame was nominated for best actress (Russell), best art direction, best color cinematography, best editing, best picture, and best supporting actress (Peggy Cass)
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:11 pm

The More the Merrier (1943) - George Stevens

Jean Arthur makes her second appearance in a George Stevens film with this delightful comedy that is very much a product of its time. During WWII there was a tremendous housing shortage in Washington DC, and therein lies the backdrop for this film. Arthur sublets her apartment to Mr. Dingle who in turn sublets his half of the apartment to Mr. Carter (Joel McCrea). Everything is set up for these two to get together. Carter's ambivalence towards other women, Milligan's (Arthur) engagement to a stuffy and ill fitted suitor. The irony of the story is when Arthur says that her fiance is 42, and everyone scoffs at how old he is, and far too old for her. However at the time of filming this picture Jean Arthur herself was 42 years old, hard to believe but true. Arthur landed her one and only Oscar nomination for best actress with this film, she lost to the undeserving Jennifer Jones in Song of Bernadette. Arthur goes all over the place here, hysterically sobbing, being ultra efficient, and desperately in love. Amazing to think of how fragile a personality she really had and the immense difficulty she had in performing. She only made two more films after this, but a fine culmination to all the great work she had done at Columbia since 1936.

*The More the Merrier was nominated for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best actress.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:22 am

Madame Curie (1943) - Mervyn LeRoy

Once more Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon are brought together for a lavish MGM production. Garson hot off the heels of her Oscar win for Mrs. Miniver delivered another of what would come to be her signature prestige roles. Not to detract from Garson, in fact quite the contrary she was never less than spectacular. Her role as Marie Curie earned her another Oscar nomination, and well deserved I'd say. Now the film might not have the lush beauty of LeRoy and Garson's previous Blossoms in the Dust but that isn't to say its a worse film. In fact its very much the same picture, taking place in a similar time frame and also about a famous woman in history. Walter Pidgeon's character seems too "let's just give up" that it starts to wane as Garson's Marie is deified. Interesting on the DVD is a short called Romance of Radium directed by a then unknown Jacques Tournieur. Another curiosity in the "history told by Hollywood" cycle of films so popular with Academy voters at the time. One of Robert Walker's very first film roles, he plays Curie's initial assistant.

*Madame Curie was nominated for best picture, best actor (Pidgeon), best actress (Garson), black and white art direction, black and white cinematography, best score, and best sound.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:43 am

The Rose Tattoo (1955) - Daniel Mann

Oh lord this is a tough one. Far from one of Tennessee Williams better works, this is melodramatic nonsense with lots of yelling. Few films I've seen have used sound in a worse way. Much of the dialogue is either too quiet or making your ears bleed. Anna Magnani delivered an amazing performance however, but much of her work is hard to watch. Burt Lancaster is annoying and far too over the top here. Somehow Magnani avoids seeming over the top. Like all of his films, this too is set in the south in the swamp filled New Orleans. I'd rather not sit through this again, but I won't argue with the Academy's choice regarding her Oscar, everything else though . . .

*The Rose Tattoo was nominated for best picture, best black and white costume design, drama or comedy score, best editing, best supporting actress (Marisa Pavan). It won for best actress (Magnani), black and white art direction, and black and white cinematography.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:05 am

Twelve O'Clock High (1949) - Henry King

Thank heaven for this film. I was beginning to feel that this adventure would yield no treasures. Henry King, from the school of competent directors delivers what could easily be another forgetable war film. In fact watching it, I can't exactly say what makes the film any different from that year's other "big" war films Battleground and Sands of Iwo Jima. Twelve O'clock was of the war subgenre of the air force. Peck delivers a strong performance as the commanding general Frank Savage, for which he picked up his fourth best actor nomination in the 40's. Dean Jagger plays the older lawyer by day Major who is prone to occasionally have a drink. Jagger scored his first and only nomination and win for supporting actor. Now Peck's character is likeable and no matter what disciplinary measures he takes, you know its for the good of his men. Perhaps it is this character that makes the film so exemplary. King was no stranger to Oscar nominees directing State Fair, In Old Chicago, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Song of Bernadette, and Wilson. This is arguably the best of that school.

*Twelve O'Clock High was nominated for best picture, best actor (Peck) and won for best sound and best supporting actor (Jagger).
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:29 am

The Country Girl (1954) - George Seaton

Well the DVD I rented of the Robe will not load, so I moved on to 1954 and this film that helped me work through several categories. The Country Girl was the only film in 1954 to be nominated in all four major categories. Clifford Odets play has the same backstage cynicism so characteristic in his work. Although Grace Kelly won an Oscar for her role here, Bing Crosby is the truly revalatory performance. I've never even seen Crosby "act", but man he's pretty damn good here. Kelly on the other hand has rightfully gone down in history as delivering an Oscar winning anomoly. Her role is none too impressive, and I think people gave her an Oscar just because she went through most of the film without makeup, as if that constituted award worthy. William Holden is competent as usual as the young director. The film itself however is little more than an acting showcase, which degenerates into lots of hysterics. Its a bit of a mess, and horrifically melodramatic. I was none too impressed with the picture, and feel it has not aged very well. The picture was remade in a universally bashed made for TV movie.

*The Country Girl was nominated for best picture, best actor (Crosby), black and white art direction, black and white cinematography, and best director. It won for best screenplay and best actress (Kelly).
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:32 am

Decision Before Dawn (1951) - Anatole Litvak

My second WWII film from Fox nominated for a best picture today, this one is nowhere near as good. Fox had a tendency to boast of their films realism in this time. Once again a film was made with the full cooperation of everyone, and was filmed on location. This is about German's captured and then used as spies by the US. Like all WWII films, particularly the ones from Fox, this is based on things that actually happened. Now this realism should add, but here it just detracts. A bunch of Germans talking about loyalty and their thoughts. I found it hard to care about this film, or even be remotely interested.

*Decision Before Dawn was nominated for best picture and best editing.
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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:23 pm

Disraeli (1929) - Alfred E. Green

This is the film frequently blamed for the onslaught of biopics made throughout the thirties. George Arliss reprises his role from the stage and silent film to play Benjamin Disraeli, the imperialist British Prime Minister. Like Lon Chaney Jr. and the Wolf Man, this would be his signature role. It made Arliss the first actor to win an Oscar for a role he played on the stage. The picture was enormously successful at the time, and watching it today you have to wonder why. It is stale and boring. Lots of talk, and although Arliss is great, his supporting cast is boring and one dimensional. This is the equivalent of modern day actor showcases of flimsy plots cenetered around one performer. However in the primitive days of sound, there is no score to help things out, and the pace is slow. Even at 87 minutes, it seems painfully tedious. Time has not been good to this film, but Arliss' performance shall remain immortal.

*Disraeli was nominated for best picture and best screenplay, winning for best actor (Arliss).
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