Oscar Nominated Films

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Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:08 am

Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955) - Henry King

Well after the last feature, anything would seem great. Henry King like all other Fox directors was bound to make a Cinemascope spectacular. Now there are a few faults here. Jennifer Jones, who had previously played whites, Mexicans, and in this case a half Chinese Eurasian, is another case of Hollywood stretching reality to benefit a star. Luckily Jones doesn't spend the film making a bunch of "Me so solly" remarks and keeps the euro part of her upbringing in tact. Now the Chinese superstitions are somewhat silly and Hollywood drenched, even though the film was based upon the autobiography of a Eurasian woman. The exotic locales and vistas are exactly what Hollywood felt the world needed, and this becomes a period film in being set about 5 years before it was made. William Holden is once again adequate as the romantic lead (in one of two best picture nominees that year). Jennifer Jones has the more expressive role, and naturally audiences and critics were more moved by her work. By no means best picture material, but hardly an abomination.

*Love is a Many Splendored Thing was nominated for best picture, best actress (Jones), best color art direction, best color cinematography, best sound. It won for best color costume design, best drama or comedy score, and best song.

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:22 am

The Emigrants (1971) - Jan Troell

Surprisingly the first Swedish film nominated for a best picture Oscar happened to not be directed by Ingmar Bergman, although he answered back with Cries and Whispers the next year. Instead it is the rather long and not that interesting film from Jan Troell, who also wrote, shot, and edited the film. I should take this time to point out that I saw the film the way American audiences saw it some 35 years ago. This is to say that it was cut significantly and dubbed. These two factors were damaging, but the film is quite long enough as it is, and I don't know if more footage would help. There still were some things about the film that made it interesting in contrast to most American pictures, but to be the first Swedish film to receive such an honor, it seems ill advised, and the picture has not aged particularly well.

*The Emigrants was nominated for best picture, best actress (Ullmann), best foreign language film, best adapted screenplay, and best director.

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:22 am

Dodsworth (1936) - William Wyler

One of the universally acclaimed films of the 30's, and also considered the first really great work from William Wyler. Dodsworth is a remarkably mature film for its time, and hence the reason why perhaps it didn't do considerable business at theatres. However this could also explain how the film has managed to hold up so well, years later. Walter Huston plays Sam Dodsworth who just sold his auto factory and has an abundant amount of free time. Unfortunately his wife (Ruth Chatterton) doesn't seem to be too happy about getting this close to her husband, and proceeds to have one affair after another. Distraught Sam eventually finds a more suitable partner in Mary Astor, but the story isn't so easily solved. Great pretty much all around, and Huston is fantastic, much more subdued than viewers familiar with his Treasure of the Sierra Madre performance. Most of the supporting cast is great, and it features some incredibly big names at the time, including future Oscar winners David Niven and Paul Lukas. The film had a ridiculous amount of competition that year, which would explain its relative drought in the awards.

*Dodsworth was nominated for best picture, best actor (Huston), best director, best screenplay, best sound, best supporting actress (Maria Ouspenskaya), it won for best art direction.

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:19 am

Hold Back the Dawn (1941) - Mitchell Leisen

Now I'm not sure what the explanation is for this, but in this quest through best picture nominees it seems that the best of them, happen to be the ones never released on video or DVD. Such is the case with Mitchell Leisen's Hold Back the Dawn, written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Contrary to their other screenplays of the time, including the Leisen directed Midnight, this film is not a comedy. Sure there is some of that great verbal wit, but the film is a romantic picture, and a nearly tragic one. Watching the film you are instantly warmed to Olivia de Havilland who was looking exceptionally radiant. I was always amazed at her being cast in roles relegating her to something of a plain Jane type when she was clearly one of the most beautiful actresses to ever work in Hollywood. We are instantly on her side, and instantly reluctant to root for Paulette Goddard. Goddard's type of trash is a perfect Wilder female, but this time she is hardly the center of attention, and our sympathies are clearly against her. Charles Boyer holds his tongue for much of the film, and delivers a surprisingly rich and emotional performance, all the while being completely low key. Towards the end I was completely hooked in this story, and eargerly awaiting its conclusion. Nothing short of a masterpiece, and one of the most unnecessarily forgotten Wilder screenplays. The long story short is Boyer is a European immigrant trying to get into the US, who winds up in Mexico. He convinces an American citizen (de Havilland) to marry him, but alas this marriage of convenience for him turns into something else. Some good old fashioned melodrama at parts, it is never less than wonderful.

*Hold Back the Dawn was nominated for best picture, best actress (de Havilland), best black and white art direction, best black and white cinematography, best dramatic score, and best screenplay.

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:53 pm

Roughly the next 6 posts should be highlighting best actor/actress winners and nominees as opposed to picture nominations.
Min and Bill (1930) - George W. Hill

When I first saw marie Dressler, I was convinced she was a man. I thought no female could be so hideously ugly. I was even more amazed to find that there was a time when she was the most popular star in Hollywood. Even more amazing was that her appearance in the first feature length comedy, gave her top billing over Charlie Chaplin. Finding Tillie's Punctured Romance one of the worst films ever made, I have never had a very high regard for Dressler. So I had a natural aversion to this particular picture, which won the ogre a best actress Oscar. Now this relatively short film is plagued with many of the flaws of early "talkies". Bad sound, akward camera placement, laughably attrocious rear projection, no score, and a thin plot. Wallace Beery plays his usual idiotic self and the role is somewhat fitting for Dressler's equally idiotic Min. In the films only funny line she says to him "I know you're telling the truth, you're too dumb not to." Dressler isn't bad here really, and once the film abandons some of its poorly conceived comedy some genuine emotions do come out. Unfortunately the plot is so poorly executed that you can't be too overwhelmed when anything important happens. I'm not saying that Dressler's Oscar is deserving, but its not a completly unjustified choice.

*Min and Bill won best actress (Dressler)

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:22 pm

Morning Glory (1933) - Lowell Sherman

My ears are bleeding again. Katherine Hepburn's voice I've become accustomed to, Mary Duncan on the other hand makes me want to pull a Van Gogh on my ears. Jesus every word and delivery she has makes me search for a razor blade or at least the mute button. The film's premise is so simple and weak that without some extra flair it is bound to fail, and fail it does. Hepburn might be radiant, but she evolved into quite possibly the best cinematic actress we've ever seen. So this early performance is stage bound, and showy, in the bad sense of the term. I'm not entirely fond of Hepburn's earliest pictures, and felt she came into her element in comedy. Here her character is almost too naive to really win you over, you can't help wanting to slap some sense into her. Compared to the two actresses she was nominated against, I wouldn't say that the Academy voters made a grave error, but that doesn't justify the award. This was one of the best years for actresses, particularly in the types of roles they were able to play, whereas Hepburn's role is far too safe and sterile.

*Morning Glory won best actress (Hepburn).

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:32 am

Dangerous (1935) - Alfred E. Green

Oh good heavens its one of those. A melodramatic film about a stage actress, this for a time doesn't seem too far off from Morning Glory. However Alfred E. Green and particularly the developments in sound over two years were good enough to make this a better "made" picture. Not to say its particularly better, but the sound is more refined the music more subdued, and the acting a little more naturalistic. Davis has a few scenes where she gets to shine as an actress. Beginning the film as an acloholic, the only bit of mediocrity comes from her "performance" in the play. Not anything there to convince anyone that she's going to be the "greatest American actress". As it progresses however, the film gets more melodramatic, and concurrently worse. Franchot Tone, who was nominated for a best actor Oscar that year for Mutiny on the Bounty, delivers an uncharacteristically strong performance. Most people, even in 1935 viewed Davis' Oscar as an apology for snubbing her the previous year. In all honesty though I think she's better here than in Of Human Bondage (I never bought the Cockney accent). Does that warrant an Oscar? Well I don't find any particular fault with the Academy's choice here, but would like to do a little more research before outright agreeing. But I will say she's actually quite amazing here, which leads me to believe the Academy wasn't quite off their rocker. I'd hardly rate the film any better than average, but thanks to Davis and to a lesser extent Tone, this film has managed to hold up surprisingly well.

*Dangerous won for best actress (Davis)

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Wed Feb 14, 2007 3:21 am

None But the Lonely Heart (1944) - Clifford Odets

I could thank the lucky stars for this film. Not because its a revalatory masterpiece, or Odets' direction is sublime, but because of Cary Grant. More specifically this closes a hole that I have found nearly impossible to fill, that is a best actor worthy performance from 1944. '44 was a horrifically weak year in cinema. Many films were really good, but next to none were great, Oscar worthy, and in the best actor race, I could scarcely even find someone worth giving a nomination to. Cary Grant only received two Oscar nominations in his career, and both were for uncharacteristic dramatic roles. None But the Lonely Heart is quite possibly his finest hour as an actor. Remarkably understated (compared to that year's Arsenic and Old Lace) but deeply emotional, he is never less than great as the wandering, charming, but intrinsically good Ernie Mott. His suffering mother is played by Ethyl Barrymore who has an amazing repoire with Grant, and won a well deserved supporting actress Oscar.

*None But the Lonely Heart was nominated for best actor (Grant), best editing, best score - drama or comedy. It won for best supporting actress (Barrymore)

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:15 am

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) - Michael Gordon

One of the better known filmed versions of the classic play this one got Jose Ferrer an Oscar as best actor. As great as the play, and Ferrer might be the film never really is cinematic. It feels very much like a staged play, and even Ferrer's performance seems theater bound. There are certainly some redeeming qualities, almost all of which are located in the script. However the good things about this film don't seem to owe much to the film itself, but more to its source material.

*Cyrano de Bergerac won for best actor (Ferrer).

Re: Oscar Nominated Films

Postby wpqx » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:27 pm

Cabaret (1972) - Bob Fosse

Let me begin this by saying that this is not the first time I saw this film. However on a second viewing I found the music to be far less excrutiating. There was some attempt I believe to be "shocking" that makes the film more relevant than bold today, and Liza Minnelli's performance still holds up remarkably. At first her role is far to flighty and has that eccentric Oscar favorite type, but she really comes into it. I was also much more impressed this time by Michael York's contribution. A lot going on, and Fosse is a god. I'll try and get some more down about this but alas I have to go let people in a bar so they can get drunk for Valentine's Day.


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