Saturday, October 31, 2009


The year is 1973 and the category is Best Picture. Five nominees, three masterpieces and two highly entertaining flicks. This was a really though film and ANY of the first three masterpieces could have won. So the nominees were:
• American Graffiti
• Cries and Whispers
• The Exorcist
• The Sting
• A Touch of Class

So my ranking is:
1. Cries and Whispers: This is the best film ever. End of the story. Of course you cannot expect the Academy to give the highest honor to a Swedish movie. It would have deserved it though.
2. American Graffiti: This one comes close. Probably the greatest film about becoming an adult, leaving high school and your home. Plus the music and the atmosphere is also brilliant.
3. The Exorcist: One of the greatest horrors ever made. So chilling, so scary, so funny, so disgusting... so brilliant.
4. The Sting: Not nearly as perfect as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but this is a good one too. The twist in the end is probably one of the greatest ones ever. Of course you cannot ignore that the leads are two legends.
5. A Touch of Class: Nothing to add to my previous review. Except that this nomination is quite deserved, even if some say this is a bad film. It is not.

So what's your opinion about the subject? I can't wait to get COMMENTS! :-)

Latest Oscar-winner seen: A Touch of Class (1973)

Now everyone should make a promise: don't listen to alarmists who say that xy's Oscar win is so awful that it's the worst ever and so on. Decide it yourself! It's my experience with Glenda Jackson's performance in A Touch of Class. She deserved that award!
The movie itself was also a very pleasant surprise. It was really entertaining, there were no boring moments in it, the dialogues were really witty, the performances were flawless. We have everything for a should-see movie.
A married American man (George Segal) starts an affair with a sharp-tongued English divorcee (Jackson). In some time the light affair turns out to be much more.
I really love British movies from any times. I just love to watch London in the seventies, everything was so cool back than and it's wonderful to see 36 years later.
The performances as I've already said are brilliant: George Segal should have received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, because he's just hilarious, but he also adds some humanity to that selfish character. Glenda Jackson was also excellent, her line-readings and her timing is marvellous, I think she really earned that Oscar. I also have to mention Paul Sorvino as the friend of George Segal.
The screenplay is by all means flawless. It could also have received an award, even though The Sting's screenplay was great too. So it's a sort of win-lose game.
So, to sum up this was a delightful experience for me, and I would kindly rewatch this film any time.
My Grade: 9/10
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Glenda Jackson, WON), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song ("All That Love Went to Waste", Best Original Dramatic Score
My wins: Best Actress (but only in that field, on my award show Tatum O'Neal would win in this category), Best Original Song (I don't like The Way We Were sorry)

Friday, October 30, 2009

(Not the) Latest Oscar-winner seen: The Song of Bernadette (1943)

This was the toughest review to write so far. It's a beautiful story about a young French girl, Bernadette (a star-making turn by the great Jennifer Jones) who has visions of a beautiful lady, who just might be the Blessed Virgin.
This is a so-called 'religious' movie, but I think it's much better than the other movies of the genre such as Ben Hur or Come to the Stable.
It contains very strong performances. Let's just start with Ms. Jones: she's brilliant. She plays a naive and a bit silly girl, who is in some ways chosen, but to be a chosen one you have to suffer (just like Gladys Cooper says in the movie). And Jones go through a magnificent transformation and development. She deserved her Oscar very much. When she told her good friend and fellow nominee, Ingrid Bergman that she should have won, Bergman replied 'No. Your Bernadette was better than my Maria." And great indeed.
The members of the supporting cast give all excellent and memorable performances: Charles Bickford as the priest who has severe doubts about Bernadette, Anne Revere as the worried mother of Bernadette and Gladys Cooper as the disappointed nun are all nomination-worthy, but I think the awards should have gone to Akim Tamiroff and Katina Paxinu both in For Whom The Bell Tolls (Paxinu won). Vincent Price was robbed of a nomination in my opinion and Lee J. Cobb gives a brief but memorable performance (like he usually does).
The score is so catchy and beautiful, I think it also deserved the award. The cinematography, the costumes and the art directing are all excellent works, the directing is of high quality, the screenplay avoids every sentimentality, it's just simply nice and that's all. The whole thing is good just as it is.
The only negative point is that Jennifer Jones nearly disappears in the middle and for about 40 minutes she's not even on screen. It's sad because if you see her you want just more. :-)
My Grade: 9/10 Great, but not ground-breaking
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Directing (Henry King), Best Actress (Jennifer Jones, WON), Best Supporting Actor (Charles Bickford), Best Supporting Actress (Gladys Cooper, Anne Revere), Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography Black-and White (WON), Best Score (WON), Best Art Direction Black-and-White (WON), Best Editing, Best Sound Recording
My wins: Best Actress, certainly and later maybe Best Supporting Actress for Gladys Cooper; for now Katina Paxinu remains my win

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Smackdown I

I guess I'm in a kind of haze, so I'm going to keep on writing.
So the year is 2001 and the category is Best Supporting Actress for the third time. So the nominees were:
• Jennifer Conelly in A Beautiful Mind (WINNER)
• Helen Mirren in Gosford Park
• Maggie Smith in Gosford Park
• Marisa Tomei in Int the Bedroom
• Kate Winslet in Iris

And my ranking is:
1. Helen Mirren in Gosford Park: It was a tough decision and she won me over Marisa Tomei only by a tiny little hair. Mirren is a masterful actress, who I believe did not give her best movie performance in The Queen, but in Gosford Park. It's a performance which you can fully appreciate and understand at a second view, but even if you see it for the first time her last scenes are heartbreaking.
2. Marisa Tomei in In the Bedroom: Marisa is one of the greatest supporting actresses nowadays. I believe that by now she should have two Oscars (one for My Cousin Vinny and one for The Wrestler) and maybe even a third one for In the Bedroom. I chose Mirren over her because her Mrs. Wilson stayed in my mind a bit longer than Marisa. But great and compelling work anyway.
3. Maggie Smith in Gosford Park: Oh, dear Dame Maggie, she can do NO wrong. This was a wonderful and hilarious performance in Gosford Park. She deserved her other wins, but this time the competition was stronger than her, but she plays her character masterfully.
4. Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind: I think she gives Marcia Gay Harden's performance again in this boring movie. She's boring too and there's nothing special about her. She was way better in Requiem for a Dream.
5. Kate Winslet in Iris: This performance has left my mind as fast as possible. She was good of course, well she's Kate Winslet, but this is definitely not her best work. Judi Dench completely outshined her.


The year is 2000 and the category is Best Actress in a Supporting Role again. This was a very tough year for me but let's see the nominees:
• Judi Dench in Chocolat
• Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock (WINNER)
• Kate Hudson in Almost Famous
• Frances McDormand in Almost Famous
• Julie Walters in Billy Elliot

And my ranking is:
1. Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock: I'm not as enthusiastic about this performance as many people are, but I found it very deserving and moving. She added something new to the baity role of the suffering wife, I think it's much better Jennifer Conelly's very similar performance in A Beautiful Mind. Excellent work by an excellent actress.
2. Judi Dench in Chocolat: Oh, this was a boring movie. Except for Dame Judi. Gosh, I love her voice so much. This role must not have been very hard for her, but it's really so much fun and she adds so much life to that slow movie.
3. Kate Hudson in Almost Famous: Hmmm... It's like her mothers performance in Cactus Flower: people either love it or loathe it. I belong to neither, I found Kate sexy, funny and emotional. Good work by a mediocore actress.
4. Frances McDormand in Almost Famous: This performance was a bit annoying for me. She has some great moments, but overall it's not more than a good comic role by an extraordinary comedienne.
5. Julie Walters in Billy Elliot : I really loved Julie in Educating Rita, but not in this one. I've never understood the great love towards Billy Elliot and while I don't think she was bad, I never really cared about her. She had a great scene, however.
Here we are again. Are you satisfied? Do you want to kill me because of my ranking? Are you a die-hard Kate Hudson fan? Comment!

Latest Oscar-winner seen: The Farmer's Daughter (1947)

Wow, I don't know where to start. Okay, simply said: Loretta Young did not deserve her Oscar. But, she was not as horrible as many people say. However, she wasn't good either. Although there are some scenes when she nails the character, the rest of her performance is so artificial and not funny at all. She tries, but she's not given much to do and I think it's the screenplay's and the director's fault mostly when she's bad. Her accent is guite ridiculous, and I feel that if Greta Garbo had been around she should have been casted, and I'm sure the result would have been much more interesting and Katrin's character would not be so naive. But Young does her best to add a little life to an awfully-written character and sometimes she manages to do so.
The supporting cast: Joseph Cotten and Ethel Barrymore are quite neutral they add nothing to do film, but they are not bad either. Charles Bickford has a few jokes, but his nomination seems to be a joke too.
Directing: there's hardly one and same for the screenplay. The story is really slim, which should not be the problem, because good actors and a great director can turn it into a masterpiece (see: Gaslight). In this case there are four great actors, who are either sleepwalking or trying a little bit.
There are a few good moments, though. I don't want to say it's a terrible movie, in fact it's only mediocore, you just should not waste your time with this one. I only recommend if you're curious how undeserving Loretta Young's infamous win was in that great field. She even admitted she voted for Susan Hayward and she was quite embarassed to win over her fellow catholic and good friend Rosalind Russel.
My grade: 5.5/10
Nominations: Best Actress (Loretta Young, WON); Best Supporting Actor (Charles Bickford)
My wins: None

Latest Oscar-winner seen: To Each His Own (1946)

I have a confession to make: I love Olivia de Havilland. I really do. Her Oscar win for The Heiress was way more than deserved and it's one of the best winning performances ever. Well, unlike this one.
I did not enjoy this movie at all. It was so slow and melodramatic. Melodrama is a very tricky genre, and it either amazes or annoys you. It might be only my fault, but this one was quite annoying.
It's about Miss Norris, who has an out-of-wedlock child with a pilot who dies in France. In order to avoid shame, she decides to give her child away (well, not exactly, it's more complicated). Anyway, the child is adopted and she's left alone. In WWII she meets her son again and you can imagine everything else.
This movie lacks a good screenplay and great actors (except for Olivia of course). It's very slow and sometimes quite boring. And I really can't say anything about the film itself. It seems to me as if I hadn't even seen it.
Olivia is good of course and much better than the actresses winning Oscars nowadays. Her performance was flawless, but it did not amaze me and there was no emotional connection between me and Olivia. Simply I did not root for the character. I think Celia Johnson should have won the Oscar for her heartbreakingly beautiful work in Brief Encounter.
My grade: 6.5/10 I just simply couldn't say anything about this movie.
Nominations: Best Actress (Olivia de Havilland, WON), Best Screenplay
My wins: None; But I'm happy that Olivia has two Oscars.
P.S.: I also saw The Song of Bernadette three days ago, Jennifer Jones was very worthy, but I still have to meditate over the Best Supporting Actress category.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The year is 1999 and the category is Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In the next days four consecutive years will be smackdowned. Let's just start with the first one.
The nominees were:
 Toni Colette in The Sixth Sense
 Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted (WINNER)
 Catharine Keener in Being John Malkovich
 Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown
 Chloe Sevigny in Boys Don’t Cry

And my ranking is:
1. Chloe Sevigny in Boys Don't Cry
This is a nearly perfect suporting performance: moving, deep, human and nearly as good as Hilary Swank. When you think about Lana, you see a sometimes inconfident girl, who's trying to fight for her love. One of the best nominees ever.
2. Toni Colette in The Sixth Sense
Hmmm, I seriously love this woman. Although I'm a bit angry that she won the Emmy over Tina Fey, I am constantly amazed by her performance in The Sixth Sense. She adds something new to the cliché of the single working mother and her performance works extremely well.
3. Catharine Keener in Being John Malkovich
When I first saw this movie, I did not know where to put it. It's so weird and so is Keener's performance in it. At first glance she seems to be a big-faced bitch, but then she becomes something deeper and more human. Great work, not amazing, but good job anyhow.
4. Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted
Oh I love you, dear Angie. You're the sexiest, most desirable woman in the World but I don't think you were worthy. OK, seriously she is good, but basically she's doing the female Jack Nicholson, which is very entertaining, but sometimes I really felt that she overacted.
5. Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown
It was a very entertaining film and I loved Morton's performance in it. I just did not feel that she was that great. Much better, than some people say. Very sweet and sometimes very moving performance, but I does not deserve a higher ranking.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Another member of the should-see list. It may even make the must-see list later, but not I guess the should see is enough.
Mrs. Miniver is a story about a well-off English family struggling to survive the Second World War. Greer Garson plays the title role of Mrs. Miniver excellently. Her performance is subtle, but very human and moving. If I wanted to be sarcastic, I could say that she originated the role she played for the rest of her life (of course in different plays). Both her Oscar win and nomination was deserved.
Walter Pidgeon is good, but sometimes I felt he was only a supporting player, and his Best Actor nomination was not very deserved. Same for Henry Travers, who's not bad either, but I think you should do more for a nomination.
However, Dame May Whitty and Teresa Wright more than earned their nomination. If I had to choose between them it's Whitty by a hair, but they are both excellent. Even though they were really deserving, my pick for that year would have been Agnes "It's COOOOOOOLD!" Moorehead for The Magnificent Ambersons.
William Wyler's directing was also flawless and worthy of the award. I was really reluctant to see Mrs. Miniver because I really disliked The Best Years of Our Lives. But this was much-much better and less-less sentimental.
There are even heartbreaking moments: the ending and the bombing sequence in the middle. They are so well-directed acted and written, that they made me gasp.
You may say it's no wonder this film won Best Picture during the war, but I really believe that this movie deserves the lot of acclaim it got (even from legendary politicians Winton Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt).
My Grade: 9/10
Nominations: Best Picture (WON), Best Director (William Wyler WON), Best Actor (Walter Pidgeon), Best Actress (Greer Garson WON), Best Supporting Actor (Henry Travers), Best Supporting Actress (Dame May Whitty, Teresa Wright WON), Best Screenplay (WON), Best Cinematography Black-and-White (WON), Best Editing, Best Sound Recording, Best Special Effects
My Wins: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Screenplay (did not consider the technical part)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Latest Oscar-nominee seen: The Bad Seed (1956)

This was a shocking movie. Its start was a bit slow, maybe even dull, but it turned out to be an excellent drama and an exciting thriller.
I cannot tell you the plot without telling any spoilers, so let me just say it was full of surprises and the ending was shocking as hell
The cast includes the actors from the original Broadway play: Nancy Kelly playes the devastated mother (brilliantly), who fears that her daughter might not be as perfect and neat as she seems to be. Patty McCormack's performance as the strong-willed, stubborn and vicious girl, Rhoda, who you would slap on the face as soon as it's possible. The little girl really nailed this part. This might even be the best child performance ever (tied with Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon).
The supporting cast is brilliant also, but I have to mention Eileen Heckart. She is so brilliant (well, as always), I was literally speechless after I saw her two scenes. She's on the screen for only ten minutes or so (I could not count it), but she's like a bomb. I'm not saying that this performance is better than the one she gave in Butterflies are Free, but it's really close.
Melvyn Leroy's direction is also excellent, the screenplay is good. I just have one thing against this movie. Sometimes I just felt as if I was in a theatre, the performances tended to be a bit theatrical. In this case I would not say it's a serious drawback, but It should have been a bit less theatrical.
As I said it's full of surprises and sometimes it's really harrowing. It's not a must-see film, only a should-see, but it's really great entertainment.
My grade 8.5/10 Great, but not brilliant.
Nominations: Best Actress (Nancy Kelly), Best Supporting Actress (Patty McCormack, Eileen Heckart), Best Cinematography Black-and-White
My wins: Best Supporting Actress: Don't make me choose between Eileen and Patty, so it's a tie. Maybe Eileen by a hair, but NO SHUT UP! Both of them.

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Dodsworth (1936)

I was totally mesmerised by this movie. This movie might have been the most pleasant surprise I've ever experience (among films of course). It was directed by William Wyler, who won Oscars for Mrs Miniver, The Best Years of our Lives and Ben Hur. Having considered those films, I expected an entertaining work, but not a deeply human masterpiece.
Dodsworth is a beautiful tale about a middle-aged couple (Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton), who decide to travel to Europe. Soon it becomes clear that the wife does not love her husband as much as she used to. They both meet new people who might be the keys to a better future.
I'd like to start with acting because it's the best point of the film. Walter Huston was superb and Oscar-nominated. And boy was he really robbed! He gives not only the best performance of his career, but also the best of the decade. Ruth Chatterton was also amazing, she made me feel sorry for that extremely selfish woman she played.
The supporting cast is also flawless: Mary Astor should have received an Oscar for her beautiful work (this was her personal favorite character), yet she failed to receive even a nomination. David Niven as the captain of the ship is extremely young and talented, Marie Ouspeskaya is good, but I don't think she should have received that nomination over the brilliant Mary Astor.
The technical part is also perfect. The directing, the writing, the cinematography, the score, the costume, the art direction.
To sum up, I more than loved this film. It's now among my favorite movies and let me tell you, very few movies get into that group so soon.
My Grade: 10/10 And I'm not afraid to say it's perfect.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Walter Huston), Best Supporting Actress (Marie Ouspeskaya), Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, Best Art Direction (WON)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Johnny Belinda (1948)

This was a very good film. I'm not saying it was fantastic, because it wasn't. It was indeed very moving and touching, but not very deep. Still, it must have been considered brave in its time. It was made in 1948, when rape scenes were not very common in motion pictures. But the whole movie is made with dignity and it's very subtle.
Jane Wyman in the lead is superb. She gives one of the most endearing and cute performances ever. And man her praying scene is one of the most moving scenes ever filmed, I think she deserved the award she won. Lew Ayres gives a good performance as the honest and consciencious doctor looking after Belinda. The supporting players include two great character actors who both knew too well that it's an honor just to be nominated: Charles Bickford and Agnes Moorehead. They are exceptional in their roles, even though sometimes I found Moorehead's accent a bit annoying. They both give depth to their roles. I think they deserved their nominations, but nothing more. Jan Sterling also has to be mentioned as Stella. I think she could have received a nomination too.
The directing and the writing is good, but again, not fantastic. But I really loved the score made by Max Steiner, it was really awesome. I guess it could have won an award.
To sum up I really enjoyed this film, but I doubt that I'll watch it more than twice. But for one view it's more than perfect.
My grade: 8/10
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Jean Negulesco), Best Actor (Lew Ayres), Best Actress (Jane Wyman, WON), Best Supporting Actor (Charles Bickford), Best Supporting Actress (Agnes Moorehead), Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Black and White, Best Cinematography, Black and White, Best Editing, Best Sound, Best Music
My wins: Best Actress (Jane Wyman) and maybe Best Score

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Favorite Winners - Part 1. Best Actress

And my favorite winner is... Sophia Loren in Two Women
I might be biased because she was the first European actress winning for a foreign-language performance. But no, I'm not.
I was hesitant when I chose my favorite winner in this category. I chose Loren over Meryl Streep because I could watch Two Women any time, but I guess I could not ever rewatch Sophie's Choice.
Her character Cesira is a young single mother in Rome struggling to survive the war along with her daughter. Cesira is a realist, a fighter, a beautiful woman, a mother. She laughs, she cries, she feels, she's struggling. I guess Sophia's beauty could overwhelm everyone, but she's also a very gifted actress giving three-dimensional and believable performances. I would not call her subtle, but she really gives me chills every time she says "Forgive me!". And that rape scene... It's not only disturbing but also heartbreaking.
When she won, Hollywood was shocked. The malicious and vicious Hedda Hopper wrote angrily "Natalie Wood was robbed". Well, who cares about Hollywood when you can see Sophia? :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Gaslight (1944, 3rd time)

Gaslight is a harrowing tale of a woman called Paula (Ingrid Bergman) who's slowly losing her mind in the Victorian London. Ten years before, her world-famous aunt was killed in the house where she lives with her merciless husband, Gregory (Charles Boyer).
Gaslight is one of Hitchcock's greatest masterpieces. Hold on for a second! It wasn't even directed by Hitch, it was made by George Cukor. What?! The director of The Philadelphia Story, Camille and My Fair Lady. But Gaslight is one of the masterpieces of suspense. Cukor really should have received a nomination for Best Director and should have won the award.
The performances are also flawless: the only one who received the coveted gold was my personal favorite actress, dear Ingrid Bergman. Boy, was she a great actress! But she kept winning Oscars for the wrong performances and failed to win for her best work (Autumn Sonata). Even though this is definitely not her best performance and Barbara Stanwyck was also brilliant in Double Indemnity, Ingrid really nailed this role and earned that award very much. Charles Boyer is also magnificent and memorable as the emotionally abusive husband, Dame May Whitty is a great comic relief, Joseph Cotten is great as always and Angela Lansbury is just excellent in her debut (the supporting actress field was very weak, she was the best I think).
The technical part is also great, the cinematography, the art direction and the costumes are very good, the atmosphere is chilling at it's exciting even for the third time. It's really a masterpiece.
My grade: 9.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Boyer); Best Actress (Bergman, WON); Best Supporting Actress (Lansbury); Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction Black and White (Won)
My wins: I really think it should have won all of them except for Best Screenplay (Double Indemnity should have won that one) and a Best Picture tie with Double Indemnity would have been fair.

Welcome to my new blog!

It's my new blog for opinions, reviews and discussions in the topic of the Academy Awards. Enjoy!