Saturday, November 28, 2009

If I picked the winners...

This is a brand new series, I hope you'll enjoy. These entries are going to be quite short but I will post two decades per entry.
The first category is Best Actress and the decade is the 1940s.
So my picks for the win are:
1940: Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story
1941: Bette Davis in The Little Foxes
1942: Greer Garson in Mrs Miniver
1943: Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette
1944: Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
1945: Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce
1946: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
1947: Rosalind Russel in Mourning Becomes Electre
1948: Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda
1949: Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress

The second category is Best Supporting Actress and the decade is the 1960s. Just a personal note: I'm going to explain the 1962 pick later, so don't be mad at me please. I have quite controversial picks for this decade.
1960: Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry
1961: Rita Moreno in West Side Story
1962: Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate*
1963: Lilia Skala in Lilies of the Field
1964: Lila Kedrova in Zorba the Greek (favorite winner)
1966: Sandy Dennis in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967: Mildred Natwick in Barefoot in the Park
1968: Lynn Carlin in Faces
1969: Goldie Hawn in Cactus Flower (I really mean it)
*I chose Lansbury over Patty Duke who's my #4 winner ever because I really hate when people don't get what they deserve. In Duke's case it's a tied Best Actress win with Anne Bancroft. They were co-leads and they supported each other. So that's why I boycott this decision (same applies to Tatum O'Neal). I'm really stupid because I should be happy that she won shouldn't I.

Latest Oscar-nominee seen: The Dresser (1983)

I love theatre. I really do, well who doesn’t? That’s why I really-really wanted to see The Dresser. I never managed to do so until yesterday, because I could not find it anywhere, and after all I said “Who cares?”. But thanks to kkiimmiissiipp on Youtube for making it possible for me to finally watch it (thanks again).
This movie is to do with a theatre group who play the plays of Shakespeare. Of, course it has an old star (Albert Finney), who’s health is just getting worse and worse. So the firm and flamboyant dresser (Tom Courtney) has to get him (somehow) to act.
The main problem with the screenplay (written by the great Ronald Harwood) is that it’s to theatrical, I always felt as if I was watching an excellent play and not an actual movie. This story fits more to the stage.
However the cast is flawless: Albert Finney is one of my favorite actors ever (it’s the shame of the Academy that he is not an Oscar winner), I loved his performances in Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Tom Jones, Murder on the Orient Express and Erin Brokovich and The Dresser is no exception. He’s so brilliant, every time he started to talk my knees were just shaking, he was so damn good.
However, I found Tom Courtney to be better by a hair. Until the very last scene, I preferred Finney, but Courtney’s last monologue was so cathartic, and I felt really sorry for his character (SPOILER! : I mean this guy had to deal with all the problems of this very problematic guy and he wasn’t even thankful). So I would have given the award to Tom Courtney. So he’s my winner at the moment, but I have Robert Duvall, the actual winner to see, so I’m not making a judgment right now.
Someone was cruelly snubbed: she’s called Eileen Atkins. I mean come on, Amy Irving gets nominated for Yentl (WTF??!!) and the magnificent Dame Eileen was snubbed. Too bad.
I did not have any problems with the rest of the cast but they could not match the excellence of the actors mentioned above.
The directing was also excellent, it really deserved the nomination and so did the movie. But definitely not the win, because I feel that the directing award should have gone to Ingmar Bergman and Terms of Endearment deserved Best Picture in my opinion.
So to the avid lovers of theatre and Oscar nerds it’s a must-see movie, to all the people it’s only should-see. Well done.
My grade: 8/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Peter Yates); Best Actor (Tom Courtney; Albert Finney); Best Adapted Screenplay
My wins: At the moment, Tom Courtney

Latest Oscar-hopeful seen: Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire

Finally, I was able to watch Precious. If you had asked me which my most anticipated movie of the year was, I would have told you Nine and Precious. Now that I've seen the latter I can honestly, truly honestly that it's hands down the Best Picture I've seen this year. It has its flaws, it's not perfect, the dramatic tension is a tiny bit uneven, but it has such a huge emotional impact on you, that you will be left speechless.
It's a story about an overweight, illiterate and usually abused teenage girl (played by Gabby Sidibe), who has to deal with another pregnancy (since his father raped her many times) and go to an alternative school. Mo'Nique playes the couch potato and monsterous mother living on welfare, whose life is basically eating, watching TV and abusing Precious. However, with the help of a down-to-earth and firm teacher (Paula Patton) and a social worker (Mariah Carey), Precious might be able to become a someone stronger.
Now this movie is not for very sensitive people. It tough as hell, to watch a young girls misery, who gets raped by her own father. The fantasies of Precious where she's a huge and beloved star are extremely well-directed and written. Lee Daniels did a fantastic job this time, I think his nomination is secured, but I'm not sure if he's going to win. Same for the screenplay: it's wonderful, but again, I don't think that it has a a chance against the writing of Up in the Air (I haven't seen that film, but I know that the Academy is a huge sucker for dramedys in the screenplay categories).
The acting is superb: Gabby Sidibe is a fantastic discovery as she gives a very heartbreaking and surprisingly subtle performance as Precious. I'm quite concerned about her career because she's a natural talent, but I don't know what other roles would be appropraite for her talent. Her nomination is locked IMO, but I don't think she has a chance against the brilliant Oscar queen Meryl Streep or the fresh British face Carey Mulligan. We'll see.
And good news: Mo'Nique is going to win. There's no other option and it's alright. I don't think that anyone who watches this movie can vote for anyone else. She's simply unbelievable, her monologue at the social worker station is a heartbreaking, tearjerking, cathartic and deeply human ending to the movie. I was literally speechless after that scene.
The rest of the cast is also very good but this is the movie of Sidibe and Mo'Nique.
And for the Best Picture category: I think it has an excellent chance of winning at the moment, but I have to see the other hopeful to decide. Nevertheless, this was a great film with small flaws.
My grade: 9/10 Member of the must-see category
Possible Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Daniels), Best Actress (Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and maybe Best Cinematography
My wins: Now I can only say Mo'Nique (she's THAT great), because I haven't seen the other movies.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The category is Best Picture and the year is 1996.
The nominees were:
• The English Patient WINNER
• Fargo
• Jerry Maguire
• Secrets and Lies
• Shine

My ranking is:
1. Secrets and Lies: This is by far one of the best films ever nominated. It's way ahead of any of the nominees ever since Cries and Whispers. Mike Leigh is a genious indeed and this movie is really depressing so make sure that you have a copy of Tootsie to watch after Secrets and Lies. And just one thing to add, oh no two things: Brenda Blethyn was robbed of an Oscar (she's way better than both Frances McDormand and Emily Watson who are extremely overrated both) and Timothy Spall should have received a nomination and an Oscar.
2. Fargo: If there's a word for Fargo here it is: overrated. And there's also another one: great. Although it's not as brilliant as many say it's still a brilliant, humorous and chilling film. No Country for Old Men is better though. But this is also a must-see movie.
3. The English Patient: It's really a David Lean movie even though it was made by Anthony Minghella. It's very beautiful, romantic, passionate and there are so many Hungarian things which I'm really proud of. So The English Patient is a treat to your instincts but it's not challenging at all for your mind.
4. Shine: Geoffrey Rush is in it for what 10 or 15 minutes, so leading my @ss, but he gave a beautiful, moving and IMO deserving performance. Armin Mueller-Stahl is great as well, but apart from the great performances, there's nothing really unforgetttable about it. It's just a very sad film, which is good to watch.
5. Jerry Maguire: This movie was nominated? CUBA GOODING JR. WON??!! WTF! The nominations for the film draw a big question mark in my head, but Jerry Maguire is far from bad: it's very enjoyable, funny and entertaining but far from Best Picture-material.

Glenn vs Glenn

Who are the most evil and vicious female characters ever? Both were played by the brilliant Glenn Close, who should have received an Oscar for both or at least one of them (no offense to Cher and Jodie Foster fans because I loved their performances too, but I think Glenn was iconic in these roles) and they inspire such fear that you just cannot breathe. However, you cannot find two so different characters.
Alex from Fatal Attraction seems to be a sexy, self-confident and strong woman who knows what she wants (Michael Douglas XD), however she turns out to be a suicidal psycho, who's not afraid to do anything to get what she wants (again, Michael Douglas). So attention men: if you want to cheat on your wives watch Fatal Attraction before you do that XD. So in short: Glenn Close was brilliant. I especially love the very controversial ending and the rollercoaster scene with the little girl. Glenn is just chilling.
And here comes the next iconic character Marquise de Merteuil (arguably Glenn's best role). Now if you want to see the biggest bitch ever filmed watch Glenn in Dangerous Liaisons. Contrary to Alex in Fatal Attraction Marquise de Merteuil is a perfectly sane woman, who's as sharp as a razor and as intriguing and vicious as Hedda Hopper. She does not only want men, she HAS them. On the outside she seems to be a charming and very winning woman, but on the inside she's a rotten, backstabbing whore who drinks you're blood and then eats your heart while you're convinced that you are helped by her. She's intriguing purely for fun. She does not have feelings only desires and she only serves them.
To sum up Glenn is a genious and I really hope that one day she receives her much-deserved Oscar. To those who are news fans and have already seen these two films I also recommend to watch The Big Chill, The World According to Garp and of course at least the pilot episode of Damages.
And after all my pick: Marquise de Merteuil easily while I also loved Alex. But I was not surprised to see Alex win on a poll.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The category is Best Supporting Actress and the year is 2008.
The nominees were:
• Amy Adams in Doubt
• Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
• Viola Davis in Doubt
• Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case od Benjamin Button
• Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler

And my ranking is:
1. Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler: Her striptease scene itself deserved an Oscar, she's SOOOO sexy. When I was watching The Wrestler I was thinking how old she was and I thought 35-36 and then I found out that she was 45! And about her performance:-): It was so moving and deep. When she says "I'm here!", gosh it was really moving. My winner, definitely.
2. Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona: When I realised that Marisa could not win, I started rooting for Penélope. She is worse only by a nose. She's hilarious, sexy, tragic and again hilarious. I love her accent, her brilliant line-reading, her madness, her wildness. Excellent and sometimes underrated performance.
3. Amy Adams in Doubt: Amy Adams is a great actress and Doubt is another proof. She gives an excellent performance as a naive nun who causes enormous trouble unintentionally (?). Or isn't Sister James as innocent as she seems to be?
4. Viola Davis in Doubt: I did not find this performance as deep as it's said to be. It's very showy and Davis nails the part, but I was not THAT amazed. She had a great effect on me, but nothing more. But isn't it enough? She was very worthy of that nomination nevertheless.
5. Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: What was she doing? Well... nothing except screaming and asking Brad Pitt "How are you?". This is not Oscar-material. She really pales in comparison with her simply brilliant co-nominees.

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Room at the Top (1959)

This movie was not as depressing as I expected it to be. I mean I love the movies of the British New Wave so much: Saturday Night, Sunday Morning or The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner were so wonderful. I just loved their unique atmosphere with the smoking chimneys, the ugly houses and the workers. This movie was a bit light for me, although sometimes it was depressing as hell.
It's about an accountant (Laurence Harvey), who wants to be rich. Soon he starts going out with the girl of a rich factory owner but after all he falls in love with an older, married woman (played by Simone Signoret).
To tell the truth, I heard many times that only Laurence Harvey is leading and Signoret is more of supporting. Well, I think those who say that are wrong. My definition of lead: the character is crucial to the story and the actor carries the movie on his/her shoulders. Of course the story's main character is Harvey but Signoret, in my opinion is the co-lead.
Now enough about this. Let's start with the Oscar-winning screenplay: I think it did not deserve the win even though it's very good, I just feel that Anatomy of a Murder deserved to win much more. The directing is very good and worthy of the nomination.
And the performances (prepare, this is going to be long): Laurence Harvey gives a very charismatic lead performance, worthy of a nomination, but not a win. He's very good in some scenes, but I don't think this is the best of his (unfortunately not that long) career. I think his best movie was The Manchurian Candidate.
I've been so lucky lately with Best Actress performances. The 90 per cent of the actresses I saw lately deserved their awards. But in this case there's an exception: my expectations were very high considering the fact who won for this movie: Simone Signoret, one of the greatest actresses ever. She doesn't disappoint at all, oh no, she gives such a beautiful and subtle, yet powerful performance as the agining Alice Aisgill that she was worthy of all those awards she received for Room at the Top. In fact, she's my #8 winner in this category.
The supporting cast: Heather Sears gives a performance which is not worth mentioning because she pales in comparison with her brilliant co-stars. However the performance of Donald Wolfit is very strong and worth mentioning. Hermione Baddeley received a nomination for her very-very brief performance (3 minutes or so), which might just MIGHT have been worthy (well, if Thelma Ritter and Doris Day were nominated for Pillow Talk, than she deserved the nomination too).
Ok, this was a very good and enjoyable movie. Another member of the should-see list.
My grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Jack Clayton); Best Actor (Laurence Harvey); Best Actress (Simone Signoret, WON); Best Supporting Actress (Hermione Baddeley); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (WON)
My wins: Best Actress (Simone Signoret, one of the best winners ever)

Latest Oscar-winner seen: The Good Earth (1937)

I love China, I really do. I nearly managed to get there but then I didn't after all. I love The Last Emperor and I was eager to watch The Good Earth too. I though it would be a light Hollywood melodrama, but it wasn't. It was though as hell to watch it, sometimes it was truly heartbreaking and hold on to your seats (SPOILER maybe): there's no happy ending.
Not is that, it ruins it, oh no. It's much ahead of its time and it deals with very unpleasant things such as famine, locusts, misery, revolution, cruelty and slavery. So if you expect Mary Poppins to turn up don't watch it.
The performances are brilliant: Paul Muni proved many times that he had the gift to play characters from any nations (he was the best at playing French heroes), and although he does not look Chinese at all, his performance still remains credibly and moving. Luise Rainer won a deserved Academy Award for her heartbreaking performance as O-Lan. The performance leans towards supporting, but after all I think lead is much more fair. This win seems universally hated, which I don't quite understand, one guy even said that this is the worst win ever. (Well I suggest him to watch Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls) Most people think Garbo should have won for Camille, but personally I did not like that performance as much as Rainer's or Irene Dunne's in The Awful Truth (also nominated). I'm sort of torn between the two ladies.
The directing is also magnificent, same for the Oscar-winnning cinematography, great art directing, costumes, heartbreaking story. I think the only negative point of the film is that it did not go as deep as it could have, that's why it missed the must-see list and got only to the should-see list even though it's better than a usual should-see movie.
Ok, to sum up I loved this movie and I suggest you to watch it. It's worth two hours and eighteen minutes of your life.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Directing (Sidney Franklin); Best Actress (Luise Rainer, WON); Best Cinematography (WON), Best Editing
My wins: Best Actress (Rainer tied with Irene Dunne, because they're both so damn brilliant)

Friday, November 13, 2009


The category is Best Supporting Actor and the year is 1976. Oh damn, this was such a strong year! For Best Picture, Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress. But the Best Supporting Actor field? Incredibly weak. But, the nominees were:
• Ned Beatty in Network
• Burgess Meredith in Rocky
• Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man
• Jason Robards in All the President’s Men
• Burt Young in Rocky

So, my ranking is:
1. Jason Robards in All the President's Men: I really enjoyed this performance. It's not THAT great but very good. I think in such a weak year Robards was the perfect choice for that Oscar. But the film itself is really a must-see one.
2. Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man: This is only a should-see film. Olivier was memorable in it but does he do anything more than sayin "Is it safe?". He was very scary, but again, nothing really special.
3. Burgess Meredith in Rocky: Well, he could have been my choice, if he had more screentime because what I saw from him really suggested me that he could have given one hell of a performance if his character had more to do. He has one very moving scene though.
4. Ned Beatty in Network: I did not get the point of this performance. It's not that he has very limited screentime, because there's Beatrice Straight who was simply brilliant, Beatty simply did not stay in my mind. His co-stars stole the movie from him.
5. Burt Young in Rocky: Hmmm... This performance was a big... nothing. I just did not like him very much and I don't think that he was deserving of a nomination. There was nothing about his performance that said to me 'Oscar!'

So what's your opinion? Don't you agree? Or do you? Tell me in your COMMENTS!:-)

Latest Oscar-nominee seen: Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)

This movie is like an injection. You have to get through with it to become a real OSCAR NERD. So now I can officially say: I've finally seen Mourning Becomes Electra.
Now, this is a tedious movie and at some moments simply unbelievably boring. But there are scenes (Roz is in all of them), which are magnificetly acted.
The story was based on a Eugene O'Neill play, which is sort of an updated Greek tragedy, so it's full of revenge, adultery, suicide and Katina Paxinu.
Let's just start with the weak points of the movie. It's going to be quite a long list. First, the direction and the performances are so theatrical, exaggerated gestures, big screams, cries and embraces. Katina Paxinu gives two performances in this movie: the first of them is by all means great and it lasts for about 15 minutes. The second one is quite uneven and very long. Sometimes she's just plain awful, but there are some scenes which she really nails. The first one should have been nominated for an Oscar. Michael Redgrave is good, but far from great. Again, he's overacting and I felt like as if I was at a theatre. He's a great actor, but I feel that this role was rather supporting but there are some simply brilliant moments for which he deserved that Oscar nom.
And now the good point: Rosalind Russel. Boy, was she a damn brilliant actress! I'm not saying that I'm a great fan of hers because I'm not, even though His Girl Friday is one of my favorite films (actually I think THAT was her greatest performance and she should have won for that one too, and hell she wasn't even nominated). But she's also brilliant in this movie (well, much better than the mediocore Loretta Young), in some scenes she's just unbelievable (especially at the beginning and at the end of the film), and although she sometimes overacts (just a bit) she definitely SHOULD HAVE WON that Oscar.
I don't even understand how Loretta Young won. I mean Roz had everything on her side: overdue and respected actress, brilliant performance worthy of an Oscar, industrial support, and frontrunner status. Poor, Roz it must have been awful for her. And what made them vote for Loretta? She wasn't overdue or anything? I guess the guys counting the votes were bad at maths because that's the only reasonable explanation.
Oh and a pleasant surprise: Kirk Douglas. He was quite good and subtle, he was also a good point.
To sum up, you must see this movie, but not because it's that great.
My Grade: 6/10
Nominations: Best Actor (Michael Redgrave); Best Actress (Rosalind Russel)
My wins: Best Actress (Russel)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

Wow! This movie was much more shocking than I expected. It was great mostly due to the simply magnificent Joanne Woodward. To tell the truth I wasn't familiar with her films very much. Now, it's going to change.
She's playing a quiet and simple housewife Eve White, who suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. She's also Eve Black the bohemian and very funny party girl and the very repressed and quiet Jane. With the help of a psychiatrist (played by Lee J. Cobb) she tries to defeat her other personalities.
Hmm... Interesting, isn't it? Well, it is. Of course it's a bit softened version of the disease and the movie was made in 1957, but it's still quite ahead of its time in my opinion.
Orson Welles who was offered the role of dr Luther said when he read the screenplay, that anyone who got the role of Eve was going to win an Oscar for sure. Joanne Woodward did and very deservedly. She was quite unknown at the time and this movie was sort of a breakthrough for her. Her performance is really emotional, deep. Her portrayal of a mentally ill woman is astonoshingly realistic. Everything is perfect about her and I really cannot say anything negative about her acting.
But apart from Woodward, is there anything that makes this movie unforgettable? To tell the truth there isn't. There are good scenes, but they work because there's Joanne Woodward to make them work. Lee J. Cobb was nothing special in his role and I expected much more from him. Just think about his performances in On the Waterfront an 12 Angry Men and you'll see why his acting in this film was a bit disappointing. But it's also the screenplay's fault that he was not given very much to do.
OK, to sum up I really enjoyed this movie and I gave a very-very high ranking for Joanne Woodward on the list of the Best Actress winners (#13, right after Maggie Smith). So real Oscar nerds mustn't miss The Three Faces of Eve.
My grade: 7.5/10
Nominations: Best Actress (Joanne Woodward, WON)
My wins: Naturally, Joanne Woodward.