Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The best movies of the decade

I just had to do this post, I had to. So these were the very best movies of the decade IMO.
1. The Lives of the Others
2. The Pianist
3. Children of Men
4. Wall-E
5. Sideways
6. Brokeback Mountain
7. Requiem for a Dream
8. No Country for Old Men
9. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
10. Just Sex and Nothing Else (Csak szex és más semmi; Hungarian movie, just awesome)

Also loved (not in preferential order): In the Bedroom, Avatar, Little Miss Sunshine, Stranger than Fiction, Talk to Her, Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky, Frost/Nixon, Love Actually, Hotel Ruanda, Slumdog Millionaire, Pan's Labirynth, Hukkle (Hungarian movie), Freedom and Love (Hungarian movie), Corpse Bride

Happy new year/decade! :-)

Review: Tender Mercies (1983)

This was a very good movie (thanks again for the link), which was thought-provoking, moving and very subtle. Actually I'm very surprised that it received the Oscar attention it certainly deserved.
It's about Mac Sledge, a heavy boozer ex-country singer (Robert Duvall) who meets a young widow (Tess Harper), who runs a motel and a gas station. He asks for a job at her, she agrees and very soon they end up being married. But the desire to return to singing still lives in Mac.
The screenplay by Horton Foote is flawless, I've always loved his works such as To Kill a Mockingbird and A Trip to Bountiful and this writing is not an exception. It avoids sentimental or over-the-top situations, it's subtle and yet very emotional and moving. So Oscar deserved.
The same thing applies to the performances: Tess Harper as Rosa Lee is exceptional. She creates a kind-hearted and simple woman, who gives a meaning to Mac's life, who's his comfort and wife. I think her acting was nomination-worthy.
Everyone is very good, but still: this is Robert Duvall's movie. He's so good, in fact this is one of the most inexplainable decisions made by the Academy: he's so subtle, he has no, I mean NO so-called "Oscar moments", the character is not very baity either, but he manages to capture the pain of this person so well, that it's thrilling. He received most of the awards that year and the coveted Academy Award very well-deservedly, but I'm still shocked, because this is not the kind of performance that they go for. But this proves that the Academy is not only political and give awards only to biopics, but sometimes the very best performance is able to win.
I nearly forgot to praise the excellent direction of Bruce Beresford. This guy knows something, because he makes such beautiful movies like this or Driving Miss Daisy. These films both prove that not only hard-hitting, tough dramas can break your heart and make you think and that small films can have a huge impact on you.
So to sum up: exceptional work deserving of the Best Picture nomination.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Bruce Beresford); Best Actor (Robert Duvall, WON); Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (WON); Best Original Song (WON)
My wins: Best Actor YAY and Screenplay

Review: Blue Sky (1994)

[First of all I'd like to say thanks again to Sage for sending me the link.]
Since I watched A Touch of Class, I know that I should not judge by imdb message boards saying "WORST WINNER EVER". Someone is always someone's worst winner so who know? But the movie was also a pleasant surprise.
The movie is about Carly (Lange), the emotionally unbalanced wife of a tough, but kind Army engineer Hank (Tommy Lee Jones). Their family moves to a military base, and she becomes part of a cover-up involving nuclear bomb tests.
Although the movie was completed in 1991, it could only come out in 1994, after the death of Tony Richardson. This was due to the bankruptcy of Orion Pictures. And I'm happy that it was not released in 1991, because than Jessica Lange would have had to compete against Jodie Foster in The Silence of The Lambs and the women from Thelma and Louise.
It's luck, because Lange's performance in Blue Sky is undoubtably worthy of the win. At the beginning her performance seemed to be over the top, but when I felt that I just paused the movie and tried to concentrate on it. And boy it was worth trying. After that, Lange gifted me with a thrilling performance, which is still in my mind and I guess it will be for a long time. Her phone scene with her husband or her meltdown were so thrilling that I was speechless. But I also must add that I understand those who dislike this performance, because it's a very hard one to handle and it's not a typical Oscar-winning performance, but I'm very happy that she won.
Tommy Lee Jones also gives an excellent performance as Hank, at least much better than those performances when he creates the biggest assholes in the world (The Fugitive and The Client). I think he could have received an Oscar nomination. Maybe.
Academy Award nominee Claire Snodgress gives a very memorable and strong performance as Vera, whose husband SPOILER!!! sleeps with Carly.
There are also some good turns by the young cast members Amy Locane and Chris O'Donell.
The story and the directing were very decent even though I would have expected much more from the director who created The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner or Tom Jones. But the movie itself is also quite enjoyable and it never slows down or becomes boring.
So I think people should watch this movie to see Jessica Lange's terrific and strange turn, but apart from her acting Blue Sky is not a special piece.
My Grade: 7/10
Nomination: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jessica Lange WON)
My wins: Lange for Best Actress

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I don't have high expetation from the show, because the producer is the director of Hairspray. I just hope that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will do their best. But now I have a very serious question: who would you like to be the presenter of Best Picture? I have one favorite and let me tell who this person is.
Jane Fonda: Would not it be awesome to see her again at the Oscars? She is still a huge star, even though she semi-retired. Although I'm not a huge fan of hers, I had a thought that she would be an awesome presenter of Best Picture, but her chances to become one this year is very slim.
Who do you want to present Best Picture?

Monday, December 28, 2009

I need your help...

Can you help me by giving links to any of these movies? Thanks a lot!
Coming Home, Shampoo, Mrs Brown, Blue Sky, Morning Glory, Tender Mercies, Kiss of the Spide Woman, Min and Bill


The category is Best Supporting Actor and the year is 2008. So, it's the most fresh I could find.
My ranking:
1.Josh Brolin in Milk: Although I disliked Milk (I'm not homophobic I just did not like it that's all), I was amazed by Josh Brolin's subtle and frightening. He played Dan White, the man who assasinated Harvey Milk. I just wanted to see more of Brolin, he was sooooo good, he had 10 or 15 minutes of screentime, but he was doing wonders. And his scene when he's preparing himself to kill Milk is astonishing. Playing a mentally ill person in this way takes a courageous actor and Josh Brolin nailed this part. If Heath Ledger hadn't died, Brolin would have won hands down.
2.Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder: This movie was so much FUN. Pure fun from the beginning to the end and although some may find it tasteless and disgusting I think it totally found the perfect balance between funny and disgusting. So did Robert Downey Jr. This is not a typical baity role, but he's simply hilaious as Kirk Lazarus, the big-faced actor. I don't know he reminded me of Russel Crowe so much. Excellent work.
3.Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt: Wow, I really loved Doubt from the beginning to the end. I think it is a fascinating and underrated movie with terrific turns by the female cast. But I think Hoffman's role is not as baity as it seems. This movie rather relies on the women and Hoffman is not given very much to do in my opinion. Despite that he gives a very charismatic and stron performance.
4.Heath Ledger: I really miss Heath Ledger and I liked The Dark Knight, but this was really not an Oscar-worthy performance. I don't think that the Academy made the right decision, because what is he going to do with that award? I think most people are simply amazed by villians talking slowly and being "subtle", other examples are Javier Bardem and future Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz. I think in these cases people love the characters and the dialogues more than the actual performance, so that's why I think that they keep sweeping the awards.
5.Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road: Oh, this was such a booooooooooring movie and I think that Michael Shannon was just overacting in it. Again this is a kind of overacting which finds its audience who say it's brilliant, wonderful, but for me it was nothing memorable.

My favorite nominees...

I read an interesting entry on Sage Slowdive's blog about the Best Best Actress nominees. And I thought that it's a list that must have been a great fun to make, but I haven't seen all of them so I can only pick some who I really liked. I wanted to do Best Actor, but I have seen more nominees from this category. I marked with a * those who should have won in my opinion. So my favorite nominees are:
1936: Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey*
1937: Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth*
1939: Greta Garbo in Ninotchka
1940: Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story
1941: Bette Davis in The Little Foxes*
1943: Ingrid Bergman in For Whom The Bell Tolls
1944: Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity
1946: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter*
1947: Rosalind Russel in Mourning Becomes Electra*
1948: Barbara Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number
1950: Bette Davis in All About Eve
1950: Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard*
1954: Judy Garland in A Star is Born*
1958: Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
1959: Katharine Hepburn in Suddenly, Last Summer
1959: Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly, Last Summer
1960: Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment
1961: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
1962: Katharine Hepburn in A Long Day's Journey into Night
1962: Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
1962: Lee Ramick in Days of Wine and Roses
1962: Geraldine Page in The Sweet Bird of Youth (yes, all of them)
1964: Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater*
1965: Julie Andrews in Th Sound of Music
1965: Elizabeth Hartman in A Patch of Blue
1966: Ida Kaminska in The Shop on the Main Street
1967: Anne Bancroft in The Graduate
1967: Dame Edith Evans in The Whisperers*
1969: Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, don't they?
1974: Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under Influence*
1974: Faye Dunaway in Chinatown
1976: Liv Ullman in Face to Face
1977: Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl
1977: Jane Fonda in Julia
1978: Ingrid Bergman in Autumn Sonata*
1980: Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People
1981: Diane Keaton in Reds*
1981: Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman
1982: Jessica Lange in Frances
1983: Meryl Streep in Silkwood*
1983: Julie Walters in Educating Rita
1985: Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple*
1986: Sigourney Weaver in Aliens
1987: Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction*
1988: Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark
1988: Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons*
1991: Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis in Thelma And Louise
1995: Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas
1996: Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies*
1998: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth*
2000: Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream*
2001: Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom
2004: Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake*
2005: Felicity Huffman in Transamerica*
2006: Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal*
2006: Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
2007: Julie Christie in Away From Her
2008: Melissa Leo in Frozen River*
2008: Meryl Streep in Doubt

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: An Education

So, let's see... An Education. I really enjoyed this movie and I did not have very high expectations so it did not disappoint me.
It's about a very bright and pretty London schoolgirl, Jenny (Carey Mulligan), who meets a much older man, David and soon their relationship turns out to be different from what was expected. Just like David himself.
What Oscar does this movie deserve? In my opinion, Best Screenplay (not sure if this is adapted or original), because the writing was so clever and excellent, I really liked the dialogues, but I don't think that it has a chance against the celebrated Up in the Air. We'll see, but I don't hope much.
Who stole the show in the first half? Alfred Molina. Sometimes he could seem to be overacting, but fortunately he found the perfect balance. Unfortunately he does not have very much to do in the second half, except for a very moving scene. I think his nomination is in danger, but I really want him to get it, because his acting was so much fun, and I think he was just as good as Christoph Waltz who keeps sweeping all the awards.
Peter Sarsgaard is good, he's not very memorable, he's just good.
However, there are some great supporting turns: Rosamund Pike gives an excellent and sexy performance as Helen one of the 'branch' of David. Sally Hawkins who should have been nominated for an Oscar last year is also excellent and moving in her 2 minutes or so. Olivia Williams also stands out as the consciencious teacher of Jenny.
There was one disappointment for me however and I did not think that once I would write this down: Emma Thompson gives quite a weak performance as the Headmistress. She's not given much to do, but she doesn't even try.
And now we have got to the main thing about this movie and the most important reason of this review: Carey Mulligan. She gives an excellent, great performance, which is real breakthrough, but in my humble opinion not completely worthy of an Oscar. She has some very powerful scenes in the end. But in some scenes she's overshadowed by Alfred Molina. But I think she's better than Gabby Sidibe, so if I had to choose between them I would pick Mulligan. So I am going to keep rooting for Meryl, but I'm not gonna be surprised or very disappointed if Mulligan wins (maybe a bit). But if this movie came out in 1963 or 1964, she would win hands down. She's great anyhow and if she fails to win this year, she will get it in a couple of years, because she's a great talent.
I guess I'm going to rewatch all the nominees before the ceremony, but unless Sandra Bullock gives a hell of a performance in The Blind Side, I will pick Meryl and not because of my fondness towards her, I just feel she's worthy.
I don't know I feel that this review is quite incomplete, but we have to make to do with it.
My Grade: 8/10
Possible nominations: Best Picture; Best Actress; Best Supporting Actor (Alfred Molina); Best Screenplay (Adapted?); Best Costume Design maybe or Score, hell I'm not good at predicting the technical awards.

Friday, December 25, 2009

If I picked the winners...

[I figured out that it's much better if I do only one decade of winners per entry, because the list of the winners is not endless. So...]
The category is Best Actress in a Leading Role and the decade is the 1980s. Let me tell you that this the decade ws probably the best for this category. There are so many worthy nominees (e.g in 1983 and 1988 there are three, in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1986 there are two), so this was a hard entry to make but so relaxing.
So my winners are (this time I do runner-ups since the races wer very tight, but I'm not gonna do it on a regular basis):
1980: Sissy Spacek in The Coal Miner's Daughter (happy birthday Sissy)
runner-up: Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People
1981: Diane Keaton in Reds
runner-up:Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman
1982: Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice
runner-up: Jessica Lange in Frances
1983: Meryl Streep in Silkwood
runners-up: Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment & Julie Walters in Educating Rita
1984: Sally Field in Places in the Heart (no runner-ups, this was an awful year)
1985: Geraldine Page in A Trip to Bountiful & Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple
runner-up: Meryl Streep in OUt of Africa
1986: Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God
runner-up: Sigourney Weaver in Aliens (they might change places in time, but now I stick to this)
1987: Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction
runner-up: Cher in Moonstruck
1988: Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons
runner-up: Jodie Foster in The Accused (this is rather a tie for me between them)
1989: Jessica Tandy in Driving Misss Daisy
runner-up: Jessica Lange in Music Box (NO MICHELLE PFEIFFER PLEASE THX!!!)

So how do you like them? Are they satisfying to you? Or no? Or do you say 'damn you'?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thoughts on this award season (acting categories)

So, let's start with my two favorite categories, Best Actor and Actress.

Best Actor: I really want Jeff Bridges to win, I really do, but I'm less and less certain that it would happen and I really hope that I'm wrong. I think this looks so much like last year with Bridges as Rourke and Clooney as Penn. Clooney received at least ten critics' awards and rave reviews, he's a very popular and beloved actor in the Academy and if Up in the Air wins Best Picture it has to win at least two or three other awards. The screenplay award is locked IMO and it might lose Director to Kathryn Bigelow and the supporting ladies cannot win with Mo'Nique as a lock. So the only option is Clooney.
So my prediction: George Clooney in Up in the Air

Best Actress: Although Carey Mulligan seemed to be a far-out front-runner before the award season began and she won the first two critics's awards. But a very popular overdue actress suddenly turned up and won some awards ( e.g. NYFC), that seemed to be in the bag of Mulligan. Yes, she's the brilliant Meryl Streep, who might just receive her long awaited third Oscar. And she will IMO. She's overdue and there are two other factors in her favor: the only thing the Academy loves more than Meryl is BIOPICS. Haven't you noticed? Since 1998, there's always been a biopic winner (just check it if you don't believe me) and the Academy fall for much weaker performances than Meryl's superb turn in Julie and Julia. So it might be Mulligan after all, but I doubt it, because this "young Oscar princess" worked in the 1960s, but the world has changed a lot and unless you're Gwyneth Paltrow and your father pays for your Oscar, you can't expect to win under 30.
So my prediction: Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia

Best Supporting Actor: I don't think I should waste much time to this category, because unless Woody Harrelson gets stronger or the sentimentality makes them vote for Christopher Plummer, this is Waltz's to lose. He won all the awards (too much IMO) and I think the Oscar won't be a problem to him either. I really don't understand the fascination with his performance, it was very good, but I guess I have to rewatch the movie (I've just received a DVD).
So my prediction: Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress: This category is not very exciting either. It's Mo'Nique and it's alright. When was the last time that a sweeper performance was THIS worthy? She's excellent and gives the best supporting performance of the decade. I don't think that ANYONE can beat her, especially not Anna Kendrick. And not campaigning like Mo'Nique does can be a good campaign too.
So my prediction: Mo'Nique in Precious

About Best Picture and Director: I decide it later, because I haven't seen many of the movies.
What do you think?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Review: Notes on a Scandal

Gah! I've read a lot of mixed reviews about this film and I did not think that it was going to be as great as it was. The tension throughout the movie was so high, that it made me cringe.
It's about Barbara (Judi Dench), a lonely sixtysomething spinster, who works at an awful school and who's disliked by her collegues. However, when an inexperienced young teacher, Sheba (Cate Blanchett) comes to teach at the school, she finally makes a friend. But Sheba has a secret life, which becomes clear to Barbara.
Let me start with the nominated screenplay: it's very good. The story is terrific, the scenes are excellently written, so the nomination was worthy, but a win would have been too much.
But not for Dench: she's so damn perfect. Her loneliness, her sadness and bitterness ad the way she portrays a spinster living a pathetic life and being a useless for other people. A person who has to answer every time her relatives ask "Have you met someone?", who becomes desperate and loses every connection SPOILER! when her cat dies (oh, the scene where she buries it is unforgettable). She's unforgettable and I think she gave the performance of her lifetime. So, I love Helen Mirren, but I think Dench owned that category.
Blanchett is also exceptional in her very difficult role, her performance is also excellent, but her part does not involve the possibility to be as unbelievable as Dench was. The nomination was worthy, even though Abigail Breslin may have been a bit better. But let me tell you Blanchett was a lot better than Jennifer Hudson.
I think Bill Nighy also could have been nominated instead of Eddie Murphy (I'm always super-pissed when people say that Murphy should have won).
And I forgot to mention the magnificent score of Philip Glass. I've always been a big fan of his scores (if you haven't seen Koyaanisquatsi watch it, it's terrific) and this one is no exception. It really SHOULD HAVE WON over the music of Babel, which was really nothing.
Ok, so you should all watch Notes on a Scandal. It's compulsory for Dench-fans, but I guess they've all seen it. (I mean how can you miss the best performance of the actress you love) :-) So, great entertainment.
My grade: 8/10
Nominations: Best Actress (Judi Dench); Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Original Score
My wins: Best Actress and Score and maybe Best Supporting Actress

Review: Places in the Heart (1984)

I'm so grateful for this movie and I really mean this. It's such a relief that there are some truly enjoyable and entertaining movies, which can also make you think, and which is full of emotion.
The story is about a southern woman (Sally Field) who after the sudden death of her husband has to deal with financial difficulties. With the help of a black man (Danny Glover) and with the support of her sister (Lindsay Crouse) she is able to run her cotton farm during the depression.
As I said, this movie was an enormous relief for me. I loved its honesty and its emotional story, which in my opinion deserved to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Robert Benton's direction is firm and he's able to create an excellent and very fetching atmosphere. Although he won the Best Director for Kramer vs. Kramer five years prior, this movie is way better and less sentimental than Kramer vs. Kramer.
I might be biased because I really love this movies about the American South, the Depression and racism like To Kill a Mockingbrid, Fried Green Tomatoes or The Color Purple. They might be quite similar but who cares? I love all of them.
Sally Field gives a very moving and good performance in the lead as Edna, and even though she's not even close to the brilliance of her magnificent turn in Norma Rae, she richly deserved this Oscar too. This is definitely not one of the best winning performances, but I think 1984 was a damn weak year for both Best Actress and Supporting Actress. So Sally is great and I might also add that she's a terrific actress and I'm really sorry that we don't see her on the silver screen as much as we should.
The members of the supporting cast give memorable and strong performances: John Malkovich received a nomination for playing the blind man living at Edna's house. His nomination might have been deserved, but he did not deserve to win.
Same for Lindsay Crouse, who I think deserved that nomination because it was a damn weak year, but apart from being good, she's nothing special.
There are some good turns by Danny Glover (who's nomination-worthy IMO), Ed Harris and his wife Amy Madigan (as his mistress here).
I want to also add, that I'm quite shocked that Nestor Almendros did not receive a Best Cinematography nomination, because his work was also terrific.
So, again: thank you for making this great movie, mr. Benton! It richly deserved the Best Picture nomination.
My Grade: 9/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actress (Sally Field WON); Best Supporting Actor (John Malkovich); Best Supporting Actress (Lindsay Crouse); Best Original Screenplay; Best Costume Design
My wins: Best Actress and Screenplay

Saturday, December 19, 2009


The category is Best Actor and the year is 1958. It was a very strong year, not the best ever, but it was a very interesting one.
And the nominees were:
• Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones
• David Niven in Separate Tables *
• Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
• Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones
• Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea

And my ranking is:
1. Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones: Oh Poitier is one of my favorite actors ever. I love the honesty in his performances. He's always really subtle and I couldn't imagine him yelling. In The Defiant Ones he gives an emotional and moving performance as a black man who has to get along with another (white) convict. His role is less flashy than the one of Curtis, but it certainly got me.
2. David Niven in Separate Tables: He's great, well he's David Niven. This guy was a genious and the only reason why I prefer Poitier is because Niven is almost supporting. Apart from that, he's just fascinating as the Major. He gave a very strong and dignified performance, which could seem to be a bit dated, but IMO it's flawless.
3. Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: I am a big fan of Newman, but I was never able to like this performance, I think he had better movies (I think his best performance ever was in The Verdict). However, I can appreciate it, because he's charismatic, but I think Liz Taylor stole the show from him sometimes. But Newman's confrontation scene with Burl Ives was simply breathtaking.
4. Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones: I prefer Poitier, but Curtis was also excellent in The Defiant Ones which is a bit more about Curtis than Poitier. Yet I believe Poitier has the better role. Curtis is very good though with the material he was given but he was not very memorable. He was really worthy of that nomination though.
5. Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and The Sea: I like Tracy but not in this movie. I had extremely high expectations and he wasn't good enough. I felt as if he reprised his role from Captains Courgaeous, except that he was a bit older. But he is able to carry this movie on his shoulders, which was awful in itself and it would have been even worse if it wasn't for Tracy.

What's your opinion?

Review: Cat Ballou (1965)

I have mixed feelings, because I really enjoyed this movie, but somehow it just left me as I've never seen it. Everything was given for a great movie: great story, Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Nat King Cole, so I might have had some expectations, to which it actually lived up, I just really can't say that this is a masterpiece.
It's about Cat Ballou (Fonda), who is supposed to become a teacher, but ends up being an outlaw. There are some other weird characters, including a heavy boozer gunfighter, Kid Sheleen (Marvin), who she hires to protect her father.
This movie is actually a comedy and a very good one at that, but is this movie Oscar-type? Well, not really, but it's surely a lot of fun.
Jane Fonda is extremely young and sexy as Cat Ballou, her performance is funny, lively and even though this is definitely not the role of her lifetime, her acting is a very good and entertaining one and this was a very good beginning(?) to her very versatile career.
Lee Marvin is surprisingly hilarious in his double role. Even though he's great I'm not sure if he deserved to win this award. I'm very happy that a terrific comedy performance was recognised, but I don't know. I might have to re-watch it and get to see his co-nominees to finally decide if he deserved that. When Marvin won, Rod Steiger admitted to have been very shocked, but I don't know why it was such a big surprise, since Marvin won the most awards that year.
The screenplay (also nominated) is a very well-written and entertaining one. It has excellent lines, and it provides the actors with lots of possibilities to give a great comedy performance. It lost the Oscar to the adaptation of the great novel Doctor Zhivago (I liked that film even though it was COMPLETELY different from the book) and I think Cat Ballou did not deserve that award.
However, the score and the songs are the best parts of the movie. They are so great, that I would listen to them again and again without the movie just for fun. Nat King Cole's presence really lifts the movie, so I was happy that he was there. I'm a big fan of his music.
So, if you're really bored and you think that your life cannot be worse I strongly recommend this movie, in other cases I say it's good to watch and you will enjoy it. But this is definitely not a masterpiece.
My grade: 7/10
Nominations: Best Actor (Lee Marvin WON); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Original Song; Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: Elmer Gantry (1960)

Some movies never get dated. This one is not one of those movies. I guess it must have been a shock for the audiences back then, but now it's just simply a sometimes boring and sometimes quite entertaining movie.
It's about Elmer Gantry, a hard-drinking traveller salesman, who joins Sister Sharon (Jean Simmons), an evangelist and very soon he also becomes a preacher. And his hard-hitting "performances" attract people, but the scandal is unavoidable when a hooker and ex-lover of Gantry, Lulu Baines (Shirley Jones) turns up and mixes things up.
I really like Burt Lancaster as an actor, I really do and I think that he was an actor who definitely deserved an Oscar for something (Atlantic City for instance), but not this role. I thought he could only give either horrible (The Rose Tatoo) or brilliant performances (Atlantic City, The Leopard, Sweet Smell of Success), but I was wrong. He could also be so-so. His work is a really decent one and I certainly liked it, but the scenes when he was laughing annoyed me so much. His best scene was the very last one, it was a really brilliant one and the ones with Lulu were also quite good. It's only the beginning which is very distracting (or at least for me). I'm saying that he did not deserve to win the Oscar, but the nomination was deserved (my pick is either Jack Lemmon or Spencer Tracy).
Jean Simmons gives a quite weak performance as Sister Sharon. Many people are disappointed that she did not receive a nomination for this work, but in my opinion her acting in this movie is far from nomination-worthy.
Enough about the leads, because the two very best performances are given by the members of the supporting cast. Arthur Kennedy should have received a nomination for his very strong and memorable performance, which I really admired, and to tell the truth his character was the most decent one.
And there's Shirley Jones. I deliberately left her to the end, because she gives such a dazzling, exciting and sexy performance that it certainly earned that Oscar. She gives so much to the movie. Shortly: life. She appears 70 minutes into the movie and she's in it for 10 minutes maybe, but this short time was enough for her to make an impression. Many people are sad, because she won over Janet Leigh in Psycho, but I think the Academy made the right choice by choosing Jones, because she was both worthy of the award and SUPPORTING. I think Jones' Oscar was the only deserved one.
Richard Brooks' direction and screenplay are both quite dated. It's sad, because I really like his movies, I just did not get anything out of this.
But the last scene is excellently made so it's worth mentioning and there were some very good scenes throughout the movie, so it's not bad at all.
My Grade: 7/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Brooks); Best Actor (Burt Lancaster; WON); Best Supporting Actress (Shirley Jones; WON); Best Adapted Screenplay (WON); Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
My wins: Best Supporting Actress for Shirley Jones.

R.I.P Jennifer Jones (1919-2009)

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones died on Thursday in her Malibu home. She was one of the most underrated Oscar-winners ever, but thousands of fans and film lovers will miss her and cherish her memory. She won her very well-deserved Oscar for playing Saint Bernadette in The Song of Bernadette. She was nominated four other times, in 1944 for Since You Went Away (Best Supporting Actress), in 1946 for Love Letters, in 1946 for Duel in the Sun and in 1955 for Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and she should have been nominated for The Towering Inferno. She will be missed, may you rest in peace, Jennifer. You will be missed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Congratulations Meryl and Mo'Nique!

The Boston Film Critics have just announced their winners. They are:
Best Picture
Hurt Locker
Best Actor
Jeremy Renner for Hurt Locker
Best Actress
Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker
Best Screenplay
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for A Serious Man
Best Cinematography
Barry Ackroyd for Hurt Locker
Best Documentary
The Cove
Best Animated Film
Best Film Editing
Bob Murawski and Chris Innis for Hurt Locker
Best New Filmmaker
Neill Blomkamp for District 9
Best Ensemble Cast
Tie between Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire and Star Trek
Best Use of Music in a Film
Crazy Heart

I'm more than happy for Meryl because I thought that she was brilliant in Julie and Julia. I really think even now that she will win because... Well I'll explain it in a later post because I need a lot of space to do that. I just say: go Meryl and beat these newcomers! (please no hate comments, I'm not a die-hard Meryl fan, but I really want her to win)
Well Mo'Nique gave the best supporting performance of the decade so now surprise here. She gave the best performance of 2009 so no wonder she won.
I'm very happy for Jeremy Renner too, because he really needs critic's support to get the nomination. I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet, but I'm planning to because I have it.
About Christoph Waltz: I liked the movie, but I think his performance is waaaaaay overrated and I don't think he should win. But maybe it's just me who's tired of villians winning. Or if they have to win, then at least they should be deserving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: The Accidental Tourist (1988)

I know I should go on with the Best Supporting Actor movies, but I think I can have a break, and this movie is so great that I decided to watch it again.
It about a travel-book writer (William Hurt), who has to deal with the death of his only child, a broken marriage and an annoying family. But with the help of a quirky Muriel (Geena Davis), he might be able to go on with his life.
I've always enjoyed the works of Lawrence Kasdan. I especially love his directings, for instance Body Heat and The Big Chill. This time he reunited with his Body Heat stars, William Hurt and Kathleen Turner.
The brilliant and humorous screenplay was based on Anne Tyler's novel, and the writing for this movie is truly unique: it creates weird and colorful characters (including a neurotic dog), the scenes and situations are wonderfully written, there are neither dull nor soappy moments, even though the material had the danger of these in itself.
The performances are all flawless: the best acting is given by William Hurt, who always gives charismatic performances, but this time he's beyond fantastic. His characterisation of an emotionally empty person, who holding onto a woman is simply perfect and should have earned him an Oscar nomination over the overrated Tom Hanks in Big.
Kathleen Turner is also exquisite in her role of Macon's wife, Sarah, who's much more willing to go on with her life. I really appreciated this performance, but every time I see Turner I think about her cameo role as Chandler's father on friends. And that makes me laugh so hard.
Geena Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance itself is not a typical Oscar-worthy one, but she gives a very heartwarming and funny performance and she has some great lines ("I've got a shotgun and I'm pointing it at your face"), which makes you fall of your seat. She's not only a comfort to Macon, but also to the audience, because she seems to be the only sane person around. So Oscar deserved, because she was the best of the nominees, but she's not one of the best winners. I think Davis's performance was a bit of a preview for Helen Hunt's in As Good as It Gets. Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that these movies have strong resemblances.
I have to mention the wonderfully subtle acting of the Leary siblings: Rose (Amy Wright), Porter (David Odgen Stiers) and Charles (Ed Begley Jr.) are so funny with their minimal acting that it's simply unbelievable. They are really unforgettable.
One thing I forgot to mention: the very catchy score made by John Williams. It's so brilliant that it should have earned an award to Williams. Or is it just me who liked it?
Ok, so I really recommend The Accidental Tourist, if you want to have a delightful experience. Best Picture nod deserved.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actress (Geena Davis, WON); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Original Score
My wins: Supp Actress, Score and maybe even Screenplay

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Top 6 favorite actors ever

I just felt like posting this montage which tell you who my all-time favorite actors are. I love them all nearly equally. So they are:

Who are your favorite actors ever?

Best Supporting Actror-reviews: They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)

So, I'm just going to be as neutral as I can be. Not I can't, this is one of the best films, I've EVER seen. I'm really serious. I haven't reviewed a 100% real masterpiece on the blog since Dodsworth.
The Best Picture snub is ridiculous. Come on, Hello Dolly gets nominated and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? doesn't, is this fair? No, it is definitely NOT. And it's mostly pathetic because this movie received the most nominations that year (after Anne of the Thousand Days). So I keep asking: why? Why? WHY??!!
The story is to do with a marathon dance contest during the great Depression in the USA. A young man (Michael Sarazzin) takes part in it with his sharp-tongued partner (the brilliant Jane Fonda).
As Gloria, Jane Fonda gives the performance of her career. Her character is dangerous, mysterious, desperate, but determined at the same time. Fonda was really worthy of that Academy Award that year, so I think if it wasn't for the also magnificent Dame Maggie Smith and Fonda's "Vietnam Case", she would have won. But Dame Maggie's win was just as justified.
However, Michael Sarazzin disappoints. He has his moments and he's very good in some scenes, I just don't felt that his performance could match the brilliance of his co-stars.
About the co-stars: Susannah York was a 100% worthy of that nomination, but not the win, because... I don't know. It's a typical nomination-but-no-win achievement. Enough said, but I should also add that her shower scene was just unbelievable.
Red Buttons gives a heartbreaking performance and I feel that he was robbed of a nomination. And so was Bonnie Bedelia. I think their characters were teh closest to the audience (at least to me), I really felt sorry for the both of them and rooted for them througout the whole movie.
And of course, there's Gig Young. He's simply terrific and very-very worthy of that Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He did what every supporting actor should: make a great impression (check), give an unforgettable performance (check), have a great screen presence (double check) and never threaten the leading performances (check). So overall, he's brilliant.
And I haven't talked about the late Sydney Pollack's directing: if he had one masterpiece during his career (I don't count Tootsie which is beyond a masterpiece), this is it. The scenes (escpecially the so-called "derbys") have such a strong and depressing atmosphere which is going to haunt you for a long time. The way he portays this despereate period of history is not only artistic but also terrificly worked out. He's so in charge of the story, the pace and everything that it really leaves you impressed.
I think my grade won't be a surprise.
My Grade: 10/10
Nominations: Best Director; Best Actress (Jane Fonda); Best Supporting Actor (Gig Young WON); Best Supporting Actress (Susannah York); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Score of a Musical Picture (Original or Adaptation); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Best Costume Design
My wins: Best Director, Supporting Actor, Screenplay and Actress (tied with Maggie Smith, because for me it's Maggie, but I just can't deny Fonda's brilliance)

P.S.: Did you watch the movie? If so, how did you like it?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A change

The next entry will be about They Shoot Horses, Don't They instead of Sayonara, because I found it and I just cannot wait to see it. Here are the links for both films so that we can discuss it and that way my blog will be much more interactive.
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?:
OMG this blog is gonna be like a book club with 55-year-old housewives. There's one movie to watch for Friday and then we discuss it. LOL XD

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Latest Best Supporting Actor-winner seen: Going My Way (1944)

Gosh, this movie was definitely a pleasant surprise! Most definitely. I'm not saying that I wasn't (very) prejudiced, but Going My Way entertained me and at times moved me.
It's about a young priest, Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby) who goes to a run-down parish to help the old priest Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald). Of course they have difficulties at first, they never see eye to eye, but they develop a friendship.
Ok, if you see The Bells of St. Mary's before this movie (like I did), then you'll understand why I was afraid to watch Going My Way. Thank God, they're quite different. There's way less singing in Going My Way, it's less soappy and it's much better.
However, I don't think that this movie was the Best Picture of 1944, because Double Indemnity owned that year. The directing award was not deserving either, because I would have expected more of Leo McCarey, the guy who directed one of the best films ever, The Awful Truth.
Again: the screenplay award should have gone to Double Indemnity. But this does not mean anything bad, because it's very humorous and lacks (yes it does) sentimentality, it's just great as it is and you don't want to kill some of the characters because they are so annoying (maybe the young couple, but they have limited screentime). So the writing was a great achievement.
Bing Crosby: sometimes I felt that some scenes were made so that he could sing and his fans could orgasm, but apart from that he gives a very entertaining, funny and lively performance, which might have been deserving of the Oscar. I'not certain at the moment though.
And now the most important thing in this entry: Barry Fitzgerald. Considering his age, I thought that this was a career-achievement award. Maybe, but the performance was one of the most deserving ones in history. I might have been a little too impressed, but he was so moving, funny and a tiny bit heartbreaking as the old pastor of St Dominic's that I remained speechless. You feel for this character who believes that he's useless and too old. However, I have to admit that his voice was a bit distracting in the beginning. About his two nomination-thing: I think that he was more of supporting, or maybe a co-lead with Bing Crosby. I don't know. I stick to supporting at the moment.
Ok, to sum up, Going My Way was a really pleasant surprise and a delightful experience. A should-see one.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (Leo McCarey, WON); Best Actor (Bing Crosby WON; Barry Fitzgerald); Best Supporting Actor (Barry Fitzgerald, WON); Best Writing, Original Story (WON); Best Writing, Screenplay (WON); Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Editing; Best Original Song ("Swinging on a Star", WON -> Which was that?)
My wins: Best Supporting Actor and maybe Best Actor for Crosby

P.S.: The next one will be Sayonara, hopefully. Not 100%, but quite certain.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A new mission

Now, I'm going to discover probably the least popular category: Best Supporting Actor. It's not as versatile as Best Supporting Actress, not as debatable as Best Actor, not as exciting as Best Actress, but I give it a try. so from now on I'll mostly review Best Supporting Actor winners and in the end I will make a ranking of all the winners. I'm planning to rewatch the ones I've already seen to make it better. So at the moment my #1 ever is Timothy Hutton and my #72 is Cuba Gooding Jr. I'm not going to tell you how many winners I've already seen, so join me on this trip and let's try to discover this category that's not been talked about as much as the others. Are you in?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: Laura (1944)

I did not think that I would write this down: I was a bit disappointed. I had very high expectations and this movie did not live up to them. I really liked it, but I really don't understand the big fascination towards it. I mean it had everything: great story, magnificent dialogues, terrific performances and an unbelievably beautiful Gene Tierney.
It's about an inspector (played by Dana Andrews) who falls in love with the ghost of the dead woman (Gene Tierney), whose mysterious death is investigated by him. We also get to know an obsessed "supporter" of Laura (Clifton Webb), the two-faced fiancé of Laura (Vincent Price) and his aunt (the brilliant Judith Anderson).
So it has the terrific story, I especially loved the ironic one-liners of the magnificently flamboyant Clifton Webb ("Have you heard of science's new triumph, the doorbell?"). So the screenplay is really one to die for, it really deserved that nomination, but I think that Double Indemnity owned that category.
The acting is also terrific: Dana Andrews (a really underrated actor) creates a very complex and mysterious character, I really liked his performance. Same for Vincent Price, although he could have had more screentime, I wanted to see more of him.
Judith Anderson is chilling again (OK, not as much as in Rebecca), her scene where she explains to Laura why SHE should marry Vincent Price is just priceless. In my opinion, she was just robbed of the nomination. 1944 was a very weak year for Best Supporting Actress, she really could have been honored in some way.
But I haven't mentioned the two very best performances: Clifton Webb is just brilliant, his nomination was richly deserved, but I'm not sure about the win. I mean he was really great but I have to be more familiar with his competition.
Gene Tierney gives her career-best performance: she's beautiful, desirable, mysterious, loveable, I was certainly seduced by her. A nomination would have been justtified.
The direction is also great in mixing the various genres, it was really worthy of the nomination.
I'm saying so many good things, but still it was a tiny bit disappointing. I really
enjoyed it, it was full of unforgettable scenes, but sometimes it really slowed down and it was boring. I don't regret telling the truth because that's what I felt.
The cinematography award was deserved though.
My grade: 7.8/10
Nominations: Best Director (Otto Preminger); Best Supporting Actor (Clifton Webb); Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography (WON); Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White

If I picked the winners...

I'm in a very "picky" mood, so I'm going to do another IIPTW entry.
The next category in Best Actress and the decade is the 1960s. This was a very good period for the winners and I'm deeply satisfied with the most of them.
So my picks are:
1960: Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment
1961: Sophia Loren in Two Women
1962: Anne Bancroft in The Mircale Worker
1963: Patricia Neal in Hud
1964: Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater
1965: Julie Christie in Darling
1966: Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967: Dame Edith Evans in The Whisperers (this is a very less-known movie, it's posted on Youtube watch it, Dame Edith is worth it)
1968: Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter
1969: Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The category is Best Director and I stay with the 1960s. I'm super-pissed that most of these directors failed to win the award, because they created iconic and artistic movies (I mean Fellini losing to West Side Story, come on).
1960: Alfred Hitchcock for Psycho
1961: Federico Fellini for La dolce vita
1962: David Lean for Lawrence of Arabia
1963: Federico Fellini for 8 & 1/2
1964: Michael Cacoyannis for Zorba The Greek
1965: John Schlesinger for Darling
1966: Michelangelo Antonioni for Blowup
1967: Mike Nichols for The Graduate
1968: Anthony Harvey for The Lion in Winter (no, not Stanley Kubrick)
1969: John Schlesinger for Midnight Cowboy

P.S.: I did not seem to find a good picture for Best Director. Shame on me.

If I picked the winners...

The first category is Best Supporting Actress and the decade is the 2000s. Just a personal note: I think the picks in this decade were very unfair, there were only 3 deserving winners out of the nine and I say the win of Cruz this year was tolerable. But apart from that? Very weak picks.
So my picks for each year:
2000: Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock
2001: Helen Mirren in Gosford Park
2002: Meryl Streep in Adaptation (hard to choose between her and Julianne)
2003: Shohreh Aghdashloo in House of Sand and Fog
2004: Virginia Madsen in Sideways
2005: Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener (Michelle Williams was very close)
2006: Adriana Barrazza in Babel
2007: Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
2008: Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
[2009: Mo'Nique in Precious (I don't think that anyone can be better, but I wait)]

Let's stay with this decade and the category is Best Actor in a leading role. These winners were a tiny bit more deserving. But there were only 4 deserving winners and two of the actual recipients were really mediocore (Russel Crowe and Denzel Washington).
So my picks are:
2000: Tom Hanks in Cast Away (I'm a big Hanks-hater, but I was certainly impressed)
2001: Tom Wilkinson in In the Bedroom
2002: Adrien Brody in The Pianist
2003: Bill Murray in Lost in Translation
2004: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
2005: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
2006: Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland
2007: Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
2008: Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler

So do you agree? Or don't you? Do you think that my picks are just awful and I can go to hell? Or do you think they are fair?
P.S.: Will you forgive me for uploading the same picutre I did for the 2000 Smackdown? I just love Marcia so much. :-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Well... Yummy. This was a very oscary movie, a typical piece from the 30s. It was not the greatest film, I've ever seen but I certainly enjoyed it even though it had some really big mistakes.
It's about the famous French writer, Emile Zola (played by Paul Muni) and his involvement in the infamous Dreyfus affair.
Let's just say: it did not deserve to win Best Picture at all. The competition was so much stronger that Zola just pales in comparision with them. The Good Earth and the magnificent Awful Truth (which is my win and one of my all-time favorites by the way) were just much-much better. But this does not mean that The Life of Emile Zola was awful, actually I really enjoyed it. The screenplay was a bit sentimental and slow, the story really slows down sometimes and I just wanted to see something interesting, in some scenes it was so apparent that the writers were short of great ideas. But they provided Paul Muni with some damn good monologues.
By the way Paul Muni: he really deserved an Oscar for this performance (it was much-much better than his mediocore work in The Story of Louis Pasteur). At the beginning his performance was quite bad actually, he was not very convincing as the young Zola, but that lasted for 10 minutes or so. But after that he's so great, I was so impressed by his big speech at the court, that I decided to pick him for my win.
Joseph Schildkraut was very convincing and moving as Dreyfus. He had very limited screentime, but he managed to create a believable character, for which you really care and you actually feel sorry for that man. Although I really thought he was very good, I feel that Ralph Bellamy gave a better performance in The Awful Truth (see that movie please, it's so great).
And I nearly forgot to mention Gale Sondergaard (the first Supporting Actress winner), who gave a good performance, which should have received a nomination. As the desperate wife of Dreyfus she was very moving.
The technical part was also great and I have to mention one scene for the ages: when to people are waiting for the verdict in the rain and we see plenty of black umbrellas. It's just unforgettable.
Ok, to sum up I enjoyed The Life of Emile Zola, but it was not really worthy of such acclaim.
My grade: 7.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (William Dieterle); Best Actor (Paul Muni); Best Supporting Actor(Joseph Schildkraut WON); Best Writing, Screenplay (WON); Best Writing, Original Story; Best Assistant Director; Best Music, Score; Best Art Direction; Best Sound;
My wins: Best Actor (Paul Muni) for now because I haven't seen Robert Montgomery who's said to be great.