Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: The Exorcist (1973)

This was probably my fourth or fifth time with this movie. I don't know why I chose this one, I just felt like watching it. And boy I liked it more than ever before.
The usually heard things about rewatching a movie is that you discover new little aspects of it you haven't noticed before. Now I really admire those who did not notice everything when they saw this movie for the first time. :-)
Chris McNeill (Ellen Burstyn) is famous movie star shooting in Georgetown. She has a charming and nice little daughter (Linda Blair), who's becoming something different. She can't hold her urine, she does not like psychiatrists and so on... In her desperation she asks a priest, Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to help her daughter. With another priest, Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) they try to save the child's life.
The beginning of the movie is very mysterious and confusing (and I still really don't get it), but it really has a a strange atmosphere and you can really feel that something awful is gonna happen.
William Friedkin's direction is simply brilliant and probably the best thing about th movie: it's deadly accurate and flawless, and when you would not concentrate a 100%, than something really creepy is gonna happen. You can only relax when you see the end credits.
However, to get an amazing horror, you need great actors. First of all Ellen Burstyn, who probably gives the best performance of the bunch as Chris. She brilliantly shows the desperation and anger of this woman fighting for her daughter. She certainly deserved that nom and I would even give her the win if Glenda Jackson hadn't been nominated for her underrated, but BRILLIANT work in A Touch of Class.
However, Jason Miller could have won that supporting Oscar for playing Father Karras. Jason Miller has a really strong presence in this movie and gives real depth to this weird and devastated character.
Max Von Sydow gives his usual mysterious self and he's brilliant and was probably deserving of a nomination.
However I can't say the same about Linda Blair, who's nomination was quite pointless. Many people say that she gives the best child performance ever, but she does not really give a performance apart from her "charming" scenes, where she's decent but it's really not nomination-worthy. Poor girl, she was very disappointed when she lost and this controversy with Mercedes McCambridge probably even damaged her career.
And last but not least there's the always reliable Lee J. Cobb, who's rarely mentioned when people talk about this movie unfortunately, even though he adds a lot to The Exorcist.
William Peter Blatty's Oscar-winning screenplay is also an excellent one and I think it was definitely worthy of that Oscar as it brilliantly mixed the religious terms with the disgusting things the devil/Regan says.
Although I can't give this movie Best Picture unfortunately as it was nominated with Cries and Whispers, I can honestly say it's much better than The Sting and probably the best horror movie ever (along with Psycho).
Grade: 10/10 One of my favorite ones ever.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Friedkin); Best Actress (Burstyn); Best Supporting Actor (Miller); Best Supporting Actress (Blair); Best Adapted Screenplay (WON); Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Art Direction; Best Sound (WON)
My wins: Best Supporting Actor for Miller.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Best Supporting Actor-reviews: How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Yes, you can see, I continue my Best Supporting Actor reviews (if everything goes well, the next one will be A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) and now it's time to talk about the "Oscar-stealer", the eternally disliked How Green Was My Valley.
Actually, I've never read reviews of this movie or real opinions as everyone says it's worse than Citizen Kane or How could it beat Citizen Kane or John Ford is great but Citizen Kane is sooooo much better. So you know what I mean, but this is a desperate attempt to talk about this movie ALONE.
How Green Was My Valley tells the story of the Morgans, a huge Welsh family, where everyone is a coal-miner and very happy in their simple lives. The youngest son is the talented and smart Huw (Roddy McDowall), who's much younger than his siblings, but is desperate to be loved and accepted by his family. He faces the hardships of adulthood and finally he becomes a man.
John Ford was a great director (and the winner of the most Oscars for directing), who could make sentimental family movies like nobody else could, see for example The Grapes of Wrath. Of course I must also mention my favorite of his, Stagecoach, which is IMO perfect. How Green Was My Valley does not live up to the brilliance of these movies, but it also has some really strong and sometimes even harrowing moments, when you really have to try not to sob. :-) The scenes where he shows the devastated crowds are so touching, the only thing I did not like is the singing, which was sometimes in my opinion too much for my taste.
However, he was also able to make the actors deliver strong and subtle performances. Roddy McDowall, the famous child star is very good in his role (for his age), but he was not the most impressive even though he was the lead.
Walter Pidgeon, in my opinion, was simply brilliant and much better than his dry performance in Mrs Miniver and this is probably his best work (from what I saw from him). As the local preacher in love with the Morgan girl, he was simply breathtaking and probably deserved some kind of a recognition at the Oscars, though I'm confused if he's lead or supporting.
Sara Allgood received a Supporting Actress nomination for playing Mrs. Morgan and though she's no Jane Darwell in The Grapes of Wrath, she's indeed memorable.
And last, but not least there's Donald Crisp, the supporting actor winner of the year. At the beginning of the movie, he doesn't have big scenes and I thought he was not very deserving, but towards the end I completely understood why he won for this deeply emotional and subtle performance. When I see all the Supporting Actor winners, he will have a nice place in my ranking. The scene where he reads the Bible is insanely moving. These religious scenes always gives wonderful opportunities to the actors to shine (see Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves or Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda).
Ok, to sum up I truly enjoyed this movie in spite of the bit boring middle of it. Of course, nothing can be perfect, but you can get close. John Ford got quite close.
Rating: 9/10
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (John Ford WON); Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp WON); Best Supporting Actress (Sara Allgood); Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (WON); Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White (WON); Best Film Editing; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture; Best Sound, Recording;
My wins: Walter Pidgeon and Donald Crisp tie for Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture (in a tie with The Maltese Falcon)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I'm sorry that I was not able to write for a long time because of a long sickness and things to do after that, but I'll come up with entries this weekend and hopefully a surprise, so thanks for the patience! :-)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

I don't really know what I expected from this movie to tell the truth. I only wanted to watch it because William Hurt won Best Actor for it. I probably wanted to see a good Oscar-winning movie.
Kiss of the Spider Woman is the story of two prisoners, Luis, a gay shop window decorator (William Hurt) and Valentin (Raul Julia), who's in jail for political reasons. Luis tells the story of a movie he saw a long time ago and he goes into the details very much, so in the beginning he just annoys Valentin. However, soon some strange connection is born between them and Luis falls in love with Valentin.
Nowadays, this movie is considered to be dated and old-fashioned and in a way I agree, but I also must mention the great parts of this movie. And first of all the amazing performances of the two leading man, William Hurt and Raul Julia, the scenes they share are simply unforgettable and also very credible. Their dialogues and reactions are so real, which is ironic as this movie in itself is far from being realistic.
William Hurt is well-known for his strong screen presence and this movie is no exceptions. He always commands the scene without any overacting or shouting. He doesn't go over-the-top with the mannerisms of Luis and he does not really show his emotions in real, so actually you never really know if he betrayed Valentin. So I'm saying this was a well-deserved Oscar.
Raul Julia is nearly equally brilliant in a less baity role. I only know him from the movie version of The Addams Family, but to tell the truth he really could have received an Oscar nomination for this performance. I'm not really sure though if he was the main character.
It's an interesting thing that originally Burt Lancaster and Richard Gere would have played these roles, but actually I'm very glad that they did not have money for them, even though it would have been interesting to see which type of his acting Lancaster would have used, the annoying one (e.g. The Rose Tatoo or the beginning of Elmer Gantry) or the brilliant one (e.g. The Leopard Gaaaaah! or Atlantic City).
Hector Babenco's directing was very accurate and probably even deserving of a nomination and I loved how he handled the scenes of the movie Luis is talking about. They seemed like as if Luis dreamed them (or Valentin), plus the use of symbols was very clever and appropriate (SPOILER e.g. Luis as Jesus, when he told his friend to take care of his mother and his sacrifice in the end, in front of the church). Still, something was missing from the movie's screenplay and the story itself, that's why that in the end I felt a bit unsatisfied.
Anyway, I can recommend you this movie because of the two brilliant lead performers and the one-of-a-kind chemistry between them. It's true that this movie is a bit dated.
Grade: 7.5/10 A good one, worth watching once.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Hector Babenco); Best Actor (Hurt WON); Best Adapted Screenplay
My wins: Hurt for Best Actor and I would give a nom to Julia.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The year is 1967 and the category is Best Actor. I haven't done Best Actor in a while, but I'd like to do it more often because IMO, it's just as great as Best Actress. Nevertheless, 1967 was a very great year for movies in general and so was for actors, who managed to give excellent performances in these movies. And I must also mention that tw of my favorite actors were among the nominees whom I ranked this way:

1. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate: Growing up is not easy. Certainly not for Benjamin Braddock. Hoffman was around 30 when he played a 21-year-old. Mike Nichols told him not to play a role and this was certainly the best advice he could have given. This heartwrenching and funny simplicity that Benjamin has makes us understand him and find resemblances between the viewer and him. This was the breaktrough of a now legendary and brilliant actor. With his very first major role he showed his immense talent, dedication and power. In a career full of unforgettable movies, nothing else could have been a better first one of these.

2. Spencer Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: This movie nowadays is considered to be dated, boring, dumb and everything else. Well, I enjoyed it very much and in my opinion Spencer Tracy gave one of his greatest performances in it. It's not very popular to say, but if it wasn't for Hoffman, Tracy would get my vote hands down. I simply loved the way he showed that he got old and the world has changed a lot (the scene where they're eating ice cream with Hepburn is brillian). And not to mention the bit cheesy last monologue of his, which he delivered brilliantly. Well done.

3. Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke: Newman (like all the great actors) was able to deliver monologues simply with one look. His character is in many ways just like R. P. McMurphy from (the overrated sorry) One Flew Over the Cockoo's Nest: someone who shows freedom, a light in the night, a savior. The comparisions between this character and Jesus Christ are obvious in this movie and Newman was able to deliver a powerhouse, but still subtle performance. The only problem I have is that he's not very different from his other performances, but that's just me.

4. Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night: Martin Luther King was assasinated before the Oscars, so it was no wonder that In the Heat of the Night, which is a very entertaining movie won 4 awards, which inculded Best Actor for Rod Steiger, who was overdue for some time. The main reason why I don't agree with this win is that the real lead is definitely Poitier and now matter how great Steiger is (which he is), I cannot ignore this fact. Nevertheless, I noticed Steiger's effort and even though I'm definitely not a fan of his, I think he deserved the Oscar for this... in the supporting category.
Grade: ****

5. Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde: Bonnie and Clyde is brilliant, but the main problem is that Dunaway almost completely steals the movie from her co-stars. Yes, that woman can really act, but it would be unfair not to acknowledge the greatness of the others. Apart from the Oscar-worthy Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons, Beatty is able to give a fine performance as Clyde, who's quite far from being a big shot. However, she's able to get Bonnie and Beatty is quite good at showing Clyde's emotions (not so many). So good, but not great job.
Grade: ***

Monday, May 10, 2010

The ranking of the nominees right now

Oh, I'm sorry I forgot this one after 1950 and after some re-thinking, I'd like to give Holliday's stars to Baxter and Holliday gets only 3, because my opinion has changed unfortunately. In thins new ranking I did some minor changes (well, the last one's different), so nothing else.

2. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard
3. Judi Dench in Notes on Scandal
4. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
5. Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies
6. Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons
7. Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker
8. Jane Alexander in Testament
9. Jessica Lange in Frances
10. Bette Davis in All about Eve
11. Meryl Streep in Silkwood
12. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall
13. Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake
14. Dame Edith Evans in The Whisperers
15. Geraldine Page in The Sweet Bird of Youth
16. Meryl Streep in Doubt
17. Kate Winslet in Little Children
18. Anne Bancroft in The Graduate
19. Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
20. Julie Christie in Away from Her
21. Jodie Foster in The Accused
22. Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball
23. Eleanor Parker in Caged
24. Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
25. Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde
26. Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace
27. Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves
28. Katharine Hepburn in Long Day's Journey into Night
29. Julie Walters in Educating Rita
30. Melissa Leo in Frozen River
31. Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses
32. Helen Mirren in The Queen
33. Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark
34. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
35. Anne Baxter in All about Eve
36. Frances McDormand in Fargo
37. Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom
38. Penélope Cruz in Volver
39. Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl
40. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
41. Laura Linney in The Savages
42. Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment
43. Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
44. Jane Fonda in Julia
45. Kate Winslet in The Reader
46. Judi Dench in Iris
47. Ellen Page in Juno
48. Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman
49. Kristin Scott-Thomas in The English Patient
50. Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist
51. Annette Bening in Being Julia
52. Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday
53. Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
54. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
55. Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point
56. Sissy Spacek in Missing
57. Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary
58. Audrey Hepburn in Wait until Dark
59. Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria
60. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
61. Diane Keaton in Marvin's Room
62. Melanie Griffith in Working Girl
63. Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point
64. Katharine Hepburn in Guess who’s Coming to Dinner
65. Angelina Jolie in Changeling

I would like to do 1987 but I'd have to see Anna, I would be eternally grateful for a link. :-)

Off-topic: I just met Andie McDowell, she was shooting in our school with Selena Gomez (I saw her too). They were quite nice. Have you ever met any celebrities? Woody Allen is the only other one I saw (unfortunately did not talk to him) apart from these women.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My awards...

I read an article on Goldderby and I wasn't totally satisfied with the results, so here are my award-winners for the decade (I have 10 Best Picture Nominees like Oscars). 2 stars indicate the winner and one star shows the runner-up.

1. Best Picture of the decade
o 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
o Brokeback Mountain
o Children of Men
o The Hurt Locker
o The Lives of the Others*
o No Country For Old Men
o The Pianist**
o Talk to Her
o Sideways
o Wall-E

2. Best Actor in a Leading Role
o Adrien Brody in The Pianist*
o Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
o Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain
o Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler**
o Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland

3. Best Actress in a Leading Role
o Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose*
o Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal**
o Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven
o Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake
o Charlize Theron in Monster

4. Best Actor in a Supporting Role
o Jeff Bridges in The Contender
o Josh Brolin in Milk**
o Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain
o Vlad Ivanov in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days*
o Anthony Mackie in The Hurt Locker

5. Best Actress in a Supporting Role
o Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock
o Helen Mirren in Gosford Park
o Mo’Nique in Precious**
o Meryl Streep in Adaptation
o Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton*

6. Best Director
o Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain*
o Alfonso Cuarón for Children of Men
o Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker**
o Joel & Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
o Roman Polanski for The Pianist

7. Best Original Screenplay
o Amelie*
o Little Miss Sunshine
o My Big Fat Greek Wedding
o Talk to Her
o Wall-E**

8. Best Adapted Screenplay
o Adaptation
o Atonement
o Brokeback Mountain
o Children of Men**
o Sideways*

Sunday, May 2, 2010


As requested, 1950 Best Actress. The first question about this year is Sunset Boulevard or All about Eve. For me, it's All about Sunset Boulevard. These two movies competed for the grand prize, but there was also heated contest between the two leading divas, Gloria Swanson and Bette Davis. And that race was soooo heated, that a relative newcomer, Judy Holliday was able to walk away with that Oscar. How??? Well, that's a mistery. Anyway there were two other nominees, so I'm terminating the suspense by writing down my ranking.

1. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard: Well, well. When you think about Norma Desmond, you see a desperate woman, dreaming about her days as a huge star and a memorable quote comes to your mind: 'I am big. It's the PPPictuuuures that got ssssmaaall.'And then you get impressed simply by remembering. And then there's watching her. Now that is what I consider ICONIC and UNBELIEVABLE. Had she won that Oscar, Meryl Streep would have a hard time keeping her #1 spot. Plus, add some witty and brilliant lines, a terrific, terrifying, crazy and shocking ending and you get one of the greatest performances ever given in the history of films.

2. Bette Davis in All about Eve: This one is considered to be the best performance of the prolific and brilliant career of Bette Davis. I agree. And yes, she was very-very Oscar-worthy. I'm just thinking that 1950 was a very strong year and she had two Oscars, so maybe voters though she woul be fine. As Margo Channing, she created one of the most memorable divas on the screen, probably a lighter version of Norma Desmond. Margo still has a great career, but we (and she too) feel that it's going to be over soon and that she can't play young girls forever. Her complex, selfish and childish behaviour is wonderfully shown by the great Bette Davis.

3. Eleanor Parker in Caged: Caged is shocking and amazing movie to say the least. I read everywhere that Eleanor Parker was so underrated and brilliant in Caged, that's why I was a bit disappointed and yes, I said it. I expected more than an amazing performance (which it was). Apart from that I enjoyed her mightily and the character development was fascinating in this case. At the beginning she's very innocent, but soon she gets tougher and tougher as time passes. The best scenes of Parker are obviously at the beginning, when the photo is taken and she's asking for a comb. That's an unforgettable scene.

4. Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday: Well, I'm a bit ashamed for giving her such a low place in my ranking, but I can't change the past. Holliday gives a very fun, light and entertaining performance as Billie, a dumb blonde you becomes an educated and intelligent woman. She's sometimes annoying, but I forgave her everything when she said 'sore loooooser'. This is an award-worthy performance at the Golden Globes in the comedy category (which she won deservedly), but not at the Oscars where she's nominated against these ladies.

5. Anne Baxter in All about Eve: In 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die, I read that Anne Baxter was the only weak point of All about Eve and seemed to be nothing more than pure ambition dressed up. In a way, I agree, but you cannot deny her greatness in some of the scenes. First, Eve seems to be a naive, nice girl dreaming about being a friend of Margo Channing. Only Birdie can see through the moving story (not even Margo). Anne Baxter handles this character well, but the movie focuses on Bette Davis so much that everyone else pales in comparision with her. Still, good work from Baxter.

This was the most amazing year, probably the most amazing along with 1962.
Look at this picture: