31 Days of Oscar: The Movies – Could more be more?

Our 31 Days of Oscar blogathon wraps up with Week 5 posts — The Movies. I’ve been thinking about the Best Picture category a lot lately, since I read Movies Silently’s Week 2 post, The Silent Oscars, in which she highlighted Academy Award categories that were lost with the advent of sound films. Near the beginning of her very informative post, she writes:

The first Academy Awards had several categories that were never repeated. The best picture award was divided in two, best production (Wings) and most artistic (Sunrise). Frankly, I think dividing best picture into art film and crowd-pleaser would be an excellent idea today but what do I know? The best director category was likewise divided into best dramatic director (Frank Borzage) and best comedic director (Lewis Milestone).

wings-sunrise
Two winners, both alike in dignity…WINGS and SUNRISE

Such interesting ideas. What would two Best Picture and two Best Director categories look like?

Having 20 different nominated films might get complicated, so it’s quite possible the Academy would return to limiting the Best Picture categories to five each. Also there would probably be some films that get nominated for both Best Production and Most Artistic. For instance, I think last year’s Best Picture, Argo, qualified for both. Would it have gotten lost between plausible Best Production nominees Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook and Most Artistic shoo-in Beasts of the Southern Wild?

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Among the nominees for Best Production…SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and…21 JUMP STREET?

On the other hand, separating directors into Best Dramatic and Best Comedic categories would probably have helped Argo director Ben Affleck to get nominated the same year (that he wasn’t is still a staggering snub in my book), though I think Ang Lee still would have won. My money would have been on Playbook director David O. Russell in the Comedic category, would he have gotten into the dramatic category as well? Who else would have gotten nominated? Phil Lord and Chris Miller for 21 Jump Street possibly? It’s hilarious. Seth McFarlane for Ted? Jay Roach for The Campaign? Jason Moore for Pitch Perfect? Would these films then get nominated in a Best Production category? Or would those nominations go to effects-heavier movies?

I’m not sure, but I do know that comedy has long gotten short shrift from Oscar. And I also know the Academy has tried all sorts of tactics to increase viewership. Designating an actual category just for comedy direction places these films — and possibly their fans — at the core of the Academy Awards. Would it also alienate the base (if there is such a thing)? And, with the differentiation between drama and comedy in other categories, would it then be necessary to split up the acting and craft categories as well? The mind boggles…but it’s fun to think about.

Fontaine Oscar banner flat

This post is part of the second annual 31 Days of Oscar blogathon hosted by Paula’s Cinema Club, Outspoken and Freckled, and Once Upon a Screen. For more posts featuring Oscar snubs, visit the megapost at Outspoken and Freckled, and stay tuned for more Oscar-related posts throughout the month. Our blogathon gets its inspiration from Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar, “where every movie shown is an Oscar winner or nominee.”

The Oyster Princess (1919) A Silent Film Review

This has become one of my favorite silent films…if you like Lubitsch’s sound work, you’ll really dig his silents.

Movies Silently

The Oyster Princess 1919 Ernst Lubitsch a silent movie review

The Prince is the Pauper…

Ossi’s father is the Oyster King of America and she has decided that she deserves nothing less than a  European prince. Nucki is the penniless prince in question but a few cases of mistaken identity later, all plans are in shambles. Hidden amongst the the wacky hijinks is some pointed social commentary courtesy of director Ernst Lubitsch.

“I’ll buy you a prince!”

When most people think of silent German cinema, the phrase “romantic comedy” does not spring readily to mind. Classics like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari may get all the glory but German filmgoers of the silent era liked light films just as much as their American counterparts.

And the Germans had a secret weapon: Ernst Lubitsch.

While he was brought to Hollywood on the strength of his historical spectacles, Lubitsch’s great talent lay in sophisticated romantic comedy. Any fan of classic…

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TCM Week – July 16-22

TCM has some really intriguing stuff scheduled for this week. Crank up the DVR and let’s go…as usual, all times are Eastern.

Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in GUNGA DIN

Monday, July 16
TCM’s Classic Adventure series continues with a full 24 hours of rip-roaring action. Must-sees include The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland at 2:00 Eastern; Gunga Din (1939) starring Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Victor McLaglen at 4:00 p.m.; and The Thief of Baghdad (1924) with Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Joan Crawford in OUR MODERN MAIDENS

Tuesday, July 17
Today kicks off with a couple of silents, The Sheik (1921) starring Rudolph Valentino, and Our Modern Maidens (1929) with soon-to-be newlyweds Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The latter is the first of a block of eight ’20s and ’30s films directed by Jack Conway. Conway began as an actor in D. W. Griffiths’ Westerns and moved into directing, first at Universal, then at MGM, where he proved to be adept and prolific. He worked cost-effectively in all genres, bringing pictures in on time and within budget, a capability that endeared him to studio honchos Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer. He is probably best known for A Tale of Two Cities (1935), starring Ronald Colman and Elizabeth Allan, and one of my all-time favorites, Libeled Lady (1936). Enjoy his work until George Cukor takes over at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

Star of the Month: Leslie Howard
I am a huge fan of Leslie Howard, but even I have to admit he was horribly miscast in Romeo and Juliet (1936), scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Though the film is gorgeous, Howard, in his forties, and his Juliet, Norma Shearer, in her mid-thirties, are both too old to portray a teenaged couple caught up in their first love. (Shakespearean scholars estimate that a real Romeo would have been 16 or 17 years of age and it’s directly mentioned in the text that Juliet has just turned 13.) But the rest of Howard’s films tonight — A Free Soul and Smilin’ Through, both also with Shearer, and Outward Bound (Howard’s Hollywood debut) and Captured! both with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. — look pretty interesting.

Wednesday, July 18
Tonight’s block of early Francis Ford Coppola work includes You’re A Big Boy Now at 8:00 p.m., The Rain People at 10:00 p.m., Dementia 13 at 12:00 a.m. Thursday, and Finian’s Rainbow at 1:30 a.m. I wouldn’t recommend Finian’s but I’m keeping an open mind about the rest.

Thursday, July 19
Apparently today’s films have a theme: jail. Whether it’s women behind bars (Caged, House of Women (1962)), escape (House of Numbers) or riot (Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison), TCM has every kind of filmic incarceration one could want during the daytime hours. I’ll be sure to record Ladies They Talk About, which stars Barbara Stanwyck as a gangster’s moll sent up for her role in a bank robbery.

At 8:00 p.m., TCM is featuring The Science of Movie Making, a block co-hosted by sound designer Ben Burtt and visual effects supervisor Craig Barron, both Oscar-winners in their fields, who have chosen films that have inspired them.

Friday, July 20
Stanwyck Pre-codes
***TCM PARTY***
Presumably in honor of Ms. Stanwyck’s 105th birthday (July 16), TCM has scheduled four films she made before enforcement of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Production Code (aka Hays Code) began in 1934. The pre-codes include Shopworn (1932), Ten Cents A Dance (1931), Illicit (1931) and Forbidden (1932). Look for us on Twitter…watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.

Saturday, July 21
To Have and Have Not (1944)
***TCM PARTY***
In Martinique during World War II, a fishing-boat captain (Humphrey Bogart) gets mixed up with the French Resistance and a beautiful saloon singer (Lauren Bacall). This was Bacall’s first film and she was such a natural that screenwriter William Faulkner started adding to her part. The critics said it had “much more character than story” and that it was “confusing and klutzy, the ending is weak, and the secondary characters are poor substitutes for Casablanca‘s (1942) memorable cast of heroes and villains” but I think it’s great. Look for us on Twitter…watch and tweet along with #TCMParty. Guest hosted by @joelrwilliams1.

http://youtu.be/90IxpYZjCOE

Sunday, July 22
If you haven’t seen Christmas in July (1940) at 10:30 a.m., Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) at 2:00 p.m., or The Great Escape (1963) at 8:00 p.m., definitely tune in for those. There’s a silent at 12:30 a.m. Monday, The Mating Call, and at 2:00 a.m. there’s The Leopard (Il gattopardo – 1963), starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon. Set in the early 1860s during the turmoil that preceded Italy’s unification, the film follows the slow fall of aristocratic Prince Fabrizio (Lancaster) and the parallel rise of upstart Tancredi (Delon). This film has lavish detail, gorgeously shot, and is unfortunately dubbed (you can’t have everything). It’s also a very poignant film, infused with a sense of nostalgia for a lost time and the inevitability of one generation letting another take over.

TCM Week: March 26-April 1

Monday, March 26
2:45 p.m. Zero Hour! (1957)
I’ll be tuning into this for two reasons, one being Dana Andrews, and and the other this oddly Airplane!-like synopsis: “When a flight crew falls ill, the only man who can land the plane is afraid of flying.”

8:00 p.m. Kes (1970)
10:00 p.m. Darling (1965)
***TCM PARTY***
The last Monday of British New Wave Month kicks off with Kes, about a teenager whose only escape from the chaos around him is a falcon, and Darling, about a model in the Swinging ’60s. It continues with The Pumpkin Eater (1964) at 12:15 a.m., and The Knack…and How To Get It (1965) at 2:30 a.m. Guest hosted by @mercurie80.

Tuesday, March 27
Robert Mitchum Block
Beginning at 8 p.m. with Cape Fear (1962), TCM features 5 films starring one of the toughest dudes around, Robert Mitchum. He is truly psychopathic in Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter (1955), both of which are difficult for me to watch, but I still recommend them.

Wednesday, March 28
British actor Dirk Bogarde is featured in a block beginning at noon: The Spanish Gardener (1956), Libel (1959), The Password Is Courage (1962) and Damn the Defiant (1962).

Thursday, March 29
3:00 p.m. The King’s Thief (1955)
George Sanders Alert
As he did in Forever Amber, Sanders plays Charles II in a swashbuckler that doesn’t require much thought. I mean that in the best way.

6:15 p.m. The Man Who Laughs [L’uomo che ride] (1966)
Remake of the 1928 silent which starred Conrad Veidt.

10:00 p.m. Dirigible (1931)
Very early Frank Capra work in which two pilots try to take a dirigible to the South Pole. Sounds really odd but it’s Capra.

Friday, March 30
8:30 a.m. Random Harvest (1942)
Paula (Greer Garson) is a nice showgirl who takes in a “John Smith” from the local asylum (Ronald Colman) only to lose him when he recovers his memory, discovers that he is really a rich guy and forgets all about her. Such a romantic film. No, really. Trust me.

6:30 p.m. Beware, My Lovely (1952)
I bet you thought I was going to pick The Seven Year Itch or Lost Weekend? Both are pretty good, especially Lost Weekend. Instead, I’ve got to shill for Beware, My Lovely, sort of a film noir/thriller hybrid that stars tough cookie Ida Lupino as a widow who discovers her handyman (Robert Ryan) is really a ticking time bomb of homicidal paranoia. Some really interesting angles make it a class on subjective camera.

Saturday, March 31
1:30 p.m. Stagecoach (1939)
Orson Welles allegedly watched this 70 times while making Citizen Kane, you might want to check it out at least once.

8:00 p.m. Sunrise (1927)
***TCM PARTY***
I really want see this one because it was directed by F.W. Murnau of Nosferatu fame. That film is one of the few silents I’ve seen on a big screen (OK, it’s also one of the few silents I’ve seen anywhere) and it really scares me, so I’m interested to see what he does with this story of major drama brought on an innocent married couple through the corrupting influence of a woman from the city. Guest hosted by @tpjost.

Sunday, April 1
So many good films today…wow. One crazy-sounding one is scheduled for 6:00 a.m., Hips, Hips, Hooray (1934), the plot of which is described as “the pretext for some delightfully anarchic gags.” Otherwise, you can tune pretty much any time today and not go too far wrong.

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan movie viewing, DVR scheduling or TCM Party attendance. All times are EST.

 

TCM Week: March 19-25

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan movie viewing, DVR scheduling or TCM Party attendance. All times are EST.

Monday, March 19
8:00 p.m. This Sporting Life (1963)
10:00 p.m. Billy Liar (1963)
***TCM PARTY***  Guest hosted by @mercurie80
TCM continues the month-long British New Wave celebration tonight with our TCM Party selections This Sporting Life and Billy Liar, followed by Tom Jones (1963), Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and Only Two Can Play (1962). Billy Liar is another of Morrissey’s favorites that I’ve never seen. He used lines from it in Smiths’ songs “The Queen Is Dead” and “Vicar in a Tutu” and adapted another line for the album title Strangeways, Here We Come, among many borrowings. I’m recording all of these but the one I’ll probably watch right away is Tom Jones. I first saw it when I was in high school and over the years, I’ve come to realize that it pretty much defines the term “lighthearted romp.” Also, based on my AP English grade, it’s a pretty darn faithful adaptation of the novel.

Tuesday, March 20
6:15 p.m. The Moon and Sixpence (1942)
George Sanders Alert
Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent in this film, which was “loosely inspired by the life of” painter Paul Gauguin. George Sanders plays a middle-class Brit who dumps his family and runs off to Paris to paint. He’s so callous and coldhearted that even I had trouble liking him…until he is redeemed by the love of a good Tahitian woman. Sanders at his worst, and for him that means best. If you don’t have cable, fear not…some nice person put the whole thing on YouTube.

Aline MacMahon, Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, and Ruby Keeler of Gold Diggers in 1933.

8:00 p.m. Gold Diggers of 1933
***TCM PARTY***  Guest hosted by @strbuk
Sassy Joan Blondell leads a trio of showgirls trying to become stars. They won’t turn down any marriage proposals from rich guys either. Did I mention it’s pre-code? It’s not all fun and games though—this film has a surprisingly dark undertone epitomized by the number “Remember My Forgotten Man.”

3:00 a.m. (Weds.) The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932)
I’m only vaguely aware of what this film could be about, but it stars Barbara Stanwyck and is directed by Frank Capra, and that’s good enough for me.

"On California's magnificent Big Sur shoreline, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are the artist and minister who must meet in secret."

Wednesday, March 21
It’s Karl Malden Day but I confess I’m not too interested in the Westerns of his they’ve got scheduled for tonight. I still miss Elizabeth Taylor and evidently someone at TCM does too; they’ve got seven of her movies in chronological order, beginning at 6:15 a.m. with Cynthia (1947) and continuing with Conspirator (1949), Love Is Better Than Ever (1952), Rhapsody (1954), Butterfield 8 (1960), The Sandpiper (1965) and The Comedians (1967). In Sandpiper and Comedians she stars with Richard Burton so I’ll be recording those. Tonight is also Casablanca Night, aka the biggest TCM Party in the world, brought to you by the channel and Fathom Events 🙂

Thursday, March 22
TCM has Radioactive Calamities and a couple of monster movies until 8 p.m. when they take a look at the films of Rosalind Russell’s later career.

Friday, March 23
8:00 p.m. Wuthering Heights (1939)
***TCM PARTY*** Guest hosted by @kimmiechem
Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff and Merle Oberon as Cathy in what many argue is the definitive version of Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel about a a poor boy brought up in a wealthy family and the foster sister with whom he falls hopelessly, passionately, violently in love. Followed by Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1944) at 10 p.m. and the Brontë family biopic Devotion (1946) with Ida Lupino as Emily, Olivia de Havilland as Charlotte, and Arthur Kennedy as Branwell, along with Sydney Greenstreet as another of my favorite writers, William Makepeace Thackeray, at 12:00 a.m. (Sat.).

Saturday, March 24
8:00 p.m. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
***TCM PARTY***
Can you picture Robert de Niro in the role played by Richard Dreyfuss in this? I can’t really, but it almost happened. Sort of, it’s complicated.

Sunday, March 25
6:00 a.m. That Certain Woman (1937)
Bette Davis plays a mother who sacrifices all so that her son can have a better life in this remake of a 1929 picture starring Gloria Swanson, The Trespasser. Davis requested Henry Fonda as her leading man.

Noon Key Largo (1948)
One of my essential film noirs, in which a gangster (Edward G. Robinson) holds a bunch of people, including a war veteran (Humphrey Bogart), and a hotel owner (Lionel Barrymore) and his daughter (Lauren Bacall), hostage during a storm.

Midnight La Roue (1922)
“In this silent film, a railway worker and his son fall in love with the same beautiful woman.” French, directed by Abel Gance.