The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

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colinr0380
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#251 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:33 pm

Apparently Rachel, Rachel and The Green Berets were Warners' two biggest moneymakers of 1968, so it might have been box office as much as relevancy at work there (I wonder if there was a Green Beret paper doll for aspiring young genocidists?)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#252 Post by PillowRock » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:40 pm

reno dakota wrote:1967:
Doctor Dolittle – Ait’s also hard to imagine who was supposed to be the target audience
I can only tell you, as one who turned 6 years old in 1967, that I remember liking it a fair bit at the time. There is an age range where "Look! The animals are talking!" is pretty much enough. (And Harrison isn't completely unappealing as a pseudo-curmudgeon.)

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Tom Hagen
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#253 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:21 pm

domino harvey wrote:1967
domino, have you read Pictures at a Revolution? A bit gossipy in places, but a good overview of the odd significance of the year's nominees and their lingering impact. One of the better mainstream film books I've read in recent years.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#254 Post by domino harvey » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:15 pm

1960
The Alamo
Usually when actors direct films, they pay undue attention to other actors, giving them one showboat too many. No such problem here, as John Wayne, one of my favorite movie stars, is not an actor but a personality. The film could really use a showboat, actually. The actors are utterly stranded and you can see them going off into different directions without someone guiding them back-- poor Laurence Harvey in particular is really screwed here. Turns out you can't direct a film on persona alone. But aside from the acting, I dare anyone to tell me anything about this film's plot that they didn't have to bring to it from high school history class. This may not be the worst film ever nominated for Best Picture, but it is surely the most narratively inept

the Apartment Well, of course.

Elmer Gantry A four-pronged actor's workshop of a film, with Arthur Kennedy, Burt Lancaster, Shirley Jones, and Jean Simmons taking great material and not resting on it but infusing it with energy and relevance. The resultant film is arguably better than the source material, but the film suffers the same fate as the Hustler-- it's a great film in a rare year with more than one great nominee.

Sons and Lovers One of the yearly small films that somehow swept in with noms and swept out of public consciousness just as quickly. Not too bad as far as these sorts of noms go, really, as it looks quite nice and there's a good sexual intensity to the proceedings. Trevor Howard's role is definitely a supporting not main one, but his Best Actor nom is forgiven by how electric he is during his rants (plus he really deserved a nom for Mutiny two years later). Stockwell does this hilarious squinting eyes thing half the time he's on screen that works in spite of itself, and Mary Ure does her best to one-up his eyes during her turn at the wheel.

the Sundowners Fred Zinnemann, who I can only presume had dirty pictures of enough Academy members to keep his films getting nominated, does it again with this interminable Australian hooey. The film has its share of problems but all take a backseat to that ending, which is so sexist and infuriating that it makes every sheep-shearing, second-unit animal-fawning, accent-attempting minute of film previously endured seem three times as terrible in retrospect. Zinnemann is basically the poster boy for everything wrong with this award and yet even I voted for one of his films-- so whatever madness existed then can still catch now!

My Vote: The Apartment

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#255 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:53 pm

For those curious, here are the rare/unavailable Best Picture nominees running over the next couple months of TCM-- those with an asterisk are available via Warner Archives, but hey, free here

Anthony Adverse (02/02 430AM)
the Big House * (02/04 1230AM)
Cavalcade (02/09 10PM)
the Citadel * (2/28 1200PM)
Disraeli (02/04 330AM)
Flirtation Walk * (02/14 800AM)
Four Daughters * (03/02 615PM)
Four Star Final * (02/18 1000AM)
Here Comes the Navy (02/07 600AM)
the Human Comedy * (02/28 200PM)
the House of Rothschild (02/07 1000AM)
Naughty Marietta (04/27 1115AM)
Skippy (02/22 545PM)
Smilin' Through (02/28 330AM)
the Story of Louis Pasteur (02/14 215AM)
Test Pilot (2/28 400PM)
Trader Horn (02/07 730AM)
Viva Villa! (02/06 215AM)
Wings (02/06 1000PM)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#256 Post by reno dakota » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:55 pm

How are your remaining years coming along, domino?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#257 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:58 pm

reno dakota wrote:How are your remaining years coming along, domino?
Pathetically, but I intend to pick up the pace here again and these will definitely help

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#258 Post by reno dakota » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:03 pm

domino harvey wrote:
reno dakota wrote:How are your remaining years coming along, domino?
Pathetically, but I intend to pick up the pace here again and these will definitely help
Glad to hear it. Can't wait to read your comments on the "big" years.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#259 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:25 pm

And can't wait for the next thread to open up!

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#260 Post by movielocke » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:50 pm

domino harvey wrote:For those curious, here are the rare/unavailable Best Picture nominees running over the next couple months of TCM-- those with an asterisk are available via Warner Archives, but hey, free here

Anthony Adverse (02/02 430AM)
the Big House * (02/04 1230AM)
Cavalcade (02/09 10PM)
the Citadel * (2/28 1200PM)
Disraeli (02/04 330AM)
Flirtation Walk * (02/14 800AM)
Four Daughters * (03/02 615PM)
Four Star Final * (02/18 1000AM)
Here Comes the Navy (02/07 600AM)
the Human Comedy * (02/28 200PM)
the House of Rothschild (02/07 1000AM)
Naughty Marietta (04/27 1115AM)
Skippy (02/22 545PM)
Smilin' Through (02/28 330AM)
the Story of Louis Pasteur (02/14 215AM)
Test Pilot (2/28 400PM)
Trader Horn (02/07 730AM)
Viva Villa! (02/06 215AM)
Wings (02/06 1000PM)
don't miss Test Pilot and Five Star Final (the best films in that list) House of Rothschild and Skippy are quite tough to find/see and are not too bad, so I would prioritize those (I'm going to watch House of Rothschild again, because the last airing was on AMC in the 80s or early nineties, and I believe this is it's TCM premiere). Human Comedy is quite hard to find as well, but TCM has been airing it a couple times the last few months.

Naughty Marietta, Trader Horn, Anthony Adverse and Flirtation Walk are all spectacularly awful, imo. but I'm sort of curious to give Flirtation Walk a try again.

Smilin' Through is a totally odd duck, and should definitely be checked out, because you'll see it and think, "that is one bizarre film for Oscar to nominate."

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#261 Post by reno dakota » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:19 pm

movielocke wrote:don't miss Test Pilot and Five Star Final (the best films in that list)
I believe you meant to say that Test Pilot and Wings are the best films on the list, and that Five Star Final is a heavy-handed misfire. :wink:

Seriously, though, I think The Big House and Four Daughters are also worth seeing.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#262 Post by movielocke » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:25 pm

I should rewatch Four Daughters, like Three Smart Girls, it is one I can barely remember anything about--and I saw both recently. very forgettable.

Wings would be the third best of that lot.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#263 Post by reno dakota » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:57 pm

movielocke wrote:I should rewatch Four Daughters, like Three Smart Girls, it is one I can barely remember anything about--and I saw both recently. very forgettable.

Wings would be the third best of that lot.
Four Daughters is not great, but it does have John Garfield's debut performance, which I think is worth seeing. I wouldn't bother rewatching Three Smart Girls, though--there's a reason you can't remember much about it.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#264 Post by PillowRock » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:45 am

reno dakota wrote: I believe you meant to say that Test Pilot and Wings are the best films on the list
I saw Wings on a big screen with a live pipe organ accompaniment 2 or 3 years ago (the Michigan Theater is one of the things that I really miss about living in Ann Arbor). Somehow I suspect that some of the aerial combat scenes won't play quite the same way to me on TV.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#265 Post by movielocke » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:25 pm

my only viewing of Wings was with live piano accompaniment, I'm still annoyed I missed the 100 piece orchestra restoration premiere that played at the academy in 2003 or 2004. :-p

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#266 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:32 pm

1940
All This, and Heaven Too
It's overlong. It's beyond melodramatic. It takes a great deal of credulity to accept anything that happens on the screen. But I cannot deny that I was much entertained by this Bette Davis weepie. Anatole Litvak is the right director to put at the helm of a project like this, and his lively composure and pacing somehow salvage what by all rights should be a disaster. There is a scene concerning a tearful farewell to some sobbing children that is so shamelessly manipulative and obvious, and yet so valuable in its transparent effect, that it belongs alongside the train station farewell from Since You Went Away in the Women's Picture Hall of Fame.

Foreign Correspondent Huh? I like the film a lot, actually, and place it in the top half of Hitchcock's oeuvre, but there is still no discernible reason for this being nommed here. Hitchcock makes the most of being saddled with Joel McCrea and the film keeps a light air until that shocking finale when Hitchcock pulls the good times rug out from under the audience and the action stops being fun and turns catastrophic.

the Grapes of Wrath While rewatching this film for the project, it occurred to me that the reason Ford's film is so effective, even for those who disagreed with its inherent politics, is that it is structured and executed as a horror film, and as such manipulates its audience to maximum, involuntary effect. Oscars always liked social problem pictures in theory, but no too many actually went on to do much with their nominations. For a work of episodic, watered-down socialist agitprop, this one walked away with more than most! Not that she had much competition in the category, but Jane Darwell really did earn hers.

the Great Dictator Sloppy, intermittently funny war comedy from Chaplin. I was a lot cooler on this one before I taught it, but it's grown on me after repeated in-class viewings. Paulette Goddard is fun. Call me a sucker, but the final speech works fine for me and is certainly worth sitting through the dry patches for.

Kitty Foyle: the Natural History of a Woman Sam Wood's a pretty underrated workhorse director who had a string of quality award-baiting audience pleasers that, sadly, rarely get discussed much anymore. This film is the weaker of his two nommed this year, a minor but enjoyable dry run at female empowerment as seen by males and presented in such a way that it in no way empowers females. There are a lot of bad calls in Oscar history, but was there ever a worse bungle than giving the Best Actress to Ginger Rogers over Joan Fontaine? I mean, the Academy was so embarrassed about it that they made sure Fontaine won the next year for a performance 1/10 as good.

the Letter Average proto-noir from Wyler with Bette Davis doing her bad girl schtick for the nth time. Not a bad film by any means, but a curiously small one that somehow charmed the Academy to the tune of seven noms. The code-mandated capture at the film's end is ludicrous and takes out any bite the finale might have managed.

the Long Voyage Home That it looks nice is no defense-- good films can look nice too.

Our Town Admittedly this one hits a lot of sweet spots for me: examinations of small town America, questions of nostalgia, self-reflexivity, &c. But it moves from interesting to fascinating when its execution is considered against its latent politics. Sam Wood was about as right wing as Hollywood directors came, and I can only assume he went into this film thinking he was producing a paean to the now-lost past. But the artificiality of the film, which brilliantly operates with the same distancing effect as the bare stage in the stage play, creates a disconnect between the depicted and the reality of the scenario. This is a film that posits, possibly against the will of the producers, the progressive viewpoint that the past is as artificial as cinema itself, that the good ol' days are an imposed filter placed on an unhappy, restrictive past. This is the same regressive thinking that allows conservatism to latch onto the grail of family values which never existed. The end result of all this confusion and competing ideologies is an intentionally disorienting, finger-poking adaptation which pleases everyone at the expense of everyone.

the Philadelphia Story We all have popular movies that we just don't understand the appeal of, and this is mine. On an elemental level, this film irritates me to the point of maximum annoyance. The only praise I can dole out to the picture is that it's marginally better than its musical remake High Society (though that at least had Grace Kelly to look at). Speaking of the Academy rectifying earlier mistakes, James Stewart won Best Actor here for no other conceivable reason than to reward Mr Smith a year too late (Of course, he didn't deserve it then either, but I'm just sayin'...).

Rebecca One of Hitchcock's best, hinging on one of the greatest performances in all of cinema. By all accounts the filmmakers used and exploited Fontaine's own unease on camera and the dividends justify the means-- hey method actors, she beat you to the punch by a good ten years! The baroque grandeur of surroundings move to suffocate our young heroine as she encounters trauma both severe and admirably unmelodramatic, and the complex issues at play run circles around the fashionable Women's Pictures that always found their way into this category. The Academy has its moments.

My vote: Rebecca

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#267 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:59 pm

1941
Blossoms in the Dust
Most great movies are conservative, but even Hollywood cinema rarely goes this unchecked into the far right. This puffed up biopic lines up a row of so-called charitable acts committed by Greer Garson's matron that frankly border on criminal negligence under the auspices of telling a heartwarming story. You're not supposed to watch a movie like this and agree with the "villains," but here we are. By the time that finale rolls around and Garson gives up her precious cripple to a mentally unstable woman, the movie had long since given up any claims to moral superiority. And if all the ill-advised orphan-fawning weren't offensive enough, the film's litany of racist jokes pick up any remaining slack.

Citizen Kane Well, it's Citizen Kane.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan Despite not having Charles Grodin, the original outdoes its more well-known remake in most arenas. I try not to dwell on the reactions of other members here, but I am as equally perplexed at the negative response as its detractors are of its positive reputation. Robert Montgomery was never better, the construction of the story is tight and well-related, and the fact that the morals are so troubling makes it the bittersweet masterpiece it is. This is a joyous comedy of barely endurable tragedy.

Hold Back the Dawn A Wilder/Brackett script that indulges Wilder's fascination with crummy people to maybe its finest synthesis. It certainly puts the cartoonish nature of villainy on display in the Little Foxes to shame! The film's fluctuation between de Havilland's virginal naivete and Paulette Goddard's barbed sniping is a treat, and both actresses always excel in roles like this. Charles Boyer plays himself, almost literally considering the delightful framing device, but that's what's needed: the bold, sensuous Frenchman whose act is all fluffed up appearance in pursuit of base wish fulfillment. Leisen's film is a love letter to these kinds of roles and these kinds of movies.

How Green Was My Valley Midrange Ford film that gets a little middling in the dry spots of its episodic structure. Donald Crisp is good, and I think most of his subsequent roles are filtered through this one. Hate to admit it, but I definitely remember with more fondness that episode of Frasier where he kept trying to watch this movie than this movie.

the Little Foxes A rather unpleasant little film. It's really only notable for what it launched: the film careers of Teresa Wright and Dan Duryea, and Bazin's excellent essay on adaptation. Wright and Herbert Marshall do shine here, mostly because they're the only worthwhile characters onscreen, but also because the cream tends to rise, &c. Duryea is out-weaseled in a film full of 'em and Davis doesn't really do anything-- hers is a typical joke nom here. Speaking of joke noms, lol forever @ Patricia Collinge's. Ten minutes into the film I thought to myself, "Oh, she's being treated like shit, I'm surprised they didn't nom her alongside the ingenue"-- and of course, turns out they did!

the Maltese Falcon Leaden proto-noir with a spectacularly miscast femme fatale and lethargic narrative pacing to boot. I run hot and cold on John Huston's output, and he started freezing. The sunny, comparatively high class gloss applied here fouls up any chance this pic had of succeeding. Bogart is not my Sam Spade.

One Foot in Heaven I don't think this film intended to be the portrait of an unfortunate woman's miserable marriage to a selfish, borderline inhuman professional operating under an antiquated code of morality. Whoops. Religious movies are only worthwhile when constructed with reverence, and with rare exception (Song of Bernadette, of course), the most effective Christian films are not the witnessing tools or antiquated biopics or steeple-occupant fluffers, but those which show a christian attitude in action and character. So, you know, not this sort of noxious treacle. I wish I saw the movie you all saw, because aside from a few, all too spare cute moments where it seems to work (March almost missing his much needed wedding fare because he's so enraptured in talking to a non-believer comes to mind), sitting through this one was rotten penance for a sin I hadn't committed.

Sgt. York I've found a real hesitation toward embracing this film among even the most fervent Hawks supporters due to the uber-conservative politics on display here. But when seen in close quarters with some of the other, far more ghastly conservative films this year, it's hard to imagine any expended liberal energy not being wasted here. So it's even easier to admit that this enjoyable work of war propaganda is one of Hawks' best and most exciting films, real talk, with a great performance by Gary Cooper, who earned his win. Deal with it.

Suspicion "Look Joan, we're really really really really sorry about last year. Look, just to prove it, we'll even nominate your movie here, too." -- the Academy Awards

My Vote: Here Comes Mr Jordan

So, if anyone thinks ten nominees for Best Picture was (now is) excessive, check out the category for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture from this year, where there were twenty nominees :shock:

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#268 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:43 pm

Workin' hard here, folks :-"

1930
All Quiet on the Western Front
Despite this being a pretty good year on the whole for nominations, Milestone's film overwhelms the competition in what must be the most lopsided and unfair matchup in Oscar history. Most early talkies you have to make apologies for and/or adjust expectations. This one you just marvel at. As much as I think the production code actually helped make classical studio-era Hollywood films the greatest of all cinemas, a movie like this, with its running blood and amputated limbs, really gets the mind working on the "What if"s...

the Big House A very strong blueprint for the prison movie, with gruff action and keenly-tuned dialog. Wallace Beery steals the show with his Eddie Haskell "Who me?" prisoner, and Robert Montgomery makes a good rat. It's funny to look at the film's morals, which, while realistic to the no snitching maxim respected criminals operate within, still rub up against what Hollywood will start preaching in a few years' time.

Disraeli Typical of many early Hollywood talkies, this is basically a night at the theatre. George Arliss is not much of an actor in the cinematic sense here, but it's easy to see how his method would translate with those Best Actor voters eager to legitimize sound productions. The strengths of the film rest solely on the base material, which is mildly entertaining, and everything else is a fairly dry and forgettable dress rehearsal through such.

the Divorcee A fun little pre-coder with a game spirit and real heart behind its brazen whoredom-inducement. The Life's A Party atmosphere of the first half is missed when it gets Srs in the second, but the film never really wrongs itself off its chosen course. Robert Montgomery makes a good cad. Shearer didn't really do anything outside of what she normally does, so this is one of those wins.

the Love Parade I remember reading in some film book as an undergrad about the scene where even the dogs join in the lovelorn singing and chuckling to myself while thinking, "That's hilarious, but now the best part's been ruined." Of course, once I actually saw it, I had to remind myself that it's a Lubitsch movie, so there's nothing but best parts. The funniest and liveliest Chavalier/Lubtisch matchup, by far.

My Vote: All Quiet on the Western Front


1949
All the King's Men
Hollywood took a welcome turn here and the following year by rewarding a pair of bile-spewing vicious films that still kick today. While in retrospect Rossen's film cannot compete with the claws-out brilliance of the following year's Best Pic, All the King's Men does still manage to pack more punches than it pulls, and the cynical political sentiment being rewarded by the academy is in many ways a more important historical distinction than quality or prestige. And even apart from the political importance of such a win, there's something fresh and hopeful about a second-string character actor and a relatively obscure radio actress scoring acting wins above their prettier and more popular competition.

Battleground At this point in my film viewing life, I have seen a lot of Hollywood war movies, so a film like this that comes along and gives so many fresh little details and moments really is a laudable achievement. I was enraptured by Wellman's take, which has a dour pall cast (I'm surprised to see other members call it out for jingoism-- uhhh) over the heroics and a finely-tuned sense of the novel and observed-- sergeants tearing off their stripes when they hear of a sniper threat, the hilarious extended business with the eggs, the fevered exchanges of verifiable "American" knowledge between passing companies to determine if they're friend or foe ("Who's Betty Grable going with?"), &c &c &c. This is a compendium of small joys painted against the larger canvas of battle.

the Heiress A okay film, better than most of Wyler's other period excursions (he is such a grand director in present-tense, and such a laborious one in past), with competent performances, though... I must admit, I felt a little "Been there, done that" with the rotten people muddying the lily-white naif thing while the film crept onward. De Havilland's put in some loose and interesting perfs (the Snake Pit, the Dark Mirror) in the years leading up to her win here, and it's a shame that she picked the award up again for the role that required her for most of the running time to play the same lost little doe she always portrayed.

A Letter to Three Wives I like Mankiewicz more than most, but what an utterly beguiling Oscar winner this is. Best Director and Best Screenplay? I can understand wanting to throw some awards his way by this point in his career, and the academy had no way of knowing he'd be earning those awards the next year for All About Eve, but this is really a film that you have figure out your own theory about so many years after the fact. My best guess: Kirk Douglas' show-stopping rant against radio found favor with a voting body governed by a competing industry. Too bad nothing else in the film matches it.

Twelve O'Clock High A good post-war war film that unfortunately often confuses draggy with somber. The film only really picks up about forty minutes in when Peck finally gets his assignment and swoops in with all the wonderful orders-barking. It's kind of funny that apparently this film has such a strong legacy in leadership classes and seminars given that Peck's nervous breakdown seems born of him growing attached to his squadron and not wanting to send them out to their deaths-- the very kind of emotional clinging to the charges that his leadership was supposed to alleviate!

My Vote: Battleground


1952
the Greatest Show on Earth
Unsurprisingly, conventional Oscar wisdom is wrong once again. By no means is this the worst film to ever win Best Picture. It's actually a pretty entertaining, if overlong, piece of good ol' fashioned star-studded Hollywood spectacle. The film works best when DeMille indulges the documentary aspects of the picture, and there are certainly no shortage of interesting diversions up on the screen. The narrative itself is a little silly and of little consequence, but that's hardly why anyone came to see this anyways. Gloria Grahame is sexy fun and Cornel Wilde always shines in showboat roles like this. Apologies to modern cinema pundits, but it would have been far more embarrassing for High Noon to win.

High Noon If Grace Kelly came a matrimonying at my door, I'd say screw the town. Gary Cooper thinks otherwise. Moral lesson ensues. Thomas Mitchell stars in the only good scene, where he single-handedly turns a church congregation away from their christian instincts-- it's a moment of intelligence in a film otherwise devoid of such pressing matters. But really, the problem above all else, and this cannot be understated, is the combination of Zinnemann's direction and the "modern" editing style. High Noon is still popular because it comes across like a crummy contemporary film-- but that's not continued relevance, that's the first shot fired in a war we lost. As far as I'm concerned, this film's horribly cut, fast-paced nightmare of a climactic fight ruined motion pictures.

Ivanhoe Overcomes Thorpe's unimaginative direction and an overbearing, trite score to be quite entertaining. The cast is well-utilized and though I only have a passing familiarity with the source text, the dialog and narrative thrust of the film is very strong. This ostentatious spectacle is way more fun than the so-called entertainment of Curtiz' Robin Hood to my eyes.

Moulin Rouge The highest compliment I can pay this one, beyond saying it's the best film nominated this year or one of the best films ever nominated in this category or that it's John Huston's best film, is that it made me forget I was watching a Hollywood biopic. All of the rest is true though-- Houston's vulgarity gets a full workout here, but the film utilizes this tendency in his direction to play as strength, not weakness, to grand result. The two fantastic performances here were both correctly nominated. Jose Ferrer disappears into the role and distracts from what could have been gimmick set-up after gimmick set-up to hide the mechanics behind his dwarfism with a genuine panache and gusto. Colette Marchand, though, steals the film with her intense and complicated streetwalker, and the wonderful emotional abuse the two lovers play out is as realistic and intriguing as any found in a studio film of this era. While Oscar generally did right by this film with seven noms, two of its best attributes, its witty script and jaw-dropping visual palette, went neglected.

the Quiet Man A charming, quaint film that sums up most of Ford's strengths as a filmmaker. Maureen O'Hara was never lovelier, and John Wayne really dials it back for a change. The rest of the Ford regulars do what you'd expect, and a good time is had by all. This is Ford's most beautiful film, though that's more of a hypothetical proclamation given the dire state of all available releases of the pic.

My Vote: Moulin Rouge


1964
Becket
A competently made film, but one that never rises above said competence. Putting two scenery-chewers like O'Toole and Burton together onscreen should have been dynamite, but both really only go off when separated from one another, and while I guess the source material mandates this, it still feels like a missed opportunity. John Gielgud's King Louis must be up there among the shortest performances ever to be nominated-- is he even in the film for more than two minutes?

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb I'm not dumb or lacking a sense of humor, but I didn't smile once or nod appreciatively or think anything occurring onscreen was particularly funny, clever, or smart. People who name this among the greatest films of all time mystify me beyond comprehension. I understand its historical context and can appreciate what it does, but like most Kubrick, that's as far as any praise can go.

Mary Poppins On the whole, one of the better musicals nominated for the top spot. Most of the cast is game fun, particularly Glynis Johns (but isn't she always?), with the weak link, of course, being the one who won the Oscar. It's one of the worst kept secrets of the awards that Andrews only won Best Actress because she got screwed over on My Fair Lady, but her "character," if you can call it that, isn't given anything to do but have everyone else talk about how amazing she is. It's like that Simpsons episode where Homer instructs the writers of Itchy and Scratchy that every character should be talking about how amazing Poochie is and, when he's not onscreen, asking where he is. We're told over and over how amazingly awesomely wondrous Mary Poppins is, but there's not much proof in what she actually does. Hell, Dick Van Dyke's Bert might actually be in the film more than the titular character and has the added benefit of not being up his own ass like Poppins-- why doesn't everyone talk about him instead? I'd watch Bert (and I think I just did).

My Fair Lady INTERMINABLE. I've already said it ad nauseam but the Academy really did go out of their way to reward musicals that are as far removed from what musicals can achieve at their greatest. Cukor directs all action with a leaden, drab inattentiveness to pacing, with the film's mantra reduced to "Everyone loved the show, so let's make it as long as we can." Broadway productions need the fat trimmed by half when being adapted for the cinemas, period, and this one is just too much of a bad thing. Rex Harrison, who I normally love, is stuck doing his Leslie Howard impression, to no good end.

Zorba the Greek Full of life and zeal and vigor otherwise missing in the nommed films this year (surprisingly so, given that two musicals, the ultimate source of such cinematic energies, were nommed), this one sets itself apart from the pack pretty handily. I know the Academy had already given him the award twice before, but Quinn really was robbed here, in what is surely his best-known and admired role. Though the film gets my vote, I was not able to reconcile my earlier admiration with what happens to Irene Papas 2/3 of the way through the film. I understand that Cacoyannis is trying to show a more complicated and ultimately negative view of small town Greek culture by unwrapping the touristy trappings, but the film does so in too disturbing a fashion and at the cost of a previously sympathetic character-- after that scene, I could honestly give a shit what the passive Alan Bates does for the rest of the picture.

My Vote: Zorba the Greek

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#269 Post by reno dakota » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:26 pm

Nice update, domino. Keep those older years coming!

Your comments on 1964 have made me realize just how much Zorba the Greek has grown on me since I saw it back in June. At the time, I, too, was put off by the late plot development involving Irene Papas' character, but I think I judged the film too harshly for that one misstep. If I had it to do over again, I'm sure I would go for Zorba over Dr. Strangelove (which I like less and less, the more I think about it).

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#270 Post by movielocke » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:43 am

yes, I read every response here with fascination, though I rarely reply.

re: beckett, OToole and Burton got along famously and were dynamite offscreen. They were so rarely sober during filming that pretty much the entire film had to be reconstructed in editing. The performances were edited around and they were saved from being embarassed, but it wasn't as spectacular as they should have been onscreen together if they'd been on point.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#271 Post by Wombatz » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:28 am

I absolutely love the performances in Becket, even should they be cutting room inventions. The constantly straying attention in two lovers who fear to really confront each other, the uncertainty as to the honesty of Becket's motives , and especially O'Toole's decadent King who despite the whimsy has tragic potential where he could have been pretty much a stock figure of fun ... if the two had given us fireworks. There's a huge part that remains unexpressed about both the individuals and their relation, and to me it's a great film because of that.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#272 Post by domino harvey » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:39 pm

1938
the Adventures of Robin Hood
I was keyed up for a good time but sadly wasn't charmed or entertained or anything else by this one. Heck, even the Court Jester's gentle parody of this is preferable to the real thing-- and I wasn't real enamored with that one, either.

Alexander's Ragtime Band I don't know how many times I'll end up saying this before I finish the project, but Christ, the Academy really didn't "get" musicals, did they? This stolid hunk of nothing punctuated with brief (like, what, a minute long?) musical numbers is about as bad a musical as they come. The only point of interest is Don Ameche's character, which ranks among the most thankless and worthless roles ever-- "Now remember Don, you've just been fucked over for the fiftieth time and you LOVE IT and ACTION!"

Boys Town Well, I liked this one more than the rest of you, apparently. Tracy, while not being Oscar-worthy, does respectable work here, and Taurog shows again as in Skippy a talent for directing young performers. The final election in the movie doesn't really make any narrative sense, but I suppose the audience is supposed to be too carried away with the emotions to notice. Whoops. As far as hagiographic Catholic paeans go, you could do a lot worse...

...and the proof is out there: I liked the film enough to check out the Taurog-directed sequel, Men of Boys Town, which was a mistake. Lee J Cobb shows up and is wasted, Tracy relegates himself to a supporting role, and Mickey Rooney is pushed to the center, meaning, unsurprisingly, the film takes a more comic tone than its predecessor. The hamminess of the first half makes the weird switch to "high (melo)drama" concerning reform school dangers in the film's latter half all the more jarring and unconvincing. Also, here is a movie that takes great pains to point out that systematic physical abuse of minors is unacceptable, then gives the audience a running gag about one young character who is so obnoxious that everyone he talks to has to literally stop themselves from assaulting him. Good lesson! Also the film hinges on an audience's ability to forget that the "sympathetic" cripple at the center of the action is actually a convicted murderer.

the Citadel A film unsure of its intents: Is it a scathing critique of quackery? Is it the Story of Louis Pasteur 2.0? Is it the story of a good doctor gone bad? Is it an excuse to waste Rosalind Russell in a lowly passive role? Is it not particularly memorable and thus the perfect Oscar Best Pic nom? I know the answer to at least one of these...

Four Daughters Once again I seem to be seeing another film than everyone else. This one bursts with joyous effervescence in the first half hour, with the Lane sisters and their suitors making a glorious cacophony under the frantic watch of Curtiz' ever-roving focus. And then John Garfield, who I normally like, arrives on the scene and the film screeches to a halt as his sourpuss paramour ruins everything. My actual thought process during the climactic car crash: "Good, but should have happened sooner"-- it's no accident things pick up again, however briefly, once he's no longer on the scene.

Grand Illusion A beautiful film, no doubt, but I somewhat perversely prefer Renoir's later Elusive Corporal, though that film lacks the pastoral escape scenes which highlight this film. Nice to see a French-language film nommed, especially one as worthy as this, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go gaga and pretend that it's the best film of the lot.

Jezebel I first saw this years ago in an entry-level film class and disliked Bette Davis so much that it honestly tainted my opinion of her as an actress for quite some time after. I've of course mostly come around on her worth as a screen presence, but I've never quite gotten up the nerve to revisit the film. I can't be sure in my memory of whether my response was pushback against Davis or her character, but I also can't quite commit myself to devoting another two and a half hours of my life to finding out either.

Pygmalion Pretty GARN good film of the Shaw play, and it certainly shines brighter when compared to Cukor's stillbirth adaptation. Hiller is great fun as Eliza, but Howard and Rex Harrison's later performance are so similar that one wonders if Harrison copied his entire stage persona from Howard's silly preening here.

Test Pilot This is a strange one, isn't it? The three main characters are so flighty and unlikable and operate in such weird circles around one another that one could get a headache trying to keep everything straight. There's probably something to be said for the film's peculiarity with regards to its prickly characterizations and I can respect the film's aims, but I'm not sure you could get me to ever sit through this one again.

You Can't Take It With You One of the most inexplicable Best Pic wins ever. I generally like Capra from this era, but this one has a nice wind-up with no pitch. And while it's true that elements of the pic remain memorable in that I still recall fondly Barrymore's advice that "Money is for spending," it would probably be better for my financial solvency if I didn't!

My Vote: Pygmalion

Do people talk up the '39 Best Pic race simply because the '38 one was so lousy?

1939
Dark Victory
Well, the so-called "best year" for Best Pictures probably doesn't strike out immediately with the first film nominated alphabetically, so there goes that. This morally repugnant piece of work really pushes all the wrong buttons: It's shrill and mawkish where it needs to be soft and emotional, and certainly pacing the film as though it were a screwball comedy is a mistake-- though not as big a mistake as telling all the actors to "go bigger."

Gone With the Wind An inescapable film for those who know and love studio era Hollywood cinema. Its value as a film is irrelevant, really, but this one of a kind epic in production and marketing has worth far beyond its moderate achievement as cinema. No, of course it wasn't the Best Picture of the year, but what the hell else was Hollywood realistically going to give it to?

Goodbye, Mr. Chips Robert Donat spends his entire life teaching, save a brief respite wherein Greer Garson's Manic Pixie Dream Girl wanders into his life, teaches him to be friends with his students (the worst possible advice for an effective teacher, FYI), and then wanders out because the film doesn't have anything else for her to do. Typical Hollywood devotion to a noble career hagiography.

Love Affair A lightweight but charming romantic piffle, one that rather inexplicably inspired a slew of remakes, all unseen by me. But the film's biggest strength is in Boyer and Dunne's very winning performances, not the script, so it's hard for me to fathom any continued reboot appeal here.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Watching all the Best Pic nommed Capra films in chronological order leaves this one feeling like just another riff on the same idea already done better before, and not in the Hawks fashion. I love politics, and this is a fine cast, but this one just strikes me as the victim of diminishing returns.

Ninotchka A minor Lubitsch film is still a major achievement, but this one never quite rises above like it should. Does at least have the distinction of containing maybe the funniest Lubitsch ending. The source here, Madame X, was fodder for the uneven but occasionally brilliant Astaire/Charisse musical Silk Stockings almost two decades later, and it's sometimes hard to separate the two in my mind, though they couldn't be more different in execution!

Of Mice and Men A frightfully strong adaptation of the Steinbeck novella, with so many ace performances all around that it seems wrong to single out any one participant. And not fit to rest on the laurels of great actors saying great words, Milestone's direction gives a fluid intimacy to the well-known story. Okay, so the Hays code topper diffuses the tragedy some, but as far as Hollywood usually fares with lit adaptations, this one is really some kind of masterpiece. Wish this had been nom'd last year so I could vote for it. But sorry, few films can top

Stagecoach A perfect film. I've been known to claim that I could teach a screenwriting class using only this and the Apartment.

the Wizard of Oz Okay, it's weird and colorful and such a strong piece of our collective cultural identity that it's almost defeating the purpose of its existence to look at it critically. But if I must, it's a mediocre musical with excellent production values that has, thanks to its ubiquity on television broadcasts, achieved contemporary stature that is wholly unearned. Sorry.

Wuthering Heights Wretched prestige picture where overwrought passes for emotive. Creaky claptrap like this does "Best Year 4 Moviez Evarrr" claims no favors, as there is no reason for this film to exist. Oscar does its duty and predictably nominates Geraldine Fitzgeralds' victim.

My Vote: Stagecoach
Last edited by domino harvey on Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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knives
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#273 Post by knives » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:57 pm

domino harvey wrote:1938
the Adventures of Robin Hood
I was keyed up for a good time but sadly wasn't charmed or entertained or anything else by this one. Heck, even the Court Jester's gentle parody of this is preferable to the real thing-- and I wasn't real enamored with that one, either.

Grand Illusion A beautiful film, no doubt, but I somewhat perversely prefer Renoir's later Elusive Corporal, though that film lacks the pastoral escape scenes which highlight this film. Nice to see a French-language film nommed, especially one as worthy as this, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go gaga and pretend that it's the best film of the lot.

Jezebel I first saw this years ago in an entry-level film class and disliked Bette Davis so much that it honestly tainted my opinion of her as an actress for quite some time after. I've of course mostly come around on her worth as a screen presence, but I've never quite gotten up the nerve to revisit the film. I can't be sure in my memory of whether my response was pushback against Davis or her character, but I also can't quite commit myself to devoting another two and a half hours of my life to finding out either.

Wuthering Heights Wretched prestige picture where overwrought passes for emotive. Creaky claptrap like this does "Best Year 4 Moviez Evarrr" claims no favors, as there is no reason for this film to exist. Oscar does its duty and predictably nominates Geraldine Fitzgeralds' victim.
Agreed very strongly with these four. especially the comment on Elusive Corporal. Though trust me when I say it is the character not the performance that is horrific for Jezebel, though the performance is one of Davis' weakest with her being totally ill prepared for the role.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#274 Post by movielocke » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:23 am

I agree on Jezebel, it's the character not the performance.

I don't have the answers on the Citadel, to me it is the movie where doctors blow up a sewer. (!)

I really did find Test Pilot hysterically funny when over determined with a 'gay' interpretation of the relationship between Gable and Tracy. But then I've always thought it was fun to read naughty innuendo into every line Rosencrantz and Guildernstern say in Hamlet, so YMMV.

Your assessment of Dark Victory is perfect.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#275 Post by domino harvey » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:59 pm

movielocke wrote: I don't have the answers on the Citadel, to me it is the movie where doctors blow up a sewer. (!)
It's also the movie where Hollywood signs Rex Harrison to a contract and then has no idea what to do with him (thank God that worked itself out eventually!)

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