Saturday, October 31, 2009

Natalie Wood vs. Deborah Kerr

In one of my Oscar-October posts, I remembered the ever-so-charming Deborah Kerr. In that post I said something along the lines of her being the only Marni Nix-dub to get an Oscar nomination and rightly so. It's the "and rightly so" part I want to address.

After another viewing of West Side Story, I realize my mistake. Natalie Wood deserved an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Maria. Not that Kerr didn't, hell, she deserved to win, but Wood did deserve some credit. I don't get why Rita Moreno (who is just amazing in the movie) and (sort of) George Chakiris get all of the attention. Wood is radiant in her role as Maria, and, I think, it is her second best role, with her first being Splendor in the Grass that same year, for which she did garner an Oscar nomination.

However, I know Natalie was in fact "snubbed" for an Oscar, but was she even eligible if she was nominated for Splendor in the Grass that very same year? In today's Oscars, she would not be eligible, but times change as does the rules of the Academy (see- 10 Best Picture nominees for starters).

Can anybody help me clear up this whole "snub" business, and do you think Natalie deserved an Oscar nomination for her role in West Side Story, eligible or not?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oscar-October Apologizes

I have made a terrible mistake. I have forgotten Montgomery Clift's birthday. There isn't a blog-post long enough to explain the misery that has overcome me, and all I can say is thanks to The Film Experience for making me realize my mistake. Montgomery Clift was born October 17, 1920, and died at the young age of 45 in 1966. He's given film some of the most emotionally potent performances ever, like in A Place in the Sun, and makes appearances in oft-forgotten films like The Heiress and films that nobody watches anymore, like Judgement at Nuremburg.

However, his greatest contribution is his work in the best black&white picture of all time, From Here to Eternity. If you have not seen it, you must Netflix it or whatever this minute. Stop reading this blog and make sure you can see it within 24 hours, it's vital to your existence. I'm not going to go on a rant about what makes it so great, because a truly magical film cannot be summed up into bleh words. From Here to Eternity has to be seen to be understood. Again, I am terribly sorry I missed this. Please forgive me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Confused on Why I Love the Oscars

As the title says, I'm a bit confused as to why I love the Oscars, or cinema for that matter. I mean, I've been blogging for about four months, and I haven't given any background on myself as a lover of all things cinematical.

Well, it all started in 2007. What a weird year for film. The eventual Best Picture winner was, to put it nicely, crap that the Coen Brothers could have directed in their sleep, and almost nothing from that year (at least nothing that pops into my head immediately) will go on to be an instant classic. These were the first Academy Awards I watched. They sucked. Jon Stewart was given about 3 days to prepare and the films (besides Juno) were all meh. I also missed out on good awards shows like The Golden Globes (writer's strike) and the SAG Awards (not knowing these existed-ignorance). So why do I like film and awards season so much? Okay I'm going to try to remember what exactly turned me onto film now. This is going to be hard.

The name Salma Hayek keeps ringing a bell. All that is really coming back to me is this hate I had for not knowing who celebrities were. I think I lived under a rock. Before 2007, you could have asked me who Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Katharine Hepburn, or Halle Berry was and I wouldn't have had an answer. Now I can't even imagine not knowing Katharine Hepburn or Leo; oh how times have changed. So from there I started Wikipedia'ing. I found out that you could click the name of somebody, and find out a whole lot out about that person. I was intriguied, and this is when my obsession with film came about. Once I started Wikipedia'ing the Oscars I was hooked.

The first Oscar film that I watched that year was Juno. I loved it. Still do. It's an ode to a pregnant teen backed by a smart (and hated by many) screenplay. I became obsessed with Oscar chances of this film, but didn't have much of an outlet until I eventually discovered Entertainment Weekly. Then I discovered film blogs. How I exactly came across "The Film Experience" I'll never know. I think I typed in "Oscars 2007 Predictions" and lo and behold the "Film Bitch Awards" came up. It took me awhile (a long while) to realize that the two blogs were written by Nathaniel. I mean, I knew they were connected, but how they were connected I wasn't sure. I was new to the game. Eventually I became obsessed with EW's Oscar watch, The Film Experience Blog, and had been dabbling in other blogs like Encore Entertainment until I finally realized "Hey, I want in on this." I had been writing for the school newspaper, and even the local newspaper, and thought "I can find another place to write: the web!" Even though I know most of my thoughts go out into cyberspace finding one reader if I'm lucky.

All throughout this process I slowly took over my dad's Netflix cue and added some delightfully old movies. I also discovered TCM and Netflix on demand available through my Xbox. I knew it had more of a purpose than just blowing people up 3 million times on Call of Duty 4. Katharine Hepburn was my first love. Even though the first film I saw of her (I think Woman of the Year) is not one of my favorites, she peaked my interest and remains my favorite actress to this very day. Still to this day I've been slowly discovering other greats (like Lauren Bacall and Greta Garbo) because I got a pretty late start in the game. I didn't come into this blog having seen a single Bacall or Garbo film and I'm still learning a ton about film, and it's more exciting than ever. It's a great escape from the mundane school work that 95% of school is comprised of (Proving AB is perpendicular to CQ? Really?)

As for awards season, who knows? Maybe it was the thrill that Diablo Cody, an ex-stripper, could win an Oscar for a film she decided to write one day. I think that that's it. I mean, that's a pretty good rags to riches story, and who doesn't love a good one of those?

I'm still learning so be patient. I mean, I still haven't seen a movie with Carole Lombard or Sophia Loren, but give me time. I'm getting there! Thanks for reading! Comment!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The PSATS and Kate Winslet?

So I was taking a Practice SAT this morning, and I get to the last part of the reading section and what do I find? The last reading section is all about novel to film adaptations. It started talking about Sense and Sensibility winning the Golden Globe, The Cider House Rules being a (yuck) good movie and winning Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars, and lastly about The Firm being a crap movie and making a lot of money, and a film based on the critically acclaimed novel Beloved failing to find an audience. What are the chances of this? And it has inspired me to list some of my favorite novel-film adaptations. I haven't read all of these, but nonetheless, I will list. Here they are, in some sort of order:

From Here to Eternity
Adaptation. (Does this count? I believe so. It's sort of based on The Orchid Thief)
Gone With the Wind
Dr. Strangelove
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Last Picture Show
The Hours
The Godfather
Little Children
Ordinary People

Do you have any favorite novel to film adapations? Please, comment! Even if you don't!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Deborah Kerr ... September 30th, 1921 - October 16th, 2007

In another addition of Oscar-October, in which I write about Oscar nominees and winners who were born/died in October, I remember legendary actress and six-time Oscar nominee Deborah Kerr. Her nominations were for Edward, My Son (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953), The King and I (1956), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), Separate Tables (1958) and lastly The Sundowners (1960). Also essential to Kerr viewing- 1957's An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant.

One of my favorite films ever is From Here to Eternity, but I don't think Deborah Kerr deserved to win for it over Audrey Hepburn. However, I think Kerr should have emerged victorious in 1956 for her work in The King and I, even though she was dubbed my Marni Nixon. Of the three Marni dubs (Kerr, Wood, and Hepburn), Kerr is the only one to then win a nomination, and rightly so. Also included in Oscar-October so far has been her King and I co-star Yul Brynner, who actually won the little golden guy for his role in the film. What are your thoughts on Kerr? Should she have been an actual winner of an Academy Award, or was six nominations enough? Please, comment!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Survey from Encore

I got this from Encore's World of TV and Film. Pretty interesting survey I thought I would like to take myself.

1. What's your all time favourite Clark Gable film?
Gone With the Wind of course!

2. Do you like Joan Crawford as a comedienne or drama queen?
I don't like Joan Crawford, but probably as a drama queen because of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

3. In your opinion, should Ginger Rogers have made more musicals post-Fred Astaire?
Nah. She's not so fantastic without Astaire.

4. I promise not to cause you bodily (or any other serious) harm if you don't agree with me on this one. So please be honest: do you like Elizabeth Taylor? Hm?
Yes! Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? A Place in the Sun! Who doesn't love some Liz Taylor?

5. Who is your favorite offscreen Hollywood couple?
Hm... For those who have passed Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and for those still with us... I'd have to go with a small-screen star John Krasinski and his wife-to-be Emily Blunt. Maybe I'm just on a The Office high after Jim and Pam got married... But I really do love these two!

6. How about onscreen Hollywood couple?
Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed, and then Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity.

8. What was the first Gregory Peck movie you saw?
To Kill a Mockingbird, which is not a great movie...

9. What film made you fall in love with Alfred Hitchcock? (And for those of you that say, "I don't like Hitchcock" -- what is wrong with you?!)
Either Dial M for Murder or Psycho, but probably the former. But I might be falling out of love with him because of To Catch a Thief.

10. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption?
From Here to Eternity I'd have to say.

11. Do you prefer Shirley Temple as a little girl or as a teenager?
Little girl.

12. Favorite character actor?
Does Tony Randall count? Or Steve Buscemi for a more modern take.

13. Favorite Barbara Stanwyck role?
Her in Double Indemnity.

14. Who is your favorite of Cary Grant's leading ladies?
Katharine Hepburn! Duh.

15. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford?
Not a huge fan of Crawford, and sort of a fan of Davis, so I'd have to go with Bette Davis here.

16. What actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?
Rita Moreno is underrated, as is Olivia de Havilland. As for more current actresses/actors, I'd have to go with Laura Dern and Ewan McGregor.

17. What actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?
Hm... Jack Nicholson is a little overrated because I think he may be legitimately crazy, so when he plays crazy it's less impressive. But I do like him. That's all that comes to mind right now.

18. Do you watch movies made pre-1980 exclusively, or do you spice up your viewing-fare with newer films?
I love the 90s in film, and the 2000s are doing pretty well, so nope! Although I'm not a huge fan of the 80s themselves. Some of the crowd pleasers of that decade, like E.T. and Tootsie are really just meh.

19. Is there an actor/actress who you have seen in a film and immediately loved? If so, who?
Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity and Katharine Hepburn. I cannot remember the first film I saw of her though... It might have been Woman of the Year.

20. Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire?
Gene Kelly! Singin' in the Rain!

21. Favorite Ginger Rogers drama?
Kitty Foyle.

22. If you wrote a screenplay, who would be in your dream cast and what roles would they play? (Mixing actors and actresses from different generations is allowed: any person from any point in their career.)
Okay I would need Sam Mendes directing, Renee Zellweger from Jerry Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic, Annette Bening from her American Beauty days, Katharine Hepburn in her Guess Who's Coming to Dinner phase, Ann Margret from Carnal Knowledge, Susan Sarandon from Dead Man Walking, add some Montgomery Clift during From Here to Eternity.

What the hell would this movie be about? I guess Renee and Leonardo DiCaprio would be getting married and it would be sort of a wedding dramedy. Kate would play Leo's mom and Annette would play Renee's. After the wedding is where the rest of this cast would fall in, but how I'm not exactly sure. I'd want an affair with Susan Sarandon going on, I know that much! Ann-Margret and Montgomery could play the neighbors of Leo and Renee, however, those two probably would not be comic relief.

23. Favorite actress?
Katharine Hepburn! Modern day probs. Renee.

25. Favorite actor?
Montgomery Clift for right now.

26. And now, the last question. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:
Drama: From Here to Eternity (even though it's also a romance, I wanted to get The African Queen in here somehow so I'm making this a drama!)
Romance: The African Queen
Musical: Chicago
Comedy: Bringing Up Baby
Western: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Random Awards Moments 1 - A little Nicole, Ewan, and Natalie

Because of Oscar-October, I've been inspired to do another little segment, this one called: Random Awards Moment. I'll be posting some clips I find from Youtube of some pretty random, yet totally satisfying, awards shows. Up first, Nicole Kidman winning Best Female Performance for Moulin Rouge! at the MTV Movie Awards...which is always going to be weird, I mean, it's a music television network that hands out awards for film? Whatever floats your boat I suppose. So anyway, the other nominees were Angelina Jolie for one of those Tomb Raiders flicks (not so much an inspired choice as a fanboy fantasy coming true), Kate Beckinsale for Pearl Harbor...errr...okay then. Halle Berry was nominated for Monster's Ball (the 15 year old girls who vote for these thing probably did not see that movie...) and Reese Witherspoon for being as delightful as ever in Legally Blonde. Of all the nominees, Reese's seems the most justified for this kind of awards ceremony. Light work, funny, big hit with teenagers then and now. The others are a little weird, including Nicole's Oscar-nominated work, but whatever! So my rambling!

Yul Brynner and Orson Welles

With my James Dean, Sigourney Weaver, and now Yul Brynner/Orson Welles posts, I guess I'm a little death/birthday happy. But I know that today was the day both Yul Brynner and Orson Welles died (and both in 1985 at that!) I couldn't pass this up. I guess I will call this Oscar-October, as I remember/celebrate the death/birth of Oscar nominees (Dean and Weaver) and winners (today's duo, Brynner and Welles). Sound good to you? Good!

As most of us probably know, Brynner won the Oscar for Best Actor (and Tony for Featured Actor in a Musical) for his work in the 1956 movie The King and I. Welles won an Oscar for writing what is now considered to be the greatest film of all time (not by me), Citizen Kane. However, he lost in both the directing and acting categories for the same film. What are your favorite Brynner or Welles films? There's a pretty good selection! Comment!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Sigourney!

Today Sigourn-gourn turns 60! Above, she's seen as her other-half, the ass-kicking female action star Ellen Ripley from the Alien series. Up next- Avatar, the new, "revolutionary" 3D spectacle from Aliens director James Cameron. Here's hoping for a second sci-fi Oscar nod for Sigourney! And to some more longevity in Hollywood, cause let's face it, who doesn't love Siogourney Weaver? She just makes everything better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Juno Honeymoon Is Over

Juno, the wildly popular, Oscar-winning film has proved sort of a curse to its stars. What do I mean exactly? The cast's/Diablo Cody's films have flopped ever since Juno and its stars/creators were though to be the next hot-ticket in Hollywood. Let's take a closer look:

Ellen Page- The knocked-up, titular star of Juno recently starred in Drew Barrymore's directorial debut Whip It! The movie got better than average reviews, yet only raked in $4.6 million in its first weekend.

Michael Cera- As the father of Juno's baby and the funny, awkward star of Superbad, Cera seemed to be a big box office draw. However, his next film, the lovely Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, grossed a paltry $11.3 million in its first weekend, eventually coming to a halt just above $31 million. His next film, the not-so-critically-adored Year One, was a super-flop with Jack Black. The $60 million epic-comedy only mustered up a scant $43.3 million. And for a summer movie? That's pretty pitiful.

Diablo Cody- The Oscar-winning screenwriter of Juno made a successful foray into television with the Spielberg-produced and Emmy-award-winning The United States of Tara, starring Toni Collette. However, her next film, the horror-comedy Jennifer's Body that starred It-Girl Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried (Mean Girls), flopped, and to date has brought in a weak $14.8 million on a $16 million budget.

Jason Bateman- Following the success of Juno, Bateman took a supporting role in the Russell Crowe starrer State of Play. But he was just a supporting player, so maybe it had nothing to do with him? He then starred in Extract, from Office Space helmer Mike Judge. Extract, like Office Space, sunk at the box office and only brought in $10.7 million.

Jennifer Garner- Never much of a box office draw but always called an "A-lister," Garner's first film after Juno was with Matthew McConaughey and called Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Oh boy. The fantastical (using the word only to describe the plot, this is not a compliment) rom-com did not do wonders for either's career and brought in only $55 million, a lot less than other McConaughey starrers like How to Lose A Guy In Ten Days, Failure to Launch, or Fool's Gold. Her next role came in the Ricky Gervais film, The Invention of Lying, which just recently failed to find an audience and has brought in a measly $7.4 million so far.

Allison Janney- 9 to 5 recently closed on Broadway recently due to poor ticket sales. Poor Janney. Her new film, Life During Wartime is not getting good buzz, and the last film she was in, Sam Mendes's Away We Go, could not find a sizable audience and ended up with a mere $9.4 million.

Luckily Jason Reitman, the film's director, has been gaining lots of positive reviews for his new George Clooney-Vera Farmiga film entitled Up In The Air. However, stars and reviews don't always add up to box office dollars. Reitman, our fingers are crossed!