The Also-Rans Project – Rambling Rose (Best Actress and Supporting Actress Also-Rans 1991)

Ramblingroseposter.jpgDirected by Martha Coolidge

Screenplay by Calder Willingham, based upon his book

Starring Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, Lukas Haas, Diane Ladd, and John Heard

I sometimes wonder what it’s like growing up as the child of a famous person.  Or a rich person.  Which is obviously the greatest indication of my background that I can ever give you, because if you ever have to wonder what wealth and fame does to kids, it usually means you had neither when you were a kid.

Anyway, I have it in my head that living with a parent’s wealth and/or fame warps a person and their worldview.  When it’s fame it’s living in a world where everybody thinks your parent is great and are lauded with attention.  Just having that sort of attention shining around you can be a problem one its face, as everything you do is suddenly noticed.  Worse is if you don’t ever do anything to earn the glow yourself and have to deal with it going away. Continue reading

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The Also Rans – The Trip to Bountiful/Agnes of God (Best Actress Winner/Loser 1985)

Trip to bountiful.jpgA Trip to Bountiful

Directed by Peter Masterson

Screenplay by Horton Foote, based upon his play

Starring Geraldine Page, John Heard, Rebecca De Mornay, and Carlin Glynn

Agnes moviep.jpgAgnes of God

Directed by Norman Jewison

Screenplay by John Pielmeier, based upon his play

Starring Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, and Meg Tilly

Originally this was to be a piece about The Trip To Bountiful, based on it being a Best Adapted Screenplay lower.   At least, that would have been the ostensible angle into the film, which was just a proxy to assess the performance of Geraldine Page.  Why Geraldine Page?   Because despite being nominated for eight Oscars – four as a supporting actress, four as a lead – I had only ever seen a single one of her films.  This in spite of my own cinephile leanings, and her having worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood history – John Wayne, Paul Newman, Francis Coppola, Clint Eastwood, and Woody Allen.  What had I seen her in?  John Schlesinger’s The Day of the Locust.  And even then, I have zero memory of her in it.  So taking The Trip of Bountiful was meant to open my eyes to her a little bit. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Sayonara (Best Picture Also-Ran 1957)

Original movie poster for the film Sayonara.jpgDirected by Joshua Logan

Screenplay by Paul Osborn, from the novel by James Michener

Starring Marlon Brando, James Garner, Red Buttons, Miiko Taka, Patricia Owens, Ricardo Montalban, Miyoshi Umeki

In the early 1950s, two airmen (Brando and Buttons) are pulled out of Korea and reassigned to a base in Japan.  One (Brando) would rather not go, because reasons.  The other (Buttons) is happier for the change of locale, because he can finally marry his Japanese girlfriend (Umeki), even though this marriage will go against the wishes of the Air Force brass and racist US policies.  Unexpectedly, Brando falls in love with a Japanese woman as well (Miiko Taka) and decides to marry her.  Tragedy ensues as people stand up to, and buckle, under the racism invited by their decisions.  Oh, and they see a fair amount of Japanese theater along the way.

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The Also-Ran’s Project – Topsy-Turvy (Best Original Screenplay, et al, Also-Ran 1999)

Topsy Turvy.jpgDirected by Mike Leigh

Screenplay by Mike Leigh

Starring Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Lesley Manville, Timothy Spall, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, and others

There was no reason I had to reach down to a Best Original Screenplay loser to find a 199 entry for this series.  After all, while I’ve seen everything in the 1999 Best Picture and Best Director races, there were various lead acting losers who’s films I’d not seen: Sean Penn[1] in Sweet and Lowdown; Denzel Washington in The Hurricane; Janet McTeer in Tumbleweeds; Julianne Moore in The End of the Affair; and Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart[2].

So, if I had all those options from the acting categories alone, why did I reach so far down to find Topsy-Turvy?    The short answer is Mike Leigh. Continue reading

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The Also-Ran’s Project — The Front Page (Best Picture Also-Ran 1930/31)

The Front Page (1931 film) poster.jpgDirected by Lewis Milestone

Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, adaptation by Bartlett Cormack, additional dialog by Charles Lederer

Starring Pat O’Brien, Adolph Menjou

At the first Academy Awards[1] Lewis Milestone won Best Director for Two Arabian Knights, while Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won Best Picture.  Unfortunately, both accomplishments are rendered somewhat to the dustbin of history with the Academy retroactively deciding Wings was Best Picture of the first Oscars, while Frank Borzage was Best Director  for 7th Heaven.

How can that be? you ask.  Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – A Star is Born (Best Picture Also-Ran 1937)

A Star Is Born 1937 poster.jpgDirected by William Wellman

Written by William Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell

Starring Janet Gaynor, Frederic March, Adolph Menjou, Lionel Stander and Andy Devine

Esther (Janet Gaynor), dreams of making it in Hollywood, but when she arrives in California she finds success a little hard to come by.  Pluck and desire are not enough – you need luck and coincidence, too.  Fortunately, she meets movie star Norman Maine (Frederic March), who gives her career a massive assist.  In pretty short order she’s a star and married to Norman, who agrees to give up booze for her.  Things turn, though, when Esther’s fame – by now she’s renamed Vicki Lester – eclipses Norman, something his fragile ego cannot take.  He turns to booze again and quickly hits bottom.  When he realizes Vicki is willing to throw her entire career away just to do what it takes to sober him up, he swims out into the ocean and drowns.

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The Also-Ran’s Project – San Francisco (Best Picture Also-Ran 1936)

San Francisco (film) poster.jpgDirected by W.S. Van Dyke

Screenplay by Anita Loos, Story by Robert Hopkins

Starring Clark Gable, Jeannette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy

One of the beautiful things about his Project is getting to learn things about movies I never knew.  You know, like the trends and hidden meanings behind the Oscars themselves.  And honestly, looking at the losers has been far richer in discovery than looking at the winners.  After all, if we didn’t look at the losers we’d never know just what kind of a force William Holden was in the 1950s, what with having been in something like 5 or 6 Best Picture nominees.  Some actors will go their whole career without even being considered for a role in a Best Picture nominee, and here was William Holden scoring that many in one decade. Continue reading

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The Also-Ran’s Project – The Country Girl (Best Picture Also-Ran 1954)

The country girl.jpgDirected by Geoerge Seaton

Written by George Seaton, adapted from the play by Clifford Odets

Starring Bing Crosby, William Holden and Grace Kelly

Loyal readers will know I already have a 1954 Also-Ran in this series, Three Coins In The Fountain.  But unlike the usual instance where I doubled up in a given year by accident – The Love Parade and The Big House in 1931/32 is just one such year – this time I did it on purpose.  Why?  Because William Holden has been a pretty big part of this project,[1] having had his films Our Town, Born Yesterday, and Picnic already included.  Under those circumstances it seemed a shame to leave one out.  So, in a nod towards completeness we turn our attention to The Country Girl. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Antonia’s Line (Best Foreign Language Film 1995)

Antoniasline.jpgWritten and Directed by Marleen Gorris

Starring Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans and Jan Decleir

The Netherlands, immediately post-WWII.  The widow Antonia (Willeke van Ammelrooy) returns with her daughter, Danielle (Els Dottermans), to her hometown to see about her dying mother, who in fact dies within minutes of Antonia’s arrival.  Afterwards, with her mother’s house now empty, Antonia moves in, then never leaves.  Over the following years Antonia puts down roots in the town, collecting a variety of hard-luck-cases into her orbit, who she protects as if they were her children, and also catches the eye of a widower, Farmer Bas (Jan Decleir).  After some time, she and the Farmer Bas take up together.  Amidst this she helps Danielle in her quest to have her own child, then helps raise that child, and even helps to raise her great-granddaughter as well.  Along the way the extended family endures the various ups and downs of life in the mid-to-late 20th century and, in the end, Antonia dies happy, surrounded by family.

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The Also Ran’s Project – Billy Elliot (Best Director, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay Also-Ran 2000)

Billy Elliot movie.jpgDirected by Stephen Daldry

Written by Lee Hall

Starring Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven, Jean Heywood, and Stuart Wells

In 1984 a miner’s strike was mounted England in an order to shut down the British coal industry as a whole and prevent the closure of unprofitable mines.[1]  Against this backdrop Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), the son and brother of striking coal miners, rejects the boxing his father (Gary Lewis) wants him to learn, and instead takes an interest in ballet.  Much to the family’s chagrin, Billy excels at it and eventually lands an audition at the Royal Ballet School in London.  No shock, but Billy’s father and brother come to rally around the boy’s ballet interest and, in the end, Billy is accepted into the school. Continue reading

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