Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Also-Rans Project — Henry V (Best Director Also-Ran 1989)

Henry v post.jpgDirected by Kenneth Branagh

Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh, from the play by William Shakespeare

Starring Kenneth Branagh, Brian Blessed, Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Christian Bale, Alec McCowen, and Robbie Coltrane

I am ignorant.  Not of everything, because I definitely know stuff.  But I do have some gaps in my knowledge, the only one of importance here being the writings of William Shakespeare.

If we’re honest, I’m hardly the only Shakespeare-ignorant one among us.  In fact, I’m probably fairly typical.  Truthfully, though Shakespeare has enduring popularity, he is not a writer for the masses.  No matter what your high school English teachers, or college profs had to say about his enduring relevance and his appeal to audiences at the time, he is no longer a writer aiming for mass popularity.  He is not the grandfather of rap.  He is not the touchstone of all poets.  He is not— Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (Best Actress Also-Ran 1990)

Mr & Mrs Bridge.jpgDirected by James Ivory

Written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, from the novels by Evan S. Connell

Starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Robert Sean Leonard, Kyra Sedgwick, and Blythe Danner

I love my grandparents – most people do.  Love their grandparents, I mean, not my grandparents.  But why shouldn’t I love mine.  They are good people, they are generally loving, they’re good to me, and I would not exist if not for them.  Actually, because my grandparents were legit Catholics – 13 kids! – a lot of people wouldn’t exist without them.

So, yay grandparents!

While my grandparents are unique in many ways, I’m sure they are just like many other grandparents in many ways.  If I had to guess, I’d bet my grandparents are a lot like your grandparents.  Grandpa is very closed mouth about things, fairly stoic, and seems severe, when he’s really not.[1]  Grandma is the much more gregarious and the socially outgoing of the two.  She’s more talkative.  Plus, because they had 13 kids they tend to be very thrifty and take pleasure in the simple things in life.  In that way they have been a perfect fit for something like 60 years – he doesn’t say much, she says a lot, and together they work well as a unit. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Call Me By Your Name (Best Picture Also-Ran 2017)

CallMeByYourName2017.pngDirected by Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay by James Ivory, from the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman

Starring Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg

A graduate student, Oliver (Armie Hammer) comes to Italy for 6 weeks of working as an assistant to an archaeology professor (Stuhlbarg).  As part of the gig he’ll live with the professor’s family, including the professor’s 17 year-old son, Elio (Timothee Chalamet).  Over the course of the 6 weeks, Oliver and Elio become close, and eventually have an affair.  When Oliver leaves, Elio is devastated, having lost his first love.

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The Also-Rans Project — Ivanhoe (Best Picture Also-Ran 1952)

Ivanhoe (1952 movie poster).jpgDirected by Richard Thorpe

Screenplay by Aeneas MacKenzie, Noel Langley and Marguerite Roberts, based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott

Starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine and George Sanders

The House Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood Blacklist that followed it were some bullshit.  Some major league bullshit.  Right now, in 2018, we have a president who loves to use the term witch-hunt in ways that makes me wonder if he even knows what the word means, but if he wanted to see what a real witch-hunt was, he only need look at HUAC and the Blacklist to get a solid definition.

Originally, HUAC was used by reactionary conservatives to investigate subversive activities.  Ostensibly, this meant actual communists, which eventually included so much more than that, because slippery-slopes ya’ll.  Then, just like that, careers were ruined. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Watch on the Rhine (Best Picture Also-Ran 1943)

Watch on the Rhine poster.jpgDirected by Herman Shumlin

Screenplay by Dashiell Hammett, based upon the play of the same name by Lillian Hellman

Starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Lucile Watson, George Coulouris, and Donald Woods

Here it is: After living in Europe with her husband, Kurt (Paul Lukas), and children, for many years, Sara (Bette Davis) returns home – this is after WWII has broken out, but before the US has gotten involved.  And home, in this instance, is suburban Washington D.C., where her widowed mother (Lucile Watson) maintains the family estate.  But mother is no ordinary widow – no, her dead husband was a long-time Justice of the US Supreme Court and rich as hell.  Continue reading

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