Category Archives: The Best Picture Project

The Best Picture Project — Moonlight (2016) Dir. By Barry Jenkins

Moonlight (2016 film).pngDirected By Barry Jenkins 2016)

Screenplay by Barry Jenkins, Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, based upon the unproduced play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.”

Starring Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali.

In 1993 Marissa Tomei was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her broad, yet smart, take on a goomba’s-girlfriend in My Cousin Vinny.  It was a bit of a left-field nom, to be sure, given the film was basically comedy built on cliché, a type of film the Academy rarely has time for,[1] and she didn’t even manage a Golden Globe nom for the role.  Plus, her opposition was the type of nominees, in the types of films, that normally got academy affection – Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives, Joan Plowright in Enchanted April, Vanessa Redgrave in Howard’s End and Miranda Richardson in Damage.  No surprise that the race shaped up with Davis and Redgrave as front-runners.  Come Oscar night, though, when Jack Palance opened the envelope and read Tomei’s name as the winner, it was a literal twist-ending. Continue reading

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One Week Remaining…

front-cover-01I know you only have one week remaining to get your pre-order in for The Best Picture Project book, but that doesn’t mean you actually have to wait until the last minute — get it now!

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The Best Picture Project — Pre-Sale Now!

front-cover-01Hello, cherished readers.  As followers of this blog, you are no doubt aware of the long-running The Best Picture Project, a semi-regular series exploring every Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards from the beginning, through today.  Well, if you were wondering if there was a way you could have The Best Picture Project in book form — well, you can!  Set for release on November 17, 2017, will be The Best Picture Project.  Featuring complete re-edited content, and together for the first time ever in one place, you can pre-order the book now for the Kindle, for the low-low price of $3.99.  What a steal!  And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime or Unlimited, you won’t even have to pay that!

And wait — if you’re one who prefers their media to take physical form, there will be a paperback version available as well.  Unfortunately, that version cannot be pre-ordered, for reasons completely unknown to me.  But never fear, come November 17, 2016, you will be able to order your own copy.

Per-order now!

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The Best Picture Project – Rankings

So, as you know, I’m doing the Best Picture Project, where I watch all 88 Oscar winners for best picture and honestly, life just isn’t fun without rankings, so follows are my rankings of the Best Picture winners, from 1 to 76, complete with links to all previous posts, with 10 being shuttled over into their own special circle of hell, The Bottom Ten.  Two others were unranked, for reasons apparent in their initial reviews.

Best Picture Rankings Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project — Cimarron (1931)

Cimarron (1931 film) poster.jpgDirected by Wesley Ruggles

Screenplay by Howard Estabrook, based upon the novel by Edna Ferber

Starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunne

Here we are friends – after these many, long years together, with you diligently consuming every entry of The Best Picture Project, and me, less-diligently, producing them, we’ve reached the end of the road, where it all comes to an end.  And coming here almost feels bittersweet, like somebody should cue Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, or Boyz II Men’s End of the Road, to play us out.  And don’t worry about neither being appropriate for this occasion, because they’re hardly appropriate for the other occasion for which they are most associated – high school graduations.   If they work there, why not here?

But I digress. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby poster.jpgDirected by Clint Eastwood

Screenplay by Paul Haggis, based on the stories of F.X. Toole

Starring Hillary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena and Margo Martindale

Well, here we are – the penultimate entry of the Best Picture Project.  After six years of toil and misery,[1] there is but one After Cimarron?  There will be no more, forever.[2]  But that, is for another day.  On this day I bring you the entry I’d been putting off longer than the rest – Million Dollar BabyConsciously putting off longer than the rest.  And the delay?  Imposed not because I was saving it for myself, like a delicious dessert.  No, it was put off because I did not want to see it again.  Not now, not ever, and, as I put it off, I sort-of hoped I might die before I had to get to it and, in death, I’d be spared the discomfort of it.  But, given I’m only 40 and in very good health, death did not save me.  And that, dear reader, is a lesson – death is its most-cruel when we want it, but are denied.

Alas…

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The Best Picture Project — The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King.jpgDirected by Peter Jackson

Screenplay by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, from the novel by J.R.R. Tolkein

Starring Viggo Mortenson, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monahan, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Bernard Hill, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto and Andy Serkis

In the six years I’ve been running this Project, I’ve never began with any sort of disclaimer, mostly because I’ve had nothing to disclaim.  Today, that ends:

Given The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (TLOTR:TROTK) is the third in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it kind of makes sense that, rather than watching TLOTR:TROTK on its own, it should be seen only as part of the whole.  In other words, watching the final 1/3 of the trilogy, without taking on the first 2/3, renders any assessment of the film a bit suspect.  But, while that might make sense I have three points to make that also make perfect sense: Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project — Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's List movie.jpg

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplan by Steve Zailian, based upon the novel by Thomas Kennealy

Starring Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes

I’ll say it: Schindler’s List might be the most important film ever to win Best Picture.  It represents a true cinematic achievement and, even if it was not revolutionary in the sense that Jaws was revolutionary, it full demonstrates how you can take a deadly subject matter and, by using all the tricks of the trade, can produce an important film about a tough subject without making it fee didactic.

That all being said – this is not a film you sit down to enjoy.  There truly is no enjoyment here.   It’s a tough film on a tough topic and there’s no enjoying that.  That being said, it’s not punishing either, nor is it a chore to watch.  Rather, it’s emotionally cathartic and the sort of thing you’ll put on only when you want to have your guts ripped open.

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The Best Picture Project — The Godfather Part II (1974)

Godfather part ii.jpgDirected by Francis Ford Coppola

Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, based upon the novel by Mario Puzo

Starring Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Bruno Kirby, Lee Strassburg, Robert Duval, G. D. Spradlin and Harry Dean Stanton

It strikes me now that as I’ve come to the homestretch on the Best Picture Project, and looking to start my final kick,[1] I’m facing down what might be the toughest stretch of movies, having inadvertently saved some of the longest, and some of those I’d been dreading most, for last.  The streak started a few movies back with Crash (dreading), continued to The Departed (long), then on to My Fair Lady (long), leading right up to this one (long).  To come, Schindler’s List (dreading for emotional reasons and my discomfort at feeling feelings), Return of the King (massive length), Cimarron (saved for basically being unavailable), and Million Dollar Baby (dread because when I saw it in the theater, the bait-and-switch made me downright hostile with it).  Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project — My Fair Lady — Dir. George Cukor (1964)

My fair lady poster.jpgDirected by George Cukor

Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based upon “My Fair Lady” by Alan Jay Lerner, and “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw

Starring Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Stanley Holloway

Lessons – life is lessons.  As this project has been my life in so many ways for a good five years, it stands to reason this Project is lessons.  The primary?  Immediate plaudits – worldly rewards, you might say – do not last.  The Oscars themselves are proof of this.  Though you can win one and think you’ve really become something special, the reality is that all you’re left with is a hunk of gold-plated britannium.  And the gold?  It’s barely on there.

What does this mean? Continue reading

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