If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you are aware of my years-long series, The Best Picture Project. You’re also probably aware that in late-2016 I compiled that series together, edited the entries, and put it out in both paperback and ebook formats. It was called The Best Picture Project. Like this blog, I didn’t put the book out with any hope it would sell or make me money — and it hasn’t. I put it out because I like to write, and like it when people read my stuff. Continue reading
Directed by Robert Rossen
Screenplay by Robert Rossen and Sidney Carroll, based upon the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis
Starring Paul Newman, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie and Jackie Gleason
There’s a pretty phenomenal performance in The Hustler and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. In the grand story of movie history – or at least the history of film I created in my own head – it’s assumed the Academy shafted Paul Newman out of his rightful Oscar in 1961 by giving it to Maximillian Schell for what is essentially a supporting performance in Judgment at Nuremberg. This is not to say Schell was not Oscar-worthy, because I recall him being very good in an otherwise painfully-earnest film, it’s just he was not the Leading Actor in that film. That was actually Spencer Tracy, followed by Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark. Continue reading
Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Gerard Brach, John Blowjohn and Roman Polanski, based upon the novel of the same name by Thomas Hardy
Starring Nastassja Kinski, Peter Firth and Leigh Lawson
There’s one thing I want to make absolutely clear right from the start: Though Tess was directed by Roman Polanski, I will not be discussing Roman Polanski’s guilty plea in 1977 to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse, in the course of this post. I will not take sides on that issue, nor will I make moral judgments about it. Continue reading
Directed by Louis Malle
Written by John Guare
Starring Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon and Michel Piccoli
Dateline – Atlantic City. An aging mob-adjacent man (Lancaster) finds himself embroiled with a thief trying to make a drug sale, and the thief’s estranged wife (Sarandon). When the wife’s life is threatened, the complacent man must take action.
In one sense, the movie is just a simple story about people from the lower classes trying to make good, in any way they can. In another, it’s about the transition between the old Atlantic City and the new, the metaphorical changing of the guard, and the expected growing pains everybody feels. Continue reading
Directed by Paul Mazursky
Written by Paul Mazursky and Josh Greenfeld
Starring Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Melanie Mayron, Josh Mostel, Larry Hagman and Chief Dan George
Art Carney was basically a television actor – that was his career and he made a good one out of it. He did something like 76 episodes of The Morey Amsterdam Show in the late 1940s, 39 episodes of The Honeymooners, 180ish episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show spread across it’s two incarnations in the late-50s and the late-60s, not to mention a ton of TV movies. He was so clearly a TV actor that when he starred in Harry and Tonto he was making just his third movie, after a cameo in A Guide For The Married Man (1967) and a small part The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964). Imagine that – a well-traveled actor of 55 being a movie novice.
I used to think it was a big deal that a television actor won an Oscar because in the past, those two mediums just did not mix – you could be a success in one, or the other, but there was little crossover between them. And where there was, it didn’t seem to matter in terms of the box office, or ratings, because one did not reflect the other. After all, a big star like Jimmy Stewart could transition to TV, only to see his projects fail for low ratings, while TV stars like Jackie Gleason could hardly gain traction on the big-screen. Continue reading
Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Federico Fellini and Tonino Guerra
Starring Bruno Zanin, Magali Noel, Pupella Maggio and Armando Brancia
I don’t ‘get’ Fellini. As others might struggle to ‘get’ Kubrick, or Bergman, or some other director who you’ve been told is important, I don’t ‘get’ Fellini. I don’t relate to him at all and his films fail to connect with me on any level: emotional, visceral, or as pure filmmaking. Others might see him as god-like, while I see him as a head-scratcher.
To be fair, I’ve only see one other Fellini film in it’s entirety – that being La Dolce Vita – so it’s not like I’ve done a deep dive on his oeuvre and decided he’s not the filmmaker for me. That said, I only made it to the end of La Dolce Vita because I felt like I had to. That because it was a ‘historical’ and ‘important’ film I was required to finish what I started and, if I didn’t like it, or get it, that was on me for being a philistine. Continue reading
The time of year is nigh when critics dump their 10 Best Lists on the world, and the various organizations and guild awards are awarded. And, being a person who never finds a trend he won’t at least dabble in, I’m joining the fray. But, rather than do a 10 Best List, like most individual critics do, I’m going to do mine as an actual award, similar to a critics group. Why do it this way? Because it’s my blog and I do things my way over here.
Better, because I’m not a professional critic, and do everything here at my own expense, you should give what I have to say extra gravity. After all, I did not see any of these films via critics screeners or free screenings, and I did not get anything labeled “For Your Consideration”. Rather, I actually paid my own money to see all these films in a theater – for the most part – and since I have skin in the game, that makes my opinions more valid than the rest.
So, without further ado – it’s The Last Blog Name On Earth 2017 Awards!
So, a little more than a year ago the complete, collected, and re-edited Best Picture Project appeared in book form. It sold like gangbusters, which is to say, it barely sold at all. But, I don’t necessarily write to be paid, I write to give me joy, and so if anybody bought it and enjoyed it, great!
And then I was notified of a comment on a post on this site — to the post regarding The Sound of Music, a Best Picture Project entry. The comment? Apparantly I forgot to include The Sound of Music in the book. It took about two minutes for me to confirm that, yes, I did forget it.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that everything should be fixed now. I revised the Kindle version of the book right quick and you should be able to get that one now. The paperback version has also been corrected but that might take a couple days for all the kinks to work out between the old version and the new.
Nevertheless, feel free to purchase now and, as before — if you find an error in it, let me know, because I fix that shit.
Directed by Edouard Molinaro
Screenplay by Francis Veber, Édouard Molinaro, Marcello Danon, and Jean Poiret, based on the play by Jean Poiret
Starring Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault
The further back into Academy Awards I delve, the easier it is to find films to include in this project – that is, it’s easier it is to find a Best Picture loser I haven’t seen before. Which is to be expected, given people tend to be more interested in things contemporary to their own lives, and not so much on things before. So, my knowledge of films since the mid-70s is much deeper than my knowledge of those films from before then. Continue reading
Directed by William Wyler
Written by Isobel Lennart, based on the stage-musical by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill
Starring Barbara Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford and Walter Pidgeon
Twice there has been a tie at the Oscars in the acting categories. That’s just two ties in nearly 90 years of awards, during which time there were four acting Oscars for all but 8 of those years. Or, less than 1% of the awards resulted in a tie. And really, one of those ties wasn’t even a tie, but was close enough that under the rules at the time, it was considered a tie. Continue reading