This is a fact: everything ends. Good, bad, or indifferent, nothing lasts forever. So it goes in life, and so it goes with The Also-Rans Project.
I announced this project way back on March 30, 2015, and made the first actual entry on May 31 of that year, with Ruggles of Red Gap. Even then I knew this project would come to an end, I only hoped it wouldn’t take the 6 ½ years it took to get through The Best Picture Project. Mercifully, it has not. Still, that first year was slow, with just three entries, the obvious result of me trying to put an end to The Best Picture Project and focusing my energies there. As that project ended in 2016, I pushed this one forward in earnest. Continue reading
Directed by Mike Leigh
Written by Mike Leigh
Starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville
Spanning four seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter), Another Year revolves around a long-married couple, Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen), as they interact with the various friends, family, and co-workers in their lives. There is Tom’s friend, Ken (Peter Wright), his brother Ronnie (David Bradley), Gerri’s client, Janet (Imelda Staunton), and Tom and Gerri’s son, Joe (Oliver Maltman). The most enduring of the friends, though, is Gerri’s co-worker, Mary(Lesley Manville). Mary is a longtime friend of Gerri’s, mostly harmless, who has been sweet on Joe for years, despite the sizeable age difference between them, and the oddly incestual feel to Mary’s attentions. Things come to a head when Joe introduces his new girlfriend, Katie (Karina Fernandez), to the family, which causes Mary to not-so-subtly break. Offended by Mary’s behavior, Gerri basically ghosts her, though in the end Mary comes round and atones for what she’s done. Continue reading
Directed by Henry Koster
Screenplay By Gina Kaus, Albert Maltz and Phillips Dunne, from the book of the same name by Lloyd C. Douglas
Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Michael Rennie, Dean Jagger and Jay Robinson
This entry of The Also-Rans was originally reserved for Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Shakespeare adaptation, Julius Caesar. For weeks and months, and probably more, doing an entry on that film was the plan, and seemed a good choice. After all, the man won Best Director and Screenplay twice each, in back-to-back years, the only time that has been accomplished. Crazier than that, is neither of those films won Best Picture. So squeezing in a look at his take on Julius Casear was a good way to work him into this project.
Except Julius Caesar stars Marlon Brando, who I’ve ever-so-recently come to realize sucks. And faced with he prospect of watching Brando bring the same level of ‘acting’ to Shakespeare as he brought to Sayonara, I chose to pass.
And that’s how we got here.
Directed by Denys Arcand
Screenplay by Denys Arcand
Starring Remy Girard, Stephane Rousseau, Dorothee Berryman, Louise Portal, Marie-Josee Croze, and Marina Hands
The Barbarian Invasions won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2003, the first for a of Denys Arcand film, following two prior nominations in the same category. This makes him the most successful French-Canadian filmmaker in history. That all said, because Academy rules bestow the award on the film, and on no specific individual, the only actual nomination Arcand has to show for himself is for Best Original screenplay for The Barbarian Invasions. Which he lost. Continue reading
Directed and Written by Dusan Vukotic
Starring Jelena Verner and Zdravko Pavlis
Best Picture 1963 was Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones, a randy romp of a comedy that seems an anomaly amongst Best Picture winners. The anomaly being that it’s a comedy, very few of which have won Best Picture. And also has a plot featuring lots and lots of sex. And is also one of the rarest of Best Picture winners, which are films that explicitly acknowledged themselves as a film in the text of the film. Continue reading
Directed by Mike Leigh
Written by Mike Leigh
Starring Brenda Blethyn, Timothy Spall, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Claire Rushbrook, and Phyllis Logan
A few entries back I wrote about Topsy-Turvy, which was just the second Mike Leigh film I’d ever seen. Because I had such a blind spot for him, I was under the assumption he specialized in the kind of muddy, earthy, improvisational dramas I really had no interest in. I wouldn’t say I expected to find some sort of misery porn in his work, but that’s not far off the mark. So I was glad when Topsy-Turvy proved a rather joyous and exuberant experience, with buoyant performances, colorful and beautiful camera work, and not a fleck of mud – either literal, or emotion – in sight. To be fair, that movie was certainly too long, and too enamored with giving everything and everybody a chance in front of the camera, but on the whole I quite enjoyed it. Continue reading
Directed by Charles Jarrott
Screenplay by Bridget Boland, John Hale and Richard Sokolove, from the play by Maxwell Anderson
Starring Richard Burton, Genevieve Bujold, Anthony Quayle and John Colicos
Richard Burton was nominated for seven Oscars over a 25-year span, including three straight in the 1960s:
- Best Actor 1977 – Equus
- Best Actor 1969 – Anne of the Thousand Days
- Best Actor 1966 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Best Actor 1965 – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
- Best Actor 1964 – Becket
- Best Actor 1953 – The Robe
- Best Supporting Actor 1952 – My Cousin Rachel
You would think the closest he came to the winning was in 1966 for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which was the year’s most nominated film with 13, and which won his then-wife Elizabeth Taylor her second. So, an Oscar for Burton has the appeal of being a good story – matching man and wife Oscars. Alas, Burton lost to Paul Scofield for A Man for All Seasons. In Oscar history there is just one bigger acting loser than Richard Burton: only Peter O’Toole has more Oscar noms (eight), without a win. Continue reading
Directed by Anand Tucker
Screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Starring Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths, James Frain, David Morrissey, Charles Dance, and Celia Ermie
Emily Watson had never been in a film before her breakout role in Breaking the Waves. Perhaps being unknown helped her intense, emotional, and sexual performance land with such a wallop. Or, it could be she’s simply a fierce actress, capable of that sort of performance day-in and day-out, and didn’t need a longer film history behind her to show it. And there may be the truth of Emily Watson: she was a quality actress from the jump, even if the individual film itself is not. Continue reading
Directed by Iain Softley
Screenplay by Hossein Amini, from the novel by Henry James
Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roach, Allison Elliott, Elizabeth McGovern, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon
Here we are again, folks, with another installment in this series about something other than a Best Picture Also-Ran, owing to 1997 being a year in which I’ve seen all the Best Picture winners and losers. The same goes for the Best Director race, and the Best Actor and Supporting Actor/Actress Races – seen ‘em. In fact, I’ve even seen all 10 of the movies nominated in the screenplay categories as well. I could have taken a dive into the Foreign Language Film or Documentary categories – after all, everybody could use a little more foreign exposure in their lives, and the Documentary Feature category included 4 Little Girls from Spike Lee. But, as I enter the homestretch on this project I want to be laser-focused on what’s readily available, and so here we are with a Best Actress loser.
Directed 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