The Also-Rans Project – Darling (Best Picture Also-Ran 1965)

Darling322.jpgDirected by John Schlesinger

Screenplay by Frederic Raphael

Starring Julie Christie, Laurence Harvey and Dirk Bogarde

When it came up as a Best Picture Project subject, I might’ve made some statement to the effect that 1969’s Midnight Cowboy was the first Best Picture winner of the 1970s.[1]  No, the statement doesn’t make the logically-inept conclusion that because 1969’s Best Picture Oscar was awarded to it in 1970 it is somehow a 70’s film, because all Oscars are awarded in the actual calendar year following their release.  Rather, the statement was all about sensibility. Continue reading


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The Also-Rans Project – Crossfire (Best Picture Also-Ran 1947)

Crossfire213.jpgDirected by Edward Dmytryk

Screenplay by John Paxton, based on the novel “The Brick Foxhole” by Richard Brooks

Starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame

Chances are you’ve never heard of William Phipps.  Until I saw Crossfire, I’d never heard of him either.  Of course, given he had a largely undistinguished screen career it makes sense to not hear of him.  Probably his most-widely seen role was as Prince Charming in Disney’s original Cinderella, but given that was voice work and you never actually saw his face, does that even count?  That said, his IMDB page does list some 229 acting credits, stretching from 1947-2000, none of which were what you’d call memorable roles.[1]  Still, that’s a pretty robust career for a guy whose name you do not know.

It’s sad he’s not more well-known, given he was easily the standout of Crossfire, his feature-film debut.  Cast as the dumb, scared and cowed Leroy, who seems to exist only as a punching bag for Robert Ryan’s Montgomery, he brings a level of reality to the role the others in the film fall short of.  Sure, they do credible work, but Phipps truly has something extra and even if he’s in the film for maybe 10 minutes at most, those 10 minutes make a mark. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project — Lion (Best Picture Also-Ran 2016)

Lion (2016 film).pngDirected by Garth Davis

Screenplay by Luke Davies, based upon the book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierly

Starring Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman

Fact: Authenticity matters.  If there is nothing else we value more in this world than authenticity, I don’t know what it is.  After all, we live in a world where posers are shamed, “fake news” is openly scorned (even when the news itself is not fake and the idiot screaming “fake news” just doesn’t have any substantive response to the reporting), and ‘Trolls” are called “Trolls” for a reason.

And why do we value authenticity?  Because when somebody is not authentic they are, in essence, lying to the world.  And nobody likes a liar. Continue reading

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The Also-Ran’s Project – The Love Parade (Best Picture Also-Ran 1929/1930)

S1662062.jpgDirected by Ernst Lubitsch

Written by Guy Bolton and Ernest Vajda, based upon the novel “Le Prince Consort” by Leon Xanrof and Jules Chancel

Starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Lillian Roth and Lupino Lane

First, a confession[1] – I have no history with Ernst Lubitsch.  Yes, I know Billy Wilder wrote for him and revered the so-called “Lubitsch Touch.”  And I know William Wyler[2] also held the man in high-esteem.  But as I’m neither Billy Wilder, nor William Wyler,[3] I have no background with him.  At this point the most I’ve seen from the Lubitsch filmography is about 30 minutes of To Be Or Not To Be, which I recently tried but gave up for failing to engage me. Continue reading

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The Also-Ran’s Project – Suspicion (Best Picture Also-Ran 1941)

Suspicion film poster.jpgDirected by Alfred Hitchcock

Written by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison and Alma Reville, based upon the Novel “Before the Fact” by Francis Iles

Starring Joan Fonatain, Cary Grant and Nigel Bruce

Alfred Hitchcock arrived in Hollywood in the late-1930’s, after more than a decade of success in British films, determined to find new worlds to conquer.  The move had been contemplated for years, held up by a variety of factors, not the least of which was no studio wanted to pay top dollar for the most successful director of British films, because who the hell watched British films? Continue reading

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The Also-Ran’s Project – Children of a Lesser God (Best Picture Also-Ran 1986)

Children of a Lesser God film poster.jpgDirected by Randa Haines

Written by Hesper Anderson and Mark Medoff, based upon the play by Mark Medoff

Starring Marlee Matlin, William Hurt and Piper Laurie

Unless you’re into Academy Award trivia, you probably did not know that Children of a Lesser God (1986) was the first movie directed by a woman to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture.  Other trivia?  It took nearly 50 years of Academy history to get the first directing nod for a woman – Lina Wertmuller for 1975’s Seven Beauties – and then ten years more for a movie directed by a woman to even compete for the top prize.[1]  And it would be two decades after that when a woman would actually win Best Director and her film, The Hurt Locker (2009) would Best Picture.[2]

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The Also-Ran’s Project – Hacksaw Ridge (Best Picture Also-Ran 2016)

Hacksaw Ridge poster.pngDirected by Mel Gibson

Written by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight

Starring Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracy, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths

Mel Gibson is apparently a despicable person for having spouted off the kind of intensely-virulent things you’re lately hearing out of the jags in Alt-Right.  That is, the kinds of things you wouldn’t think people would say out loud, even if that’s what’s in their hearts.  He’s said to regularly use derogatory terms for Jews, threatened to have a girlfriend killed, used various epithets for all peoples whose skin is not white, and has been fairly insensitive to gay people. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project — 42nd Street (Best Picture Also-Ran 1932/1933)

Forty-second-street-1933.jpgDirected by Lloyd Bacon

Written by Rian James and James Seymour, based upon the novel by Bradford Ropes

Starring Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Una Merkel, Ruby Keeler, Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks and Dick Powell

Fact #1: My daughter is a student at my alma mater, Michigan State University.[1]  She lives on-campus and during her freshmen year she had no car, which meant if she wanted to come home, my wife or I had to go get her.  You get no prize for correctly guessing what my wife and I did every other weekend last year.[2]

Fact #2: I am a runner.  I run four times a week, at least 7 miles each of those days, and make my longest run on Sunday’s.  Typically, the Sunday run is in the 11-12 mile range, though as I’m training for a 34-mile trail run in April, the Sunday run has lately been closer to 20-22 miles.  Either way, on Sunday’s I run a lot and this means I’m always hungry. Continue reading

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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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The Best Picture Project/The Also-Rans Project Crossover — Sunrise:  A Song of Two Humans (Dir. By F.W. Murnau, Best Picture Winner/Also-Ran 1927/1928)

Sunrise vintage.jpgDirected by F. W. Murnau

Written by Carl Mayer, based upon “The Excursion to Tilsit” by Hermann Sudermann

Starring George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, and Margaret Livingston

Welcome, loyal readers, to the greatest day in Best Picture Project and Also-Rans Project history.  You should stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and mark down this date on a calendar because you, dear reader, are bearing witness to a once-in-a-lifetime event.  And in the future, when your grandchildren look at you and say, “Grandpa/Grandma, what was it like when The Best Picture Project, and The Also-Rans Project, crossed-over?”, you can tell them exactly where you were when it happened, and exactly what it was like. Continue reading

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