Directed 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, 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
Directed by James L. Brooks
Screenplay by James L. Brooks from the book by Larry McMurtry
Starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels and Jack Nicholson
In a way, James L Brooks is the most unappreciated man in movies, which is a funny thing to say about a guy that has three Oscars. But when you think about it, every movie he’s made of consequence since his first — and for films of consequence since his first, there’s only two — has been singled out for attention by the Academy for everybody else associated with it, particularly those who are in it. But Jim Brooks? Not so much.
Broadcast News? Three acting nominations, a Picture and Screenplay nom for Brooks, but zero wins all around. And when you think of the movie, you don’t think of it as a Brooks film — you think of it as a Holly Hunter vehicle. Or the last of the truly great William Hurt performances. Continue reading
Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Akiva Goldsman, based on the Sylvia Nasar book
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Josh Lucas and Paul Bettany
Not all that long ago I covered the awful 2000 film Gladiator for the Best Picture Project and mentioned I thought Russell Crowe won an Oscar for the wrong film. Usually the Academy gets it wrong and honors an actor (or director) for some lesser work later in the career, usually to make up for overlooking them earlier in their career. Think about Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman but going empty-handed for everything he did in the 70s; Martin Scorcese taking gold for The Departed and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas; or Kate Winslet winning for The Reader despite previously being overlooked for Little Children and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. These are but three, but the list goes on. Continue reading
Directed by Leo McCarey
Screenplay by Frank Butler and Frank Cavett, story by Leo McCarey
Starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald
Here’s an intriguing question: What does it take for an actor to win an Oscar? Leaving the little matter of politics out of it, my curiosity is over what kind of performance does it take for an actor to win an Oscar? Is it better to play a showy role where the scenery can be chewed in all it’s glory, or at least one where we know a part is being played? Or, is it better to play a role that rewards the naturalistic, showcasing the kind of acting where the actor doesn’t’ even seem to be acting? Continue reading
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Coppola and Mario Puzo
Adapted from the Puzo novel of the same name
Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire and John Cazale
I like The Godfather. I don’t love it, I like it. It seems reasonable to me that it’s routinely hailed as one of the best films ever made, because I can see how it’s loved, it’s just not a film I’m all that passionate about. For all the good things said about it the thing that keeps me from loving it is the incongruity of a pulp novel adapted as opera. Perhaps if The Godfather had followed the lead of Psycho – pulp novel becomes pulp film – I might have had a bigger thing for it. Still, just because I don’t love it, doesn’t meant it’s bad either, because it’s not. Continue reading
Being a lawyer I’m a bit sensitive to the way lawyers are perceived. If it is Republicans blaming us for the ills of the healthcare industry – I still don’t see the causal link – then it’s movies and TV making us all out as blood-sucking ambulance chasers – a la Ian Holm in The Sweet Hereafter.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I have a sense of humor. My favorite attorney ever is Barry Zuckerkorn from Arrested Development, who’s greatest and most effective act for his client is the ability to recognize that the incriminating photo found on his client’s cell phone is not a map of Iraq but actually is a picture of a man’s scrotum, therefore holding off the charges of treason until another day.
No, what I don’t have much of a sense of humor about, though, are those times when a lawyer in a film is actually lionized by the public, for his great grandstanding gestures, or even his nobility, when he should really be vilified for his utter incompetence.
What follows, then, are Nine of the Worst On-Screen Lawyers. Some are a bit more obvious to understand, others might take a trained legal mind to spot the Worst-ness: Continue reading