Tag Archives: frank capra

The Best Picture Project – The Last Emperor (1987)

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring John Lone, Peter O’Toole and Joan Chen

After my last entry, for Wings, went super-long, I purposefully set out to rein this one in a bit, but it probably won’t be that difficult a task, because there really isn’t much of anything special I can say about The Last Emperor, other than it’s not really special – yet another default Best Picture winner in an otherwise dull year. Continue reading

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“Hey, They’re Playing Our Song”: A Personal Journey Through Cinematic School Dances

Dance like no one's watching-inspiredmommiedesignsCome on, admit it, when you were in school you loved the school dance.  You loved getting slightly dressed up, feeling even more awkward than usual, and spending all night debating whether you were going to ask your favorite girl to dance you, only to find yourself trying not to get aroused the moment she said yes.

Good times. Continue reading

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The Ten Best Christmas Movies (and What’s Wrong With Them)

christmas-wreath-300x300Well, it’s pretty clichéd to put out a list of the greatest Christmas Movies at Christmas Time.  It’s also pretty clichéd what winds up on the list.  Never one to miss a bandwagon I’m jumping right up on it to present my ten favorite Christmas Movies, mostly in no real order, even if I’ve numbered them in order.  However, just because I’m doing the clichéd thing doesn’t mean I won’t try to tweak it a little so, here it is: The Ten Best Christmas Movies and What’s Wrong With Them. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

Directed by Frank Capra

Written by Robert Riskin

Based on the play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart

Starring Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold and Lionel Barrymore

Somewhere in the history of this project – probably here – I was a bit incredulous that It’s A Wonderful Life did not win Best Picture of 1946.  After all, the movie was everything the Academy loves: it’s sappy, with charming acting, humor and grandstanding speeches, and a sense of nostalgia for a bygone time.  Plus, with the Harry Bailey winning the Medal of Honor storyline, it also tapped into nationalistic fervor.  In all, it seemed like a natural to win, except the Academy had other plans, giving the award to The Best Years of Our Lives, another William Wyler movie that I just don’t get. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Ben Hur (1959)

File:Benh.jpgDirected by William Wyler

Screenplay by Karl Tunberg

Based upon the novel by Lew Wallace

Starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd and Hugh Griffith

There were lots of ways to approach my take on Ben-Hur.  I could have dwelt on the fact that it won 11 Academy Awards and was the all-time king of the big winners for nearly four decades, until Titanic, and later The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King joined the club.  I could have posited why it was the Biblical epic, Ben-Hur, that won a Best Picture Oscar and be largely forgotten outside the chariot race while The Ten Commandments could become an Easter staple without being able to manage even a Best Picture nomination.  Or I could have gone ahead and really broke down the movie and talked about how, after the chariot race and vengeance has been achieved for Ben-Hur, the film loses it’s way, dramatically, and tries to foist a Biblical parable on us – Ben-Hur somehow stumbles on the crucifixion of Christ – in order to get to the end of the film.  Maybe, just maybe, we could talk about whether Charlton Heston is the worst Best Actor ever, or if the title should go to Broderick Crawford or Ray Milland – incidentally, my vote would be with Milland who, even his director thought, wasn’t good enough. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Cavalcade (1933)

 Cavalcade (1933)

Directed by Frank Lloyd

Based on the play by Noel Coward

It’s kind of a cliché when people say things like, “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to,” as if somehow in the good-old days everything was better. Unfortunately, in the good-old present we know that most things in the past were kind of crap and bad for you: lead paint, chemical run-off in rivers and groundwater, asbestos in schools. This is never more true that with the Best Picture winner of 1933, Cavalcade, because honestly, if this movie is a good example of what the Academy thought a Best Picture winner ought to be – and now, after seeing three of the first six, I’d say it is – then I’m only too happy they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – It Happened One Night (1934)

It Happened One Night (1934)

Directed by Frank Capra

Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert

In the history of the Oscars, three movies have won the big five awards of Picture, Director, Actress, Actor and a Screenplay Award: It Happened One Night, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Silence of the Lambs. It’s the rarest of the rare achievement, occurring only 3 times in 82 years – so rare that there’s only been four other times when a films leads won in both Best Actor and Actress category. Because it doesn’t occur every year, or even every decade, you’d be tempted to think that surely the sweep each film put on was the result of some sort of dominance on it’s part, that these three films were the only time that Hollywood got it absolutely right and marched home with the trophy. At tempting as that is to think, it’s not the case, as all three were really the product of circumstances, benefitting in some way or another from just dumb luck to do what it did. Continue reading

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