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The Best Picture Project — The Departed, dir. by Martin Scorsese (2006)

Departed234.jpgDirected by Martin Scorcese

Screenplay by William Monahan, based on the film Infernal Affairs

Starrring Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damno, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg

Martin Scorsese should have an Oscar – Martin Scorsese should have a fistful of Oscars.  A fistful in both hands.  He is a legend of cinema, with talent enough that he can hop genres and eras with relative ease, making his style fit them all, no matter how disparate then may be.  Better, he’s been consistently good for more than four decades, without the flameout in quality you get from many other so-called legends.[1]  Add to that he’s a student of film and treats it legitimately, and reverently, as art, and you can see why he should have more Oscars than he know what to do with.

But he doesn’t have more Oscars than he knows what to do with – he only has the one.  Not for directing Raging Bull or Goodfellas, but as director of The Departed.

Let me ask you a question – which is worse: Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project — Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment, 1983 film.jpgDirected 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

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The Best Picture Project – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next (1975)

Produced by Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas

Directed by Milos Foreman

Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman

From the Novel by Ken Kesey

Cinematography by Haskell Wexler

Starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif, Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd

 Of the fourteen films I’ve watched for this project so far, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest might be the first truly great film I’ve seen.  Annie Hall is no slouch, but of the rest – Dances With Wolves, Patton, From Here To Eternity, included – none really have the depth or subtext of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest . Perhaps that’s a personal bias of mine – I can’t imagine what people will say when they realize that, after I watched fourteen films, Platoon could hardly find it’s way into the top ten so far.  Still, that doesn’t change the fact that One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is simply a marvelous film. Continue reading

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James Dean – What Might Have Been

Watching Cool Hand Luke recently on the DVR – thank you ’31 Days of Oscar’ on TCM – I noticed Dennis Hopper and Richard Davalos kicking around the background, with Jo Van Fleet having a turn in the foreground, and there was something in the convergence of the three that got me thinking about James Dean. After all, Davalos and Van Fleet were both in East of Eden with Dean, playing his mother and brother, and Dennis Hopper, in addition to playing a small part in Rebel Without a Cause and a less smaller part in Giant, had been a friend/devotee of Dean at the time of Dean’s death. Continue reading

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