Best Actress Bracket Game Winner!


It may not be the most surprising outcome, but I doubt anyone will object to strongly to the readers’ decision to crown Meryl Streep as their favorite Best Actress winner.  Streep has been a presence at the Oscars since the late seventies.  She has remained relevant for decades.  Over that time, she has continually showed new sides of herself.  Originally, Streep was pigeon-holed as the actress who does accents.  So she stretched out into comedy and even action movies.  Just when audiences thought they had seen all Streep had to offer, she branched out into musicals.  There doesn’t seem to be anything Meryl Streep can’t do.

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February 21: Happy Birthday Kelsey Grammer and Sam Peckinpah


Five-time Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer is turning 62 today.  After studying at Juilliard, he began working in theater and made his Broadway debut in 1981 in a revival of Macbeth—initially in a supporting part but eventually moving up to the title role.  He began working in television and soon landed the role of Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, joining the show’s cast in its third season and becoming a regular a couple of seasons later.  He received two nominations for Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor during his time on the show.

When Cheers ended its run, Grammer was asked to continue playing his character on a spinoff series.  Frasier ended up being one of the most successful spinoffs in television history, and Grammer won four Primetime Emmys (out of ten nominations) for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy.

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Before Monster’s Ball, Halle Berry was a better-than-average model-turned actress who spent more than her fair share of time on the covers of tabloids thanks to her failed celebrity marriage.  That changed when she became the first (and to date only) actress of color to win an Academy Award for Best Actress.  In this interview from the December 2001 issue of Movieline magazine, Lawrence Grobel asks Berry about her marriage to David Justice, her hit-and-run car accident and why she chose to go topless for Swordfish.

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15 Great Oscar-Winning Songs!: “The Way We Were”

When you’re a music fan who was born in 1970 it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the period of time between the social unrest of the late sixties and the cynicism and despair which were expressed by punk was mostly made up of soft rock platitudes. Obviously that wasn’t completely true…but some people didn’t go out of their ways to disabuse us of the notion. The fact that I was a small child at the time definitely limited my access to any of the edgier popular culture that was out there. Not that these romanticized expressions of love, sadness, and nostalgia I’m talking about were all bad. They clearly weren’t. People like Barbra Streisand and Marvin Hamlisch don’t have to be your favorites. Believe me, I get it. But if you dismiss them and their ilk out of hand you might be in danger of favoring style over substance rather completely.
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Supporting Actress Oscar Nominees (89th Academy Awards)


Oscar’s not so white this year, is he? In case you were wondering, that’s a good thing, culturally and business-wise. Also, we’ve got good performances from good movies. There are some familiar faces in this category this year and one which most of us might not know was already familiar. What we also have is the most hands-down favorite of the year. No other potential acting winner is as predictable as this one this Sunday night. A little issue that bit us in the butt last year is maybe rearing its ugly head again this time around, but maybe not to the same degree depending on where you come down on that particular performance. Let’s dive right in!
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Best Actress Bracket Game Ingrid Bergman Vs. Meryl Streep


We have already eliminated fourteen of the most celebrated leading ladies in Hollywood history.  Our finalists are a pair of two-time Oscar winners in the Best Actress category.  The both have also nabbed a statue in the supporting category for three wins each.  Strictly by the numbers, Streep leads Bergman in overall nominations.  But ultimately, this contest is going to come down to preference; Old Hollywood vs. modern day.

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February 20: Happy Birthday Rihanna and Sidney Poitier



Today is Caribbean Day here when it comes to our headliners (although, technically, the Bahamas are not actually in the Caribbean).

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, known universally as Rihanna, turns 29 today.  She was born and grew up in Barbados.  In her early teens, she made the acquaintance of American record producer Evan Rogers, who helped her make some demo tapes and distribute them to record companies; as a result, she was able to audition for Jay Z at Def Jam Records, who signed her to a contract.  Her first album, Music of the Sun, was released in 2005.

That first album and its follow-up were successful, but her breakout came in 2007 with her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, which sold more copies than the first two combined, and included her first Grammy-winning hit:

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The Walking Dead: New Best Friends


The Walking Dead has been ridiculous for a long time now.  But lately, the show seems to be in on the joke which has made the last couple of episodes much more enjoyable than the first half of the season.  When The Walking Dead takes itself seriously, it just keeps hitting the same depressing notes over and over again leaving viewers little choice but to focus on the glaring flaws in the narrative.  But when you’ve got an episode focusing on a group right out of Mad Max complete with a Thunderdome battle between Rick and a zombie in spiky armor, there’s enough entertainment value to not sweat the small stuff.

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15 Great Oscar-Winning Songs!: “Take My Breath Away”

Today’s example of a great Oscar-winning song comes from the era when cross-promotional use of songs from popular artists was perhaps at its peak in the movie/music business. Just take a look at the nominees and winners of the Oscar for Best Original Song starting in 1977 and stretching until the Disney renaissance took hold in 1989. What you’ve got here are songs meant to market the movie and at the same time maybe piggy back on a successful film for added exposure. Sure, this still happens every now and then (last year’s Bond song seems to fit this description), but the sheer dependability of top chart success for so many of the songs throughout my childhood and into my first year of college points to shifts in how the songs have been voted on.

Just about as successful as any song to ever win the award was the recording of the Giorgio Moroder tune “Take My Breath Away” by pop band Berlin for the Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun.
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Best Original Song Nominees (89th Academy Awards)


Does anything about that top image look slightly off to you? If so, it’s probably because there are only four films nominated in the Best Original Song category instead of five. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t five nominated songs. It’s just that one of these movies has two. No points for guessing which one.

This is actually not that uncommon. In fact, the Best Original Song category has a history of wonky nomination counts for a variety of reasons. Back in 2013 one of the songs had its nomination revoked. Prior to that, a series of rules changes designed to reduce any perception of the category being “filled out” with unworthy nominees sometimes resulted in fields of three or four. A nomination process that required voters to rate each song, with only those rated higher than a set target gaining a place on the Oscars stage produced a situation in 2011 in which only two songs were nominated (prompting one high-profile singer to accuse the Academy of being “mean”). Over the first eleven years of the category’s existence voters were permitted to nominated as many songs as they liked…and boy did they like! Throughout the early forties no less than nine songs were nominated every single year, topping off at a whopping FOURTEEN in 1945. Obviously that was an out of control situation. People love being honored and they certainly love seeing their projects get free promotion. With no television show to keep on time, why not pile up as many nominations as possible if you can?

For a good long time after that, the Academy put a cap of five nominations on the category and as far as I can tell that was working pretty well. There were a few times when there were a small number of songs which the Academy considered to be qualified, and they would automatically reduce the number of nominated songs to three. This happened in 1988 when Carl Simon’s song from Working Girl took home the gold over Phil Collins’ retro bit of fluff from his otherwise unknown starring vehicle Buster. Considering the well-publicized demographics of the Academy it’s a little hard to swallow when they proclaim that only two or three songs deserve nominations. I’m going to stop short of criticizing them for nominating more than one song from a single movie, though. I personally think it’s pretty great if a particular musical is really that good that they can shower it with praise. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast really is that good, and a lot of people felt the same way about The Lion King. Besides, if they were limited to one song per film, my favorite movie song of the year probably wouldn’t have been nominated this time around.
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Weekly Recap: Ingrid Upsets Katharine, Best Songs Are Sung and Scooby Dooby Doos

Beauty and the Beast

It’s a tale as old as time and a song as old as, well, 1991.  So not that old really.  But “Beauty and the Beast”  was one of the Oscar winning tunes highlighted here at Le Blog this week.  With the 89th annual Academy Awards just a week away, readers were bombarded with must-read articles.  There’s been so much good stuff, even I haven’t been able to keep up with it all.  If you want to catch up over your President’s Day weekend, here’s your weekly recap.

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Best Actress Bracket Game: Meryl Streep Vs. Jodie Foster


We have three actresses left in our bracket game, but only two spots in the final round.  One of them has already been claimed which means either Meryl Streep or Jodie Foster is going to be sent packing.  Both are two-time winners, but Streep is the Nomination Queen.  Can Foster, who hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar in over twenty years, possibly pull off the upset that eluded Sissy Spacek and Diane Keaton?  That’s up to you guys.

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February 19: Happy Birthday Benicio del Toro and Lee Marvin


Today’s article is headlined by a pair of Oscar winners.

Benicio del Toro is celebrating his 50th today.  He made a few TV guest appearances starting in 1987 and had a small part in Big Top Pee-wee, but his first major film role came in a James Bond film, as the villainous henchman Dario in Licence to Kill.  For the next few years, he seemed stuck in supporting parts, although occasionally he got a chance to stand out,  notably in The Usual Suspects as Fred Fenster.  Starring in Excess Baggage, the Alicia Silverstone vehicle that was a notorious bomb, might have derailed his career, but he bounced back.

In 2000, del Toro had an excellent year.  He had another small but distinctive part as Franky Four-Fingers in Snatch, was one of the leads in The Way of the Gun, and most notably, was one of the standouts in an ensemble crime film directed by Steven Soderbergh.

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