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Oscar Nominations Announced! (90th Academy Awards)

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This year’s Oscar nominations were announced this morning, which means that it’s time for everybody to start going to see truly serious cinema for a few weeks before we get back to whatever tent pole event is up next. Here are the films and individual efforts which the Academy would like to draw your attention to.

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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: The Truman Show Vs. Pleasantville

1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.

Obviously, what we have here are two very different takes on television. One questions the morality of certain kinds of productions and the separation between real life and imagined life while the other uses our perceptions of specific small screen entertainments as a leaping off point for its ideas about change and enlightenment. Which treatise on small screen media resonates more for you? Come step behind the camera and give them both a look.
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January 23: Happy Birthday Rutger Hauer and Randolph Scott

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Dutch actor Rutger Hauer is turning 74 today.  He worked as a deckhand on a freighter and then as an electrician, while taking acting classes at night.  He worked in experimental theater for a few years before hooking up with director and producer Paul Verhoeven, who cast Hauer in a Dutch TV series, Floris, and then in several films during the 1970s, such as Turkish Delight and Soldier of Orange.  Hauer made his first English language film, a British production titled The Wilby Conspiracy, in 1974, and his first Hollywood film, Nighthawks, in 1981 (costarring with Sylvester Stallone).  However, it was his second role in an American film that became his most famous.

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The Golden Raspberry Award 2017 Nominees

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Tomorrow is the official kick off of Oscar season.  Which I guess is fine if you’re into prestige dramas and that sort of thing.  But if you’re like me, it’s more fun to see who is going to get skewered by the Golden Raspberry Awards.  We’ll have the Oscar nominations for you tomorrow morning as they are announced.  But first, let’s review the movies that were chosen as the worst of 2017.

Not a lot of surprises here.  You knew Transformers was going to get nominated before it was even released.  Sure enough, the latest Michael Bay extravaganza leads the pack with 9 nominations.  Not far behind was Fifty Shades Darker with 8 nods.  Considering the original movie was a Worst Picture Winner, you had to figure the sequel would get some attention from voters.  A few old targets resurfaced long enough to get back on the Razzie radar and a few new targets got spotted for the first time

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January 22: Happy Birthday D. W. Griffith and Sergei Eisenstein

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Today is going to be Pioneers of Film Day here at le Blog.

David Wark “D. W.” Griffith (1875-1948) dropped out of high school at about 14 years of age to support his family, and eventually found work with traveling theater companies.  From there he went to work for the early film company Biograph, and eventually found himself directing hundreds of one-reel short films for them.  One of them, In Old California, was the first film shot in Hollywood.

During his time at Biograph, Griffith developed important filmmaking techniques, such as the close-up, fade-ins and fade-outs, and cross-cutting.  He brought this then-new filmmaking language to full bloom in his epic features The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance—the former one of the most controversial great works of art ever made, the latter something of a response from Griffith to his critics.  He then became one of the founders of United Artists, where he made films such as Broken Blossoms and Way Down East.  However, as the 1920s advanced, he found commercial success hard to come by, and he directed his last film in 1931.

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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: There’s Something About Mary Vs. The Big Lebowski

1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.

It wasn’t until I had the bracket set that I realized There’s Something About Mary is kind of a rom-com. Well, the Dude has Maude Lebowski, right? Let’s take a gander at these two zany comedies made by brothers about characters in over their heads.
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Sam Neill: Sam I Am

It’s hard to describe Sam Neill’s career.  He has done leading man roles.  He even headlined a massive hit with Jurassic Park.  At one point, he was in the running to play Indiana Jones and James Bond.  When he came to Hollywood, he was viewed by some as a rival for Mel Gibson, but Neill went in a different direction.  His filmography is filled with art house films, supporting roles and the occasional lead in a big budget movie that doesn’t require a big name to sell tickets.  At the time of this interview from the January 98 issue of Movieline magazine, Neill was about to star in the TV mini-series, Merlin.

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Weekly Recap: Roger Rabbit Wins, Another Game Begins

It’s bracket game season!  This week, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? joined our Nostalgia Hall of Fame as readers selected the animated feature as their favorite movie of 1988.  It was an outcome I don’t think most of us saw coming.  My initial pick to win it all was Die Hard.  In fact, I was so confident of a Die Hard victory that I was kind of bummed that this year’s game would end so predictably.  But the genre-defining action movie got knocked out in the semi-finals.  There were a few other movies I thought had an outside shot.  Roger Rabbit was among the dark horse contenders.  I’d have been genuinely shocked if Working Girl or Twins had won.  The message, of course, is that you never know for sure which way readers will go and the only way to shape the outcome is to come back and cast your vote every day.

We’ve got another bracket game going on celebrating the movies of 1998.  Let’s take a look at what else you may have missed.

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January 20 & 21: Happy Birthday Jill Eikenberry and DeForest Kelley

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Today’s headliners both had long and diverse careers, but each is known best for one major television role.

Jill Eikenberry, who celebrates her 71st birthday today, graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1970 and spent a lot of time working on stage in the subsequent decade.  She made her Broadway debut in Michael Weller’s Moonchildren in 1972 and appeared in several Broadway productions during the 1970s.  She has also had an extensive off-Broadway career that includes winning an Obie Award for a production of Lanford Wilson’s Lemon Sky and receiving a Drama Desk Award nomination for the musical The Kid.

Eikenberry has worked periodically in film, and in the 1980s had prominent roles in Hide in Plain Sight, Arthur, and The Manhattan Project.  She began working in television in the early 1970s.  She made a number of TV movies, but her best known role by far was as Ann Kelsey on L.A. Law.  She received five Emmy and four Golden Globe nominations for the role, winning one of the latter.  She has been retired from screen work since about 2011; one of her final appearances was as a guest star on NUMB3RS.

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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: You’ve Got Mail Vs. The Wedding Singer

1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.

To begin the lower half of our 1998 bracket we’re representing the rom-com cinematic trend with two pretty traditional examples of the genre, but from slightly different generations. I would argue that while a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie is pretty appealing overall, it is most appealing to younger baby boomers and that including Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore aims your movie more toward younger members of Generation X. I have a mild appreciation for both of these movies, so maybe that says something about where I sit on this spectrum? Let’s take a look at both You’ve Got Mail and The Wedding Singer.
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Skeet Ulrich Gallery

Netflix and Chill: Haters Back Off!

Kevthewriter endures a Netflix comedy series based on an inexplicably popular YouTube channel.

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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Mulan Vs. A Bug’s Life

1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.

Today’s pairing features the two biggest animated films of the year, with the computer generated insects of A Bug’s Life and the mostly hand-drawn Chinese action musical Mulan.
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