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Best Supporting Actor Nominees (90th Academy Awards)

This is a category in which the Academy often finds a way to reward a veteran actor who has had a career of substance, but without this particular moment in the sun (Think John Gielgud in Arthur, Martin Landau in Ed Wood, James Coburn in Affliction, and Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine). And I must admit that in part because of this habit, the handing out of the Best Supporting Actor trophy is one of my favorite moments of most Oscars ceremonies. I palpably look forward to the day that someone like John Turturro or Mark Ruffalo or Stanley Tucci takes the walk up to the podium and gets to grasp that little golden man. It really can be very satisfying to see, and this year we have four different nominees who could fulfill that moment pretty darn effectively…and one who already has, but has a compelling angle of his own to consider.

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February 19: Happy Birthday Victoria Justice and Smokey Robinson

0219JusticeRobinson

Today is Victoria Justice’s 25th birthday.  She began getting TV guest roles when she was 10 years old, and in 2005 was cast as Lola Martinez on Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101, beginning a lengthy association with Nickelodeon.  She then starred on Nick’s TV movie musical Spectacular!—she also contributed to several numbers on the soundtrack, which reached #44 on the Billboard 200.  In 2010, she was cast in the starring role of Tori Vega on Victorious, a show about an aspiring teenage singer.  Justice was also featured, naturally, on the soundtrack albums for all three seasons of the series, the first two of which reached the Top Ten, and the first of which included three charted singles.

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Kevin Spacey: The Thinking Person’s Sex Symbol

Remember when you liked Kevin Spacey?  Believe it or not, it wasn’t all that long ago.  Before the allegations and scandals made the actor and exile, he was a two-time Oscar winner starring in a popular show on Netflix.  Now, studios drop big bucks to remove Spacey from their movies.

This cover story from the February 2003 issue of Movieline magazine makes a point of the fact that readers didn’t know much about Spacey’s private life.  It turns out, he was keeping bigger secrets than most of us imagined at the time.

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Black Panther: My Spoiler-Filled Problems With A Good Movie.

I saw this movie and loved stuff about it. The world-building of Wakanda was excellent. The performances were mostly extremely engaging. The characters were mostly very well-drawn in terms of their personalities and motivations. There were some fun action scenes and moments. The visuals and sound were wonderful. Also, I was really happy to see this character and his supporting cast given center stage. But there were a few storytelling things that bugged me. There are BIG SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven’t seen the movie you not only want to avoid plot points but also might not be able to follow the arguments I’m making. Go see the movie. I did like it. But…
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Fixing Oscar For One Film: Part Three 1950-1957

We all have that one movie we really wish had taken home the Best Picture Oscar that one time – even if we say we don’t care about the Oscars at all. At least most of us do if we’re reading an article on the subject on a pop culture blog on the internet. Well, LeBlog is teaming up with its readers to select one Best Picture loser from the previous eighty-nine years of the awards as our favorite also-ran. This is the picture we will be affording a unique honor here with the title of “Best-Loved Loser.” Come help us weed out the good from the great as we consider five more movies that came up just short on movies’ biggest night.

Join us today as we cover most of the 1950s, a decade in which my parents were teenagers, Disney became more than just a cartoon studio, and rock ‘n’ roll started to blossom.
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Weekly Recap: Welcome to Wakanda

Marvel’s Black Panther is shredding box office records this weekend.  The movie is performing like a summer blockbuster in the traditionally slow month of February.  That bodes well for Panther‘s long-term prospects since it is unlikely to face any real competition in the coming weeks.  Additionally, Ryan Coogler’s superhero epic is a damn good movie.  Arguably, the best Marvel movie yet and undoubtedly the most complex.  Fans are going to want to revisit the fictional world of Wakanda both for the amazing visuals on the screen and the complicated ethical questions the movie poses.  Black Panther has a lot to say about the world we live in, but it never gets preachy nor does it offer easy answers.  Better still, it works on the level of a butt-kicking superhero adventure and hero’s quest should you be in the mood for pure escapism.  As the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther needed to find a way to differentiate itself from the movies that preceded it.  And it does while also remaining a piece with the overall fabric of the Marvel franchise.  Really, truly, Black Panther is a remarkable achievement.

To celebrate the release of Black Panther, I updated my Worst to First ranking of all the Marvel movies to date.  But there was a lot more than just superheroes at the site this week.  What did you miss?  Let’s recap and find out.

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February 18: Happy Birthday John Travolta and Cybill Shepherd

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Our two headliners today both became very well known in the 1970s, and subsequently each has had some major career ups and downs.

John Travolta is turning 64 today.  He dropped out of high school after his junior year, becoming part of the touring cast of Grease and appearing on Broadway in Over Here!  He emerged as a star in the mid-seventies, first in the role of Vinnie Barbarino on Welcome Back, Kotter, then as a singer with the hit single “Let Her In,” then receiving a Best Actor nomination as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever.  He went on to star in the film version of Grease, Urban Cowboy, and Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, before his career went into a tailspin discussed in his WTHH article.

Travolta’s resurgence began with his starring role in the surprise hit Look Who’s Talking.  While sequels to that film were less successful, in 1994 he extended his comeback when he received his second Oscar nomination, as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.

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Best Original Score Nominees (90th Academy Awards)

A catchy song with memorable lyrics can certainly do a great service to the movie it’s in, and since we’re all pretty familiar with most of the standard song forms we could expect to hear from such a thing, they’re also easier to talk about and judge from a layman’s perspective. But the overwhelming majority of music present in most films doesn’t usually have much on common with a typical pop song. It’s there to serve the tone, setting, and style of the film scene by scene and it’s there to enhance the filmgoing experience mostly without actually calling an inordinate amount of attention to itself. That doesn’t mean a great film score can’t have catchy hooks or melodies, many of the absolute classics certainly do, but if the entire score of a film was that kind of thing over and over it would probably come off as intrusive and detract from the point the filmmakers were actually trying to make. This more nuanced quality makes film scores a trickier topic. Hopefully I can do this year’s nominees some semblance of justice.
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February 16 & 17: Happy Birthday Rene Russo and Michael Bay

0217RussoBay

Rene Russo is celebrating her 64th birthday today; she is today’s WTHH birthday.  She was signed to a contract by the Ford Modeling Agency in her late teens—the story is she was spotted by an agent at a Rolling Stones concert—and spent over a decade as a top model with a number of magazine covers to her credit.  In the mid-1980s she moved into acting.  After a screen debut in the short-lived ABC series Sable in 1987, she moved into feature film work 1989’s Major League.  Her breakout role was as Internal Affairs investigator Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 3, following which she costarred with Clint Eastwood in In the Line of Fire, and played Z-list actress Karen Flores in Get Shorty.

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Jon Bon Jovi: Music to the Eyes

Movie stars want to be rock stars and rock stars want to be actors.  Most singers-turned-thespians don’t get very far in their second career, but Jon Bon Jovi actually got good reviews for his acting debut in Moonlight and Valentino.  That lead to a lot of supporting roles and indie movies.  Most recently, Bon Jovi appeared in the ensemble rom-com New Year’s Eve which may be his swan song as an actor.  But at the time of this profile from the February 1998 issue of Movieline magazine, his acting career looked like it was just heating up.

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Worst to First: Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Universe Posters

Black Panther, the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hits theaters this weekend with glowing reviews and off-the-charts buzz.  Before you visit the nation of Wakanda, why not review the previous Marvel movies from Worst to First?  Since this article originally ran last November, I have added Thor: Ragnarok to the list.

via Worst to First: Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Fixing Oscar For One Film: Part Two 1941-1946

We all have that one movie we really wish had taken home the Best Picture Oscar that one time – even if we say we don’t care about the Oscars at all. At least most of us do if we’re reading an article on the subject on a pop culture blog on the internet. Well, LeBlog is teaming up with its readers to select one Best Picture loser from the previous eighty-nine years of the awards as our favorite also-ran. This is the picture we will be affording a unique honor here with the title of “Best-Loved Loser.” Come help us weed out the good from the great as we consider five more movies that came up just short on movies’ biggest night.
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Pretty Gone Plain

When an actress wants to win awards, she plays down her looks.  Just like for a while there, actors could count on nominations for playing characters with disabilities, usually glamorous actresses were often rewarded for playing down their physical beauty.  The often controversial Joe Queenan made this observation in a very politically incorrect column from the February 2003 issue of Movieline magazine.  I expect this one will ruffle some feathers, so be warned.  Queenan’s viewpoint was out-of-date 15 years ago and it hasn’t improved with age.

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