Advertisements

Author Archives: daffystardust

Fixing Oscar For One Film: Part Four 1961-1968

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.” Help us weed out the good from the great as we consider five more movies that came up just short on movies’ biggest night.

Come along as we sweep along through the Mad Men era as the Beatles become huge, a President is assassinated, the Super Bowl begins, and my parents meet and marry.
Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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…
Read the rest of this entry

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.
Read the rest of this entry

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.
Read the rest of this entry

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.
Read the rest of this entry

Best Original Song Nominees (90th Academy Awards)

The Oscars’ Best Original Song category is one that has gone through some serious shifts over the years. When the category began back in the mid 1930s there was no shortage of movie musicals to pull original songs from. It was one of the most popular genres at the box office through a few decades and even with the admonition against songs from Broadway musicals being imported to the screen and becoming eligible for the award, they always seemed to be able to fill out the category without too much trouble. After all, songwriting legends like Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin were still pumping out hits, and what better way to make sure people heard your great new song than to slap it into a movie? This was true to the point that if you’re someone who has seen lots of old movies you’ve probably stopped being surprised when a straight comedy or even drama stops abruptly to let somebody sing a song that might not have much to do with the rest of the movie.

While this emphasis on songs didn’t guarantee nominee classes stacked with classics, by comparison the number of truly legendary songs you find in those first few decades is pretty impressive. Consider 1936 in which “Pennies From Heaven” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” weren’t quite good enough to beat out “The Way You Look Tonight” or 1941 in which “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Baby Mine,” “Blues in the Night,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B” all lost out to Kern’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” Even through the fifties and sixties, more traditional type singers like Doris Day and Frank Sinatra popped up and helped to define an Oscar-winning song as one that might sit comfortably on the shelf alongside the great American songbook. But even a relatively conservative voting body like the Academy couldn’t completely ignore that there had been a definite change in what popular music meant by the late 1960s.
Read the rest of this entry

Fixing Oscar For One Film: Part One

Okay, so I’m obviously an unrepentant lover of the yearly film Bacchanalia that is the Oscars. That should be obvious by my obsessive yearly coverage of the awards here at LeBlog. At the same time, it’s not like I’m not fully aware of the shortcomings of the whole exercise and some of the mistakes the Academy’s voters might have made along the way. My recent article on the history of the Best Picture category touches a bit on these things. Anybody with a love of film who has taken the time to consider the winners and losers with any detail or who has sat down and watched the ceremony play out in real time more than a few times probably has that one choice by the Academy that sticks in their craw just a little. Yes, in the end it’s just a meaningless award, but darn it movie Y obviously should have beaten movie X in 19-blah-dee-blah.

Well, I’m here to offer the readers of LeBlog an opportunity to scratch that itch. As a team, we will be sifting through some of the greatest Best Picture nominees to ever come up short on cinema’s biggest night. Every other day for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be presenting five such pictures for your consideration, sharing a few of each movie’s credentials, and giving you a chance to vote for your favorite amongst them. Once we’ve acquired a winner for each group of five, those surviving films will be pitted against one another in a winner-take-all competition whose champion will forever after be known as “LeBlog’s best-Loved Loser.” Yes, anytime the film is spoken of here at LeBlog in the future, that moniker will be attached to it (I can imagine we will come up with reasons to mention it more often than we otherwise would have).

While we won’t strictly be moving forward by decade, some effort has been made to group the films in roughly appropriate chronological sets. Today we start with a rather tightly packed bunch of movies stretching from 1938 all the way to 1940. What can I say? It was a pretty good time for movies.
Read the rest of this entry

Oscars: How Important is Best Picture?

How meaningful is a Best Picture Oscar in the grand scheme of things? Well, obviously that’s going to depend on the point of view of each individual person considering the question. For the purposes of this article we’re going to assume that it’s a pretty big deal within the context of the awards themselves, but we’re going to have a look at the history of voting patterns in relation to other Oscars given out each year, its importance within the film business, and how these relate to long term relevance.

Let’s see how much I can find to say on this subject, shall we?
Read the rest of this entry

The Florida Project: A Review and Discussion of its Disney Elements

Every year there are films that get past me on their trip through big screen release even though I’m aware they exist and identify them as something I’d like to see. This year Sean Baker’s The Florida Project was one such movie. Thankfully, this entrancing and heartbreaking slice of life focused on a six-year-old girl’s adventures in and around the low budget motel where she and her mother are living did grab an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe and thus ended up a high priority once it became available for rental yesterday. Unlike some of the other films I’ve been main-lining over the past several weeks, The Florida Project is already taking up space in my brain for several reasons.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film yet, I’m going to begin this article with a spoiler-free review of The Florida Project and some information about it that shouldn’t interfere with your appreciation of it once you do sit down to take it in. Not that the movie contains any really unexpected twists, but I am sympathetic to some moviegoers who want to go into a viewing experience with only the information needed to understand its context and whether or not they want to see it. I’ll be providing that right up front, and then I’ll be going into a bit more detail after what I hope will be a prominent enough clue, and this will include an examination of the movie’s relationship with Walt Disney World and some elements of the film that might be considered spoilers to some.
Read the rest of this entry

Movies of 1998 Bracket Game Champion: The Big Lebowski


I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that the Coen brothers’ meandering slacker era take on western and Raymond Chandler tropes, The Big Lebowski came out on top in our 1998 movies bracket game. After all, I’m not aware of any of these other films inspiring widespread fan devotion nearly to the level that the Dude and his friends have, even resulting in the satirical establishment of an associated religion based on the Jeff Bridges character’s life philosophies, “Dudeism.”

Let’s take a look at some of the fan art that has placed the Dude into spots of honor –
Read the rest of this entry

Movies of 1998 Bracket Championship Round!: Out of Sight Vs. The Big Lebowski

Well, here we are in the championship round and despite some mild upsets along the way, we’ve pretty much got the pair of movies remaining that I thought we’d have. This pairing might have been surprising at another site, but knowing our readers as I do, I was pretty sure this is where we’d end up. By this point we’ve done a basic rundown on how these movies got made, some of the music they used, one of their supporting players, and what the reaction was when they were released. You guys know a lot about what we’re looking at so I’m not going to jaw your ear off at this stage. Instead, we’ll just enjoy a couple of clips from the movies in question. You probably already know which one you’re voting for anyway. Let’s look!
Read the rest of this entry

Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: The Big Lebowski Vs. Pleasantville

Well, here we are in our 1998 bracket final four! Are these the four best movies of 1998? Mehh…maybe not, but it looks like we’ve got a good chance at a championship round that will well represent how we feel about the movies of the year twenty years later. After a general review of the origins and reactions to each movie in the first round, followed by some inspection of the music involved in the second round, I’ll be covering some of the supporting performers who helped make these movies as deep and well-rounded as they are. These are the faces and voices that continue to pop up over and over again, but maybe never become full-fledged stars all on their own. As a modicum of consolation, we’ll be honoring four of them here at LeBlog over the next couple of days.

For all intents and purposes, what we have here is the championship match for the comedy portion of our 1998 bracket. At the same time, I don’t think there’s much debate that one of these movies is funnier than the other. The Big Lebowski is a goofy slacker comedy filtered through classic noir and western tropes and directed by the Coen brothers, while Pleasantville is set up with a comedic premise, but then evolves into an examination of more serious themes. But of course, we’re not here to decide based on the constraints of a given genre, simply based on our perception of the quality of what we’re seeing. Join us in taking a look at a couple of the veteran actors who show up in these two excellent films.
Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: