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Category Archives: Awards

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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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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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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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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Oscar Nominations Announced! (90th Academy Awards)

large_oscars

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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The Golden Raspberry Award 2017 Nominees

Golden Raspberry Award

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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Digital Nonsense: LeBlog’s New Podcast!

Join Lebeau and Daffy Stardust as they reboot LeBlog’s podcast in a new format! Each month the pair plans to look back at and look forward to some of the pop culture of the previous and coming months. This will typically include discussions of superheroes in a variety of media, Disney topics, the Oscars, and a “potpourri” section which allows them to talk about whatever the heck they want to! This time that means Star Wars in advance of this month’s release of The Last Jedi.

If you don’t want to sit through an hour plus of these numbskulls with faces for radio, you can use our handy-dandy time reference below and skip forward to the topics that most interest you! Hope you enjoy it!

Superheroes- 4:50

Disney- 19:46

Potpourri (Star Wars)- 33:35

Oscars- 59:10

Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Another Fine Mess

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Here is another rather unique entry in this series. The stars of Another Fine Mess certainly are very deserving of their place among the greats of cinema. What makes it a little different from most of what we’ve seen so far though, is that this comedy is a short subject, lasting just over twenty-eight minutes. That the gags and beats in it are relatively well conceived and executed is not just due to the established proficiency of Laurel and Hardy themselves, but must also be attributed to the fact that the story and script had been tried out elsewhere a couple of times. First, it appeared as the stage play “Home From the Honeymoon,” and then a silent version was attempted by Laurel and Hardy themselves in their Duck Soup just three years earlier (Leo McCarey, who worked with the pair extensively while at Hal Roach productions would later use “Duck Soup” again as a title for a Marx Brothers movie). It should also be mentioned that the story was written by Stan Laurel’s own Father, Arthur J Jefferson.
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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: American Graffiti

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Funny how powerful nostalgia can be, even when it’s not for something that’s directly your own. In the case of George Lucas’ 1973 film American Graffiti, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the characters themselves are pretty darned sentimental to begin with. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) and Steve (Ron Howard) are recent high school graduates on their last night at home before they’re supposed to fly away to college and the film as a whole serves as an inspection of transitions personally and societally. Set in 1962, this is a movie full of people who have not yet heard of The Beatles and are still playing out the routines and styles that had been established in the late 1950s. Enough so, that if you ask a bunch of people who haven’t seen the movie for a while, they probably think it’s set earlier than it is. Let’s investigate the unique sentimentality and nostalgia of a movie that was actually pretty revolutionary for its time.
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The 10 Most Famous Actors Who Never Won Oscars

When it comes to the Academy Awards, there are winners and losers.  It may be an honor to be nominated, but the fact of the matter is they only hand out so many statues every year.  Over the course of a career in showbiz, there are a limited number of opportunities to win an Oscar.  For varying reasons, some of the most famous actors and actresses in Hollywood history never took home the prize.  In the April 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, they compiled a list of the ten most famous actors who never won.

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