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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.
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Joan Allen: The Art of Decency

In the late 90’s, Joan Allen became one of Hollywood’s favorite actresses.  Mostly, she played supportive wives who exist on the sidelines of the story.  In this profile from the Novemeber 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, Allen admits that she was painfully shy and extremely proper and that she doesn’t see herself as cut out for showier roles.

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August 20: Happy Birthday Robert Plant and Demi Lovato


A pair of singers from different eras headline today’s article.

Robert Plant is turning 69 today.  He grew up in the Midlands of England and became very involved in the blues music scene in that area in his teens.  In 1968, when Jimmy Page was trying to assemble a new band in the wake of the Yardbirds’ dissolution, he heard Plant sing at a concert and recruited him as the lead singer of what became known as Led Zeppelin.  Plant in turn brought drummer John Bonham on board, and they were then joined by bass and keyboard player John Paul Jones.

Over the next dozen years, Plant became one of the main creative forces within the band.  He emerged as their primary lyricist, sharing songwriting credits with Page and sometimes Jones.  Led Zeppelin had some successful singles, but their great success was from albums and touring.  The band’s signature song was one that they never released as an official single until it came out in digital form.

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Aug 20: Happy Birthday Amy Adams and Andrew Garfield


Amy Adams celebrates her 42nd birthday today.  In 1999, she was working in dinner theater in Minnesota when she had the chance to audition for a role in Drop Dead Gorgeous.  Although her role was small she won critical praise, and she moved to Southern California.  For the next several years her film career had ups and downs—a significant supporting role in Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can was followed by a year where she got no work at all.  But things began looking up for her in 2004 when she was sent the script for an indie film, a bittersweet comedy called Junebug, and was cast as the role of Ashley Johnston.

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