Wednesday, June 26, 2013

40 More To Go

That is for now, until next year when additional movies will be added to the list.  But at this pace I don't think I will ever be above forty films unless I take a lot time off.  And you can guess by now that I couldn't come up with a funny title about the first movie on the list as I usually do.

Secrets & Lies (1996) - An English drama about a young woman who was adopted looking for her birth mother.  The difference is that the birth mother is white and the daughter is black.  Very well acted and has the feel of an Edward Albee play, the characters trying to come to terms with the difficulties of their lives and their relationships with one another.  It does show the importance that open adoption plays in the lives of everyone involved and when an adoption is closed, as shown in the movie, the problems it causes later on in life.

This closes out the eighth year of the decade, but the importance of this year was the rise of the independent film.  Four of the five movies were from independent studios, only Jerry Maguire was produced from a major studio.  Even though an independent film won it was the wrong one and the best picture should have been awarded to Fargo.  The Coen brothers consistently make great movies and this is another year they were wrongfully passed over.  Secrets & Lies would be second as a good drama and an enjoyable story watching a mother and child create the relationships they never had.  I would put the best picture The English Patient in third, it was a stylish film, but it reminded me of Out of Africa in that it looked beautiful but you didn't care about the story.  When you finally understand what the film is about, you realize that you didn't really didn't need to know or even see it.  Shine is fourth as a good bio-pic but not good enough to be a best picture.  And Jerry Maguire is fifth, not because it wasn't a good film, but because, well alright it wasn't a good film.  It was a nice romantic drama, but shouldn't have been nominated.

Cries And Whispers (1973) - An Ingmar Bergman film that deals with the cheerful topic of a woman dying of cancer in the turn of the twenty century in Sweden and her sisters attempt to deal with this and each other.  The film uses flashbacks to show how each sister has made bad decisions in their lives and how they attempt to deal with them.  Very stylish, cold, artistic and intense, what you would expect from a Bergman film.  And if red is your favorite color you'll love this movie.  See it to understand what I mean.

And now 1973 is completed as well.  This was an interesting year in a interesting decade.  The movies nominated during the decade were films not usually seen for at least thirty years and while none were truly outstanding, none were bad.  The Sting was the best film, a good comedy-drama that fits the time it won, not the film obviously since it takes place in the 30's, but for the early 70's.  Second would be The Exorcist because it is one of the scariest horror films ever made and probably the only true horror film to be nominated.  This is a genre that is not recognized but often deservedly so since many of them are horrible, pun intended.  Third would be American Graffiti which was a simple film that was done well.  Cries and Whispers would be fourth, still a great accomplishment since very few foreign language films ever get nominated for best picture.  Fifth is A Touch of Class, a nice film but not good enough to win but worthy of a nomination.

The Bells Of St. Mary's (1945) - The first known sequel to be nominated for best picture, take that Godfather!  The happy go lucky Father O'Malley played by Bing Crosby is back to help a Catholic School move into a better building and to cure all the problems in society with a song.  Yes it is sappy, but it is a great feel good movie and you don't have to be religious to enjoy it.  A great acting performance from Ingrid Bergman makes it enjoyable and fun.

Figuring out this year is a bit of a challenge, none really stood out above the others.  I would agree with the academy and say that The Lost Weekend was the best film.  A hard edged look at a alcoholic and a film that is still powerful today.  Second would be Mildred Pierce from the wonderful acting of Joan Crawford, aka Lucille Fay LeSueur in her well earned best actress Oscar.  Third would be The Bells Of St. Mary's a warm fuzzy friendly film.  Right next to it in fourth is Spellbound, a good psychological Hitchcock thriller but not a best picture.  Fifth would be Anchors Aweigh a goofy musical but popular songs with popular actors.

The Big House (1930) - The Irving Thalberg classic prison movie.  A great action film with an amazing performance by Wallace Beery.  Shows you that over eighty years ago being in prison still sucked.  Everyone is in a gang and out to take one another down, and those who may have been innocent on the outside once inside take to violence and backstabbing as a way to survive.

To determine if this was the best film of the year I will hold off since I got to see the last film nominated from this year.  Yes TCM showed them one day after the other.

The Divorcee (1930) - Another pre-code classic as my 463rd film.  A slightly dated story about a woman who finds out on her third anniversary that her husband had an affair.  He goes away on business so she returns the favor.  They divorce and shows how it effects their lives as they get involve in other relationships.  Today a film like this would be rather common, but from 1930 is a rarity and very well done.  Norma Shearer is terrific and earned a best actress Oscar for her role.

Now I can close out 1930 and without a doubt All Quiet On The Western Front was the best picture.  It is one of the best war films of all time, and WWI films ranking up there with Grand Illusion and Paths Of Glory.  Second would be The Big House a great action film.  Third would be The Divorcee a great drama.  Fourth is Disraeli, not as good but rather well done.  And last is The Love Parade which was very popular as most musicals were in that time, but still not a substantial movie.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Wonder If Tennis Balls In The 16th Century Had That Yellow Fuzz On Them As Well?

As they say, there is nothing harder than buying a gift for a king, especially if you are French.  But if you've seen Henry V as I have, you'll know how it ends up.  And add another British film and one set in England to help me close out three more years as I start to move toward five hundred films seen.

Henry V (1946) - The Laurence Olivier classic made during WWII to inspire and motivate England to win the war.  The acting was amazing, the battle scenes amazing as well, everything was done so well, and the famous speech given before they go to war has always been my favorite.  I saw the remake when I was younger and that night when I was talking to my father mentioned how powerful that speech was and he began to recite it from memory.  My father is a very intelligent man,, very well read, but it just threw me how he just had that stored.  See either one but if you have a choice pick this one, it is so much better.

And this too finishes 1946, and it wasn't easy but The Best Years of Our Lives was the best film.  You have to remember that this movie came out a year after WWII ended.  And it was a really good drama.  That combination made it the best film and I have to agree.  Second is the Frank Capra classic It's A Wonderful Life with my all time favorite actor Lionel Barrymore and Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and so on.  Third will be Henry V a classic in it's own right.  The last two do not match the top three but I would rank The Razor's Edge just ahead of The Yearling.  Both are good films but not best picture films.

Separate Tables (1958) - A rather boring adaption of the Terence Rattigan plays about people who are at an English seaside hotel, most are permanent residents with Rita Haywood dropping in as a guest.  Think of it as Fawlty Towers but not funny or interesting in any way.  David Niven was good, he did win the Oscar for best actor, but it wasn't much of a role.

And now 1958 is done as well.  It was not a very strong year for movies and I don't agree with the Academy.  The best film of the year should have been Auntie Mame, only as compared to the other nominees.  Rosalind Russell is great, the film is enjoyable, better than the other four.  Second would be Cat on a Hot Tin Roof since it does have Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman who make it watchable.  Third would go to The Defiant Ones, a well acted drama, but not that well.  Separate Tables is fourth and last is the creepy Gigi.

An Education (2009) - A film based on the teenage years of Lynn Barber in early 1960's London.  She falls for an older man, drops out of school, finds out that he's not who he claims to be and then tries to get her life back in order.  Not that great but not a bad film, some good acting from Olivia Williams and a few others.

This will now start becoming a common occurrence, but this too finishes another year.  This was the first year since 1943 when more than five films were nominated, and out of the ten films that received best picture nominations, the best film was A Serious Man.  While it's not the best Coen Brother's film they have made, it is still good and better than the rest.  Second is Precious, a really good film that could be argued as the best film, but I love the Coen's movies so much it would be too difficult.  Third is The Blind Side, good acting from Sandra Bullock, something that is rather rare in many of her films.  Fourth is District 9, it is so rare to see a Sci-Fi film nominated, and they never win.  In fifth place is the Oscar winner The Hurt Locker because it's not that good of a movie, it's not a best picture.  Sixth is Up, a good Pixar movie, only the second animated film to be nominated.  Seventh is An Education, which would not be nominated in the past when you only had five movies.  I put Up In The Air eight only because I watched it right after I was laid off and it put a bitter taste in my mouth.  It is a better film that eight, but it will always be a hard film for me to watch.  Ninth is Avatar which had great special effects, but they ran out of money when it came to hire someone to write a script.  And tenth is Inglourious Bastards because it had good acting, but was too campy to be a serious contender for best picture.