11 items from 2014
By Anjelica Oswald
The Fault in Our Stars features Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus “Gus” Waters, two teens who meet at a cancer-survivor support group. Though Hazel is initially skeptical about getting close to Gus and warns him of her worsening condition, Gus still falls for her. As the two fall in love, Gus relapses, and he dies shortly after they return from their romantic trip to Amsterdam. The adaptation of John Green’s novel of the same name was a box-office smash and has earned Woodley some Oscar buzz. Should Woodley receive a nomination for this role, she would join the list of best actress nominees who have been nominated for their roles in heartbreaking films.
Some of the most well-known tragic love stories didn’t score any leading actress nominations, though. For example, Natalie Wood was not nominated for her »
- Anjelica Oswald
The short answer: because Hollywood declared it so. Of course, that was before 1939 came along and actually became the unofficial greatest year of movies of all time, including the releases of Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Dark Victory, Wuthering Heights, Of Mice and Men, Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Love Affair and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. And those were just the Best Picture nominees, excluding The Rules of the Game, The Women and Gunga Din and many more. Well, 1938 did have Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, Jezebel and Best Picture winner You Can’t Take It With You, which I honestly adore. Yeah, there’s something of an imbalance there. The claim that 1938 was the greatest came before the year was through as part of a marketing campaign to get Americans back to the movies. It was still the Great Depression, and by some theories that should’ve meant people sought out more escapist »
- Christopher Campbell
"The "Bat-Man", a mysterious and adventurous figure, fighting for righteousness and apprehending the wrong doer, in his lone battle against the evil forces of society... His identity remains unknown."
Those exciting words started off a story in Detective Comics Issue number 27 in May of 1939, and the world was introduced to one of the most well-known and most recognized superheroes - The Bat-Man, as he was first called. National Comics (now DC Comics) was enjoying comic sales due to Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel's latest creation, Superman, and they were in the market for another caped crusader. Created by Bob Kane, he was little more than crude sketches until Bill Finger gave some suggestions that would make him iconic: The bat cowl, the color of the costume (Kane originally planned on having Batman wear a red union suit with black trunks and cape), and putting gloves on the hero.
Seasons of Bette had a headache last week but is feeling much better now, thank you. Herewith, your catch-up episode on Dark Victory (1939)
it was the ghastliest feeling, everything went fuzzy.
Fallen out of order, have I. That's awfully dreadful of me given that the great revelation of both Anne Marie's brilliant A Year With Kate and my own intermittent Seasons of Bette series is that you can actually watch a movie star grow in power and nuance and embrace of their own specificity if you watch their films chronologically.
This is true, at least, of the studio system where stars were invested in for the long haul rather than dabbled with for a few months at a time if agents, lawyers, producer, directors and stars could agree on a one-time contract. The old system had its drawbacks of course, giving thespians less agency in their own filmography and less »
- NATHANIEL R
Multi-tasking again. Herewith a new episode of three recurring series: Seasons of Bette, "Introducing..." and Hit Me With Your Best Shot in which I, Nathaniel, refuse to show you Bette Davis's face. For here's a perverse truth: none of my three favorite shots of The Letter (1940) include it.
honorable mention: Leslie recounts her crime
Pt. 1 "Introducing..."
Meet Leslie Crosbee, murderess. We're only one minute into the movie when she unloads six shots purposefully nto the back of one Geoff Hammond who is attempting to escape her house. He doesn't make it beyond the foot of her steps. Her face is a frozen severe mask as she drops the gun. It's Bette Davis's most potent entrance into a movie yet.
- NATHANIEL R
Editor's Note: A huge thank you to my trusted right hand woman in Old Hollywood love. Anne Marie is filling in for this particular edition of "Seasons of Bette" (a sidebar series to "A Year With Kate" as we investigate Bette's Oscar roles whenever they appear in Kate's timeline. I'll be back next week to talk "Dark Victory" - Nathaniel.
After an iconic film for Kate this week, we have an Oscar-winning, career-defining film for Bette Davis as well! Jezebel could have been easily dismissed as another Gone With The Wind wannabe, pining after a romanticized Antebellum New Orleans where the women were lace and steel and the men fought for honor instead of money. It would be high melodrama, except for the contributions of two people: Bette Davis and William Wyler. The subtle theme played beneath the movie is Honor: who has it and who insults it and whether »
- Anne Marie
DC Comics delivers a new edition of Batman: Dark Victory and does what any great publisher would do to pull in more sales. They add new content to give readers who already have it another reason to grab an updated copy. It also gives folks who haven't picked it up or read it a chance to dive into what entertainment website IGN calls the 10th greatest Batman graphic novel ever released. The title is justifiable as made visible by a wonderfully complex crime tale and top-notch artwork.
Gotham City is once again gripped by fear as a serial murderer copying the "Holiday Killer" is taking out police officers once a month. Is Alberto Falcone finding a way to commit the crimes even though he's on house arrest? Could it be Commissioner James Gordon and Bruce Wayne's good-guy-gone-bad friend, Harvey Dent/Two-Face? Only the Dark Knight can uncover the clues to these sinister crimes. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Eric Shirey)
Everyone's got an opinion when it comes to the Oscars, unfortunately most people's are negative, censored or ridiculous
Oscars predictions are to Los Angeles what political gossip is to Washington DC, and during the week of the Oscars it's pretty much impossible to walk down the street, let alone open a newspaper, without somebody giving you their tuppence on the matter. As with arseholes and opinions, everyone's got their own prediction but in the final days before the ceremony one verdict was becoming increasingly loud: Gravity will beat 12 Years a Slave to Best Picture. Why? Because a true story about slavery is, well, kind of a downer.
"For many, 12 Years a Slave is too hard to watch," declared a front page headline in the La Times above a story by the paper's film critic, Betsy Sharkey, suggesting audiences have shied away from the movie. But a brief glance at the »
- Hadley Freeman
If you're an Oscar stats geek, you should check out the new blog 1:37:1 which responded to the recent debate about whether or not the number of Oscar-nominated films is shrinking due to the expanded Best Picture field with lots of charts. It's fascinating but requires concentration. Then a follow up specifically looking at the acting categories.
All was lost this year for male actors without Best Picture heatThe most interesting finding in the second article is how enormously rare it is for an acting category to feature only performances from Best Picture nominated films. It's happened only 10 times in Oscar's entire 86 year history and 2 of those times were this year alone including, for the first time ever, in a supporting category. That's a disturbing development if you're of the opinion (and you should be) that great performances can happen anywhere including within movies that aren't otherwise popular or great. »
- NATHANIEL R
Surprise! As a side bar series to Anne Marie's brilliant "A Year With Kate" project, I present to you "Seasons of Bette". Together with Streep, who we talk about a lot, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis form the Holy Trinity of Oscar's Best Actress category, with 41 nominations and 9 statuettes between them. Streep is bound to have another big year in 2014 with The Homesman, The Giver and Into the Woods all arriving but we're finally giving the other two their due.
"Seasons of Bette" won't be a comprehensive film-by-film study like Anne Marie's (Bette made 80+ features and a ton of television so, uh, no.) but I will personally be visiting each of Bette's Oscar nominated star turns, as they come up within Kate's timeline. When Anne Marie pitted them against each other in her last episode, I realized that they'd only squared off four times at the Oscars but that I »
- NATHANIEL R
Yesterday’s announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that the The Wizard of Oz will be celebrated at this year’s Oscars was met with widespread enthusiasm. After all, it’s one of Hollywood’s most beloved films, multiple generations have grown up singing its tunes, and it’s celebrating its 75th anniversary.
But The Wizard of Oz wasn’t the only classic movie to come out in 1939. That prolific Hollywood year also boasted Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, John Ford’s Stagecoach, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Ninotchka (“Garbo laughs!”), Gunga Din, William Wyler »
- Jeff Labrecque
11 items from 2014
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