10 items from 2015
You had only to look at the collected films of Brad Bird to know that Tomorrowland would be in large part a reverie for yesterday. The Iron Giant (1999) was such a friendly evocation of Cold War sci-fi that it belongs, in paperback form, tucked away in the back of a school library. The Incredibles (2004) was a tribute to 60s comics, 60s modernism, and the jazzy vibe of Thunderball-era Bond movies. Ratatouille (2007), with its story of talking rats in a timeless Paris, was a very classical kind of animation. More than anything else Pixar has put out—though Finding Nemo (2003) might come close—its style operates in the vernacular of what Disney animation used to mean in the 50s. Even Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), whose place in Bird's filmography is largely to show if he could handle live action (he can!), is the biggest throwback of that franchise. Its plot centered »
- Duncan Gray
When Tom James (Hugh Laurie) joined Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) campaign on Veep, everyone congratulated her for making such a great choice. The same can and should be said for Veep in bringing Hugh Laurie back to our TV screeners. In a complete contrast to Dr. House, though, Laurie as James is so affable and friendly that everyone absolutely adores him — so much so, that Selina worries he’s taking the spotlight away from her as Potus. As one headline says, “Tom James: The Best Potus We Never Had.” “Don’t show that one [to Selina],” her personal assistant suggests. [caption id="attachment_465481" align="alignright" width="350"] Image via HBO[/caption] One of the things that makes HBO’s biting satire so great is that it feels like it could be real: that politics are petty and full of mistrust, and no real friendships or connections can be made because of a constant jockeying for power. Despite that, »
- Allison Keene
Constance Cummings: Actress in minor Hollywood movies became major British stage star Constance Cummings: Actress went from Harold Lloyd and Frank Capra to Noël Coward and Eugene O'Neill Born on May 15, 1910, actress Constance Cummings, whose career spanned about six decades on stage, in films, and on television in both the U.S. and the U.K., would have turned 105 this year. Unlike other Broadway imports such as Ann Harding, Katharine Hepburn, and Claudette Colbert, the pretty, elegant Cummings – who could have been turned into a less edgy Constance Bennett had she landed at Rko or Paramount instead of Columbia – never became a Hollywood star. In fact, her most acclaimed work, whether in films or – more frequently – on stage, was almost invariably found in British productions. That's most likely why the name Constance Cummings – despite the DVD availability of several of her best-received stage performances – is all but forgotten. »
- Andre Soares
The experiment has failed. The Oscars simply don’t work. And no, I’m not just continuing to vent my frustration over Boyhood losing.
For the last six years, The Academy has experimented with a different number of Best Picture nominees, starting with 10, then a variable number between five and 10 based on first place votes.
That experiment could now be coming to an end. The Hollywood Reporter floated the rumor Tuesday that the Academy is seriously considering switching back to five nominees for Best Picture, and that the motion has support with a “significant fraction of the Academy”.
This is speculation at the moment, as the Academy’s Board of Governors isn’t set to meet until March 24. That said, this year’s Oscar ratings were down by 15 percent from last year, despite having one of the year’s biggest box office hits in American Sniper up for Best Picture »
- Brian Welk
The late films of René Clément are even more neglected than the early and middle films of René Clément, which is to say, very neglected indeed. Falling somewhat between the generation of Jean Renoir and that of the nouvelle vague, he may have been seen as a dangerous professional rival, but he certainly was no friend to the emerging Cahiers du cinema cinephiles, declaring at the time of Fahrenheit 451's production that each Truffaut film was worse than the one before.
Almost effaced from film history apart from a couple of unavoidably impressive titles, Clément remains a stylish professional whose devotion to the thriller genre would have been considered admirable if he were American, but sits awkwardly with our expectations of French cinema: we have room for Henri-Georges Clouzot and Jean-Pierre Melville only.
Clément's last four films are all twisty thrillers, the kind of films that spend ages setting »
- David Cairns
There are 195 individuals nominated for Oscar this year. And when the winners are named Feb. 22, they will become part of film history, joining such greats as Billy Wilder, Ingrid Bergman, Ben Hecht and Walt Disney.
But 80% of the contenders will go home empty-handed. However, there is good news: They are in good company as well.
Here is a sampling of nominees that didn’t win: “Citizen Kane,” “Chinatown” and “Star Wars”; directors Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman; writers Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Harold Pinter and David Mamet; actors Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Blvd.”; Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; and Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
They managed to do Ok, though.
- Tim Gray
Given how revered Disney's "Pinocchio" is today, it's hard to believe it was a flop when it was first released exactly three quarters of a century ago. Upon its New York City premiere, on February 7, 1940, critics hailed the film as a masterpiece, and even to this day, many prefer it to Disney's pioneering first animated feature, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Yet it took the film many years and multiple re-releases to make a profit.
Today, of course, the legacy of "Pinocchio" is inescapable. Everyone's image of the puppet-boy with the nose that grows when he lies comes not from Carlo Collodi's original novel but from the kid with the Tyrolean hat and the Mickey Mouse gloves, as drawn by Disney animators. And the opening tune, Jiminy Cricket's "When You Wish Upon a Star," is ubiquitous as the theme music played before every Walt Disney movie and home video release. »
- Gary Susman
Jean Arthur films on TCM include three Frank Capra classics Five Jean Arthur films will be shown this evening, Monday, January 5, 2015, on Turner Classic Movies, including three directed by Frank Capra, the man who helped to turn Arthur into a major Hollywood star. They are the following: Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; George Stevens' The More the Merrier; and Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night. One the most effective performers of the studio era, Jean Arthur -- whose film career began inauspiciously in 1923 -- was Columbia Pictures' biggest female star from the mid-'30s to the mid-'40s, when Rita Hayworth came to prominence and, coincidentally, Arthur's Columbia contract expired. Today, she's best known for her trio of films directed by Frank Capra, Columbia's top director of the 1930s. Jean Arthur-Frank Capra »
- Andre Soares
#10. Chinatown (1974)
Lost to: The Godfather Part II
Well, no one will argue that it should have won, but still. Roman Polanski’s film made a true leading man out of Jack Nicholson. It grabbed eleven nominations, only taking home one. That being said, that one was for Original Screenplay, written by Robert Towne, which may be the greatest even written. Entire courses could be taught on this screenplay alone and Polanski and his actors delivered a perfect translation of it to the screen. Also starring Faye Dunaway and the great John Huston, the story of power and corruption still stands as one of the greatest films of the 1970′s (or any decade for that matter). It’s just a shame it ran into the greatest movie sequel of all time.
#9. Cabaret (1972)
Lost to: The Godfather
Seems weird, doesn’t it? Well, the Liza Minnelli vehicle is on this list for »
- Joshua Gaul
40. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Lost to: Silence of the Lambs 1991 was the first time an animated film ever grabbed a nomination for Best Picture with Disney’s version of “Beauty and the Beast.” The film also picked up nominations for sound, Original Score (for which it won) and three – count ‘em Three – for Best Original Song, the Oscar going to the title song. The film never really had a chance of winning (though this was one rare year where the Academy went exceedingly dark with their winner), but its inclusion was the first step toward a wider range of films getting a chance and the creation of the eventual Best Animated Film category.
39. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Lost to: How Green Was My Valley
1941 would one day become one of the most notorious Oscar upsets, but not because of this film, however brilliant it is (the other film is much higher »
- Joshua Gaul
10 items from 2015
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