The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

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movielocke
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#26 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:35 am

there are already too many films nominated this year (12!) so the fact that the White Parade is pretty much unviewable is quite the relief.

Barretts of Wimpole Street - I've pretty much forgotten everything about the film, terribly dull.

Cleopatra - an okay production, but it's just too CB, and without the ham of a Heston and spectacle of technicolor he has just has never clicked for me.

Flirtation Walk - Agonizing.

The Gay Divorcee - fun and breathy. entertaining.

Here comes the Navy - not as awful as one might expect.

House of Rothschild - more famous Jews. This story was quite interesting and compelling. well acted with a good script. hard to root for bankers at any time though.

Imitation of Life - I still seeth over how offensive this film is, mainly because it thinks it's being progressive, which only makes its offensive more regressive and worse.

It Happened One Night - still charming and still wonderful

One Night of Love - eventually the one night ends. but it takes a long long time for this stolid and ponderous film about an opera star to finally be over. dreadful.

The Thin Man - Still a masterpiece of comedy, performance, and mystery. pretty much perfection.

Viva Villa! - a solid take on the tale of Pancho Villa. Very well done all around, one I'd like to see in a theatre with an audience.

My Vote: The Thin Man

2. It Happened One Night
3. Viva Villa!
4. The Gay Divorcee
5. House of Rothschild
6. Cleopatra
7. Here Comes the Navy
8. The Barretts of Wimpole Street

Three of the worst films ever nominated for an oscar, all in one year!:
9. One Night of Love
10. Flirtation Walk
11. Imitation of Life
Last edited by movielocke on Sat May 16, 2009 2:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#27 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:45 am

1936

Anthony Adverse - It has Claude Rains and it's still an abominable film and story.

Dodsworth - A very surprising male melodrama that is far more compelling and interesting than I ever expected. wonderful performances and very well made, an early standout for Wyler.

Great Ziegfeld - Fairly interminable, and pretty much uninteresting. I'd give it another shot, but only on the big screen.

Libeled lady - A very entertaining movie with an exceptionally funny and strong script.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - it's Capra, it's solid, but it lacks the magic of his best work.

Romeo and Juliet - oh lord this adaptation was insanely awful. the leads are practically in their forties, everyone except Barrymore thinks that their lines are full of prodigious heft and care must be taken not to damage them. despite that, half the play is ripped out and no one seemed to realize it's a comedy for three acts. Barrymore's Mercutio is bizarre to say the least but at least it's interesting. the swordplay was well staged, but not great.

San Francisco - okay it's got an awful denouement, but I was very much caught up in the manufactored melodrama beforehand because the cast was so good. and the effects are still tremendous.

The Story of Louis Pasteur - Paul Muni is very good, but the script is pretty by the numbers for all that it is very initeresting. Not as good as Ehrlich's Magic Bullet or Emile Zola, but worth watching at least once.

A Tale of Two Cities - A very entertaining film that was quite well done technically with strong performances.

Three Smart Girls - ummm. I honestly don't remember much about it other than that Durbin was cute, and I saw it only a few months ago. lame.

My vote: Libeled Lady

2. Dodsworth
3. A Tale of Two Cities
4. San Francisco
5. The Story of Louis Pasteur
6. Mr. Deeds goes to Town
7. The Great Ziegfeld
8. Three Smart Girls
9. Romeo and Juliet
10. Anthony Adverse
Last edited by movielocke on Sat May 16, 2009 2:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#28 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:53 am

1938

Adventures of Robin Hood - still tremendously entertaining brilliantly cast and extremely well made film with an outstanding script.

Alexander's Ragtime Band - a very long array of songs, the songs are good, the movie isn't.

Boys Town - okay work from Tracy, awful work from Rooney, a story I was relatively meh about.

Citadel - an entertaining enough film about a Dr determined to better lives and carry out his research and crack the stolid citadel of the medical establishment

Four Daughters - Mostly forgettable. I should give it another shot, perhaps.

Grand Illusion - a masterpiece that needs no introduction or comment from me.

Jezebel - Bette Davis is terrific, the movie itself is pretty solid, a bit over the top, but pretty good.

Pygmalion - A good but not great adaptation of the myth. the script is better than the film.

Test Pilot - a tremendously overlooked brilliant film about a love triangle where both Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy compete for Clark Gable to be their lover. ;)

You Can't Take it With You - I loved this Capra film when I last saw it. I really should rewatch it.

My Vote: Grand Illusion.

2. Test Pilot
3. The Adventures of robin Hood
4. You Can't Take it With YOu
5. Jezebel
6. Pygmalion
7. Citadel
8. Four Daughters
9. Alexander's Ragtime Band
10. Boy's Town
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#29 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:02 am

1939

Dark Victory - awful film that never seemed to end. Die already, lady.

Gone with the Wind - very famous film that I am quite mixed about. I am determined to see it in 35 eventually, but otherwise I've no desire to watch that woman's story again.

Goodbye Mr. Chips - a charming film with a very good central performance. a cut above, but not great.

Love Affair - surprisingly quite good. certainly better than the awful remake. Boyer is as good here as he ever was.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - James Stewart delivers one of his finest performances and Capra one of his most enduring masterpieces in a film that is far better than it seems on home video. Seeing this with an audience on the big screen was an eye opening experience as I didn't expect for it to evolve into such a far superior film than I had previously considered it. but the silver screen occasionally works magic like that, even if it's not a 70mm epic. ;)

Ninotchka - Brilliant all around. I need to see it again.

Of Mice and Men - damn. I should remember this more clearly, but I remember being very impressed overall. Want to see it again.

Stagecoach - Ford's work seems to have lost much of the appreciation it once engendered. not so with me. Marvelous from start to finish.

The Wizard of Oz - an utter classic, but a film that is more iconic and entertaining because of its iconism than it is great. superb on many levels, it doesn't quite turn the corner for me. still an exceptional film fantasy.

Wuthering Heights - the photography was gorgeous the story was awful.

My vote: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

2. Stagecoach
3. Ninotchka
4. Of Mice and Men
5. The Wizard of Oz
6. Love Affair
7. Goodbye Mr. Chips
8. Gone With the Wind
9. Wuthering Heights
10. Dark Victory
Last edited by movielocke on Sat May 16, 2009 2:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#30 Post by souvenir » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:57 pm

In the same vein, this is interesting, though I think I could take him more seriously if The Crowd wasn't ranked at 450 and Return of the King wasn't 13th.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#31 Post by domino harvey » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:50 pm

A quick scan found Gentlemen's Agreement in the top third, which certainly saved me a lot of time

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#32 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:29 am

1958

Auntie Mame - shrill and really long. I didn't care for it. a bit sledgehammery for my taste

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - fun with dialogue!

Defiant Ones - they invented on-the-nose for movies like this, but if you keep your cynicism in check it succeeds far more than it falters. The leads are especially excellent. I liked it a great deal.

Gigi - once, many years ago, I caught the opening number of Gigi on TCM and was weirded out and disgusted by the pedophile vibes coming off of Chevalier. years later I sat down to watch it straight through. I was antagonistic towards the movie, but it won me over and by the end I was charmed and a fan. I think it's much better than its often given credit for and it's possibly the only Caron film where I've actually liked her or her role.

Separate Tables - Lancaster, Hiller and Hayworth are so interesting and the best parts of the movie, you can feel it come alive while dealing with their story, especially Hiller. Kerr, God. she's beyond awful in this film, so bad it's good territory. terrible performance all around. Niven is okay, but nothing comparable to his best work. A terribly uneven film, too bad they wasted so much time on Kerr, ugh.

my vote: Gigi, though just barely.

2. The Defiant Ones
3. Cat on a Hot tin Roof
4. Separate Tables
5. Auntie Mame
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#33 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:36 am

1961

Fanny - a neverending story that gets better in the third act but takes forever to get there. Caron is acceptable but still bad. could be so much more, I feel, but it's not.

Guns of Navarone - A solid war film that moves up to the next tier when they get to the island. would be even more fun in a theatre, I feel.

The Hustler - A masterpiece. Perfect on every level, cinematography, editing, script, performances. brilliant.

Judgement at Nuremberg - I really love this one scene of Tracy and Dietrich walking through the ruins of some famous German monument. I thought Garland was laughable and Clift could have been a whole lot worse. Lancaster has an amazing moment when he and the other prisoners are eating lunch and he just quells the entire group from their "we didn't know what was going on" nonsense with a single glance. impressive. Very long, but interesting.

West Side Story - it's Romeo and Juliet but they changed the ending with a fucking copout. It's probably been close to a decade since I first saw this and I'm still pissed about that. I didn't much care for the songs and thought the opening dance in particular was a hysterically bad idea. Solid.

my vote: The Hustler

2. Judgement at Nuremberg
3. Guns of Navarone
4. West Side Story
5. Fanny
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#34 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:47 am

Bonnie and Clyde - a film that is as legendary for it's release and critical reception as it is for it's content and qualities. It holds up well, especially the montage cutting, the menage is bold but something in how that was handled has always been a bit 'eh' to me. Excellent, overall

Doctor Doolittle - a film I saw several times growing up, and one I remembered not particularly caring a whole lot for even then. Poor Rex.

The Graduate - USC is not Berkeley. I think I should give this another shot, as I didn't much care for it when I saw it, then again, convincing me to care about Holden Caulfield-esque characters is like pulling teeth or herding cats, it's either painful or near-impossible to pull off.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? - The last time I saw this I was in the midst of an interracial relationship, so the film seemed to mean a lot more to me then than I seem to feel for it thinking on it now. The dutch angles are sort of laughable and there's a stageyness to the film that holds it back. should probably revisit this again and see what I think of it now. Sort of puts Potier on a pedestal of perfection though, doesn't it?

In the Heat of the Night - Sharp and finely crafted police film here, which is made memorable by the iconicism Potier imbues into the film, particularly with his most famous scenes. To me, he's the key that transforms the film into more than a sum of its parts.

my vote: In the Heat of the Night.

2. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
3. Bonnie and Clyde
4. The Graduate
5. Doctor Doolittle
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#35 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:54 am

1968:

Funny Girl - at first I liked the play more than the film. then I saw the film again and realized i like the film more than the play. Excellent on most points. a likely winner in many other years, for me.

The Lion in Winter - Sometimes a film is so brilliant, particularly in its dialogue, performances and characters that you're completely mesmerized by each new development. Love this film.

Oliver! - yeah it's okay to snicker at the film, but it's quite strong, in many ways, as both a musical and with the direction and performances. doesn't hold up to Lean's version of the tale but surprisingly satisfying in its own right.

Rachel, Rachel - an intense almost Bergman-esque film from Newman and Woodward. Fascinating, fabulous, and stunning. this film deserves to be much more highly regarded and recognized than it is. Another film that could easily win most years it is nominated in, at least for me.

Romeo and Juliet - an adaptation I really should revisit. I remember being satisfied overall, but not especially impressed. acceptable.

My Vote: The Lion in Winter

2. Rachel Rachel
3. Funny Girl
4. Oliver!
5. Romeo and Juliet
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#36 Post by PillowRock » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:05 pm

movielocke wrote:1961
West Side Story - it's Romeo and Juliet but they changed the ending with a fucking copout.
I think that's being a little harsh on the adapting writers, by which I mean adapting Shakespeare to Broadway musical. I really don't see any other option for them.

In WSS, after Tony dies, the two gangs start toward each other to restart the rumble. I don't think there's any way around the conclusion that, absent something along the lines of the closing speech, the continuation of the gang warfare would be inevitiable at that point.

In Romeo and Juliet that speech is given by the Prince. In Shakespeare's setting (and indeed, as he was writing), the Prince gets the moral authority to make that speech and actually have it be taken to heart entirely by Divine Right, simply because he is a royal. He has done absolutely nothing to earn that authority during the play. In the setting of West Side Story that simply will *not* work. What's worse, Shrank (the Prince parallel character) is actively characterized to be on the moral low ground in many ways.

So who, among the entire cast of characters, has the moral authority to make that speech and make it stick?

Doc has always stood on the moral high ground. However, it has been established repeatedly that nobody pays any attention to anything that Doc has to say. There is no reason to think that would change at the end.

So who is left?

The only character who has the moral high ground from which to make that speech, and certainly the only one who has any hope of being listened to by anybody among the gang members, is Maria. The trade off is that if she is going to be able to make that speech, then she can't kill herself. (And I must admit that, as sappy as it may sound to some, Wood's performance of that closing speech, from the cracking voiced reprise of "Somewhere" on, does get me every time.)


I'm certainly not going to complain about a vote for The Hustler in this year. But even if WSS isn't the movie from this year that ranks the highest on all-time lists, it's not one that I would consider high on the list of Oscar blunders either.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#37 Post by PillowRock » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:22 pm

movielocke wrote:Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? - Sort of puts Potier on a pedestal of perfection though, doesn't it?
That's the whole point.

The movie is *not* about an interracial relationship ..... no matter how much some people think that it should be. What it was about was other people's reactions to that interracial relationship; primarily (though not exclusively) Matt Drayton's (Spencer Tracy's) reaction. That's where then entire dramatic arc takes place.

Drayton is described in the dialog as a "life long fighting liberal", and he none the less reacts badly (at least initially) to his daughter agreeing to marry outside her race. You have to put this movie in the context of its time. It was all too common at the time to hear liberal whites make statements like "It's not the fact that he's black, it's that <fill in blank>". GWCTD was made as a direct challenge to the the sincerity of all of those statements. It was a direct philosophical challenge to all of those white liberals: Is all of that talk just nice sounding converation, or do *really* believe in it when push comes to shove and racial equality fully enters your own house?

To drive that point home you have to take away all of the rationalizations that a father could possibly find to convince himself that his reaction was not race based. That means that the fiance (John, the Poitier character) *must* be completely without fault, even if it means that he becomes a bit of an unrealistic fantasy mate, for the movie to make the point that is its entire reason for being made in the first place.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#38 Post by movielocke » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:00 am

I definitely understood that it's not about the interracial relationship, it's about the liberal father's hypocritical opposition and then final acceptance of it. That said, it is part and parcel of that same liberal hypocrisy to require that a black man be beyond perfect in order for the father to even question his own opposition to the match. It's a very useful and interesting device to strip the father of his arguments one by one until he has to confront his own racism, but in its own way the use of the device contains the acceptance of Potier and absolves others from applying the acceptance to their own lives. That is to say, "unless you're at Potier's level, these arguments are valid." this is the worst case scenario reading, though. and you'd have to particularly obtuse (or a race-in-film scholar) in order to believe this is how the film was received (by white audicences) and that viewers were incapable of unpacking the film's central theme and metaphor, that (ala Crash) many of us who think we are openminded are in fact as crippled by our thoughtless prejudices we choose not to see or confront which may be at odds with our conscious beliefs about ourselves and the world. I have occasionally ran across disgruntled commentary from minorities who feel that the film sends a less positive reading for their communities. And when looking at the film from a modern perspective we need to be aware of these divergent readings of the film when assessing the film.

As for West Side Story, congratulations, that's the first thing that's ever made me want to rewatch the movie (other than hearing about a 70 screening, that is) I hadn't considered the adaptation question or even really thought that the final speech from R&J had to be present but who could deliver it in the film's setting. I do remember that I was pissed she was saying the Prince's speech (since I've played the prince before, lol) and also that she didn't die (as I wasn't particularly fond of the character, iirc) which was the main part of the ending I had been looking forward to.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#39 Post by reno dakota » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:04 pm

1935:

Alice Adams – Katharine Hepburn is wonderful here (no surprise), but I didn’t find the film all that compelling. I suppose MacMurray’s character is intended to be rather dull—to draw out the contrast between the charm and good nature of Alice and her family and the cold emptiness of the wealthy folks she desires to impress?—but the result (for me) was a romantic drama with very little heat between the leads.

Broadway Melody of 1936 – I enjoyed the music and dance sequences—particularly Eleanor Powell’s daydream audition—but, unfortunately, all of this is tied to a rather forgettable storyline. It is worth a viewing, though, if for no other reason than Una Merkel’s very entertaining turn as the plucky receptionist who is always a few steps ahead of all the other characters.

Captain Blood – I saw this one only a month ago, but I find that I remember very little about it other than its seemingly interminable swashbuckling sequences. Perhaps that says more about me than about the film, but there you are.

David Copperfield – I have never been as charmed by a Dickens adaptation as I was by this one. I was astonished by how much I clung to every twist and turn of the story, and by how much I loved the characters in the end. The cast is excellent, but the standout I think is Edna May Oliver as Aunt Betsey. From the moment she finally gives in to her true feelings, surprising even herself, I was hooked.

The Informer – Not very compelling as a noir thriller, but as a tale of a desperate soul plagued by guilt, it’s actually pretty good. Most impressive, though, is the look of the film—Ford’s use of light and fog is particularly effective in conveying the bleak tone of the picture.

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer – The three leads (Gary Cooper, particularly) were quite good in this, but the storyline was a bit too sprawling and unfocused to hold my interest. The pacing, in particular, makes it feel like a much longer film than it actually is.

A Midsummer Night's Dream – A well-staged and great looking film, but I found Mickey Rooney’s performance so grating that reaching the end felt like surviving a hostage situation. Was there no one else available to play Puck?

Les Misérables – A fine, streamlined adaptation with a really great performance by Fredric March at its heart. Definitely one of the year’s best.

Mutiny on the Bounty – A very uneven film, I think. Charles Laughton’s over-the-top Captain Bligh did test my patience, but the sequences that focus on Gable and Tone—particularly once they reach Tahiti—were a lot of fun.

Naughty Marietta – Despite one good song and a few funny moments (the marionette theater sequence is worth seeing) there is not much to recommend here.

Ruggles of Red Gap – Charles Laughton seems to have been everywhere in 1935, but this was his most charming performance, in the funniest film of the lot. There is so much to love here that it really is a shame this one has yet to be released on DVD in the US. It deserves to be recognized as a comedy classic.

Top Hat – It’s hard to argue with the music and performances—particularly the “Cheek to Cheek” sequence—but the idiot-plot quickly grew tiresome. Still quite good, though, and certainly deserving of its nomination. Maybe I’ll like it more on a second viewing.

My vote: Ruggles of Red Gap
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#40 Post by reno dakota » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:59 pm

1939:

Dark Victory – A rather dull melodrama, saved only (and ever slightly) by Bette Davis’ performance. Goulding does the best he can with this material, I suppose, but the whole affair is overwrought and dreadfully paced.

Gone With the Wind – It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer scope and beauty of the production, even if the story goes off the melodramatic deep-end as the film climbs past its third hour. Though not the best film of its year, I certainly don’t begrudge it its Best Picture win.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips – If there is a single reason to see this film, it is Robert Donat’s tender and charming performance as Mr. Chips. Following him through over sixty years of his life and work at the Brookfield school was a delight, and the nostalgia the film evokes caught me off guard. Yes, the film is overly sentimental at times and a number of the supporting characters could have been better developed and integrated into the story, but I was so swept up by the film that, by the end, none of that mattered.

Love Affair – Did Leo McCarey ever make a bad film? (If he did, please don’t tell me.) After seeing Ruggles of Red Gap not long ago and being completely taken by it, here is yet another charmer. Dunne and Boyer are great together and the screenplay moves effortlessly from the light and breezy comedy of its first half to the more emotionally weighty material of its second. Its conclusion is perhaps a bit too neat and sentimental, but who cares?

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – I am probably going to be in the minority on this one, but I find this film overly didactic and simplistic in its presentation of high-level political corruption, though I do very much admire its driving sentiment. Perhaps it’s foolish to expect Capra to have infused this material with the subtlety it deserves, but I can’t help but think the picture would have been better—tougher, grittier and more honest—in the hands of another director. Still, the film is not without some great moments and very fine performances—particularly from Jean Arthur (throughout) and Harry Carey (smiling with delight during the filibuster sequences). Perhaps I will appreciate it more on a second viewing.

Ninotchka – This one is a little slow to get started, but once it does—and once Garbo arrives on screen—the film’s delightful comedic touches give way to a gentle romance. The final scene between Garbo and Douglas is particularly affecting. Overall, this is a very strong effort from Lubitsch that is certainly worth seeing.

Of Mice and Men – A decent adaptation, well-written and photographed, but it lacks the gentle focus and pacing of Steinbeck’s novel. Worth seeing, though, if you can get your hands on it.

Stagecoach – A truly great film. The real achievement here, I think, is the way Ford moves effortlessly between sequences of pure adrenaline and the more intimate scenes that flesh out the characters, without sacrificing any of the energy that makes the film so enjoyable. And, I have to say, John Wayne’s first moment on screen is a thing of beauty.

The Wizard of Oz – This is a film that reminds me of my childhood, but one that I find I like a great deal less these days. Seeing it again—for the first time in over twenty years—I realized that, while I no longer particularly care for either the acting or the music, the film still has a warmth and charm about it that is undeniable.

Wuthering Heights – A fine adaptation that is neither compelling nor dull. The pacing is quick, the performances are emotionally on target, and Toland’s work behind the camera is quite beautiful, but somehow the film’s cumulative effect was rather underwhelming. My first viewing was not long ago, but my memory of it is already beginning to fade.

My vote: Stagecoach
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#41 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:46 am

reno dakota wrote:Did Leo McCarey ever make a bad film? (If he did, please don’t tell me.)
SpoilerShow
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys certainly comes to mind

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#42 Post by reno dakota » Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:50 am

domino harvey wrote:
reno dakota wrote:Did Leo McCarey ever make a bad film? (If he did, please don’t tell me.)
SpoilerShow
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys certainly comes to mind
And Going My Way as well, apparently. Maybe I'll just stick with his pre-1940s films.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#43 Post by reno dakota » Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:15 pm

1927-28:

Unique and Artistic Picture
Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness – I’ve seen few documentaries that can compete with the wild and raw energy of this one, or that made me fear more for the lives of those involved (How did the cast and crew manage to survive some of those scenes?). Beautifully filmed—in the middle of a jungle, apparently—and a lot of fun as well.

The Crowd – An expertly crafted urban drama that is so finely observed and richly detailed that it feels almost epic. It’s astounding to me that this vibrant and moving film, which is certainly one of the gems of American silent cinema, is still not available on DVD in the US.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans – Masterful and sublime, I’m sure this film needs no introduction or defense in this forum.

My vote for "Unique and Artistic Picture": Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Outstanding Production
The Racket – A decent gangster film that is well-acted and nicely paced, but it lacks the energy and depth of Milestone’s better films.

Seventh Heaven – Is it possible for Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell to be anything less than utterly compelling when on screen together? I loved every moment of the delicate negotiation of their living arrangement, and the tender ways in which they express their growing affection for one another. As implausible as the last ten minutes or so are, Farrell’s final climb up the seven flights of stairs had me on the edge of my seat.

Wings – It’s rare, I think, to find a story about a love triangle that is as much about the friendship between the rival men as it is about their attempts to win the girl (Jules and Jim is another that comes to mind), but we have that here. I enjoyed the way the competitiveness between Rogers and Arlen slowly transformed into a rich friendship—their final scene together is among the most moving expressions of male love I have ever seen on screen—and I found Clara Bow very charming in her refusal to give up hope of getting what she wanted. This may not be the best film in the category—or even this subcategory—but it is a fully satisfying picture nonetheless.

My vote for "Outstanding Production": Seventh Heaven

My vote for the year: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Last edited by reno dakota on Sat May 16, 2009 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#44 Post by movielocke » Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:58 pm

1953

From Here to Eternity - a film that deserves a revisit from me. But I found it overlong, and not terribly compelling last time, probably better than I give it credit for.

Julius Caesar - I love the way that Mankiewicz does a lot with this adaptation, its very solid and well done.

The Robe - Over the top, over long, and just not very interesting at all. Richard Burton does his best, but even he can't save horrible lines like, "Were you! Out There!?" LMAO

Roman Holiday - another film I should revisit, classy, entertaining and well done all over.

Shane - A solid respectable western, but never one I've been a huge fan of, good, but not great, imo.

My vote, Roman Holiday

2. Shane
3. Julius Caesar
4. From Here to Eternity
5. The Robe
Last edited by movielocke on Sat May 16, 2009 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#45 Post by reno dakota » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:19 pm

1928-29:

Alibi – I like the look of this film, but the writing and acting are tedious and its use of sound borders on the inept. This one was apparently released in both sound and silent versions. Too bad we’re left with only the sound one.

The Broadway Melody – A rather dull affair. The film comes alive during the musical numbers, but there is just not enough music to drive things along. Not a good film, but more entertaining than some of the other nominees.

The Hollywood Revue of 1929 – An oddity among these nominees in that it’s a film with no overall narrative. What we get instead is a series of comedic skits (most of them agonizingly unfunny) and musical numbers (some elaborately staged, but mostly unremarkable). Unless you’re an Oscar completist, there is really no reason to see this film.

In Old Arizona – 95 cringe-inducing minutes. I cannot think of a single compliment I can pay this film. How Warner Baxter won the Best Actor award for this is beyond me.

The Patriot – Lost.

My vote: Alibi was probably the least painful of the lot, but there is no joy at all in selecting it as the best of the nominees. May I vote for The Patriot instead? It can’t possibly be worse than any of the others.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#46 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:22 am

How I hope HerrSchreck ends up in this thread.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#47 Post by reno dakota » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:53 am

Cold Bishop wrote:How I hope HerrSchreck ends up in this thread.
Why HerrSchreck, particularly?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#48 Post by reno dakota » Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:02 pm

1929-30:

All Quiet on the Western Front – I doubt I need to go to great lengths to defend this one in this forum, but I will say that I think it is one of the best films ever recognized by the Academy in the Best Picture category. It’s sprawling and visceral, but also intimate and compassionate, and as poignant as any war film I’ve ever seen.

The Big House – This one reminded me a bit of Dassin’s Brute Force, though it’s not as gritty or (ultimately) as bleak. It’s pretty good, as prison dramas go, but it might have had an even greater impact had it spent more time developing the dynamic of the three central characters—the Beery and Morris characters are fairly well drawn, but the Montgomery character seems to fade into the background in most of his scenes. Even so, this is still a compelling work worthy of its nomination.

Disraeli – George Arliss is the one bright spot in this terribly banal film, which has the look and feel of a chamber play performed by a company of amateur historical reenactors. For all the tension and political intrigue that the narrative is supposed to be illuminating, I found the writing stale and the direction rather inert.

The Divorcee – A good romantic drama, with a healthy dose of pre-code salaciousness and plenty of screen chemistry between Norma Shearer and Chester Morris. Though it deals with some heavy subject-matter, there is quite a bit of humor along the way, particularly from Zelda Sears’ character. Her line about her date with the butcher is priceless.

The Love Parade – A lively and very entertaining early musical from Lubitsch. The plot is involving and the music compliments the story rather well. but it’s the witty dialogue and alluring performance from Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald that make this one a real treat.

My vote: All Quiet on the Western Front

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#49 Post by domino harvey » Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:49 pm

1950
All About Eve
One of the best Best Picture winners, Mankiewicz serves up a surprisingly acidic commentary on fame and ambition. The last ten minutes rank among the greatest endings Hollywood ever produced. Mank's later retread, the Barefoot Contessa, is quite good as well. Anne Baxter steals the show, both in the film and in the film.

Born Yesterday Lives and dies with Judy Holliday's performance, though William Holden is better here than usual. A little bit of Holliday's moll goes a long way, but the film gives the audience much more than just a little bit. However, the picture's fairly harmless and often quite cute, so I'll call it a wash.

Father of the Bride Spencer Tracy gives a riotous comedic performance as the titular character that propels the film along charmingly. A very "small" but immensely likable film, the sort Hollywood could still make before TV took over.

King Solomon's Mines I'm a little spoiled on this by coming to it after having seen Hatari! and Mogambo, but this African safari adventure certainly maintains a healthy degree of inquisitiveness about its surroundings and it all looks quite beautiful, even if it lacks the subtext of the Hawks and Ford pictures.

Sunset Blvd. I had a professor who claimed that most people either like Sunset Blvd or the Bad and the Beautiful, but rarely both. Ain't it the truth! Give me Minnelli's brutal cynicism on the industry over Wilder's clumsy mishandling of a great idea anytime. I literally cannot understand people who prefer this film to the later Minnelli picture, it is beyond my comprehension.

My Vote: All About Eve


1959
This year's nominees are some of the longest for any Oscar year, with the average for the five films clocking in at two hours and forty-five minutes. Plan accordingly!

Anatomy of a Murder The only Preminger film to be nommed for Best Picture (He was at least twice nominated for Best Director-- not for this one though!) is a bit of a mixed bag. I suspect it will win this year on the board, but to me it's a minor Preminger film that works very well in its trial scenes but never quite pulls off the surrounding moments. For a film that takes its time so effectively, it all sort of peters out at the end without quite hitting the high note it could have rung. Stewart and particularly Scott are quite good, but the rummy second-chair was a regrettable addition to the already full lineup.

Ben-Hur I'd somehow gone my whole life without seeing this before, so I was curious to finally experience all those moments that have entered the public consciousness. The rowing sequence, with its tight and effective editing, was indeed a tour de force, but the chariot race didn't do much for me. I was surprised at how much was still left of the film after it concluded. Everything wrong about this film can be summed up in how Wyler pushes the passion of Jesus Christ to the b-story in order to fit in sequences of Heston belching.

the Diary of Anne Frank Stevens' film starts out promisingly enough, but once Millie Perkins shows up as the titular diarist, it all goes downhill quick-- she is worse than awful, but she's not the only one. The actor playing the father seems to be the only one in the film to understand how the story should have been played. Stevens populates the picture with colorful moments and characters, but this is completely the wrong approach. The banal existence of living in such a small space for such a long period of time, the inability to move or even go to the bathroom for ten hours out of the day-- these hindrances to their existence are mentioned in passing but rarely experienced. Hiding from the Nazis becomes a minor annoyance. I hope whoever thought it was a good idea to include a comic relief character to pitch elderly witticisms got a paper cut every time they picked up the book.

the Nun's Story If you'd have told me beforehand that I'd be voting for a Fred Zinnemann film, I'd have called you crazy. I still might. But for the first hour and a half at least, this film in no way resembles a typical Zinnemann trainwreck. This is likely due to his unsure handle on the religious material-- by refusing to take a side on the strong religious ceremonial aspects, the film becomes a stunning formalist exercise, one where the religious acts serve as their own indictment and defense. Unfortunately, Zinnemann gets a chance to be terrible for about forty minutes in the middle when Hepburn goes to Africa and sinfully contemplates first base with Peter Finch. But the film rights itself in the end and the overall impression remains surprisingly strong.

Room at the Top I'm not really sure what this is doing here. I guess the Oscars desperately wanted to seem hip so this is their token "We don't quite get what we're nominating" tip of the hat to emerging British New Wave. At best a pretty average entry in the movement, the film walked off with a Best Actress award for Signoret-- a perfect example of the Oscars' tendency to reward characters they feel sorry for with awards rather than the actors behind them.

My Vote: the Nun's Story

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#50 Post by reno dakota » Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:43 pm

1931-32:

Arrowsmith – A good film, but a bit of a dramatic slow-burn. The screenplay is unremarkable, but solid, apart from a small misstep near the end (I’m thinking of the cigarette that’s in the wrong place at the wrong time), and Ford’s direction serves this material well enough, but it’s Ronald Colman’s fine performance that carries the film and provides its emotional center. Also noteworthy is an appearance by Myrna Loy in a small role near the end.

Bad Girl – A decent domestic drama. It’s well-written, with good performances from Sally Eilers and James Dunn in the central roles, but the cumulative effect is somewhat underwhelming. Enjoyable, nonetheless, even if it never quite lives up to Borzage’s silent works.

The Champ – Another impressive and very affecting film from Vidor. The story is a simple one—the day-to-day struggles of an aging prizefighter and his precocious son—but the emotional performances from Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper, and Vidor’s sensitive direction, make this one a memorable and satisfying experience.

Five Star Final – This material might have come to life in the hands of someone else, but LeRoy’s uninspired direction is the film’s undoing. He doesn’t get much out of his actors (the film’s ghastly screenplay no doubt shares some of the blame), and the languid pace of the story doesn’t help matters. There are certainly great films about the inner workings of the newspaper business, but this is not one of them.

Grand Hotel – A rather mediocre effort from Goulding that, with its ensemble cast and multiple story lines, reminded me a bit of an Altman film (though without the usual energy and depth). Aside from some lavish sets and good performances from Joan Crawford and John Barrymore, there is little worth praising here.

One Hour With You – Another delightful comedy musical from Lubitsch and a remake of his own 1924 film The Marriage Circle. Although the story and music are not quite as engaging here as they were in The Love Parade, Maurice Chevalier’s playful performance provides a lot of laughs, as does Charles Ruggles as the love-sick, socially awkward best friend. Not as good as the original, but still worth seeing.

Shanghai Express – A great, tightly constructed and immensely atmospheric film from von Sternberg, showcasing one of Marlene Dietrich’s most sultry performances. This one is wonderful from start to finish.

The Smiling Lieutenant – Similar to One Hour with You in its light and breezy tone and funny, self-aware performance from Chevalier, but the addition of Miriam Hopkins to the mix was a nice touch. Though I do enjoy the Chevalier/MacDonald pairings, Hopkins and Chevalier are very appealing together as well, particularly in the latter half of the film.

My vote: Shanghai Express

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