The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Post Reply
Message
Author
PillowRock
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:54 pm

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

#101 Post by PillowRock » Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:02 pm

reno dakota wrote:In Which We Serve – A surprising good film and an interesting portrait of wartime Britain. The early sequences, which focus on the mechanics of a battleship under siege,
Doubtless many will say this is pointless trivia in this context, but whatever it may be worth ......

Referring to a destroyer as a battleship is a bit like referring to a jeep with a machine gun mount as a tank.

User avatar
reno dakota
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:30 am

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

#102 Post by reno dakota » Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:26 pm

Thanks for your nitpicking, PillowRock. I stand corrected, as does my post. Now would you like to comment about the film itself?

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#103 Post by movielocke » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:09 pm

I've only got 8 films left unseen from the 40s and five of them are from 1943. :-p But I am a Casablanca partisan. I came to that from the opposite direction as you though. the first time I was impressed, but not blown away. the second time I saw it, a few years later, I thought, "hmm, this is actually pretty great." Then the next time I saw it a year or so later and on the big screen, I was thunderstruck, then I saw it on the big screen again and was even more impressed (and it finally worked its way into my top ten); I like it more and more each time I revisit it, rather on home video or seen properly.

nighthawk4486
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:19 pm

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

#104 Post by nighthawk4486 » Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:52 pm

1954

On the Waterfront - #1 on the year - to me, hands down the best film of the year - the best acting, the best script - just a great story no matter what the underlying allegory is - this time Brando won and Malden didn't - but as with Streetcar, they both should have won - it went 8 for 12 at the Oscars - goes 8 for 13 with me, with Malden winning but no win for Art Direction

The Caine Mutiny - #7 on the year - solid **** - great Bogart performance

The Country Girl - #8 on the year - low-level **** - great performances from Kelly and Crosby - good job of not making it seem like a filmed play

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - #42 on the year - mid *** - I know some people really love it, but it is one of my least favorite of all of the "classic" musicals

Three Coins in the Fountain - #52 on the year - **.5 - lame film where I really didn't care about any of the characters

my top 5
#1 - On the Waterfront
#2 - Rear Window
#3 - A Star is Born
#4 - Forbidden Games
#5 - Sabrina


my GG:
Drama - On the Waterfront, Rear Window. Forbidden Games, Gate of Hell, The Caine Mutiny
Comedy - A Star is Born, Sabrina, Hobson's Choice, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Genevieve

to see:
NONE! - I've actually seen all the 1954 Oscar nominees

1955

Marty - #29 on the year - mid *** - I remember the scene in Quiz Show when Herb Stempel doesn't want to go out on Marty because he loved it and saw it three times and thinking why? - it's so over-rated - just an okay film with okay performances - can't understand how it won any of its four oscars

Mr. Roberts - #2 on the year - great film with great performances - I did finally see The Trial and I thought Kennedy was great, but I think Lemmon's performance here is truly magnificent - possibly the greatest ending line to a film ever

Picnic - #6 on the year - just barely a **** film - this would be lower in a lot of years, but 1955 is a pretty weak year - I know many of you don't like Picnic, but I liked it quite a bit - though it's been a long time since I've seen it - thought O'Connell and Russell were fantastic, though Holden wasn't up to his usual snuff and the other females were pretty bad - I liked the story as I had liked the play and felt it was a good example of how to open up a play rather than just filming it

The Rose Tattoo - #18 on the year - barely a ***.5 film - Magnini is magnificent (definitely deserved the Oscar) and I always liked Lancaster, unlike Stanley Kauffmann (just read his fantastic A World on Film, which I highly recommend - he thought Lancaster was a truly awful actor)

Love is a Many Splendored Thing - oh, dear lord, how did this sentimental crap get nominated over East of Eden (which won Best Picture - Drama at the Globes) - I am a big Holden fan, but this is just a ridiculously stupid film - **.5 - #55 on the year

my top 5:
#1 - Rebel without a Cause (Dean also wins Best Actor from me for this, not East)
#2 - Mr. Roberts
#3 - Bad Day at Black Rock (best film Tracy ever did)
#4 - To Catch a Thief
#5 - East of Eden

my globes:
Drama - Rebel without a Cause / Bad Day at Black Rock / East of Eden / Picnic / Man with the Golden Arm
Comedy - Mr. Roberts / To Catch a Thief / Lady and the Tramp / Mr. Hulot's Holiday / The Trouble with Harry

nominees I need to see:
Private War of Major Benson
Rains of Ranchipur
Unchained


1956

ah, the year of the bloated epics

Around the World in 80 Days - lightly enjoyable, but it won because of its spectacle, not because of its quality - *** - #27 on the year

The King and I - at #13 with ***.5, the only one of the five nominees I rate high enough to technically qualify (to get in the conversation for me you need to be **** or ***.5 - the same for Foreign and Animated) - very enjoyable and Brynner and Kerr are great (though Olivier should have won and I also rank Douglas higher than Brynner) - I'm not a big fan of the songs, but the film is good enough that it doesn't bother me

Giant - #29 on the year - mid *** - amazing spectacle, but given how much Ioved James Dean in Rebel and Eden, I was so disappointed in this film, and Hudson and Taylor aren't particularly good

Friendly Persuasion - #40 on the year - lower level *** - the least epic of the nominees, but still too long - this is the kind of film that Cooper and Wyler could do in their sleep - nothing really stood out for me from this film

The 10 Commandments - unlike Song of Bernadette or Nun's Story, I don't pass off my dislike of this film to religious disinterest - this really is a mediocre film at best - even the original DeMille film was a much better film - this is just bloated spectacle with ridiculous performances all around, truly awful dialogue, mediocre direction - yes, the effects are good and it deserved a Visual Effects nomination, but it should have lost to Forbidden Planet and didn't deserve any other nominations - **.5 - #59 on the year

my top 5:
#1 - The Seven Samurai (eligible and nominated for Art Direction and Costume Design)
#2 - The Searchers - the great Western that got 0 noms while Giant got 10
#3 - The Killing - the first great Kubrick film - also 0 noms
#4 - Richard III - Olivier's best performance
#5 - Forbidden Planet - truly great Sci-Fi film

my globes:
Drama - the five listed above
Comedy - The Ladykillers / The King and I (all that I rate high enough)

need to see still:
The Bold and the Brave
The Proud and the Beautiful
Stagecoach to Fury
Best Things in Life are Free
The Power and the Prize
Qivitoq
(ah, the Foreign films begin - they account for half of my remaining films after 1956)

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#105 Post by movielocke » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:30 am

1942 was a very good year for nominees.

49th Parallel (aka The Invaders) – an excellent Powell and Pressburger film about some Nazis trying to get through Canada into the States. Excellent supporting performances all around.

Kings Row – Ronald Reagan is very good in this film which has a surprisingly meandering, almost experimental narrative as it sketches the life of a doctor, his best friend, the two girls who love the best friend and the girl who loves the doctor. It’s surprisingly complicated but rather simple, very effective and compelling.

The Magnificent Ambersons – I remember very little about this film other than a fancy ball and a carriage ride—it was very pretty but I wasn’t bored.

Mrs. Miniver – Exceptional war melodrama with excellent performances left and right and a marvelous story to accompany it, the haunting scene in the family’s air raid shelter is especially emblazoned upon my memory, as well as Pidgeon’s return from rescuing the men at Dunkirk.

The Pied Piper – A fairly slight Fox prestige film, Roddy McDowell is very good, as is the old man, but the standout is Otto Preminger chewing the scenery near the end of the film.

Pride of the Yankees – a very entertaining and satisfying programmer with Coop giving one of his finest performances, Gehrig’s final speech is one of the most effective and iconic moments there is—and incredibly powerful in a theatre.

Random Harvest – A solid romance that rises above the typical weepy.

Talk of the Town – Wonderful screwball comedy with some heft to circumstances. Love the perforamances and script.

Wake Island – More explosions per minute than any other film, and a bit too earnest for a film that happily professes that any resemblance to actual individuals on Wake is entirely coincidental. :-/ Becomes rather repetitive and tiresome after a while, which is a nice effect considering the unrelenting shelling the island was subjected to.

Yankee Doodle Dandy – Cagney’s greatest role, and imo, his finest performance, the film itself is damn near epic in tracing the history of vaudeville and theatre as Cohen rose to prominence, one I need to rewatch soon.

My vote: Yankee Doodle Dandy
2. Mrs. Miniver
3. 49th Parallel
4. Pride of the Yankees
5. Talk of the Town
6. Kings Row
7. Magnificent Ambersons
8. Random Harvest
9. Pied Piper
10. Wake Island

User avatar
reno dakota
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:30 am

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

#106 Post by reno dakota » Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:55 am

movielocke wrote:. . . I am a Casablanca partisan. I came to that from the opposite direction as you though. the first time I was impressed, but not blown away. the second time I saw it, a few years later, I thought, "hmm, this is actually pretty great." Then the next time I saw it a year or so later and on the big screen, I was thunderstruck, then I saw it on the big screen again and was even more impressed (and it finally worked its way into my top ten); I like it more and more each time I revisit it, rather on home video or seen properly.
I get the impression that yours is the more common reaction to repeated viewings of this film, but I wanted to be honest about my reaction in my post (and attempt to explain it as best I could). I will be shocked, though, if Casablanca does not win its year in our eventual vote.

movielocke wrote: The Magnificent Ambersons – I remember very little about this film other than a fancy ball and a carriage ride—it was very pretty but I wasn’t bored.
How long has it been since you've seen this one? If it's been ages, then you owe yourself a revisit, if for no other reason than to allow it a chance to climb ahead of Talk of the Town in your ranking!

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#107 Post by movielocke » Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:19 pm

How long has it been since you've seen this one? If it's been ages, then you owe yourself a revisit, if for no other reason than to allow it a chance to climb ahead of Talk of the Town in your ranking!

hmm I last saw it in 2003 or 2004, but yeah it's high on a list of films I need to rewatch, I told myself at the time that I'd next watch it on dvd, and well that decision hasn't worked out so well. It did take me about six viewings before I loved Citizen Kane without reservations so Ambersons probably deserves a revisit as well.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

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

#108 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:55 pm

nighthawk4486 wrote: On the Waterfront - #1 on the year - to me, hands down the best film of the year - the best acting, the best script - just a great story no matter what the underlying allegory is - this time Brando won and Malden didn't - but as with Streetcar, they both should have won - it went 8 for 12 at the Oscars - goes 8 for 13 with me, with Malden winning but no win for Art Direction
Fantasy baseball leagues ain't got nothing on this thread!

nighthawk4486
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:19 pm

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

#109 Post by nighthawk4486 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:00 am

I've been going through multiple years at a time so I can finish before I leave town in mid-august for three weeks on the road, but today, I'm focusing on one year because it deserves the attention.

1957

In response to an article in the Boston Globe on how 1939 is the greatest year in film history (this idea just will not die), I wrote a letter which was printed this last Sunday on how 1957 is in fact the greatest year in film history (you can read it in more detail here: http://nighthawknews.wordpress.com/2008 ... h-of-1939/ a post which I wrote over a year ago.

First, there are the great films which were eligible in 1957, which I will get to in a minute. But what makes 1957 so much better is the presence of international film. In 1957, released around the world are two of Bergman's greatest films (Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries), one of Kurosawa's greatest films (Throne of Blood), Fellini's best film (Nights of Cabiria), the greatest Russian film not made by Eisenstein (The Cranes are Flying), Visconti's best film (White Nights) and a fantastic Satyajit Ray film (Aparajito). And in Britain we had the first of the Hammer Horror films, one of the most enjoyable group of films around. And that's before we even look at the actual films that were eligible for the Oscars.

Bridge on the River Kwai - #1 on the year - one of my top 20 of all-time - I absolutely agree with all the Oscars it got

12 Angry Men - #5 on the year - solid **** - the more I watch this film, the more I'm impressed with Henry Fonda and wonder that he went 41 years between Oscar nominations, ignoring this and Mr. Roberts and Once Upon a Time in the West

Witness for the Prosecution - #7 on the year - a **** Billy Wilder film that finishes no higher than 7th with a great Laughton performance that ends up in fifth place on my Best Actor list shows how great a year it was

Sayonara - low *** - #55 on the year - of course, a great year doesn't mean the Academy got it right - ridiculous melodrama with a weaker performance by Brando that didn't really deserve a nomination over Fonda

Peyton Place - **.5 - #59 - an even more ridiculous film than Sayonara - the acting was solid, but the film is so badly dated and really just wasn't that good to begin with

my top 5:
#1 - Bridge on the River Kwai
#2 - Paths of Glory - the unluckiest film in my entire awards files - it comes in second place in Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Cinematography and Sound, all to Bridge - it gets no wins - but it is one hell of a film and in my top 40 of all-time - my father used to show this film in class every year
#3 - Smiles of a Summer Night - the brilliant Bergman film that was eligible
#4 - Sweet Smell of Success - brilliant dark film that like Paths got 0 noms
#5 - 12 Angry Men

my Globes include Nights of Cabiria in Drama with Smiles and the Czech version of Good Soldier Schweik being the only comedies good enough

but of course there were other great films as well that year - Anthony Mann's Tin Star, Dreyer's Ordet, Kazan's A Face in the Crowd

nominees I still need to see:
Gates of Paris
Perri
Nine Lives

User avatar
reno dakota
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:30 am

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

#110 Post by reno dakota » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:23 am

1944:

Double Indemnity – A finely crafted film that manages to spin some rather grim material into an exciting entertainment. I had a lot of fun following the tightly plotted story as it unfolded, and Barbara Stanwyck’s performance is wonderfully sultry and alluring. Despite the film’s strengths, I do have one quibble concerning the voiceover/flashback framing device. For a screenplay that is so concerned with details—make that plausible details—the time and place of MacMurray’s delivery of the narration struck me as very strange and unlikely. Nonetheless, Wilder’s film is a very deserving nominee, even though Preminger’s Laura is the noir film that ought to have been recognized from this year.

Gaslight – A dark and atmospheric film from Cukor that, in a number of ways, feels like it could have been directed by Hitchcock. The screenplay is masterful in its steady pacing and slow revelation of crucial details, and the performances are just right for this sort of material. Charles Boyer, who is perfectly unnerving in his role, deserves a fair amount of the credit for the film’s mysterious and tension-filled texture, but the confining sets and tightly controlled camerawork also contribute a great deal to the suffocating mood the film evokes.

Going My Way – A real misfire from McCarey. There is craft here, but no spark to animate any of it. There is no urgency in the narrative and it never feels like there is anything at stake, despite the story ostensibly concerning a financial crisis within the church. And then there are the side-plots that go nowhere and the music that serves only to distract us from the film’s lack of narrative substance. At one point, a publisher listens to the title song and concludes that “It doesn’t say enough. It hasn’t got that, uh . . . .” That about sums up this film as well.

Since You Went Away – A remarkably assured and inspired piece of filmmaking that struck me as a sort of Little Women for the World War age. The writing is skillful in the way that it balances delicate and joyous coming-of-age material with the more somber realities of living through a war. And the story itself is anchored by some really fine performances, particularly from Jennifer Jones, and an intimate tone that runs throughout. I did find the last few minutes a bit too jarring, given the bittersweet conclusion that seemed to be in store, but this final shift in tone didn’t dampen my appreciation of the film.

Wilson – A bloated and bloodless biopic. Everything about it feels compulsory, from its stale writing and passionless performances, to its patriotic soundtrack, which swells to accentuate each historically significant detail as it passes by. I knew I was in for a long sit when the film bogged down only half an hour in, during its long convention sequence. I think we’re supposed to get swept up in the political zeal of this material, but it is so labored that the energy just goes right out of the picture. And then the film drones on for another two hours, coming to life only briefly once the war begins, but never does it rise to the level of compelling storytelling.

My vote: Gaslight

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#111 Post by movielocke » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:54 pm

1943

An extremely excellent year of nominees for Hollywood, including one of their finest winners (and my choice as well)

Casablanca – a masterpiece I warmed to more on each viewing, the longer I live the more impressive the film becomes.

For Whom the Bell Tolls – a solid, overly big color spectacle. Hollywood manages to dumb down the Spanish civil war a bit (I wonder if WB would have been bolder and used the f word (fascist)), but Bergman is terrific and Coop is memorable, if a bit too much of a cowboy (and out of place) in my reckoning.

Heaven Can Wait – another Lubitsch film that’s so damn good its basically perfect. The elopement is particularly impressive, as is the aging and framing device. Lovely story.

The Human Comedy – a film that surprised me because I loathe Mickey Rooney in this era, but he actually delivers what is probably his strongest performance in this homefront film. As a homefront film its not that great, but it has some scenes that retain their impact, such as with the Spanish mother. Frank Morgan lends some gravitas and humor just in the doses it needs. The film rather ineffectively missteps when it goes over the top in the end.

In Which We Serve – I’m still amazed by the Soviet montage style opening of this film, as though its out of a Vertov film as we follow the birth of a modern warship. The rest of the film is top notch and often breathtaking.

Madame Curie – having once dated a research chemist I adored this film. The geekiness of the two lead characters absolutely charmed me, and the proposal scene I found to be particularly enchanting.

The More the Merrier – This is a tremendous romantic comedy that’s brilliant from start to finish, without even the love triangle that the title seems to suggest. But the supporting cast is brilliant and the direction is absolutely exceptional and impeccable. One expects comedy direction this sophisticated from Wilder, McCarey or Lubitsch, but I’d forgotten Stevens could more than hold his own with them.

The Ox-Bow Incident – This is a haunting and dark western noir of sorts, Henry Fonda was in top form here, and The photography and direction are particularly memorable. One I need to revisit as I’ve never watched the DVD I bought (which I purchased shortly after it came out, lol).

The Song of Bernadette – This was the favorite to win everything in 1943 but although a solid and affecting film it certainly is not as good as the film which upset it. Jennifer Jones is fabulous in the film, but King’s direction is anemic and perfunctory. The supporting cast and solid script contribute to what is a very enjoyable and fascinating story. The film would be laughed off the screen today for actually showing what Bernadette saw, but this is probably the strongest (and most surprising) decision in the film.

Watch on the Rhine – A Bette Davis film where she is merely a costar. Paul Lukas dominates here, but Davis is very interesting in all her scenes and her fine ‘a lonely life’ speech at the end. Hellman’s story waffles between being on-the-nose and brilliantly incisive—I think a villain which is too much like a cartoon is the film’s biggest weakness, as is the indulgent and stupid decision to have the children be written as “annoying” as a “joke”. The children just come across as utterly false and discordant. Every single line reading by one of the children never failed to throw me completely out of the film. Still, the film’s bold, heart-on-the-sleeve anti-fascist stand is tremendous to hear, with some truly fine political speechifying.

My Vote: Casablanca
2. In Which We Serve
3. The More the Merrier
4. The Ox-Bow Incident
5. Heaven Can Wait
6. Madame Curie
7. Song of Bernadette
8. For Whom the Bell Tolls
9. Watch on the Rhine
10. The Human Comedy

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#112 Post by movielocke » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:20 pm

1949
Three great films, two middling films with good elements.

All the King’s Men – an impressive polemic and screed against the corrupting stain of politics. As Frank Herbert corrected the famous saying: “Power attracts the absolutely corruptible.”

Battleground – a fantastic film about men at the Battle of the Bulge. The ending, as the crippled and crushed men shuffle themselves into parade formation and march out to a sound-off is a great and earned moment. Stereotypes? Yes, but this film helped define the iconography that established those stereotypes for later generation, and it’s fucking brilliant at what it does in embedding the hurly burly lost and won existence in Bastogne.

The Heiress – the only film from this year I’ve seen on film and I found it a tedious, frightful bore. Pretty photography and costumes, terrible story and repulsive ugly characters. It’s a good thing I didn’t watch this on video I’d have gone nuts trying to sit still and not fast forward.

A Letter to Three Wives – Mankiewicz delivers one of his finest screenplays with a complex script that seems a dry-run for All About Eve which will closely echo this film in multiple ways. The performances here are not quite as good as the latter film, but it’s still a knockout terrific film.

Twelve O’Clock High – a masterpiece on leadership, Gregory Peck has only been better in one film, imo. The film had me fascinated and on the edge of my seat from almost the first frame.

My vote—this is a tough one, I randomly scored Twelve O’Clock High and Battleground about the same (and Wives a bit lower) but I’m going to go with my gut here and say Twelve O’Clock High because I think it remains more relevant, while Battleground may be a hair more powerful experientially, Twelve O’Clock High has more powerful ideas and execution, imo.
2. Battleground
3. A Letter to Three Wives
4. All the King’s Men
5. The Heiress
Last edited by movielocke on Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#113 Post by movielocke » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:54 pm

reno dakota wrote:1944:
Since You Went Away – A remarkably assured and inspired piece of filmmaking that struck me as a sort of Little Women for the World War age. The writing is skillful in the way that it balances delicate and joyous coming-of-age material with the more somber realities of living through a war. And the story itself is anchored by some really fine performances, particularly from Jennifer Jones, and an intimate tone that runs throughout. I did find the last few minutes a bit too jarring, given the bittersweet conclusion that seemed to be in store, but this final shift in tone didn’t dampen my appreciation of the film.
I agree with this completely and was thoroughly surprised and delighted by the film. Of course I also disagree with you on Wilson, the conventions were some of my favorite parts of the film (such a history nerd), what with the songs and backroom deals and so on, whets my appetite for Spielberg's Lincoln which has the possibility (though unlikely) of featuring the insanity of the 1860 convention. I have every intention of using some birthday money to buy a biography of Wilson, because after seeing the film I want to know more about him.

I also agree that Laura is better than Double Indemnity, though both should have been nominated, rather than just Laura.

User avatar
Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

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

#114 Post by Matt » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:08 pm

movielocke wrote:The Heiress – the only film from this year I’ve seen on film and I found it a tedious, frightful bore.
Say whaaaaaat?
movielocke wrote:Pretty photography and costumes, terrible story and repulsive ugly characters.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the ugliness of its characters (and how they snuff out the only bit of goodness in the title character) is pretty much the whole point of the story. I think this suffered from being a far subtler film than the rest in your batch from that year. Give it some time, go back to it, and pay more attention to de Havilland's performance. She completely earned his Oscar for this film.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

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

#115 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:15 pm

I seriously don't know how anyone who saw the Song of Bernadette could ever say that "King’s direction is anemic and perfunctory"-- and then turn around and praise King's completely artless Wilson!

nighthawk4486
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:19 pm

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

#116 Post by nighthawk4486 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:49 pm

movielocke wrote:1949

The Heiress – the only film from this year I’ve seen on film and I found it a tedious, frightful bore. Pretty photography and costumes, terrible story and repulsive ugly characters. It’s a good thing I didn’t watch this on video I’d have gone nuts trying to sit still and not fast forward.

Twelve O’Clock High – a masterpiece on leadership, Gregory Peck has only been better in one film, imo. The film had me fascinated and on the edge of my seat from almost the first frame.
You found The Heiress a bore but you were on the edge of your seat with 12 O'Clock High? Seriously?

I agree with Domino. I've seen 18 Henry King films and the only one of his BP nominees that is good is State Fair. The rest are okay at best (incl. Song, Wilson and 12 O'Clock). His only films that rise about *** are The Gunfighter and The Bravados.

Watched Best Years of Our Lives today so I could write about it for my William Wyler post in my top 100 Directors series and can never say too many good things about that film. I watched the scene where March comes home four times straight.

User avatar
reno dakota
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:30 am

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

#117 Post by reno dakota » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:58 pm

nighthawk4486 wrote: I agree with Domino. I've seen 18 Henry King films and the only one of his BP nominees that is good is State Fair.
Actually, I don't think you agree with domino.

nighthawk4486
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:19 pm

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

#118 Post by nighthawk4486 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:10 pm

reno dakota wrote:
nighthawk4486 wrote: I agree with Domino. I've seen 18 Henry King films and the only one of his BP nominees that is good is State Fair.
Actually, I don't think you agree with domino.
Touche.

nighthawk4486
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:19 pm

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

#119 Post by nighthawk4486 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:20 pm

1958

Gigi - I hate this film. Seriously. Find it ridiculous. Don't think it deserved any of its Oscars (even song - I would give it the AA for Best Song but for "I Remember It Well" not "Gigi"). I don't think it's a bad film - just a relentlessly mediocre one that can't be saved by good supporting performances from Chevalier and Gingold (they deserved noms and didn't get them). - **. - #55 on the year

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - easily the best of the nominees - Taylor should have won, Newman was the best of the nominees by far (the only one of the nominees to make my top 5 for Actor) and Ives should have won for this, not Big Country - my #3 of the year - very solid ****

The Defiant Ones - maybe the best of the Stanley Kramer films - a surprise to watch this and Sweet Smell and Captain Newman and remember that Tony Curtis could act - very good film but not quite great - ***.5 - #9 on the year

Separate Tables - very solid film, but still only *** with very good acting all around - though I think Lancaster was better than Niven - and Deborah Kerr was great as always

Auntie Mame - barely a *** film - the Russell performance (which is quite good) doesn't move the ridiculous material above average - #47 on the year

my top 5:
#1 - The Seventh Seal
#2 - Touch of Evil
(the only year to have two of my top 20 all-time films)
#3 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
#4 - Vertigo
(I'm not a huge fan, but this isn't a great year)
#5 - Death of a Cyclist (the next English language film is Bravados at #8)

my Globes are the above films with Mon Oncle the only comedy good enough to merit mention

haven't seen:
The Goddess
Mardi Gras
A Time to Love and a Time to Die
A Certain Smile
Arms and the Man
The Road a Year Long


1959

Ben-Hur - "Ben-Hur cost $15 million, and in my opinion is worth it. I wish I owned a small piece of it; it is obviously the best business venture since General Motors." Stanley Kauffmann The New Republic December 28, 1959 reprinted in A World on Film, a truly great book that compiles Kauffmann's work for TNR. It's out of print, but you can get it used online. The GM line is ironic these days, but Kauffmann was right. According to Boxofficemojo, adjusted for inflation, Ben-Hur still stands as the 13th biggest film of all-time. And Ben-Hur is one hell of an accomplishment. While I rate it as a lower **** and #7 on the year, I have no real problem with any of its Oscars (except maybe Actor) and I agree with the awards for Sound, VE and CD.

The Diary of Anne Frank - #5 on the year, solid **** - I'll admit up front I have no way of being objective when it comes to this as reading this book caused me to lose all faith in any concept of god when I was 14. I'll leave it at that.

Anatomy of a Murder - ***.5 - #14 on the year - a very good, but not great courtroom drama with a very good lead performance by Jimmy Stewart and a great supporting performance from George C. Scott (he wins my award over Hugh Griffith)

Room at the Top - solid *** - #20 on the year - Harvey is very good and Signoret absolutely deserved her Oscar but I think the film suffers when viewed today - the story just doesn't hold up over time

The Nun's Story - again, my lack of religion might come into play, because even though this film did very well with the awards (the most successful film with the Critics awards of the year), I just didn't think it was particularly good - I thought Hepburn was good, but 8 nominations? - I'm just not feeling it - I rate it **.5 and rank it #50

my top 5:
#1 - Wild Strawberries (eligible and nominated for Screenplay)
#2 - Some Like It Hot
#3 - North by Northwest
#4 - The 400 Blows
(eligible and nominated for Screenplay)
#5 - The Diary of Anne Frank

my Globes:
Drama - Wild Strawberries, North by Northwest, 400 Blows, Diary of Anne Frank, Ben-Hur
Comedy - Some Like It Hot, Sleeping Beauty, Porgy and Bess

need to see:
The Big Fisherman
Say One for Me
Libel
(just went up on YouTube - I'll watch it tomorrow)
The Gazebo
The Hanging Tree
Paw
The Village on the River

User avatar
Sloper
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

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

#120 Post by Sloper » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:29 pm

Matt wrote:
movielocke wrote:The Heiress – the only film from this year I’ve seen on film and I found it a tedious, frightful bore.
Say whaaaaaat?
movielocke wrote:Pretty photography and costumes, terrible story and repulsive ugly characters.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the ugliness of its characters (and how they snuff out the only bit of goodness in the title character) is pretty much the whole point of the story. I think this suffered from being a far subtler film than the rest in your batch from that year. Give it some time, go back to it, and pay more attention to de Havilland's performance. She completely earned his Oscar for this film.
The Heiress is my favourite film, but Matt's right to suggest that it's a bit of a grower - I've often had this experience with Wyler's films (especially Wuthering Heights, The Letter, Best Years, Carrie) of finding them rather cold and unengaging at first, but going back to them later on and finding all sorts of hidden depths. Wyler was one of the very subtlest directors working in Hollywood in those days, brilliant but un-showy, restrained to the point of being potentially quite alienating, if you're not in a receptive mood. But still waters run deep.

When I first saw The Heiress, at the age of about 15, I thought it was scary, dark, and sort of cool, but only on repeated viewings did it reveal itself as the heart-rending masterpiece it really is. Head and shoulders above any other Hollywood melodrama I've seen in its unflinching portrayal of fucked up (but depressingly familiar) relationships. And for my money, all the principal actors are superb, and Ralph Richardson's performance stands as perhaps the best and subtlest piece of acting I've ever seen in a film, as well as retaining just enough of his usual flamboyance to be very entertaining. And so many beautiful shadows... And Aaron Copland's score (which also deserved its Oscar) - surely that stirred something in you? When Catherine's drawing the curtains at the end, while her aunt witters on - 'You know you're really very romantic, my dear!' - and that jaded, doom-laden music simmers in the background... Sorry, but this one more than all others brings me out in hyperbole.

Also check out Henry James's novel, Washington Square, partly because it's brilliant in its own right, and partly because it shows what a clever and artful job the Goetzes did in adapting it for the screen (and the screenplay is itself an intelligent adaptation of their own play).

End of gush.

EDIT: okay, a little bit more gush:
reno dakota wrote:Gaslight – A dark and atmospheric film from Cukor that, in a number of ways, feels like it could have been directed by Hitchcock. The screenplay is masterful in its steady pacing and slow revelation of crucial details, and the performances are just right for this sort of material. Charles Boyer, who is perfectly unnerving in his role, deserves a fair amount of the credit for the film’s mysterious and tension-filled texture, but the confining sets and tightly controlled camerawork also contribute a great deal to the suffocating mood the film evokes.
MGM tried to erase Thorold Dickinson's 1940 (British) version from existence when they made theirs, and if you watch it - I think it's an extra (pah!) on the region-1 edition - you'll see why. I love Cukor's film, and there's no question that Bergman is better than Diana Wynyard (who is still great), but on the whole the British version is far superior in every way. And I'm not just being patriotic. So check it out if you can - Hitchcock himself couldn't have done a better job.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#121 Post by movielocke » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:47 am

Wow, a storm of responses.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the ugliness of its characters (and how they snuff out the only bit of goodness in the title character) is pretty much the whole point of the story.
and a good reason not to bother with such stories, why surround myself in endless petty meanness like the world of that story? I don’t much care for Henry James as an author either. De Havilland was very good in the role and I’d even venture that Richardson was also quite impressive in his own way. But in terms of revisits it is extremely low on any priority list. I’ve already seen it on film, so it’s doubtful I’ll ever return to it. to explain this a bit, if I watch a movie I respect parts of but overall don’t care for—particularly movies whose greatest fault is that I found them boring—I will in general be completely open to watching them again in the proper setting, in a theatre with an audience on film. I’ve found many films are improved upon by seeing it as it was meant to be seen rather than in low res home video on a postage stamp sized screen (and I would call a 100” screen postage stamp sized compared to the size they are supposed to be seen in).
I seriously don't know how anyone who saw the Song of Bernadette could ever say that "King’s direction is anemic and perfunctory"-- and then turn around and praise King's completely artless Wilson!
I didn’t praise King’s direction on Wilson, I praised Wilson. King’s direction of Wilson is equally anemic. I think Wilson is more Zanuck’s achievement than King’s and that King was more ‘ridden’ by Zanuck than many of Zanuck’s other prestige picture directors. What is anemic and perfunctory about Song of Bernadette is how the characters are staged, how they act and react. It’s very staid and unimaginative. The actors manage to imbue life into these representations, but they aren’t being unified by the director imo. The excellence of the lighting and camera movement I attribute to Arthur Miller.

Visually, Wilson is more interesting because of how it using Technicolor expressively. Entire scenes are dressed in different dominant colors that build subtext into the scene. This is remarkable to see in a Hollywood film, particularly in early Technicolor, when the mandatory Technicolor advisors frowned on that sort of ‘unreal’ use of color. The Archers are praised for implementing this precise technique in Black Narcissus, yet it was being implemented in the dreadfully ‘industrial and soulless’ (I love scare quotes) studio system as well. How mysterious a discrepancy to be ignored!

I’m also very impressed with the great Barbara McLean’s cutting in Wilson, both her montage and the overall structure of the film I found to be quite impressive. Song of Bernadette has very good cutting as well, same editor, of course.

And I think that Alexander Knox gives a great performance, one of the great ones of the 1940s, and while Jennifer Jones is excellent as Bernadette, Knox is far better and since he is working with a better screenplay he also gets better lines, delivering many a crackling rejoinder throughout the film that consistently delighted me.

And I’ve said all this without mentioning King once. I think the direction is the weakest element in both films. In both films I see more of Zanuck, Miller, McLean, the actors, and the screenwriters than I see anything from King.

You found The Heiress a bore but you were on the edge of your seat with 12 O'Clock High? Seriously?
It’s been a while since I watched 12 O’Clock High and I’d forgotten King directed it. But yes I remember finding the film fantastic. At the time I was reading Partners in Command a dual biography of Marshall and Eisenhower, that may have influenced my perception of the film in many ways—I intend to revisit it relatively soon.
The Heiress is my favourite film, but Matt's right to suggest that it's a bit of a grower - I've often had this experience with Wyler's films (especially Wuthering Heights, The Letter, Best Years, Carrie) of finding them rather cold and unengaging at first, but going back to them later on and finding all sorts of hidden depths. Wyler was one of the very subtlest directors working in Hollywood in those days, brilliant but un-showy, restrained to the point of being potentially quite alienating, if you're not in a receptive mood. But still waters run deep.
I agree with you on Wyler, in fact there are probably only two Wyler films I’ve seen that I don’t like, Wuthering Heights and the Heiress. Wyler is a tremendously underrated director partially because he is so very subtle, and partially because his texts are very resistant to critical recasting and his oeuvre is extremely varied—as you would expect from any non-obsessive compulsive artist—which makes him resistant to critical gestures of containment, for example such as Sarris-style auteurism. (I’ve always resented that Sarris used Hawks and Wyler as contrasting examples in his essay in order to prove something about how one was an artist and the other wasn’t. All he did was prove that he was good at making Sarris look ‘smart’ and good at reworking films radically or ignoring counter evidence in order to fit his agenda.

Wuthering Heights is a film, btw, that I hated on first viewing and eventually saw it a second time on film. It was a better experience, but only marginally, it’s still incredibly miserable to be stuck with such hatefulness and degradation as the world of the story embodies. It was sort of self-inflicted torture for two hours, sitting there watching it again—although I did realize I like the opening with the characters as children much more than any other part of the film. So I doubt I will be revisiting The Heiress a second time, it’s too much like Wuthering Heights anyway, I just do not care at all for that sort of flagellating story.
Gigi - I hate this film. Seriously. Find it ridiculous. Don't think it deserved any of its Oscars (even song - I would give it the AA for Best Song but for "I Remember It Well" not "Gigi"). I don't think it's a bad film - just a relentlessly mediocre one that can't be saved by good supporting performances from Chevalier and Gingold (they deserved noms and didn't get them).
I like Gigi, even would vote it this year (though I do waffle a lot on whether Gigi or Defiant Ones is stronger), but it is sort of laughable that “Gigi” won best song when there were much better alternate possibilities. I first started to watch this film on TCM and was repulsed at the seeming pedophilic implications of Maurice Chevaliar leering his way around a park of children singing about how much he wants to make love to little girls. So I turned it off. Then I was complaining about the film later and my boss piped in with how much he loved it because he’d played the Chevalier part on stage, and then he sang the song. I started to revise my opinion, considering I shouldn’t even have an opinion because I hadn’t watched the whole film. And a year or two later I did sit down to watch the whole film and was greatly impressed at just how subversive it is (and yes, Thank Heaven for Little Girls is part and parcel of that subversiveness).

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#122 Post by movielocke » Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:29 pm

1950

1950 is a legendary year if only because of two nominees—two which would be BP winners in probably 70 of the 81 years of oscar (and they would be stiff competition for the other 11 winnerss). Additionally, the year has two outstanding comedies nominated and one other, almost incidental, ‘exotic’ nominee.

All About Eve – so much praise has been lavished on this film. It is one of the all time greats and I love every aspect of it. The script, the performances, the style, the structure, the whole nasty inside baseball angle of the story—it’s pretty much flawless.

Born Yesterday – a great comedy, Judy Holiday gives an outstanding performance (though she won, I suspect, because of vote splitting, and almost by chance she wound up with a plurality).

Father of the Bride – I grew up watching the Steve Martin version, and I retain a tremendous affection for the remake. But Spencer Tracy and Liz Taylor are a much stronger cast. On the other hand, there’s really nothing in the film quite as brilliant as the hotdogs/hotdogbuns bit in the remake, iirc.

King Solomon’s Mines – about 1/3 b-roll cut into the adventure story of a rescue mission to recover a lost explorer. Kerr and Granger have very good chemistry and the film looks nice, but it’s not all that strong despite being moderately entertaining.

Sunset Blvd – the other giant of 1950. it’s impossibly banal to try to lavish simple praise on the film. Pick an element of filmmaking, then use Sunset Blvd as an example of excellence and peak achievement of that particular element. Repeat for any element.

It’s tough picking between what amounts to a tie, but I would give a slight edge (and my vote) to All About Eve
2. Sunset Blvd
3. Born Yesterday
4. Father of the Bride
5. King Solomon’s Mines

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#123 Post by movielocke » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:15 pm

Unique and Artistic Production – 1927/28

It’s quite popular to consider this category a best picture category, perhaps because two of the films are so strong, but I think that Outstanding Production is the actual category which represents best picture in that first year. Though it would be very nice if we could say that Sunrise was a Best Picture winner.

Chang – A film more interesting for the quality of the photography and content of the images than for any story therein.

The Crowd – one of the more famous silents but not one I cottoned to very much. Some of the images are spectacular, a tribute to William Cameron Menzies production design. The film is very cute and fascinating to see contemporary 1928 but the story and characters just didn’t connect to me. Still it’s an outstanding achievement visually a fine example of late silent film grammer.

Sunrise – I watched this for the first time absolutely gobsmacked, transported and moved to enormous swells of emotions, cresting in tears multiple times. Were this an actual BP winner, it’d be in the top ten, and in the top twenty of nominees (I’ve not yet made a list so I’m not sure where precisely it would rank, were it ranked).

My vote, obviously, is Sunrise
2. The Crowd
3. Chang

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#124 Post by movielocke » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:06 pm

1963 :-&

And now I understand why Tom Jones won. in every other year of this decade you can find two-five films that are better than all five of these.

America, America - Decent Elia Kazan pic about his uncle's attempts to emigrate from Greece to America and the travails and tragedies of just trying to get out of the shit hole that was Europe at the time (hmm, quite similar to The Emigrants in terms of how much other countries sucked (which is not to say that America in that time was not equally shitty for the impoverished) but people seem to be a lot nastier in this olde Greece than they were in olde Sweden, comparitively, the kids in El Norte had it easy, lol). The girl the boy marries has one of the great monologues near the end of the picture.

Cleopatra - Ummm... no. I saw the first half in 70mm a few years ago, but something came up and I had to leave and wasn't able to finish the movie (though I wanted to stay). I quite like the first half, I like Rex Harrison, I think Taylor is pretty good and the production design is probably the most elaborate and intense ever. So I rewatched from the beginning, and then I got to the second half and it takes forever to be done with, three nights later I finished it. the movie actively gets worse and worse as you get further and further in. Bizarrely, when Octavius shows up he bellows and whispers and strides as through he were performing in a Shakespearian play rather than a movie, he's the only actor that does this. He's interesting and gives an okay showy performance but he is terrible because its so apart from the rest of the film. And most bizarrely, Cleopatra's actions become completely nonsensical and incomprehensible in the second half. She was a much better character in the first. Either that, or Rex Harrison is just such a good, generous actor that he made all her scenes better. Certainly he's the strongest aspect of this film, other than the production design.

How the West Was Won - Not a great film, but one that is pretty damn unique for its shooting format. The John Ford section is too short, and the Jimmy Stewart parts are the best. Still there is enough that is interesting here for me not to dislike it too much, despite it rarely rising about maudlin-average.

Lilies of the Field - By default pretty much the best of this bunch, and it's a fairly unremarkable and inoffensive (to aesthetics) charmer of a film. Potier and his cast of nuns are terrific.

Tom Jones - The bawdy comedy is the more 'mature' choice I suppose, just because its contents are more scandalous. Funny, but it tries too hard, still, a decent enough movie.

My vote: Lilies of the Field
2. Tom Jones
3. How the West Was Won
4. America, America
5. Cleopatra

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

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

#125 Post by movielocke » Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:12 pm

1951
Very good batting average for the academy this year.

An American in Paris – I don’t care for the interminable final ballet, and think Caron isn’t terribly attractive, but the film has a wonderful energy, and “I’ve got Rhythm” in particular is incredibly memorable. It looks marvelous on blu.

Decision Before Dawn – A tremendous war/spy film from Litvak in the style of noir. The lighting and cinematography is very expressive and again, in the manner of noir, there is an intellectual/spiritual conflict within the main character that makes this story especially exceptional. Shame it’s all in English when communication is so important.

A Place in the Sun – An American Tragedy indeed, this struck me as neither realistic, moving or very special. Mainly this is interesting to me for its content and the caliber of the performances and filmmaking but I don’t much like it overall. Much better done in Room at the Top, which was far more realistic imo, than the cheesily heightened melodrama here.

Quo Vadis – a long but fine epic. One of the first ones since the silent age Ben-Hur and Ten Commandments, Peter Ustinov is wonderful and overall the film works (especially in comparison to many of its brethren that followed in this genre and length)
A Streetcar Named Desire – I really didn’t like this movie the first time I saw it. I hated Blanche. She embodies so many feminine characteristics I cannot stand. And eventually I realized that was partially the point. I still can’t think of her sympathetically in the slightest, and I think Leigh’s performance is way over-the-top and overly affected, but the other three performances in this film are so incredibly magnificent, and the dialog is so damned great that the second time I watched it (on film) I was blown away by how impressive the film is. Brando and Hunter are phenomenal, and the incomparable Karl Malden walks away with the film, imo, for this, his best performance. And as someone who rarely notices male sexuality in a picture, Brando basically embodies sex on the big screen, something I didn’t really notice watching it on video the first time. Goddamn the man had charisma, transmitting such rapacious animal carnality and still not becoming too repulsive to the audience.

My vote – A Streetcar Named Desire
2. Decision Before Dawn
3. An American in Paris
4. Quo Vadis
5. A Place in the Sun

Post Reply