November 19, 2016

Now Entering: the Fifties















It's time to kick off the 1950s! This new era for Oscargasms has come following two years of bated breath (basically, I had started to want out of the 1940s by the time I was reviewing 1942). That said, there're plenty of films that I'm stoked to see from this coming decade. Let's take a high-level overview of what lies ahead for me:

  • THE METHOD - If there was a standout moment in the latter half of the 1940s, it was in viewing Montgomery Clift's performance for The Search. There he brought a fresh, alternative brand of realism to his acting in juxtapose with a traditional studio-style acting that, while fine in and of itself, has a more artificial, old-time rhythm and flow to it through modern eyes. Clift and John Garfield were among the first to give a sneak preview of the type of a revolutionary style of acting that would be further proliferated into the mainstream by the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean in the subsequent decade - and I can't wait to watch all of it!
  • THE EPICS - You can't think of the 1950s without thinking of that all that squeaky-clean white picket fence suburbia. The 1940s saw the excitement of a world war come and go, and I see the 1950s as the "coming down" period - soldiers came home, got married, made babies, and moved into the suburbs - thus allowing for television to become a dominant medium for entertainment. Hollywood's response: BIG, MAJOR, LONG-ASS epics (with Cinemascope! Technicolor! Cinerama! 3D!) meant to attract people back to theaters. And a load were nominated for Oscars...The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, The Ten Commandments, Giant and Ben-Hur, to name a few. Not too excited about these, only because I'm the type of antsy moviegoer who thinks that if a film's going to be over 2 hours, it sure as hell better be worth every ensuing minute...but we'll see.
  • THE DIRTY PLAYS - There're quite a few risqué stage-to-film productions this decade that got Oscar's attention, a stark contrast to the heavily family-friendly fare of the 1940s. You've got The Moon is Blue, deemed inappropriate for its "unacceptably light attitude towards seduction, illicit sex, chastity, and virginity," you've got murderous children via The Bad Seed, you've got a rare depiction of drug addiction via A Hatful of Rain, you've got the titillating "Moonglow" dance and "torn shirt" sequences in Picnic, and you've got about five Tennessee Williams plays dancing around the Production Code values with their overtly sexual themes and/or stifled homosexual undertones. All a collective prelude to the eventual collapse of the Code in a more daring and sexually liberated 1960s.
  • THE ICONS - What an amazing decade of iconic movie stars! No disrespect to the 1940s, but this decade is jam-packed with some amazing Old Hollywood iconography - a young Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and an all-grown-up Liz Taylor all made their breakthroughs during the Fifties - it'll be great to see how it all unfolds and to track them all chronologically!

I already know I'm going to have a helluva time with this decade. It's been a long time coming, so trust me when I say that I'm especially pumped up and ready to go this time around. Lots to look forward to - so let's get this shit started!

*Also: ramped up the blog with a semi-new look to celebrate a new decade! More to come soon.

November 12, 2016

"The closer we come to the negative, to death, the more we blossom."


Following this week's turn of events, I find myself in a bit of a disheartened daze. I'll spare you an impassioned Facebook-style monologue, because God knows my sentiments on the matter are being echoed in harmony across many a social feed right now.

The times, they are a-changin'. And they've got me thinking about the good that'll come out of the mess we've gotten ourselves into. I've thought about the slight parallel this may have to the McCarthyism / Red Scare / atomic bomb paranoia of the 1950s. I think about the loosening of strict Production Code rules that would bring us films which increasingly pushed the button against a devoutly conservative decade. The Production Code would collapse in due time, and even further ahead of the Fifties, I think of the mid-Sixties through the end of the Seventies - an extremely turbulent time that resulted in a pinnacle for American cinema as an art form.

So I guess what I'm saying is, whatever negatives lie ahead in the next four years, I am confident that people will be inspired to turn them into something meaningful and beautiful - be that fighting and standing up for what they believe in and/or funneling that energy into important and expressive work that bears meaning for populations of people. As of late I've felt the desire to go lose myself in movies, arts, and entertainment as a means of escape - and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will all thrive against this warped upheaval that we face.

October 31, 2016

The Oscargasms Honor/Dishonor Roll: 1940s Edition


Here we are - another decade complete, another bundle of 100 performances to cross off the list of 870+ nominated lead performances. Before formally saying farewell to the 1940s, I had to give it an official wrap-up report. So herein lies a semi-comprehensive breakdown of the performances, the favorites, the least favorites, and a short list of the great performances of the era ignored by Oscar altogether.

September 18, 2016

The Forties: A Retrospective

A few 40's alcoholics celebrating the completion of a lackluster decade!

I now stand before you an older, more cantankerous Oscar-blogger, completely exhausted by a decade's worth of hyper-safe, hyper-conventional, hyper-heartfelt, and worst of all, hyper-repetitive filmmaking. I can hardly believe it's been two years since I began my trek through the 1940s, mostly because I feel as though this decade has been a constant state of perpetuity.

To watch the Oscar-nominated flicks of the 1940's is to be in a constant state of déjà vu...you make it through a year and yet you feel you had seen it all before - you move on to the next and it's the same people, the same slightly-different storylines, the same 1940s-branded layers of ooey-gooey sentimentality. Applying what I already know about the decades following it, the forties may very well be the most unexciting decade of films that Oscar has to offer. To be frank, I'm not sorry to leave it behind.