December 31, 2013

1935 - 8th Academy Awards

And so, on the eve of a new year, I present to you the new year I'll be reviewing. May our 2014 be full of happiness, movies, and five-star performances!

 photo 1935.png

and the nominees were: 
Clark Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty
Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty
Victor McLaglen, The Informer
Franchot Tone, Mutiny on the Bounty
Elisabeth Bergner, Escape Me Never
Claudette Colbert, Private Worlds
Bette Davis, Dangerous
Katharine Hepburn, Alice Adams
Miriam Hopkins, Becky Sharp
Merle Oberon, The Dark Angel

(plus a special appearance by write-in candidate)
Paul Muni, Black Fury

December 30, 2013

Myrna Loy, The Thin Man

as NORA CHARLES
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-26at121546AM.jpg
Bette Davis may get all the attention for the hoopla surrounding her Of Human Bondage snub, but few people talk about the fact that Myrna Loy actually scored enough write-in votes from 1934 to come in at fifth place. Now, this was a particularly peculiar time as AMPAs was still trying to get their shit together--in Oscar's first seven years, the shortlist for Best Actress ranged anywhere from three nominees to seven, before finally settling into a five-nominee structure in 1936 that hasn't changed since. Thus, had 1934's voting system been like today's, Loy would've been liked enough to have been an official nominee, and she was likely the closest she ever was to being one in this particular year. But is this a performance worthy of a nomination or one that is swept along by the Academy's love for a particular film?

December 27, 2013

Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night

as ELLIE ANDREWS
 photo CLAUDETTE5.png
Won: Academy Award - Best Actress

Claudette Colbert really didn't want to make It Happened One Night. The first picture she had ever made was directed by Frank Capra and it ended up being a complete failure. She had initially rejected the role of Ellie Andrews, but when Capra was told by Columbia head Harry Cohn that the "French broad likes money," Capra went to Colbert with the promises of doubling her salary and getting it all filmed within a month so that she could haul her ass off for a vacation. She agreed. She was allegedly difficult to deal with throughout the entire shoot. She told her friends right after production ended that she'd "just finished making the worst picture" she'd ever made. Colbert's relationship with It Happened One Night is almost as entertaining as the picture itself, but I'll be damned if you could clock any of that off-set bitterness in her performance. Because the woman is nothing less than an utter delight in the film, and despite everyone being so enraptured by Bette Davis' work and snub that year, it was really all about Claudette Colbert the entire time.

December 24, 2013

Clark Gable, It Happened One Night

as PETER WARNE
 photo CLARK1.png
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor





Hop onto Google Images and type in "leading man" and the first three men to pop up (ignoring the several photos of Jon Bon Jovi who I guess starred in a picture called The Leading Man...the more you know) are Leo DiCaprio, Cary Grant, and Clark Gable. I've always thought that Gable was as definitively a leading man as you could get--aside from his classic good looks, there is an air of arrogance in the smirks you see him giving in all those old Hollywood photographs of his, and reports such as his not wanting to do a crying scene as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind or his alleged unhappiness over Spencer Tracy upstaging him in San Francisco only solidifies this perception of Gable as your typical man's man. I had my qualms about Gable here as I thought it would be another William Powell situation, wherein the leading man ideal is epitomized perfectly but the performance as a whole lacks depth...

December 13, 2013

Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage

as MILDRED ROGERS
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-27at32819AM.jpg





Bette Davis in Of Human Bondage is a performance that took the cinematic world by storm in 1934. This is a performance that the folks at Life Magazine cited as "probably the best performance ever recorded on the screen by a U.S. actress." This is a performance that so impressed the people of Hollywood that when Davis was unexpectedly denied a Best Actress nomination, there was such a backlash that the Academy was forced to allow write-in votes just so she could be in contention. I wanted to give Davis the typical nominee treatment despite her work not being an official Oscar-nominated performance firstly because she ending up getting enough write-in votes that year to place third, bumping out actual nominee Grace Moore into fourth. But above all, I wanted to honor this performance in appreciation of the legendary Miss Davis--a lady who wanted nothing more at the time than to nab roles in which she could sink her teeth into, to showcase the range and talent she knew she had--the very range and talent that Warner Bros. was stifling. This was the performance that got Oscar to notice her, whether he wanted to or not, and she would continue to get him to notice her for upwards of the next quarter century.

December 5, 2013

William Powell, The Thin Man

as NICK CHARLES
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-26at12948AM.jpg
When analyzing William Powell in The Thin Man, the late great Roger Ebert said that Powell "is to dialogue as Fred Astaire is to dance. His delivery is so droll and insinuating, so knowing and innocent at the same time, that it hardly matters what he's saying."I think this perfectly sums up my own feelings about Powell's work as well. There is a mesmerizing quality to the way Powell speaks--his diction, his tone...all of it drips with intelligence, is assertive yet relaxed all at once, and blends so well with the dark wit that The Thin Man's screenplay offers. He is a perfect leading man in every possible way, and I'd wager that the subsequent five Thin Man sequels spawned not just from the strength of the story or the chemistry of Powell and Myrna Loy, but also because Powell is so good, so in his element, at being a charming sleuth.

November 27, 2013

Frank Morgan, The Affairs of Cellini

as ALESSANDRO, DUKE OF FLORENCE
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-25at21445AM1.jpg
I believe I'm in the minority when I say that I love Frank Morgan's nomination for The Affairs of Cellini (not that there are many people out there who are writing about--much less have seen--the film), and let me tell you why. My first reason is that The Affairs of Cellini is a comedy, a much underrepresented genre of film at the Oscars. My second reason is that The Affairs of Cellini is really quite a delightful film, with delightful performances across the board. My third reason is that Frank Morgan is not top-billed, a la Lionel Barrymore and Warner Baxter. It always tickles my fancy when a male actor nabs a Best Actor nod when he isn't top billed, because it goes against the very concept of top-billing. You are top billed if you are either the bigger star or the male (often times, both go hand-in-hand), and to be top-billed suggests that you are the reason people should see a particular film. At the same time, an acting nomination in and of itself is an even bigger suggestion to see a film, and thus when these schools of thought conflict, it suggests that even though a lesser star isn't technically the main draw for the film because he's not the bigger name, he still holds his own and manages work that's good enough to procure attention. Approach a person on the street and chances are he or she won't be familiar with the name Frank Morgan--interestingly enough Inside Oscar says that the prior year, after actors like Paul Muni, Gary Cooper, and Jeanette Macdonald withdrew from AMPAs, they had actually gone over to Morgan's house to form the Screen Actors Guild. Morgan also ended up being "narrowly defeated" by Clark Gable for the Best Actor trophy in 1934, so there seems to have been a great deal of industry respect for him at the time, despite whether or not he was a box office draw or the highest paid Hollywood actor at the time.

November 26, 2013

Norma Shearer, The Barretts of Wimpole Street

as ELIZABETH BARRETT
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-25at104612AM.jpg
Another year, another melodramatic romance starring Norma Shearer. The Barretts of Wimpole Street is a film I didn't quite enjoy save for its rather shocking final act revelation. While the dynamics of the storyline is certainly interesting at times and kinda-sorta-maybe based off the real lives of poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, this is a drama done dull. I mean, I can't garner much excitement over a film that sees Shearer basically locked in a house the entire time and features two scenes in which the viewer has to guess whether or not Shearer can make it up/down a flight of stairs--very much a filmed play and not really cinematic. At the end of the day, this is an average to above-average picture with performances that are good but hardly worth fussing over.

November 25, 2013

Grace Moore, One Night of Love

as MARY BARRETT
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-17at112648PM.jpg




If there was anything I took away from One Night of Love, it was learning that Grace Moore was an opera singer. That's the beauty of old school Hollywood--studio heads were actually interested in recruiting famous people from outside the realm of film to take part in their movies. Interestingly enough audiences would go and see these movies, and Oscar would reward these people with nominations. That doesn't happen anymore--we now live in world where all juicy female roles will automatically be given to Meryl Streep, and the idea of putting acclaimed stage stars much less opera stars in lead roles in feature films is not realistic by any means. So in a way, Moore's inclusion in the Oscar race is one of the more interesting ones out there. Whether or not it was worthy is an entirely different question.

November 24, 2013

1934 - 7th Academy Awards

 photo 1934.jpg


and the nominees were:
Clark Gable, It Happened One Night
Frank Morgan, The Affairs of Cellini
William Powell, The Thin Man
Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night
Grace Moore, One Night of Love
Norma Shearer, The Barretts of Wimpole Street

(plus a special appearance by write-in candidate)
Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage

November 23, 2013

M and Peter Lorre

as HANS BECKERT
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-14at11744AM.jpg

What is there to say about M that hasn't already been said? It is a magnificent cinematic achievement crafted by a legendary filmmaker. Gripping, ballsy in its subject matter, and explicit in its subtlety, the film's only flaw was that it was a product well ahead of its time. Hollywood filmmaking was on the cusp of entering the Hays Code era at the time of M's release. American pictures then usually followed a succinct set of guidelines--endings were to be happy, all that is evil is to be vanquished. The beauty of M was it simply couldn't be bothered by the traditional storytelling conventions of Hollywood--instead it is a picture that is riveting storytelling from start to finish all the while encompassing a disturbing character study that challenges conventional norms as well as the viewers.

November 17, 2013

Katharine Hepburn, Little Women

as JO MARCH
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-04at62510PM.jpg
Won: Gold Medal Winner for Best Actress - Venice Film Festival


"As vital, sympathetic and full of the joie de vivre as one could hope for...Miss Hepburn goes darting through this picture without giving one a moment to think of her as other than Jo," praised Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times at the time of Little Women's release. Trusty ol' Wikipedia says joie de vivre "may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life..." This is a more than accurate assessment of Katharine Hepburn, whose luminosity spearheads Little Women and whose performance is just as joyous if not more than that of her role as Eva in Morning Glory.

November 13, 2013

Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

as JAMES ALLEN
 photo ScreenShot2013-11-08at125238AM.jpg

Paul Muni had quite an impressive run in the early thirties--by 1934 he'd been twice nominated for Best Actor and had already made the controversial Scarface, and he'd only been in four films! According to Inside Oscar, AMPAs revealed the placements of the nominees in the major categories at 1934's ceremony, pointing out that Muni was "right behind Charles Laughton." The book adds that there was only "polite applause" when Laughton was crowned the winner, suggesting that he wasn't exactly a crowd pleasing winner. But apparently the writers and many of the top Hollywood stars--Muni included--had resigned from AMPAs that year to form their own guilds, and despite his managing to pull out a nomination, one could imagine this as putting him at an unfavorable disadvantage in regards to accumulating enough votes to win him top honors. But I guess the question remains: is he any better than that year's champ?

November 7, 2013

May Robson, Lady for a Day

as APPLE ANNIE
 photo ScreenShot2013-09-23at13810AM.jpg
Just as I was previously mentioning how ladies of this era were sure to get nominations for being a caring mother or a caring maternal figure, along comes another performance that is exactly that. May Robson got the role of Apple Annie after Marie Dressler wasn't able to take it on (and wouldn't it have been a hoot if Dressler got 3 nominations in a row for playing different versions of the same woman?). I didn't have any expectations going into the film, and I suppose it was because I was unfamiliar with Robson and thus couldn't form any expectations, but ultimately I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed the film and its leading lady.

November 6, 2013

Leslie Howard, Berkeley Square

as PETER STANDISH
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-27at33939AM.jpg
Just looking at the stats, the overall intensity of AMPA's anglophilia during its sixth year was pretty crazy. The grotesque Best Picture winner was a film that spent 110 minutes trying to show how amazing it was to be English. U.K.'s Frank Lloyd was named the Best Director of said grotesque Best Picture (this was his second time winning in the Academy's six years for incredibly banal pictures). The Private Life of Henry VIII became the first completely British production to be nominated for Best Picture, and that film's English star won Best Actor. 50% of the acting nominees were English--the last of whom to be reviewed by yours truly is here. I suppose Lloyd wasn't satisfied enough with Cavalcade (that or the demand for British pics was through the roof), so he popped out a second story about English life that very year in the form of Berkeley Square, a film that manages to be just as mundane (but not quite as bad) as Cavalcade. And like Diana Wynyard and Corinne Griffith, star Leslie Howard's work here isn't anything to get excited about.

October 31, 2013

Katharine Hepburn, Morning Glory

as EVA LOVELACE
 photo Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 8.04.47 PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actress
How fitting and pleasantly ironic it is that the legendary Katharine Hepburn's first Academy Award-winning performance was for the role of a naïve ingénue hungry to make it big as...an actress. There is a moment in the film when Eva, drunk at a party, tells theatre producer Louis Easton, "I'm the greatest actress in the world, and I'm gonna go out and get greater, and greater, and greater..." She causes a ruckus, and when her mentor Hedges tells her she's making a fool of herself, she exclaims affirmatively, "You're talking to the greatest actress in the world and I'm gonna prove it to you!" Again, very fitting and ironic. As I watched Morning Glory, I couldn't help but be in a state of bedazzlement--and how could you not? Because here, right in front of my eyes, was the very first Oscar-nominated (and winning) performance by a young and beautiful actress who, quite like Eva, was set to become the greatest actress in the world. 


October 30, 2013

Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry Viii

as KING HENRY VIII
 photo ScreenShot2013-09-01at44359PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor
The Private Life of Henry VIII was a weird film for me. I wasn't sure what to make of it. Apparently it was a hugely successful film during the time of its release, and the very first British film to be nominated for Best Picture (not to take away from Cavalcade's British glory, but the Best Picture winner was made through Fox while Private Life was through London Films), which is crazy to think that it took AMPAS six years to become entranced by British pictures, seeing as they're such anglophiles nowadays. At the heart of The Private Life of Henry VIII is Charles Laughton, who looks spot on as King Henry VIII, but like the film I'm not so sure what to make of his performance either.

October 29, 2013

Diana Wynyard, Cavalcade

as JANE MARRYOT
 photo ScreenShot2013-09-20at123050AM.jpg




In retrospect, Diana Wynyard in Cavalcade and Irene Dunne in Cimarron share a lot of similarities. Both were nominated for Best Actress and were likely only nominated because AMPAs liked their respective films a lot. Both actresses' vehicles are pretty dull and terrible, ranking pretty high up there among the all-time worst Best Picture winners, and both have an inconsistent presence in their films, with Dunne appearing more heavily in the latter half and Wynyard appearing more in the first half. Finally, they both give performances that, for lack of a better word, suck.

October 27, 2013

Jackie Cooper, The Champ

as DINK PURCELL
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-08at85257PM1.jpg

I've said it before and I'll say it again--I'm not a big fan of child performances. Often times they feel so contrived and it's hard for me to get over the fact that someone so young could possibly possess the ability to create a performance on their own, much less understand the nuances, subtleties, or emotions that come with a character's story arc. So due to my biases and general disinterest, I opted to skip out on watching Jackie Cooper in his Oscar nominated turn in Skippy, but I wouldn't be able to avoid him for long as we would finally meet while I was checking out Wallace Beery in The Champ. Cooper famously wrote in his autobiography that he disliked Beery, saying "there was no warmth to the man" and that he was "a big disappointment", attributing Beery's mistreatment of him to jealousy. And who could blame Beery if he was in fact jealous of Cooper? The 45 year old is absolutely outstripped and upstaged by a boy whose age hadn't even reached double digits yet--and the imbalance between the two performances is embarrassing.

October 17, 2013

Marie Dressler, Emma

as EMMA THATCHER SMITH
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-04at32341PM.jpg
And so Marie Dressler returns to the Academy Awards, coming back a second year in a row with a role that is essentially a warmer version of the sassy curmudgeon she played in Min & Bill mixed with Jane Wyman's insufferably devoted nanny from The Blue Veil. As I've watched these Best Actress nominees in chronological order, it's become vividly obvious just what kinds of roles could snag you a nomination back in those days, and it's starting to feel like the movies are blending in with one another. If you're a mother who suffers (Chatterton in Madame X, Chatterton in Sarah and Son, Hayes in Sin of Madelon Claudet, Swanson in The Trespasser), you get a nomination. If you're a motherly figure who takes care of/likes children, (Wyman in The Blue Veil, Dressler in Min & Bill, Dressler here) you get a nomination. I was ready to ho-hum Emma and Dressler, but I ended up being pleasantly entertained.

October 14, 2013

Wallace Beery, The Champ

as CHAMP/ANDY PURCELL
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-08at84551PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor

Wallace Beery will forever be in the annals of Oscar history for being "tied" with Fredric March for Best Actor, the first and only tie the category has seen in its 85 year history. The strange thing is Beery isn't the true winner--he actually had one less vote than March, but for some reason 81 years ago the Academy had a rule that stated having 1 less vote than a winner meant that you too were a winner. And with that, Beery got an Oscar, even though he ought to have been a runner-up, which is rather contextually ironic given that he'd won for playing a drunken loser and former champion in a movie called The Champ. With March's excellent turn, you'd think that Beery's performance would be just as great, no?

October 7, 2013

Lynn Fontanne, The Guardsman

as THE ACTRESS
 photo BV24MxwCUAA9DCY.jpg








Alfred Lunt and wife Lynn Fontanne famously turned down lucrative film contracts following The Guardsman's release, and one can't help but wonder what they could have contributed to cinema had they decided to take up Hollywood's offer. We may never be able to have witnessed Fontanne and Lunt on stage, but at least we have their sole cinematic offering, and to have garnered Oscar nods in what would be your only film is an impressive accomplishment. Add in the fact that both husband and wife are theatre legends, and what you've got is a viewer with pretty high expectations. The general chemistry between the couple in The Guardsman is undeniable--it was a joy watching the two of them claw at each other through their dry and sarcastic remarks. Ultimately, the film ends up being more Lunt's show than Fontanne's (whether we like it or not), but the moments in which Lunt fumbles with his crazed overacting, Fontanne balances out with a pleasant portrayal of the sly and deceitful yin to Lunt's yang.

October 5, 2013

Alfred Lunt, The Guardsman

as THE ACTOR
 photo ScreenShot2013-10-02at111559PM.jpg
The opening scene of The Guardsman features The Actor and The Actress performing the last few moments of Elizabeth The Queen, the real-life Broadway hit in which Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt starred. This scene, included as a funny little life-meets-work homage, is also highly theatrical (they are acting on stage after all) and essentially gives the viewer a hint of what we're about to witness for the next hour and a half: high drama, high exaggeration, and acting that can be seen and heard from way up in the rafters. It's the context of this theatricality that makes it tough for me to determine how much I enjoyed Lunt's performance--just how much of it is excessively overdone on accident and how much of it is on purpose?

September 7, 2013

Helen Hayes, The Sin of Madelon Claudet

as MADELON CLAUDET
 photo ScreenShot2013-08-29at52614PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actress | Venice Film Festival - Audience Referendum, Favorite Actress

As I recall from Inside Oscar, producer Irving Thalberg was surprised that he managed a successful Oscar campaign for Helen Hayes and The Sin of Madelon Claudet, a movie which ended up being such a mess the first time they made it that it had to be reshot and retitled. In spite of this, I came into the film with great expectations for Miss Hayes' debut, as you would for any actress deemed the "First Lady of the American Theatre".

August 28, 2013

Fredric March, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

as DR. JEKYLL / MR. HYDE
 photo Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 5.12.12 PM.jpg
  Won: Academy Award - Best Actor | Venice Film Festival - Audience Referendum, Most Favorite Actor
For as long as I've been interested in the Oscars, I've always thought that Fredric March's win for Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was a little perplexing--mostly because it's an acting win for a science-fiction/horror film. These wins, or even nominations, are basically unheard of nowadays. "How good could an early 1930's film about a dude who turns into a monster possibly be?" I thought. And while I've read a few articles in recent years praising March's performance, a part of me couldn't help but continue to judge this book by its cover.

July 31, 2013

Betty Compson, The Barker

as CARRIE


As I've mentioned before, three years ago, Nick Davis of Nick's Flick Picks posted this entry on his blog. I, stumbling across this through film blog osmosis, was about to witness the beginning of his glorious 41 post run of the remaining Best Actress performances he had yet to see out of the then 408 possible performances one could see. It was an amazing thing to tune into his blog every day for the next two months to see which Actress performance he'd cover next. I was enraptured, because while I'd long loved the Oscars, most especially the Best Actress category, I never realized that there were other people out there who shared the same particular interest as myself, and the idea of watching every single Best Actress nominated performance had never even crossed my mind. Thus, Nick's feat awoke an inspired and competitive monster from within me; "I'm an actressexual too! I want to join this elite club of one too!" So I started a blog (and then another...and then another...). And thus began my own blogging odyssey of watching every Best Actress nomination in chronological order. Thanks again Nick.

In the years that have passed, some of the most elusive films (The Constant Nymph, Holiday, etc.) have either been released on DVD or put up on YouTube by wonderful film buffs. That left The Barker, the film featured in the post that was the catalyst for this entire mess, as the most difficult film to get ahold of, with Betty Compson the most elusive Best Actress nominee. And after three years, the Oscar Gods finally granted me my wish. (The fact that I'm in Los Angeles for a summer internship plays a huge factor as well.) So here goes!

July 24, 2013

Marlene Dietrich, Morocco

as AMY JOLLEY
 photo ScreenShot2013-07-18at112158PM.jpg I saved Marlene Dietrich's performance for last in this profiled year primarily for two reasons: because she's Marlene Dietrich, and because it's the only performance of hers to have been nominated for an Oscar. So I sort of put it off hoping it'd be some sort of quasi "event". Having said that, I can sum up Dietrich's performance in less than five words: at least she's pretty.

July 22, 2013

Marie Dressler, Min & Bill

as MIN
 photo ScreenShot2013-07-14at114343PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actress
I can't even believe how much of an anomaly Marie Dressler was. This is a woman who was heavy-set, 61 years old, and completely non-traditional in terms of movie star looks--and yet she was the most popular Hollywood star during the early thirties. So while Dressler certainly stands out appearance wise in comparison to the likes of Norma Shearer, Mary Pickford, and Janet Gaynor, given her crazy popularity (they made Marie Dressler puppets for godssake) her win is unsurprising, sort of like Sandra Bullock's win in terms of a beloved movie star getting her due if you will.

July 19, 2013

Norma Shearer, A Free Soul

as JAN ASHE
 photo SHEARER5.png

Norma Shearer is an actress with whom I'm completely indifferent to. I'm neither excited by her nor do I dislike her enough to dread watching another one of her films--I'm just completely on the fence. So when it comes time to view another one of her performances, I'm neither expecting to be wowed or disappointed. After reviewing her Oscar winning turn and its sister nomination in the last profiled year, my perception of her performance work was that she is generally above-average with occasional moments of captivating dramatic excellence. After finishing A Free Soul, I have to give credit where it's due: Shearer's work is fantastic, and she's by far my MVP of the film.

July 18, 2013

Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul

as STEPHEN ASHE
 photo BARRYMORE2.png
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor
On paper, it'd be no surprise that Lionel Barrymore won the Best Actor Oscar in his respective year. Playing an alcoholic lawyer who, after successfully defending a gangster, must defend the gangster's killer (who is also his daughter's boyfriend), this is a role that is ripe with Oscar potential, but at the same time this is a role that can be done poorly if put in the hands of the wrong actor (like, say...Richard Dix).

July 12, 2013

The Wait (will soon) be Over

As a birthday present to myself, I arranged for a date with a certain elusive actress...


Needless to say, I'm very, very excited.

July 11, 2013

Ann Harding, Holiday

as LINDA SETON
 photo ScreenShot2013-06-26at32725AM-1.jpg
It can't be easy to have your film and Oscar-nominated performance overshadowed by a more iconic remake where your role is taken over by Katharine Hepburn. Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone (outside of the old-school film enthusiast or the Best Actress fanatic) who actually knows who Ann Harding is. Whether or not Harding is better than Hepburn I cannot say, as I've yet to see the remake, but no matter what, she will forever be the lady who played the role of the quirky Linda Seton on film first.

June 26, 2013

Irene Dunne, Cimarron

as SABRA CRAVAT
 photo ScreenShot2014-07-31at12656AM.jpg
So here it is, my first solo Best Actress post on this blog! In retrospect after having watched Cimarron, I wonder what factors played into Dunne getting her first nomination. Was it because she played a devoted wife? (Academy's favorite...there've been quite a few thus far.) Did she get in because she got swept up in the Cimarron craze of that year? (it was the first film to get more than 6 nominations, and the first to get all of the major 5 nods.) Was it because people were impressed by the aging makeup for her character's older years? (i.e. Meryl Streep, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, etc.) It's not a shocking nomination by any means--there have been worse performances nominated--but it's certainly not an extraordinary one, and I'd even say it's not really a great one either.

Richard Dix, Cimarron

as YANCEY CRAVAT
 photo ScreenShot2014-07-31at12116AM.jpg
I have never read Cimarron, nor do I ever plan to. A lot of people think that Richard Dix's performance in the film is terrible and one of the worst to be nominated--but a few folks online have said that he plays the character of Yancey just the way it was written in the novel. I for one, am indifferent. This is very much your typical overacted, hammy performance that was very prevalent in films of the time. But on the other hand, I thought Dix captured the passion and the charm of the character quite well.

June 20, 2013

Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona

as THE CISCO KID
 photo ScreenShot2013-06-15at44128PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor
In Warner Baxter's opening scene, you see him taking a look at his own wanted sign and beginning a monologue about how great he is. And it wasn't until about halfway through this monologue that I realized he was talking to himself. Or his horse. And my feelings during that moment of realization is essentially how I feel about the entire performance; it's odd and it's uncomfortable.

May 21, 2013

Introduction.

Greetings! Welcome to Oscargasms, the third edition of a project that I've been working on for three years now. In 2010, I was inspired by Nick Davis as he watched and recorded his last of the then 408 nominees for his Best Actress project. This was fascinating to me because I'd been obsessed with all things Academy Awards for as long as I can remember--my dad bought me this when I was a kid and I'd read it to the point where the pages had browned--but never did the idea of watching all the nominees of a particular category cross my mind. I, like 95% of the Oscar bloggers around here, have a deep affinity for the Best Actress category--though I do care for Supporting Actress and Actor prizes as well, but to a much less extent (sorry Best Supporting Actor! You're just alright.)

So thanks to Nick, I followed suit and created a blog in which I documented some performances. It was a fun, crass little thing and I had it running for about a year and a half or so before life and a little bit of maturity kicked in and I decided it was time for a change. So I moved onto Wordpress for about a minute, and ultimately gave that one up as well because I prefer the look and feel of Blogger so much more. So here I am! Yet another blog fawning over Best Actress nominees in a very sparse and particular blogosphere. And hopefully the third time's the charm because I hate starting projects and having them die. I'm back to redeem myself ever since falling off the wagon in '11 and to prove that I am a die-hard Oscar freak. But regardless of my post frequency from here on out or whether or not I can maintain the blog for the long-haul, my desire to watch Oscar nominated films and performances has never waned in the three years I've been doing this. I'll finish the nominees some day--though I couldn't give you an estimate as to when--and the strenuous journey to that day will be my personal odyssey.

So that's that. Before I go, I'll drop a few factoids about myself:

1. My three favorite movies of all time (so far) are Volver, Happy Together, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I will never tire of them.
2. I worship at the Church of Meryl Streep. I am devout and will preach to anyone about Her greatness!
3. In the television end, my absolute favorite show is RuPaul's Drag Race and I firmly believe that anyone who doesn't watch the show is a sucker for missing out on its wonder.