December 15, 2014

1942 - 15th Academy Awards

 photo 1942.jpg

and the nominees were: 
James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Ronald Colman, Random Harvest
Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees
Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver
Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper
Bette Davis, Now, Voyager
Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver
Katharine Hepburn, Woman of the Year
Rosalind Russell, My Sister Eileen
Teresa Wright, The Pride of the Yankees

PLUS:
Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons

My good fortune continues with two offerings this year that are explicitly patriotic (one of which I watched a few years ago and absolutely despised) as well as the usual token nominated film where you've got some adult watching after a crap load of kids (though this time with a WWII backdrop). ~Sigh~ Not looking forward to this year any more than I did 1941, though I'm really hoping I enjoy more of the films this time around. Side note: because I was so inspired early on in my blogging, I initially came up with my now defunct Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda series where I reviewed prominent also-rans. I eventually learned that I'd be too burnt out to continue that shit for every. single. year. so I stopped, but in having initially done so, I reviewed the New York Film Critics' Circle's 1935 Best Actress winner Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina, the only NYFCC winner thus far to not have been nominated for an Oscar. So I figured (for completist's sake) why not--might as well continue this reviewing of the occasional outlier NYFCC winner (plus I figure it'll give me a breath of fresh air amongst all the repetitive Davises, Garsons, Bergmans, de Havillands, Coopers, Stanwycks, etc. that AMPAs so knee-jerkingly nominated during this decade). Thus I will be having a date with The Magnificent Ambersons to take a looksie at Agnes Moorehead's NYFCC winning performance. And with that: please share with me any of your personal favorites from '42 and shoot me some predictions as to whom you think I will love and hate :)

December 10, 2014

Joan Fontaine, Suspicion

as LINA MCLAIDLAW
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Won: Academy Award - Best Actress | New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actress
Joan Fontaine was bestowed the eternal title of "Academy Award winner" only a year after having made a big splash with an acclaimed performance...and just like good 'ol Jimmy Stewart, she ultimately won for a performance that has been deemed by many as being lesser than its predecessor. Obviously her winning is not her fault, and the fact that Suspicion is a terribly messy and narratively confounding picture isn't her fault either. Her victory can be easily be written off as a "makeup" prize, but the fact that she was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle (Inside Oscar says that RKO hadn't even planned on giving Suspicion a qualifying run until Fontaine had unexpectedly nabbed up the prize) as well suggests to me that voters in 1941 must have seen something here that they liked. I'll admit, after having read many negative critiques on Suspicion and Fontaine's win, I came in with the worst expectations. But surprise, surprise--I didn't think Suspicion or Fontaine was that bad (big fat sloppy mess? Yeah. AWFUL? nah).

December 9, 2014

Olivia de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn

as EMMY BROWN
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It seems as though Olivia de Havilland's work in Hold Back the Dawn is primarily associated with being the nominated performance to which she was pitted against Joan Fontaine in an epic SISTER VS. SISTER showdown, and not as much is written about the actual performance itself. And perhaps rightfully so. After having recently rewatched Gone with the Wind, I found myself supremely impressed by the warm veritas of de Havilland's Melanie Hamilton, much more so than on my very first watch years ago. Her role as Emmy here in Hold Back the Dawn is pretty much in the same vein as that of Melanie, and I mean that as both a good and a bad thing.

December 8, 2014

Bette Davis, The Little Foxes

as REGINA GIDDENS
 photo ScreenShot2014-12-08at50854PM.jpg

By now, after having seen her do cantankerous in Of Human Bondage, reckless in Dangerous, manipulative in Jezebel, and murderous in The Letter, watching Bette Davis play "bad" doesn't really phase me anymore. But here we are: another year, another Oscar nomination, and another fierce heroine who can work men with aplomb. I came into The Little Foxes rather fatigued by Davis, though knowing very well that her performance is highly regarded by the internet as well as other Oscar bloggers. So I watched the film, carefully absorbing what I was seeing, and then I had to watch it again, to make proper sense of how I felt about what I was seeing.

December 7, 2014

Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire

as SUGARPUSS O'SHEA
 photo ScreenShot2014-12-01at123934AM.jpg
I can't help but chuckle at the fact that Barbara Stanwyck's character in Ball of Fire is called Sugarpuss. Sure, the film explains that the name is slang for one with a sweet face, but given that Stanwyck was such a prominent presence in Pre-Code films (I'm thinking about Baby Face most notably), I'd like to believe that Sugarpuss is a not-so-subtle double-entendre, a kind of acknowledgment of Stanwyck's ability to convey sensuality in her characters that's as alluring as it is perilous to the people around them.

December 6, 2014

Greer Garson, Blossoms in the Dust

as EDNA GLADNEY
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Let's just get this out of the way: I found Blossoms in the Dust to be a huge load of piping hot crap. It is a picture that seeks to tell a tale of human valiance and compassion (as clearly shown by the opening intertitle in which we're told we are about to watch "the story of a great woman, and of the great work she is doing for humanity") and yet behind the thick veil of self-importance you'll find a film that's just a hasty reimagining of a rather ordinary story. At the center is Greer Garson, who, in spite of her endless well of graceful charm, can only go so far against a sea of sentimental contrivances and a poorly written script.

December 1, 2014

Awards Season 2014 Starts Now!

the New York Film Critics Circle's new Best Actress!
If you follow awards at all you would know that today is the official kickstart of AWARDS SEASON 2014 (a.k.a. the true most wonderful time of the year), with the New York Film Critics Circle--the oldest and arguably the most prestigious critics awards bodies--announcing their bests of the year. The choice of theirs that got me most excited: the awarding of Best Actress unto one of my favorite actresses of today, the lady whose performance in La Vie en Rose stands as one of my most favorite wins ever in the history of the Best Actress category...my French flower Marion Cotillard for her duel work in The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night! Admittedly I haven't seen either film--I started to watch The Immigrant a month or so ago and decided 15 minutes in that I was in the mood for something lighter--but the NYFCC's decision is a step in the right direction for Cotillard finally nabbing her first nomination since her glorious Oscar win. 7 years and two big fat snubs later (for Nine and Rust and Bone respectively), could this be the year Cotillard finally slides into the chosen field of 5 again? It is the first year since 2007 that the heavy favorite for the win plays an alzheimer's victim after all. Realistically I know this'll be no easy task...Weinstein has pretty much buried The Immigrant's campaign chances and thus it looks like Two Days, One Night will have to fight off perennial loser Amy Adams as well as upstarts Shailene Woodley and Hilary Swank for that last spot. But here's hoping!

Oh, and Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons began what will probably be their eventual awards sweeps today, Boyhood won the big prize and Timothy Spall won Best Actor which is cool I guess, but this was just an excuse for me to publicly freak out over Cotillard. Feel free to tell me which films and performances you're rooting for!