April 28, 2015

1944 - 17th Academy Awards

and the nominees were: 

Charle Boyer, Gaslight
Bing Crosby, Going My Way
Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way
Cary Grant, None But the Lonely Heart
Alexander Knox, Wilson
Ingrid Bergman, Gaslight
Claudette Colbert, Since You Went Away
Bette Davis, Mr. Skeffington
Greer Garson, Mrs. Parkington
Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity

Tallulah Bankhead, Lifeboat

Woot woot! We've come to the halfway point of the 1940s!!! This has been a particularly strenuous decade to get through, but obviously the very best is yet to come--this year's batch of offerings include what is sure to be my favorite film of the decade: Going My Way,</sarcasm> a 2.5 hour Presidential biopic, an iconic film noir, and films featuring pretty much every single lady Oscar was obsessed with during this time: Bergman, Davis, Garson, Jones (I'm aware that I'll be reviewing Colbert, but you know what I mean). As per usual, please share with me your favorites and whom you think will be my favorites and my non-favorites! :D 

April 20, 2015

Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette

Won: Academy Award - Best Actress | Golden Globe - Best Actress

The Role: as a sweet and sickly girl who has visions of the Virgin Mary, this was undoubtedly a "star is born" type of role that shot Jennifer Jones into Hollywood stardom for the duration of the 1940s. I'll say now that my discontent towards religious fare really didn't play into how I feel about The Song of Bernadette and Jones' performance all all (though it does get exhausting after awhile), and in fact, I did like the film/was quite engaged at times. But the role of Bernadette and this over-stressed archetype of saintly womandom is what I found most unsavory here, and while that's no fault of Jones', I think that she's at a crossroads of not being able to do much via the material as well as not possessing the skills to do much with the material either.

April 19, 2015

Jean Arthur, The More the Merrier


The Role: as a woman who sublets her apartment to two men during the WWII housing shortage, I was initially a little perplexed as to how Jean Arthur managed to snag herself her sole nomination for a role that on paper didn't seem very striking. And besides, The More the Merrier isn't exactly the most renown flick out of Arthur's filmography. I've now watched Arthur in a number of Capra flicks, and I hadn't really thought her to be particularly arresting or awful--always somewhere in between.

April 18, 2015

Ida Lupino, The Hard Way

Won: New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actress

The Role: as a woman from a humble background who deceives and manipulates her way up to the top so that her sister can become a big star, Helen Chernen is a character who's completely in contrast with the ladies that were nominated by Oscar in '43. With an acclaimed scientist, three innocent teenaged girls and an actress in a lighthearted comedy, it wouldn't seem like '43 was the year for Oscar to take to a scheming showbiz woman. What's more, it is alleged that Ida Lupino was not very revered by her studio--so there's irony there in the idea of a difficult actress playing a morally difficult woman. So thank god the critics of New York were smart enough to acknowledge Lupino that year, for she is worth recognizing here to say the least.

April 11, 2015

Mickey Rooney, The Human Comedy


The Role: as a young high schooler working as a telegram delivery boy in his small town against the backdrop of WWII, this is a type of character that suits Mickey Rooney quite well--that of your all-American do-good golden boy, dripping with sweet, small town values. It's another instance of a nomination that just makes sense for the time period, even though ultimately the performance leaves much to be desired.

April 7, 2015

Ingrid Bergman, For Whom the Bell Tolls


The Role: as a 19 year old orphan who has experienced savage cruelties during the Spanish Civil War and falls deeply in love with Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman makes her Oscar debut here. Say what you will about For Whom the Bell Tolls and Bergman's performance, but it's always interesting to me watching the very first nominations of the greatest actresses. You catch a glimpse of what they're showcasing to the world, and you can sense that hunger they have in proving themselves. What Bergman does with María in this film is no different from what Kate Hepburn does in Morning Glory or what Bette Davis does in Of Human Bondage--it marks the arrival of a woman who would go on to become one of the great Hollywood icons.

April 6, 2015

Gary Cooper, For Whom the Bell Tolls


The Role: as an American expatriate traveling to Spain to fight for the Republic against fascists and tasked to blow up a key bridge, Gary Cooper is back once again as yet another "noble" and "heroic" figure, and he's really outdone himself this time with the sheer amount of nothingness he brings to Robert Jordan. I have a feeling that it's not entirely his fault this time around--doing some quick background reading on the character, I found a particular website asking: "Robert Jordan: Stud or Dud?" before describing the character as "a piece of cardboard". Even still, to ask Cooper of all actors to play a character that's considered by anyone as a piece of cardboard is not only ironic but kind of agonizing.

April 5, 2015

Greer Garson, Madame Curie


The Role: as the pioneering scientist who *overcomes all odds* to discover radium, and in turn redefining the face of science, this is the kind of role that Oscar will eat up over and over and over again. It's the kind of role that inherently stands for *importance*, thus typically ensuring an actor an Oscar nomination very handily (because what could be more important than the story of real people doing important things?). So I can't begrudge this nomination by Oscar's reigning Best Actress and decade Golden Child Greer Garson; anyone else playing it would have nab herself a spot in the top five as well. But I can begrudge how dull both picture and actress are.

April 4, 2015

Walter Pidgeon, Madame Curie


The Role: as the supportive husband to Marie Curie who acts as her motivating force as she works towards discovering the new element radium. After his major head-scratcher of a nomination in Mrs. Miniver I wasn't expecting much, so it was a surprise to find that at he had significantly more screentime this time around. The role and performance itself however...is pretty much a more thorough extension of Mr. Miniver.

April 2, 2015

Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca


The Role: as an embittered American expatriate running a popular and nightclub in WWII neutral Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart in this film is very much what you would expect when you think of the term "leading man". I know a lot of people generally think of this performance quite fondly; I tend to be a bit more conflicted. There's something to be said about one's work being instantly recognizable after 70 years...but I think that "leading man" generally have more cons than pros.