Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Movie Year-End Wrap-Up

Happy New Year’s Eve!

A whopping 39 films vie for my top ten of 2010, which I’ll announce tomorrow. What's funny is, the higher the number of movies I'm considering indicates a year with not a lot of greats.  Normally, I cull my top ten from my "must-sees" but since that number is just seven, I'll have to pull from the 31 "recommended" to make the final list. I didn’t think this would end up a particularly good year for movies (after a lackluster summer) but in the end there were a lot of movies I at least liked a lot and several I loved. As per my quota, I’ve viewed 65 films this year; below are my one-line commentaries on each:

Must See [7]
1. Blue Valentine. Love is everything they said it would be.
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop. Informative, revealing, surprising— in that order.
3. Fighter, The. A lot of familiar territory, but the small pockets of originality add up in the end.
4. Get Low. Methodical narrative that never lets go of its audience.
5. King's Speech, The. Beautifully photographed and acted.
6. Social Network, The. Pulls off the difficult task of making recent history compelling in its own time.
7. Youth in Revolt. Oddball but endearing.

Recommended [31]
1. A Prophet. Brutal and engrossing.
2. Alice in Wonderland. Loose script but visually pleasing.
3. Catfish. Thought-provoking but perhaps a different approach (rather than thriller-esque) might have worked better.
4. Cyrus. Kind of half a movie, but a crowd pleaser.
5. Despicable Me. Suprisingly original and sweet.
6. Easy A. Likeable; throwback.
7. Eclipse (Twilight Saga). Although the lack of action from the last movie holds over, there is much more suspense here, and it also manages the difficult task of keeping the love triangle viable.
8. Fair Game. The personal story needed to take an even further precedence over the political for full impact.
9. Get Him to the Greek. Stays just on the side of funny while still showing the excessive rock star lifestyle.
10. Ghost Writer, The. Outclasses "genre" by just a hair; ensemble is very good.
11. Hot Tub Time Machine. Not Citizen Kane, nor even Back to the Future, but offers a high chuckle-factor.
12. How Do You Know. More laughs than most comedies this year (many courtesy of Owen Wilson)— a definite "feel good" movie but with some very awkward scenes with Paul Rudd's character's pregnant assistant and an overall talkiness.
13. How to Train Your Dragon. Nice pleasing adventure.
14. Inception. Love that final shot.
15. Iron Man 2. A shade off the original, but still a fun "adult" take on the comic book movie.
16. Kick-Ass. Its brilliance is in somehow making the horrific violence "acceptable."
17. Kids Are All Right, The. The performances (particularly Ruffalo and Wasikowska) outweigh the occasional obvious dramatics.
18. Let Me In. Nicely avoids the shock factor in favor of character.
19. MacGruber. Manages a feature film from nothing, decent laugh quotient.
20. Machete. Delivers the goods without forcing cult status.
21. Other Guys, The. Seems that there were A LOT of cooks making this comedy stew, but despite lacking in character depth it's just very funny [even with a distractingly odd serious element about white collar crime].
22. Red. Oscar-types having a good time.
23. Runaways, The. Well cast, with a nice emphasis on character instead of benchmark biopic "moments."
24. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Keeps its bag of tricks in check.
25. Somewhere. Well-represented by it's trailer, use it to decide your interest— really it's not much of anything, but for some reason it appealed to me.
26. Town, The. Exciting ensemble piece, not deep.
27. Toy Story 3. That same old formula, but even all these WAY many years later it still works.
28. Tron: Legacy. Different from the original but nifty in it's own way.
29. True Grit. A rousing romp with great period flavor.
30. Valentine's Day. Surprisingly sweet, if somewhat 1991ish.
31. When in Rome. Formulaic film succeeds in spite of itself by some good old-fashioned star charisma in lead Kristen Bell.

Skippable [21]
1. 127 Hours. For my money it didn't quite sustain it's (barely) feature length.
2. Black Swan. It wasn't perfect.
3. Chronicles of Narnia, The: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Well adapted film suffers from its fidelity to the source material, re: thin.
4. Clash of the Titans. Surprisingly good performances and decent updating (a rip-off 3-D-wise though)
5. Dinner for Schmucks. Wins points for trying, but it just didn't work.
6. Expendables, The. Actually delivers but not to the point that anyone outside of the target audience should bother.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows— Part 1. Well-paced episodic entry in which very little of actual substance happens.
8. Jackass 3-D. Delivers to an extent but offers too little 3-D-wise and not really any truly clever stunts.
9. Little Fockers. Mildly humorous; Jessica Alba ungodly hot.
10. Made in Dagenham. Fine production values and a story worth telling only it doesn't quite distinguish itself.
11. Paranormal Activity 2. Decent companion piece to the first film is nowhere near as potent.
12. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Slow start but when the kids trek off on their own, okay episodic fare.
13. Predators. Moderate actioner.
14. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Generic.
15. Shutter Island. Stylish and never dull, but strictly genre.
16. Tangled. Pleasing eye candy that needed better songs and more originality to truly break out.
17. Unstoppable. The exciting parts were exciting but the boring parts were boring.
18. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Did the original "Wall Street" have this much crying?
19. Winter's Bone. Not without interest but too low-key.
20. Wolf Man. All the elements are there (particularly the art direction), but it somehow doesn't satisfy.
21. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Some good acting work (Hopkins, Punch) but doesn't resolve most of its narrative threads.

Avoid [6]
1. Another Year. Determined to be depressing, only succeeded in being a snooze.
2. Date Night. Trying really hard to be funny just isn't good enough.
3. Love and Other Drugs. Another in a long line of movie romances that THINKS we need no further evidence that the main characters are in love than some corny dialogue generally delivered toward the end.
4. Piranha. Too self conscious and too gruesome to enjoy.
5. Rabbit Hole. The bad side of Oscar bait.
6. Salt. Stupefying!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

National Film Registry 2010 Announced

Happened to be up to see this break: the National Film Registry picks for 2010. It's probably the best all-around bunch I've seen-- nice job this year. Three of my votes made it (THE EXORCIST, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK). The list spans over a hundred years, from 1891 to 1996— certainly the longest time span of any NFR 25.

Here's a link to the LA Times article.

The AP article is here and offers the tidbit that more than 2,100 films were nominated by the public this year.

Here's the list:

AIRPLANE! (1980)



CRY OF JAZZ (1959)







IT'S A GIFT (1934)




MALCOLM X (1992)











Saturday, December 25, 2010

Presents under the Christmas Tree

Christmas has transitioned to the big MOVIE DAY for me, but that doesn't mean I don't like opening those Christmas presents. This year, I scored a combo: Flicker Alley's DVD collection "Chaplin at Keystone" & Ted Okuda and David Maska's Charlie Chaplin at Keystone & Essanay.

Best Christmas wishes!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Indiewire Poll 2010

The great Indiewire Poll of critics is posted on their website. Another vote of confidence for The Social Network!

Link to the Indiewire Poll.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

100th Anniversary of Edison's "A Christmas Carol" -- Released December 23, 1910

Pretty wild to see films reaching their 100th... next year will be the first opportunity to see features hitting their centennial (starting with L'Inferno [1911]).  Tangerine Dream: Inferno
This version of A Christmas Carol is not the first... and there is a three-and-a-half-minute 1901 UK version called Scrooge, Or Marley's Ghost on You Tube (see below).  Both are pretty good.  The 1910 version has the added interest of featuring Charles Ogle as Bob Cratchit-- Ogle played Frankenstein's monster in Edison's March 1910 film.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Contenders 2010: Narrative Live-Action Features

With the early returns of the Satelite Noms, National Board, D.C. critics, reviews & buzz, here's a list of films to look out for with next week's critics picks and Golden Globes. Not a comprehensive list (and excluding docs and animated films) but a guideline:

127 Hours
Animal Kingdom
Another Year
Black Swan
Blue Valentine
Fair Game
The Fighter
Get Low
The Ghost Writer
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
Love and Other Drugs
Rabbit Hole
The Social Network
The Town
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Awards Season Schedule: Movie Year 2010

Here are the dates for all the film awards announcements— from The National Board of Review to the Oscars— (dates with circa [c.] in front of them are approximations based on last year):

Dec. 2: The National Board of Review (generally announced by 3PM EST)
Dec. 4: European Film Awards
Dec. 4: Washington D.C. Area FC Noms
Dec. 6: Washington D.C. Area FC Wins
c. Dec 9: Women Film Critics Circle Wins
Dec. 10: Detroit FIlm Critics Noms
Dec. 12: Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.
Dec. 12: Boston Society of Film Critics
Dec. 12: AFI
Dec. 13: New York Film Critics Circle
Dec. 13: Broadcast Film Critics (BFCA) Noms
c. Dec. 13: New York Film Critics Online
c. Dec. 13: St. Louis Film Critics Noms
c. Dec. 13: Alliance of Women Film Journalists Wins
Dec. 14: Golden Globe (HFPA) Nominations
c. Dec. 14: African-American Film Critics Assn
c. Dec. 14: Indiana Film Journalists Assn
c. Dec 14: San Francisco Film Critics Circle
c. Dec. 14: Southeastern Film Critics Association
c. Dec. 15: Austin Film Critics Assn.
c. Dec. 15: Chicago Film Critics Assn. Noms
c. Dec 15: San Diego Film Critics Society
Dec. 16: SAG Nominations
Dec. 16: Detroit Film Critics Winners
c. Dec. 16: Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Assn.
c. Dec. 16: Toronto Film Critics Association
c. Dec. 17: Las Vegas Film Critics Society
c. Dec. 18: Florida Film Critics Circle
c. Dec. 18: Utah Film Critics Association
c. Dec. 19: Houston Film Critics Society
Dec. 19: Golden Satellite Awards
c. Dec. 21: Chicago Film Critics Assn. Wins
c. Dec. 21: St. Louis Film Critics Winners
c. Dec. 22: London Film Critics Circle Nominations
c. Dec. 22: Phoenix Film Critics Society
c. Dec. 23: Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
c. Dec. 31: Online Film Critics Society Noms
Jan. 1: One Line Review [this blog!]
Jan 2: Kansas City Film Critics Circle
c. Jan. 3: National Society of Film Critics
Jan. 4: USC Scripter Award Noms
c. Jan. 4: Vancouver Film Critics Circle Noms
Jan 4: PGA Nominations
Jan. 4: WGA Nominations (film)
Jan. 5: Art Directors Guild (ADG) Noms
Jan. 6: Cinema Audio Society (CAS) [Sound Mixing] Noms
c. Jan. 6: NAACP Image Awards Noms
c. Jan. 7: Central Ohio Film Critics Association
c. Jan 9: North Texas Critics Association
Jan. 10: DGA Nominations
Jan. 10: Visual Effects Society Noms
Jan. 11: American Society of Cinematographers Noms
c. Jan. 12: Vancouver Film Critics Circle Wins
Jan. 14: American Cinema Editors Noms
Jan. 14: Critics Choice (BFCA) Awards
Jan. 16: 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Jan. 18: BAFTA Nominations
c. Jan. 19: Online Film Critics Society Winners
Jan. 21: Costume Designers Guild (CDG) Noms
Jan. 21: Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) Noms
Jan. 22: PGA Awards
c. Jan. 22: Iowa Film Critics Association
Jan. 24: Razzie Awards Noms
Jan. 28: Visual Effects Society Wins
Jan. 29: DGA Awards
Jan. 30: SAG Awards
Feb. 4: USC Scripter Award Winner
Feb. 5: WGA Awards
Feb. 5: Art Directors Guild (ADG) Noms
Feb. 5: ASIFA's Annie Awards Wins
Feb. 13: BAFTA Winners
Feb. 13: American Society of Cinematographers Winners
c. Feb 18: London Film Critics Circle Winners
Feb. 19: American Cinema Editors Winners
Feb. 19: Cinema Audio Society (CAS) [Sound Mixing] Wins
Feb. 20: Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) Wins
Feb. 22: Costume Designers Guild (CDG) Wins
c. Feb. 26: NAACP Image Awards Winners
Feb. 26: Independent Spirit Awards
Feb. 26: Razzie Awards Wins

Wednesday, December 1st another highlight of “Pre-Awards” Season, is the announcement of the Satellite Awards nominations, a sort of precursor to the Golden Globes. Link to the International Press Academy website.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Time to Lobby the Library of Congress About the National Film Registry

Happy Thanksgiving!

In one month, the Library of Congress will announce the next 25 films to be added to the National Film Registry.  Last year's list spanned the years 1911-86, and included: Little Nemo (1911), Jezebel (1938), Pillow Talk (1959), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Muppet Movie (1979), and Chuck Workman's love letter to film Precious Images (1986).  Also included were historically important films such as The Exiles (1961), "one of the few non-stereotypical films that honestly depict Native Americans." Unfortunately, the NFR decided to put music video "Thriller" in the mix--a can of worms that should not have been opened.  "Thriller" should be a choice for the National Television Registry (that doesn't exist).  Are we supposed to add significant music videos each year?  To what end?  And if the argument is that it was filmed that's why it's a "film", well so was I Love Lucy.  And if the argument is that it was filmed "like a movie" than so is every single TV movie: are we adding those too?

The National Film Registry started in 1989, and there are currently 525 films on the list.  Although the obscure films and historically important documentaries fulfill the mandate of the Registry, there does seem to be a movement, at least in recent years, to include those fictional feature films that are great films (more of a Sight and Sound approach) or cult films (such as The Incredible Shrinking Man last year) and not just historically or culturally important ones (there are still many Oscar-winning Best Pictures not on the list, for example).

You can e-mail your list to the Library of Congress and they'll consider your choices.  Link to their website.

Below are my picks for what should be added to this year's list (I only do the narrative feature films: I'll let the Library of Congress decide on the obscure works).  To me, the film that most needs to be added above all (my choice last year as well) is Blue Velvet.  I have made a change to my approach this year... The NFR allows any movie so long as it is at least 10 years old-- dutifully I have added one film from 10 years ago... which the NFR OUGHT to do so as not to "fall behind."  But they don't.  And it seems that they almost never have films from the last 20 years (unless they are the obscure or historically significant ones).  So I decided, when NONE of my choices made it last year, to have my most recent film be 20 years old instead.  Why waste the votes?

My choices for this go-round, by year:

1910s-20s-30s (4 titles)
A Tale of Two Cities (1917)
The Sheik (1921)
The Guardsman (1931)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

1940s (5 titles)
Bambi (1942)
First Comes Courage (1943)
Lifeboat (1944)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

1950s (10 titles)
Harvey (1950)
The Red Badge Of Courage (1951)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Limelight (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Stalag 17 (1953)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Killing (1956)
The King and I (1956)
Auntie Mame (1958)

1960s (10 titles)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Lolita (1962)
The Birds (1963)
The Great Escape (1963)
Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
The Naked Kiss (1964)
Seconds (1966)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

1970s (10 titles)
Love Story (1970)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
All the Presidents Men (1976)
The Front (1976)
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

1980s (10 titles)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Arthur (1981)
The World According to Garp (1982)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Aliens (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Die Hard (1988)

1990s (1 title)
Awakenings (1990)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taking the Oscar Bait-- 2010

Thanksgiving week ushers in the first wave of the serious Oscar hopefuls, which run to Christmas Day. They can turn out to be all hype, but it's still the case that the biggest Oscar films come out this time of year. Below is the slate of this year's major Oscar bait of the upcoming releases, roughly in order of current "buzz":

1. The King's Speech
2. The Fighter
3. Black Swan
4. True Grit
5. Blue Valentine
6. Another Year
7. How Do You Know
8. Rabbit Hole
9. Frankie & Alice
10. Biutiful

Here's links to my previous blog entries on end-of the-year Oscar bait:
Awards Season 2009
Awards Season 2008

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pre-Awards Season Begins 2010

The announcement of the National Board of Review's picks on December 2nd, as is tradition, will bring down the checked flag for the start of Awards season. Here at One Line Review, Pre-Awards season begins with the simultaneous publication in the first weekend of November of the Los Angeles Times's "Holiday Movie Sneaks," Entertainment Weekly's Holiday Movie Preview Issue [see note, however] (which contains their early guesses in Oscar's Best Picture, Directing, and Acting races), and Awards-Season Previews in the trades.  However, this year, The EW Holiday Movie Preview issue was pushed a week throwing the whole system off.  I think next year my blog entry for "Pre-Awards Season Begins" will be for the L.A. TimesEW/ or the announcement of the Cecil B. DeMIlle— whichever comes out first.  But with all three out now, on Monday, I feel we can safely stand around the water cooler and say the word "Oscar" without fear of "already?" (These year-round Oscar websites, though, to me, are the equivalent of playing Christmas music in July.  There is a chart of Oscarists' predictions of what will WIN Best Picture currently online... this is SO weird.)

EW lists their Oscar nominations predictions, separating a "top five" for Best Picture (lest we forget AMPAS in their infinite wisdom decided to expand BP to ten noms) in their Holiday Movie Preview.  This year, curiously, four of the five are not upcoming releases: Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3.  The lone upcoming title is: The King's Speech.

There are several acting "locks" it seems coming into the season, leaving little wiggle-room for surprise.  Take Best Actor, for example: Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), Robert Duvall (Get Low), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), and James Franco (127 Hours)... that's five... but of course, we'll see how it all pans out.

Films I look forward to seeing this holiday season include: Black SwanHow Do You Know, The King's Speech, Narnia: Dawn Treader.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Robert De Niro to Receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced the recipient for this year's Cecil B. DeMille Award: Robert De Niro. After a two year director hiatus from actors (Scorsese, Spielberg) the HFPA is getting back to honoring the actors.  The press release was posted early this morning on the HFPA website... glad they are prompt (even though it's PST, sorry New York). 

De Niro was certainly among the most probable picks (especially given that Scorsese received it last year), and, of course, deserving. They're so many great De Niro performances: The Godfather, Part IITaxi DriverRaging BullThe King of Comedy; GoodfellasCape FearJackie Brown; Analyze This; Meet the Parents; and Machete... to name a few.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Who Will Receive this Year's Cecil B. DeMille Award?

This year "Pre-Awards" season won't begin for me with Entertainment Weekly's Holiday Movie Preview issue which presumably will come out on Thursday (it's generally the first issue of November— but oddly wasn't this year).  So the flip-flop will have Pre-Awards start with the announcement of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe Award for lifetime achievement, the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The timing of the announcement has changed a lot recently— it was traditionally on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving week, and last year, it was the Thursday of the second week of November.  This year it will be tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9th.

The Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Golden Globe was first given in 1952, to namesake Cecil B. DeMille himself. Producer/Director DeMille was one of the most successful filmmakers of Hollywood's Golden Age and in 1952 he made the film that would win Oscar's Best Picture, The Greatest Show on Earth. Who won the second DeMille award? Walt Disney.

In the early years of the award, the recipient was generally a producer/studio head, but starting with Maurice Chevalier (1959's recipient) performers have worked their way up, to the point that the award has been given exclusively to them since 1978 (with a few "hyphenates" among them, such as Clint Eastwood), until Steven Spielberg's 2008 win.

So, who do you think will be given this year's Cecil B. DeMille Award? The most likely candidate of the last several years has certainly been Meryl Streep. Streep has received the most career nominations (at 25). Plus she's had a string of high profile hits as of late critically and commercially, too.

Here is a link to the Cecil B. DeMille Award on the HFPA's website.

And here is a handy one-page list on Wikipedia.

What is your guess for this year's DeMille?

Notables who have yet to receive the honor include: Woody Allen, Julie Andrews, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, Glenn Close, Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert DeNiro, Gerard Depardieu, Robert Duvall, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, George Lucas, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Sylvester Stallone, Meryl Streep, John Travolta, and Denzel Washington.

... My perennial guess is HFPA favorite (12 noms, 3 wins) Michael Caine, but the wind has blown toward non-actors.   When Spielberg won in 2008/09, my pick for '09/10 became Francis Ford Coppola, however the HFPA went with Martin Scorsese. With Coppola as one of this year's Honorary Oscar recipients, it's unlikely that he'll get it due to the double-up factor... Therefore, I'm going to go with Woody Allen (if they can convince him to accept) as my prediction for this year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Summer Box Office 2010 Top Ten Champs

Now that the dust has settled and the fall is upon us, and with the release of summer blockbusters Iron Man 2 and The Karate Kid on DVD (Toy Story 3 gets released on November 2), it's time to take a look at how things wrapped up.

Here are the Top Ten Moneymakers of Summer 2010:

1. Toy Story 3- 412.0 million (to date) (#9 domestic of all-time [unadjusted for inflation])
2. Iron Man 2— $312.1 million
3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse— $300.5 million
4. Inception— $289.3 million (to-date)
5. Despicable Me— $246.6 million (to-date)
6. Shrek Forever After— $238.4 million
7. The Karate Kid— $176.6 million
8. Grown Ups— $161.8 million
9. The Last Airbender— $131.6 million
10. The Other Guys— $118.0 million/ Salt- 117.9 million (both to-date)

The summer sleeper award goes to The Karate Kid (honorable mention to The Expendables, with a $102.8 haul to-date). On the list of box office fizzles: Robin Hood ($105.3 million), Sex and the City 2 ($95.3 million), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (a very low [especially these days] $90.8 million), The A-Team ($77.2 million).... and the big dud: Knight & Day (just $76.4 million).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eight 1950s Oscar Nominated (Male) Actors Left

Today came the news that Tony Curtis and Joe Mantell died, Best Actor nominee 1958 and Best Supporting Actor nominee 1955, respectively. This leaves just eight (male) actors left among 1950s Oscar nominees, as follows— Best Actor nominees (three): Ernest Borgnine [the last male '50s Oscar winner; photo], Kirk Douglas, and Sidney Poitier. Best Supporting Actor nominees: Don Murray, Mickey Rooney, Russ Tamblyn, Theodore Bikel, and Robert Vaughn. Surprising how few remain.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New "At the Movies": The Return of Roger Ebert

Good News!  At the Movies is back.  The piece of the pilot that's available online (below) is very encouraging.  If you get Ebert's annual, you see that he's extremely well-informed as to what movie fans spend their time doing/thinking, in addition to the latest in moviemaking techniques.  That's suggested in this new program which combines various features to the usual movie reviewing.

My only question is why isn't Ebert using the computerized voice that matches his own (as he demonstrated on Oprah) and instead has that Stephen Hawking-like "voice."

Show starts in January... I'll be watching!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Four Surviving Cast Members (Speaking Parts) Remain From "Gone With the Wind"

With the passing of Cammie King at the age of 76, just four cast members with speaking parts are left from the all-time classic Hollywood epic Gone With the Wind (according to all available sources online).  As "Bonnie Blue Butler," she was Scarlett and Rhett's daughter.  She first appears at 187 minutes into the film [1 hour 19 min into DVD 2] Cammie King obit at pressdemocrat.

Although in previous blog entries, I noted Mary Anderson as living (per her IMDb and Wikipedia pages), it seems less and less likely that she is alive.  No one is actually claiming she is and when didn't list her on their comprehensive living people born in 1920 list, I decided to drop my own claim herein.)

The surviving actors are as follows:

Alicia Rhett (b. 2/1/15) as "India Wilkes."  She is the young daughter from the Twelve Oaks Plantation.  She can be seen at 18 minutes into the film (using the 4-disc Collector's Edition DVD version of the movie as a guide).

Olivia de Havilland (b. 7/1/16) as "Melanie Hamilton."  De Havilland was fourth billed and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind.   She's first seen at 19 minutes into the film.

Ann Rutherford (b. 11/2/20) as "Carreen O'Hara."  She is the youngest sister of Scarlett.  She is first seen at 14 minutes into the film.

Mickey Kuhn (b. 9/21/32) as "Beau Wilkes."  Playing Ashley and Melanie's son, he appears toward the very end of the film (216 minutes into the approximately 223 minute film [1 hour 48 min into DVD 2])

Among the non-speaking parts is cast member Patrick Curtis who appeared at a screening of GWTW at the Motion Picture Academy last year— he played Beau Wilkes as a baby (and was therefore born c. 1938-39).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2011 Leonard Maltin Guide: Actors and Directors Index Adds

With the new Maltin Guide comes the addition of new names to the star/director index (and axing of others). Last year 21 people were cut and 12 added.  Oddly, this year, no one was cut and there were but 3 additions (all new Oscar nominees)!  I have no idea what this means.  It sounds as if the editors have just thrown in the towel on the index though, knowing the power of such searches online— at this point between smart phones and WiFi I guess the theory is: who really looks at the index.  But in a way it starts to relegate the book itself to a shelf ornament.  This was the first time that I really started to think that the print Maltin may be heading the way of the dodo bird.  Cutting them some slack though— maybe, just maybe, they didn't need to do much in the way of changes because of the wholesale work done last year.  Here are the few "graduates" of the class of 2009/10.

New "Faces" added to the Leonard Maltin Guide 2011 Index:

Colin Firth

Woody Harrelson

Kathryn Bigelow

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2011 Leonard Maltin Guide Is Out!

Every year I greatly anticipate Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. His capsule reviews and ratings set the standard for how a film will be seen by future generations.   As I've reported each year, the last several Maltin Guides have been VERY sparing in giving out the **** rating— practically unattainable for new releases, last year I noticed but three films were **** rated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, and Slumdog Millionaire; this year I didn't spot ANY **** additions!

Here's how my top ten 2009 stacked up against the Maltin Guide's ratings:

Inglourious Basterds (d. Quentin Tarantino) (** 1/2) [my #1, rest alpha]
Capitalism: A Love Story (d. Michael Moore) (***)
District 9 (d. Neill Blomkamp) (*** 1/2)
The Hurt Locker (d. Kathryn Bigelow) (*** 1/2)
I Love You, Man (d. John Hamburg) (** 1/2)
Julie & Julia (d. Nora Ephron) (***)
Nine (d. Rob Marshall) (***)
Paranormal Activity (d. Oren Peli) (***)
Up (d. Pete Docter, Bob Peterson) (*** 1/2)
World’s Greatest Dad (d. Bobcat Golthwait) (***)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Best of the Year So Far: Midyear 2010

Several years back I realized that I had trouble diferentiating between the movies I liked and the movies I loved from the early part of the year. Roger Ebert has always suggested that this was true of the Academy and why the Oscars have such "short attention span." He recommended a midyear ballot to go along with the end-of-the-year ballot combining both to create the nominations list.

For me, I decided a top 5 usually works. I wait until July 15, since the first few weeks of January are generally a wash for new releases, and so 7/15 is a little closer to the mid-point. This year, although I had many "nominees" for the top 5, I found it very easy to pick the top 5.

I have thirteen "nominees" for my top 5 this year— just two at the top, i.e. "must see" (Exit and Youth). This years nominees (films I'd seen by 7/15 that made my "must see" and "recommended" categories) include: Alice in Wonderland, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Get Him to the Greek, The Ghost Writer, How to Train Your Dragon, Iron Man 2, Kick-Ass, MacGruber, A Prophet, The Runaways, Toy Story 3, Valentine's Day, and Youth in Revolt.

My top 5 2010 so far (listed alphabetically):
Exit Through the Gift Shop
The Ghost Writer
The Runaways
Youth in Revolt

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Connery Returns to the Big Screen in Animated Feature

Nice to see Sean Connery in his first feature film in seven years— the animated feature Sir Billi.  Although the comments posted by fans on You Tube (on the trailer clip) are a little harsh, I can see it being at least modestly successful.  My only issue is that Connery, just shy of 80, may not be in another movie.  This has always annoyed me about major stars... like when James Stewart chose to end his career with An American Tail 2 and Paul Newman's swan song turned out to be Cars.  Although in both of these cases (as well as the Connery movie) they were all spins on these actors personas, I think any legendary personality should at least chose some high profile supporting part to retire on.  Below, an embed of the Sir Billi trailer and Connery being interviewed about taking the part.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Woody Allen's Next Film "Midnight in Paris" (2011)

I just read on CNN's website that Woody Allen has become unprecedentedly talkative about his newest film, which is now in pre-production (looks like EW broke it yesterday).  I don't think I've ever heard the title to one of his films before production, which he's notorious to keep undisclosed until the last minute.  Hopefully this is a sign of a new Woody for the '10s.  His You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (which makes Midnight in Paris sound like the best movie title ever conceived!) starring Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, and Freida Pinto will play at Cannes and then get released in the US on September 23rd.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Living Munchkins of Oz

With the recent death of Meinhardt Raabe, who played the 'Coroner' of Munchkinland in The Wizard of Oz, there are but five "little people" alive who played Munchkins. What's often overlooked is the fact that about nine children (all girls) were hired for "fill" in the background in Munchkinland as well, most of whom are living. Photo right shows the Munchkins [Jerry Maren holds up lollipop] at the unveiling of their "Star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

Stephen Cox's terrific book The Munchkins of Oz, profiles the little people who played Munchkins [and chronicles the 122 verified players in a handy appendix], and also notes three of the child actresses who appeared. Wikipedia (believe it or not) has a fuller list of the child actors.

Here's the current list of living Munchkins:

Little people (5):
Ruth (Robinson) Duccini (b. 1918)
Jerry Maren (b. 1920)
Olga C. Nardone (b. 1919)
Margaret (Williams) Pellegrini (b. 1923)
Karl (Kosiczky) Strover (b. 1918)

Child actors (8):
Betty Ann (Bruno) Cain (born c. 1931) [profiled in the Cox book]
Ardith Dondanville (born c. 1930)
Joan (Bernhoft) Kenmore [profiled in the Cox book]
Shirley Ann Kennedy
Eva Lee Kuney (b. 1934)
Patsy May (b. 1934)
Priscilla Montgomery (born c. 1929)
Valerie Shepard (child actress)

As far as I know, the only one of the child actresses who has passed is Viola (Banks) White [profiled in the Cox book, where her death date is listed as 1/8/00]

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

83rd Annual Academy Awards: Key Dates Announced

The "key dates" for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards have been announced (they were announced last week, I'm a bit behind this year!). And, thankfully, we're back to the nominations in January, Awards in February schedule (following the move up this past year to compensate for the Olympics).

My annual gripe: They are still not early enough. I hope one day that the dates get pushed up even further with the nominations in early January and the show early February. Awards season is just too drawn out. The studios would make sure their movies got released in November-early December. As far as I'm concerned, the last "wide" releases should be on Christmas Day-- not January 31st. Can't Anytown, U.S.A. get their Crazy Heart in 2009, you know, the year it was actually released, and not January-February 2010?

The nominations will be on January 25, 2011; the 83rd Annual Oscars will be on February 27.

Link to full list of key dates.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Stealing First Base" Movie Kisses Montage on The Simpsons

Sarah Silverman guest-starred on The Simpsons episode "Stealing First Base" this past Sunday, and when her character kisses Bart a Cinema Paradiso-inspired flurry of images follows. A very sweet moment-- but how can you lose with that "Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso"? (Which was also played over the end credits.) There were fifteen "clips" in the montage: the "movies" scored 13 clips and TV got 2. Here's the bit from Hulu, plus the rundown.... framing isn't perfect on any of these, but just so you get the idea...

From Here to Eternity

Gone With the Wind

The Quiet Man

Lady and the Tramp

Planet of the Apes

On Golden Pond



Star Trek

Beauty and the Beast (TV series)-- couldn't find an exact match

The Public Enemy



The Godfather, Part II

All in the Family: "Sammy's Visit"