Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomorrow the National Board of Review Announces

The official start of awards season is tomorrow; well unless Monday's announcement by the New York Film Critics Circle is considered the start.... I've decided, so as not to make myself crazy in future that the official start of awards season will be when the first of any of the major groups announce.  So, NYFCC you win. Since there is no guarantee that any "traditions" will be kept, I see no other way of dealing with it.      It was nice though when the National Board of Review was the first, then in rapid succession LA, New York, and recently falling into place the Washington D.C. Critics. But forget it.  I'll now just pay attention to what's first and then look at daily.  Let it be their headache!  But, since the National Board of Review's announcement has so long been considered the start, it will still be the sentimental "checkered flag" for me.

Link to National Board of Review website.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

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 1891-1996, certainly the longest time span of any NFR 25, and included: The Bargain (1914), The Front Page (1931), W. C. Field's starrer It's A Gift (1934), Saturday Night Fever (1977), and Airplane! (1980).   Also included were historically important films such as A Trip Down Market Street (1906), an amazing record of San Francisco's famed thoroughfare just days before the earthquake.  A link to the LA Times article from last year can be found here; I really thought this was the best NFR 25 selection list in years... I hope they chose as well this year.

The National Film Registry started in 1989, and there are currently 550 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, to include those fictional feature films that are great films (more of a Sight and Sound approach) or cult films (such as Grey Gardens) 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 for two years running) is Blue Velvet.  I made a change to my approach last 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; they did manage Malcolm X [1992] last year).  So I decided, when NONE of my choices made it the year before last, to have my most recent film be 20 years old instead. Why waste the votes?  I put two back from the mid-90s this year.  But, as a result of this decision last year, 3 of my films made the cut: The Exorcist (1973), All the Presidents Men (1976), and [at long last] The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

My choices for this go-round, by year:

1910s-20s-30s (3 titles)
A Tale of Two Cities (1917)
The Sheik (1921)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

1940s (5 titles)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Bambi (1942)
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 Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
The Front (1976)
Grease (1978)
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

1980s (10 titles)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (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)
Wall Street (1987)
Die Hard (1988)

1990s (2 titles)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Titanic (1997)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

EW's Holiday Movie Preview 2011

I love those seasonal EW movie preview issues. The Holiday Movie Preview always features an early Oscar-buzz section that's especially fun to mull over.  In Best Picture (and Director), among the 3 Front-Runners is The Descendants, which I'm eager to see due to Alexander Payne, but surprised to see it get such a showing.  Although not among my personal favs, The Help seems to me to be the surer front-runner (listed in their "other contenders").  Another of these, Midnight in Paris, I hope makes the cut.... however that "needs to be #1 on 5% of the ballots" rule might do it some harm, as I can see people listing it more likely #2 through #10. Glad to see Brad Pitt in there for Moneyball, and the acknowledgment that it wasn't some scenery-chewing performance, but deserves the attention.  I'm very, very curious to see if Meryl Streep is great as Margaret Thatcher, and not just an assumption that she will automatically be great: I agree with EW however when they say: "Would you consider betting against her? We wouldn't." Ditto for Glenn Close. Are we just assuming she'll be great just because of the role and her track record? Interesting to see Christopher Plummer on the list for Supporting Actor-- who only got his first career nom two years ago.  So happy to hear that Max Von Sydow is supposed to be good in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and hope he gets nominated-- I wished he had been nominated for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; he's only had one career nomination, which doesn't seem to be enough.  Even though it was a typical "Oscar" show-off performance, I was a sucker for Octavia Spencer in The Help.  I also agree with EW that Melissa McCarthy is a definite contender for Supporting Actress for Bridesmaids (I'm happy when any purely comedic performance gets nominated, they are so few and far between, so, "fingers-crossed").  I love Judy Greer and so I was happy to see her name appear, even if just under "long shots," for Supporting Actress for The Descendants.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Morgan Freeman to Receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award

My prediction, Meryl Streep, gets passed over again– however, I couldn't be more pleased with the choice, Morgan Freeman.  I didn't pick him because he JUST got the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award and I didn't think they'd double-up so quickly, but I was pleased when he got that too!  I think that his fifth Oscar nomination for Invictus really put him over the top for lifetime kudos.  Having also received the Kennedy Center Honors (in 2008), now its only up to the Film Society of Lincoln Center to catch up.

The first of Freeman's films I saw theatrically were Glory and Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.  I've liked him in everything since (hasn't everyone?).  His Oscar win for Million Dollar Baby was actually more along the lines of a "career achievement" win, but it was pretty representative of his work, a solid performance with that voice-over narration that has become a hallmark of his later career.

Link to HFPA press release.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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

Tomorrow is 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, then it was the Thursday of the second week of November.  Last year it was Tuesday, November 9th. And this year it's Wednesday, November 9th. So, basically on Nov. 1, I just look up the date with no expectation for consistency.

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 from 1978 (with a few "hyphenates" among them, such as Clint Eastwood), to 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.

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, 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, however I think this year, Meryl Streep will finally get it, and it's a long time coming....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pre-Awards Season Begins 2011

I usually say that the announcement of the National Board of Review's picks will bring down the checkered flag for the start of Awards Season, but of course, no tradition can ever last without some silly stupid goose spoiling the whole thing, in this case, oddly, the supposedly prestigious New York Film Critics Circle.  So, now what? I guess life just goes on.  To me, the National Board of Review's picks will always start me thinking about the upcoming Oscars. And, yes, of course, I want to know who the NYFCC pick.  But as far as timing, I think that's permanently gone out the window.  All this horseplay just further solidifies my real curiosity for just the main show: the Oscar nominations/Oscars themselves, and the rest be damned.  Furthermore, even what had come to define the start of what I've been calling here as Pre-Awards season— Entertainment Weekly's Holiday Movie Preview Issue— I had to switch last year when EW delayed the issue a week.  I switched it up to the L.A. Times' Holiday Movie Sneaks, that thankly has remained on schedule, out today, the first Sunday in November.  With its publication (and presumably this week's EW Holiday Movie Preview Issue [UPDATE: EW Holiday Preview 11/18/11]), I feel we can safely stand around the water cooler and talk "Oscar" without fear of "already?"

A highlight of early pre-Awards season for me is always the announcement of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille (Lifetime Achievement) Award, that will be announced this Wednesday, November 9.

Films I look forward to seeing this Holiday season, in no particular order, include: The Muppets, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, My Week with Marilyn, War Horse, Sherlock Holmes 2, Mission Impossible 4, The Artist, and The Iron Lady.