Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Luise Rainer Has Died

For as many years as I can remember, Rainer was the reigning chronologically and longest-lived competitive Oscar-winner, having won Best Actress for the films of 1936 and again the next year for films 1937. I thought for sure Shirley Temple would be the last Oscar winner left from the 1930s, but Rainer outlasted her. Rainer was to be 105 in just two weeks, she died Dec. 30 (her birthday is January 12th). 98-year-old Olivia de Havilland remains the very last Oscar nominee of the 1930s— apt since Gone With the Wind is one of the most famous of all '30s movies. Below is Rainer's (staged-for-the-newsreels) acceptance of the '36 Oscar.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

National Film Registry Picks 2015

The National Film Registry picks this year featured quite a few popular/ cult films, even if, yet again, they failed to add a single Oscar-winning Best Picture. Most, but not all, of the Best Picture winners are American films, so if they added one a year they would at some point catch up. Let's face it they all eventually have to be on the list, so better sooner than later. And I say again, what exactly is the hold up on Titanic (1997; eligible since 2007), do we need more time to consider the fact that it was a worldwide phenomenon? The addition of Ruggles of Red Gap strengthens the overall picks of 1935, but where is the terrific Mutiny on the Bounty if you're gonna pick a Charles Laughton? (With the addition of Ruggles, going forward: Mutiny plus The Informer would pretty much sew up '35.)

Despite my Best Picture gripe, however, I think this year's list is among the strongest I've seen in recent years, and fills in quite a few gaps, particularly in the area of genre (western, musical, horror). As the western is the "American" movie genre, it should always be represented, and this year's choices of Little Big Man and, especially, Rio Bravo are a well-chosen duo.

A much-higher-than-usual amount of my picks made it this year—3 (it's usually 1!)— as follows: Rosemary's Baby, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (at LONG last), and The Big Lebowski.

The full list can be found here.

Curious one day to see two silent films that made the list this year: Lois Weber's Shoes (1916) and The Dragon Painter (1919). A couple of minutes of the opening of the later is on YouTube: