31 Days of Oscar: Jezebel (1938)

Jezebel (1938)

This is the first film of this year that landed with a resounding thud to me. To get too far into it would be too give to much away. Despite the fairly good narrative flow, likely the first great leading turn of Davis’ career and seeing a young Henry Fonda, anothr great Max Steiner score, I still didn’t like the movie much at all mostly due to the narrative and the handling thereof.

Score: 4/10
Oscar Nominations/Wins: 5/2

31 Days of Oscar: A Man Called Peter (1955)

A Man Called Peter (1955)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is the fact that it contains some really amazing sermons, which are even greater if cribbed from real life and more impressive. Now preaching is generally verboten in film, however, one exception is when your lead is a priest. Some of the thoughts conveyed are great and even applicable to current times, one reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s recent point about being a Christian country. It gets a little languid towards its inevitable conclusion but the cinematography is great as are some of the performances.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0
Score: 6/10

31 Days of Oscar: To Catch a Thief (1955)

To Catch Thief (1955)

When I become familiar with a filmmaker part of my scoring indicates how the film fits on their scale. Hitchcock was the first director I started to watch religiously. I always avoided this film based on the description. It’s better than I thought it would be but still not what I’d recommend to anyone as where to start as a starting point. It is enjoyable though.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/1
Score: 8/10

The 89th Annual Academy Awards


As per usual I will be live-blogging the Academy Awards because I can’t help myself, even though I haven’t seen very many of the films and have a low-tolerance for Jimmy Kimmel. But here we go.

Also, there may be less red carpet commentary tonight than in previous years as I may be flipping back and forth between red carpet coverage and the New York Rangers game.

Red Carpet

Awkwardness is already abound in the interviews between plying Gael Garcia Bernal about Zorro details he can’t divulge and recounting Viggo Mortensen taking the Captain Fantastic kids to meet some of the cast of The Lord of the Rings.

One of the fortunate things about being behind is that the turnaround from theatrical release to home video availability is quicker than ever.


Glad to see ribbons supporting the ACLU are big this year.


Very cool to hear Octavia Spencer talk about wanting to produce more films ad bring more underrepresented people to the big screen.

“My other wife Tom Ford” by Justin Timberlake may be the joke of the red carpet so far.


Clearly, one of the stories of the day is the death of Bill Paxton. RIP. I wouldn’t be too hard on the Oscars if there was nothing prepared except for some off-the-cuff remarks. I’ll have more to say about him soon as well.


My biggest rooting interest of the night is Kubo and the Two Strings.

UGH! The longest red carpet reaction panel ever with minimal insight, personality or interest. The show can’t start soon enough.

Time for the final half-hour on ABC, the most pointless half-hour of them all. Oh, how I wish the start would be pushed back to 8 PM/ET again.

I agree with the above sentiment.

Dwayne Johnson on the red carpet. He was one of the people in entertainment who kept me most pleased in an all around crappy year.

Commercials, then the show. Finally.

The Show

Justin Timberlake kicking things off with “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is definitely a wrinkle and an improvement to the usual formula.

Great start to the show!

“Probably my last time here.” Indeed.

“225 countries that hate us.” Politics right off the start.

Brings up the Matt Damon grudge in the monologue also.

“Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist.”

“I am glad Homeland Security let you in the country.”

The movies no one saw joke is the well he will return to too often.

Meryl Streep speech.

Alicia Vikander out first to present Supporting Actor.

Mahershala Ali wins. Moonlight is at the top of my must see lit for nominated films.

Threw out the fake news outlets.

Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman present Costume and Makeup.

This is one of those awkward moments: I was rooting against Suicide Squad because it was horrible, but these guys did great work on makeup. The first to mention immigrants as at least one member of the team was Italian.

Yes! Coleen Atwood. Sure, she’s won a lot but I really wanted it for this one.


A joke on Ben Carson as Dr. Stange. I love it.

One of the inspirations for Hidden Figures comes out to help the cast members introduce Best Documentary Feature.

O.J.: Made in America wins! This one I saw, and I loved it was my #2 on the year.

Dwayne Johnson jokes about not being allowed to sing live. He introduces Auli’i Cravalho and Lin-Manuel Miranda performing an original prologue and one of their nominated songs form Moana.

“Something all too rare these days a President who believes in both arts and sciences” to introduce the AMPAS president.

Red Vines and Junior Mints are parashoot-ed down from the ceiling.

Sound Editing and Mixing comes up.

I pretty much only had the clip to go off of, and I liked what I heard from Arrival.

Hacksaw Ridge gets the Mixing award.

Love tremendous shows of gratefulness, that was the moment of the show so far.

“A conscientious objector who decides to work with Mel Gibson anyway” love that Mel was laughing at that.

Vince Vaughn comes out to introduce the Governors Awards. The honorees were Lynn Stahlmaster, Anne V. Coates, Frederick Wiseman, and Jackie Chan.

Mark Rylance comes out to present Best Supporting Actress. States that women are better than men at opposing without hatred.

It seems overdue for Viola Davis. Thankfully she won now.


After a clip on the influence of The Apartment on Charlize Theron, she and Shirely MacLaine come out. They also announce Best Foreign Language Film.

I was hoping The Salesman would win just because Farhadi couldn’t attend thanks to Trump’s ban. A statement he wrote is read, on the ban and in thanks for the Awards.


“If we don’t have the courage to challenge authority, we don’t have journalism…” a quote by a reporter slain by ISIS whom inspired the documentary for which Sting wrote his Oscar nominated Best Original Song “The Empty Chair.”

The New York Times wins the commercial of the night.

Hailey Steinfeld and Gael Garcia Bernal come out for the animation awards.

Piper wins Best Animated short!

Bernal goes after Trump’s wall. Gets a standing ovation.

Laika is never get it. Friggin’ Oscars!

La La Land gets the Production Design Oscar and I can feel the tsunami approaching.

The tour group walk through. LOL!

Best Visual Effects introduced by two actors from Star Wars: Rogue One, but The Jungle Book wins!

Seth Rogen and Michael J. Fox come out of a Delorean after his filmed segment on how Back to the Future inspired him. They introduce Film Editing award.

Hacksaw Ridge takes Best Editing surprisingly. It’s usually a strong indicator of Best Picture but will this year’s winners be all over the place?

Lemonheads and Mike & Ikes are the next candies dropped by Jimmy Kimmel with help from Sunny Pawar of Lion.

Google ad in this break also ties into Lion as there is a Google Earth connection in the film.

The White Helmets wins Best Documentary Short Subject and it brings another opportunity to talk about Donald Trump. Asks for  standing ovation to show support for a swift en to the Syrian civil war after reading a statement.

Live Action Short Film is next…

Sing wins, not the animated feature clearly.

The Science Technical Awards come out and are “explained” and introduced. I’m so nerdy I wouldn’t mind more time delving into each of the winners annually as its hard to keep up especially when there are 18 “wonderful toys” so honored this year.


Javier Bardem talks about Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County and her performance of the four miracles of acting (truth, character, interaction with objects, and body language). They introduce Best Cinematography nominees.

La La Land again…


Jimmy Kimmel being allowed to mock the non-existent incident in Sweden was hilarious, though.

La La Land medley of sleepy music after 11 PM Eastern was not the best production decision.

Samuel L. Jackson comes out to introduce Best Original Score nominees…

I think Sam wanted to say one these because Moonlight sounds gorgeous.


Scarlett Johansson announces the winner for Best Original Song…

It’s a musical so it has to win Best Original song, right.

Jennifer Aniston comes out to introduce the In Memoriam segment. She mentions Bill Paxton and gets choked up.

Ugh, for some of them it was a grim reminder of something I’d tried to forget like Anton Yelchin.


Jimmy Kimmel talks about how We Bought a Zoo inspired him.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck come out for Best Original Screenplay. Damon is introduced as guest.

No script pages whatsoever this year. Lame.

Kenneth Lonergan wins Best Original Screenplay for Manchester by the Sea.

Amy Adams comes out to introduce Adapted Screenplay. Moonlight gets it!


And a great speech supporting ACLU, Academy, and to kids who need to hear a message of inclusiveness.

Halle Berry is introduced Best Director. Damien Chazelle. Will it be a spit?

He becomes the youngest Best Director winner. Orson Welles rolls over in his grave.


Brie Larson comes out to introduce the Best Actor nominees. Casey Affleck wins as he has been all awards season long.

Leonardo DiCaprio comes out to introduce the Best Actress nominees.

Emma Stone in La La Land just like all award season long, yay drama! I love her, and that was a tremendously humble acceptance.

Kimmel’s “Matt Damon” feud really got in the way, especially right before Best Picture as it kind of telegraphs what we can expect to see.

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway present Best Picture.

The biggest pregnant pause in the history of the awards and then La La Land. At least the voice over told me it only hit on 50% and some projections I saw said nine of 14.

Oh my God, I have never in my life seen anything like this. They were most of the way through the speech and then found out that Moonlight actually won! This is crazy!

Now Beatty is explaining the craziness.

How did he see “Emma Stone La La Land” in the envelope. The Academy changed procedures after the Jack Palance debacle. Great to see the sportsmanship and camaraderie between the two films.

The mic disappears on Jimmy Kimmel. “It’s just an award show.””I knew I would screw this up somehow.” “I promise I’ll never come back.”

Kimmel actually blaming himself too much. Someone on the production/direction end is going to be receiving a boatload of crap for that.





31 Days of Oscar: The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

This is one of the more surprising titles of this year’s festival. I knew some things about some of the talent involved but not the film itself. I was surprised on many occasions. I knew Vincent Korda was a great art director but these sets may be his best. I didn’t know the story was such an enjoyable fantasy. You typically pick up on common names in the fest other not as well-known artists make their presence felt, especially musicians. This year it was Alfred Newman and Miklos Rosza, nominated for this film. Sabu, recently given an Eclipse set by Criterion, stars in this film but there’s also Conrad Veit. It’s a very fun, enjoyable movie with great effects, amazing for the era.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/3
Score: 9/10

31 Days of Oscar: Life with Father (1947)

Life with Father (1947)

This is a quirky and pleasant film though it does feature some odd logic and math for humor’s sake and does get a bit long in the tooth. The cinematography proves there’s nothing quite like three-strip technicolor and once again proves that there’s nothing that Michael Curtiz could not do he was just better at some genres than others but more than capable of doing anything. It really in an enjoyable and contained film that is a tribute to restorers as the film has only resurfaced in viewable condition in recent years.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/0
Score: 6/10

31 Days of Oscar: Bless the Beasts & Children (1970)

Bless the Beasts & Children (1971)

As soon as I saw the opening credits I knew this film had one nomination and likely didn’t win it. The title song to the film is a great one by The Carpenters and may be perceived as the kind of nomination that’s trying to get young viewers to watch the ceremony- I think it’s worthy. However, as the film progressed I really liked it. It’s the kind, in fact, that I may like more once I see it again. It’s about six misfits who become friends at a summer camp and decide to free buffaloes from a reserve. The film starts with the beginning of their mission but at key and appropriate points we backtrack so you get an introduction to a particular character then you see how they interact and understand them more. There are some quirky 70s transitions and an ending that leaves you wanting more both in a good way and a bad way but it really is timeless if you look past the details. In fact, with Goodenow’s plight of being bullied due to his perceived homosexuality (the movie brilliantly never confirms or denies it) and threatening suicide it becomes quite relevant today and other characters are as engaging in their struggle to fit in but it’s Daryl Glaser’s portrayal as the aforementioned character and Stanley Kramer’s direction that make the film succeed whatever its faults. I’m glad this is another title now available through the Warner Archive.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0
Score: 7/10

31 Days of Oscar: Mrs. Parkington (1944)

19. Mrs. Parkington (1944)

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 2/0
Score: 10/10

I think it was last year that TCM did a spotlight on Greer Garson and how I wish I’d seen the whole thing. They aired all 5 of her consecutive Best Actress nominations (an unparalleled achievement) back-to-back. After what I thought of Mrs. Miniver I really regretted not seeing all of them. I tried to rectify that as best I could this year. This film is also a “through the years” kind of tale but very interestingly told going from the story’s present to several other key junctures in the past. The conclusion comes swift and impactful and nobly triumphant. Another film I watched for Garson but loved entirely.

31 Days of Oscar: Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

Despite the fact that it’s based on a novel I first became familiar with Kiss of the Spider Woman though a play version. I know that for the most part the narrative is one I enjoyed yet there were a few reasons I avoided the film version for some time.

Most of it has to do with the fact that the film in production terms and representational terms ends up in a very weird cultural limbo. Now in the interest of full disclosure: I am Brazilian so in many ways I disqualify myself but bear with me and try to understand my perspective.

The setting according to the text is always vaguely South American and surely for many reasons dictatorships were rampant on the continent for a time but the signage, location, supporting talent and director (via naturalization) are all Brazilian. It’s a muddled world wherein I see great Brazilian actors look less than stellar for the most part as they struggle with their broken English. You have late great Raul Julia doing a wonderful job but who generally gets overlooked in this film, except by the National Board of Review, and as brilliant as William Hurt is his name is Molina and he has no accent and isn’t designated as a gringo. So those factors along with Brazilians playing German in the film clips don’t ruin the film they just make suspension of disbelief a chore at times.

I’d absolutely love to see this (as I would most stories) in the languages intended whether Spanish or Portuguese and German and French.

Other than that the film is a great tale of unlikely friendship and loyalty, however, another bugaboo is there’s a line where Molina seems to indicate he’s more transgendered at heart than homosexual, so perhaps the description is not accurate. The only difference that really makes is in a public perception and social awareness. If this is looked at as William Hurt playing a transgendered man rather than crassly classifying “just another actor winning an award for playing gay” it would be better for the whole GLBT community so that people would know there are differences amongst the letters in that acronym. To continue to merely characterize the character as homosexual does a disservice to Hurt’s performance and in this day an age a community though I recognize that when the film was made there was a lack of differentiation.

But the only other issue I had was the prolonged and foreseeable ending. It truly is a good piece despite issues I had with it. That baggage was mostly my own and those things didn’t turn me off from the film.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/1
Score: 8/10