Oscar Season is here. This year, the nominees are: (Should I be like Letterman’s old line, “Ah, who cares…?”) But no, there are some good solid films on the list for 2017. Some good films were not mentioned, which is always the case. My favorite films and actors are never the ones that actually get the statue. It seems that politics even rears its ugly head in Hollywood. Shocking!
Here’s the List of Nominees: La La Land; Moonlight; Hell or High Water; Hacksaw Ridge; Hidden Figures; Manchester by the Sea; Fences; Lion & Arrival.
From the past winners of Best Picture in the 21st Century, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men .and perhaps A Beautiful Mind are probably the three standout films that have won the Oscar. But the most relevant films for the future of cinema are not the Oscar winners. Why? Because the Academy members don’t take into account the actual cinematic appeal of a film in any kind of intellectual capacity. If so, they would never have turned their Oscar ceremony into the mostly boring and tepid, dull as dishwater affair that it has become of late.
Another big controversy is #OscarsoWhite. This year, they’ve done a bit better about representing the population as it exists today, but there remains within Hollywood the same makeup of Old, White, Rich men who are running the show. And that has not changed.
Oscar Predictions abound in my weekly magazine of 6 Degrees of Film. The runaway favorite is La La Land, which has a rating of Wait for the small screen. Fences would get the See it at the Movies nod in this pack, as well as Arrival & Lion. Manchester by the Sea would be a miss. One of the things I’ve argued for is to let the foreign films compete for Best Picture. Elle should be competing in Best Picture, along with others. We talk of living in a Global Village, but this is something that is still part of the politics of Oscar… We have a review of Elle in the 6 Degrees magazine also. Here’s the link: 6 Degrees of Film
*What Critics are saying about….. Film reviews for all the Oscar nominees are on 6 Degrees. And there’s an interesting piece, in keeping with my original premise, about how much it costs to campaign to win an Oscar, or an Oscar nomination. Don’t let anyone fool you that this is high art-this is politics 101. There is a critics list of Best of 2016, if anyone is interested in keeping track. I’m always quite skeptical of finding even 10 films that will make the cut, but some years are better than others.
We have pieces from different critics who list their favorite past Best Picture winners, ranging from The Sting to Titanic and Gladiator. One of my favorite articles is from The Guardian, about the reasons that La La Land shouldn’t be considered a great film, even if it wins the coveted title of Best Picture. For all the reasons I’ve laid out in these articles, I agree. Some of the documentaries and short works have been the best parts of the Oscars in years past. That may be the case this year.
Reviews for I Don’t feel at Home in this world anymore, Fences, Patriots Day, the horror film Get Out, and the 1997 film, Jackie Brown are featured. Last week we featured reviews for The Space Between Us; The Great Wall with Matt Damon; John Wick: Chapter 2; The Human Surge; The Lego Batman Movie; and the Bogart classic: Beat the Devil from director John Huston
The Best of the Web: I recommend going to the website of Ebert.com and Film
Comment for top film reviews (other than 6 Degrees, of course!) These two top sites are usually consistent. Others I like on a weekly basis are The McGuffin, Film School Rejects and Rolling Stone, plus Esquire. NPR and the New York Times, as well as the
Chicago Sun and the LA Times newspapers, which still have consistently solid
reviews for films and all things cinema.
Recommended Viewing: The list from the Tampa Bay Times has Fences & Hidden Figures. Definitely see Arrival if you haven’t seen it already.
* OF NOTE: The next time Casablanca is playing at an art house near you, you should see it on the big screen. There is a piece this week on His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. These are the Black & White classics that need to be seen at some point in everyone’s life. Look for the part in His Girl Friday, as the dialogue races by at lightning speed, where Cary Grant makes a tongue-in-cheek remark about his real name, Archie Leach.
There’s also a piece about one of my favorite films from the Australian director, Peter Weir: “Picnic at Hanging Rock” If you haven’t seen it, put it on your list to DVR. Another Aussie, the Oscar winning director Ridley Scott’s best movies are ranked also. Kubrick’s The Shining is also reviewed. I’ve read the book and seen the film many times, and they are two different animals. There’s an interesting piece in the magazine that will lay out the reasons why Stephen King still hates the Kubrick version. I recommend reading the book and seeing the film.
The best arguments for Black & White Films: Most of the great Film Noir genre, plus Hitchcock, Laurel & Hardy, and the Marx Brothers are all best experienced in their original black & white format. There’s a homage to the Marx Brothers in our magazine. If you’ve never seen “Duck Soup“put it on your list.
The Armchair Film Fest: For the month of February, the Turner Classic crew
has mixed it up by simply going through the alphabet with Best Picture
nominees from the past. Listed here are a few of the best to tape:
Don’t worry about missing them, TCM usually repeats most of these at
some point throughout the year:
The Music Box from Laurel & Hardy;
The Music Man; Ninotchka; North by Northwest; The Nun’s Story; The
Outlaw Josey Wales; Papillon; The Philadelphia Story; The Pink Panther; A Place in the
Sun; The Quiet Man; Rear Window; Rebel without a Cause; Road to
Morocco; Roman Holiday; A Room with a View; The Seven Per-Cent
Solution; Shall We Dance; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Singin’ in the
Rain; Some Like it Hot; Spartacus; The Spirit of St. Louis; Strangers
on a Train; The Sundowners; The Tender Trap; The Thin Man; The Three
Musketeers; To Be or Not to Be; Top Hat; 12 Angry Men
**Film as Art: There’s a great piece about Film Posters seen as pieces
of Pop Art in the tradition of Andy Warhol. In my book, there’s a
chapter that talks about the reasons that the early days of film set
the tone for the way that film is viewed and treated to this day. It’s
never been recognized as an art form as it should be. This is a great
way to look at the overall themes that are laid out in modern
There’s so much going on now, the Oscar News is a two-parter. Stay tuned! See you at the movies-ML