6 Degrees: Oscar News

Oscar Selfie pix

The Oscars are coming this weekend. And the lists I tend to gravitate towards are my own made-up versions for what passes as 6 Degrees Awards. The dream lists include some needed revision to the tired and stale Old White Guys Awards that has devolved into the Academy Awards Show.

The Revenant

The one bright spot for me is the possible Oscar for Leo DiCaprio, and since it will be for his entire body of work, including The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Wolf of Wall Street, and many more from his long career, it should be a fitting tribute.

What about categories for….?

One of the solutions I’ve been kicking around under the hashtag: OscarsSoWhite; SoOld; SoPredictable; SoBORing and So20thCentury are some new updated categories for the Academy of Old White Guys to kick around.

First, obviously, they should change the makeup of the people who vote for these films. And then, to revive the entire Awards Concept, you should update the Categories with some that people might be interested in knowing the outcome when you announce them, rather than treating the whole thing as a big insider’s game where only a few rarified groups care when you announce the winners.

How about Oscar Categories for:


  • Best Performance by a young actor (under 30)
  • Best Comic Performance
  • Science & Trending-CGI Categories
  • Best Social Impact Film or Film with the Greatest Impact in the past decade
  • Classics: All Oscar Nominated Films are eligible to compete-
  • Best Remake of a Classic
  • Best Comic Genre Film…

Another list I’ve toyed with is one for Oscars from the past decades that have impacted lives. It’s a short list, with only a few memorable films. The films of the 21st Century that have most impacted our lives would include:*

Lost in Translation; The Matrix; The Social Network; There will be Blood; No Country for Old Men; Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Casino Royale; Batman Begins; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Frozen; The 40 Year old Virgin; Juno; 12 Years a Slave; Slumdog Millionaire; Iron Man; Taken; The Hurt Locker; Inglorious Basterds; The Wolf of Wall St; When the Levees Broke; Closer


**Some may wonder why there are no foreign films on the list. At 6 Degrees of Film, our reason for existence has been and continues to be the impact of current films and the contrast with films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hence the six degrees of separation found in our title.

We do note, and certainly concede that most foreign films of the 21st Century are made well and for the most part, are far superior to the Hollywood version (Let the Right One in, Little Nikita, Wings of Desire are a few that come to mind.) We have compiled a list of some recommended blog sites that have a much wider range of scope plus manpower in terms of review of foreign films.

And there are some films that are distributed worldwide, simply because they are produced in Hollywood, which is still the business center of filmmaking. Therefore, the cultural impacts are seen first when these movies are made, and for several years into the future, as films, along with all other art forms, take years to sink in and to become ingested into the mainstream of culture. This short list illustrates some of the films that have had a lasting impression on our society within the past decade.

What’s Coming:

Dr Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch will star as Dr Strange. The remakes include The Jungle Book; Ben Hur; Legend of Tarzan; plus the sequel Bridget Jones’ Baby.

I saw the light 2

The biopics are Race about the Olympic runner Jesse Owens; plus the much-anticipated Hank Williams story, I saw the Light.

The book adaptation category includes the faith-based film The Shack.

Sutherlands Western

The two Sutherlands, Donald and Kiefer, will star together in a Western, Forsaken.

Free state of jones

And finally, the Oscar Winners: Denzel Washington /Antoine Fuqua will team again to remake: The Magnificent Seven and Matthew McConaughey stars in Free State of Jones.

Stay tuned for the Oscars Round Up as we recap the winners and losers from this year’s show. There are some films that always seem to go under the radar, and others that fade with time. Few films are so acclaimed in their own time period that we see the merit of the film right away.

Many of the greatest films are ones that didn’t do well when they were first released. Or they may have some critical acclaim, but go unnoticed by the public in general. That is perhaps the nature of art, and at times, the way we view life through the lens of time.

We should take a few steps back and take in the best films we’ve seen in the past few years. Some films may appear dated, while others deserve a second or third look. We’ll have more of the lists of films that Oscar overlooked in the coming weeks. Until next time we’ll see you at the Movies!

Check out our list of Recommended reads each week in the online magazine: 6 Degrees @the Movies on Flipboard!


6 Degrees Fall Newsletter: Notes from the Global Village

6 Degrees of Film
6 Degrees of Film


Let’s start with The 400 Pound Gorilla:

 Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres December 18th. This one is sucking all the oxygen out of the room! I have to confess that I was never a Star Wars fanatic. I saw the original film when it came out in 1976 and wasn’t impressed. I thought that the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back  was superior in every way, but I never became a true devotee of Star Wars.

Since I’ve written a book on film, it’s obvious that the cultural phenomenon and overwhelming impact that Star Wars has had on film-making in general, and also on our culture, is too great to be denied. In 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village,  the book delves into the history of how George Lucas and his Industrial Light and Magic Company  dominated the industry for years and put CGI-Computer Graphics Imaging, and special-effects in the forefront of the movie industry.

When Lucas sold his rights to Disney, many loyal fans were stunned and felt a sense of betrayal. But after reading some interviews Lucas gave, it really did make sense for him to move his ideas and creative themes to Disney. He said in an interview featured in 6 Degrees that “ …I’m not interested in virtual reality at its current level, because it’s just too crude. But if you can program virtual reality or simulator rides with biotech, you will have a very interesting non-world.”

After reading this, it makes sense that Lucas would sell his theme and his mythology to a group that specializes in transferring dreams to paper and making those dreams come true. That’s the Disney mantra and the new theme park being developed by Disney seems to be the natural extension of the Cinematic Universe Lucas created over a quarter of a century ago.

This Fall, Biopic’s abound: One recurring theme seen over and over are the number of films based on true stories. From Everest to The 33, from Black Mass to  Bridge of Spies, it seems that the source material is telling us that truth is hopefully, much more interesting to audiences than fiction!

Fem FlicksThe Suffragette & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2

The Hunger Games returns Jennifer Lawrence to her breakthrough role as Katniss Everdeen in this last installment. The Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan and one of the legends of the screen in a role of Emmaline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Movement in turn of the century England. The role seems tailor made for a strong female such as Meryl Streep.

Famous Directors: Oscar winners Ron Howard & Stephen Spielberg present their films, In the Heart of the Sea and Bridge of Spies, respectively.

Best Actors: DiCaprio & Tom Hardy, De Niro & Tom Hanks, some of Hollywood’s finest actors are starring in films this fall. De Niro and Tom Hanks are both featured in upcoming films, De Niro stars with Anne Hathaway in The Intern, and Hanks stars in Bridge of Spies. Michael Fassbender is taking on the role of Steve Jobs in a biopic. Bill Murray returns to Leading Man Status with Rock the Kasbah

And James Bond is back in a much-anticipated film Spectre with Daniel Craig returning to play the iconic role of Bond.

The Tarantino: Genre’s are turned on their heads with Quentin Tarantino at the helm. This much-anticipated Western, The Hateful Eight, stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.

The Holiday season will usher in some of the most-anticipated children’s movies of the year. The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur will arrive just in time for Christmas.

But of course, on Christmas Day, as keeping with tradition, some of the darkest plots are featured. The Revenant, with DiCaprio and Tom Hardy is the heartwarming story of a man attacked by a bear and left for dead by his friends in the middle of the wilderness. Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight promises to be just as warm and fuzzy, giving us a Western with lots of blood and gore and vengeance.

The Armchair Film Fest: For warm and fuzzy, two Holiday classics will be guaranteed. At some point, Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the best films Capra and Jimmy Stewart made, and Christmas Vacation, which is definitely Chevy Chase’s best work, will be shown on television.

You may see A Christmas Story looped endlessly on cable networks, so it’s easy to just turn it on at any point to lighten the mood. Of course, Miracle on 34th Street with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is another standard that will lighten your spirits-if you are over the age of 40.

I find that Milennials and Gen X’ers don’t bother to watch too many films that were made in black and white. Too bad, as they are missing out on some of the greatest films ever made.

Here’s the Fall Movie List starting in September with:


Sicario 2015
Sicario: A female FBI agent (Emily Blunt) delves into a shady drug-cartel task force run by agents from both U.S. and Mexico.


black mass 2 depp 2015

Black Mass– The buzz for this biopic is around Johnny Depp’s much anticipated portrayal of the infamous Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger.

Everest 2015

Everest: This Bio Pic is based on the real-life 1996 tragedy that took the lives of eight climbers on Mt. Everest.



Legend 2015

Legend: Tom Hardy plays a dual-role of the Kray Brothers, real-life British gangsters of the 1960’s. Hardy plays both Ronald & Reginald Kray.


The Martian

The Martian: This Sci-Fi Adventure tale stars Matt Damon as an astronaut left for dead by his fellow crew members and forced to survive alone on Mars.


Steve Jobs film

Steve Jobs: Michael Fassbender plays Jobs in this bio-pic which has already garnered Oscar buzz for his portrayal.

Pan 2015

Pan: Hugh Jackman stars in this new take explaining the origins of the famed Leader of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan.


Bridge of spies speilberg hanks

Bridge of Spies: Speilberg & Hanks collaborated on this bio-pic based on the real-life Cold War exchange of a Russian spy for an American U-2 Pilot.

Truth: Robert Redford plays Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett is producer Mary Mapes in this film based on a true story. The story that ruined Dan Rather’s career is based on the real-life controversial news story involving George W. Bush and his Texas National Guard records.


Suffragette 2015

Suffragette: The film depicts the suffragette’s fight for women’s rights in England. Meryl Streep stars in the film for only four minutes, but her role as a pivotal women’s rights leader Emmeline Pankhurst is a vital one.

Rock the Kasbah Murray

Rock the Kasbah: Bill Murray stars as a burned-out agent stuck in Kabul, Afghanistan who discovers a young talented girl and decides to promote her.



Spectre bond

Spectre: James Bond returns to the screen with Daniel Craig back as Bond.

trumbo 2015

Trumbo: Bio-pic of acclaimed writer Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1950’s after the McCarthy hearings.


The 33

The 33: Antonio Banderas stars in this bio-pic based on the 2010 true story about 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days after an explosion.


Hunger games final movie 2015

Hunger Games: Mockinjay:  Final Installment: The much anticipated final installment of Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) fight against the ruling Panem government.

Children’s Animated Films

the good dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur: From Pixar, the film imagines a world where the dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, and the plot is a unique twist on boy-meets-dog tales; a friendship arises between the dinosaur boy and his pet -a feral human child.

Peanuts 2015


The Peanuts Movie: The film touts the fact they used many of Charles Schulz’s original drawings, such as digital versions of Shulz’s depictions of rain and even Pigpen’s cloud of dirt!


Victor Frankenstien 2015

Victor Frankenstein: James McaVoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in this unusual twist to the famous story as the film switches the focus to Igor, Frankenstein’s servant.


I saw the light

I Saw the Light: Yet another bio-pic tells the Hank Williams story featuring his rise to fame, his volatile relationships, his addictions and his spiral downward before his death at age 29.



Heart of the sea

In the Heart of the Sea: Ron Howard directs this film based on the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. It centers around the 19th century crew of the whaling ship, the Essex, which battles the elements after a whale destroys their boat in the treacherous deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.


Star wars logo

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Big Kahuna finally arrives after fanfare including detailed coverage of the Milennium Falcon and even the movie trailer. Star Wars returns to the big screen just in time for Christmas. Buy your tickets early.

The Hateful Eight

12/25: Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight: A Western in the Tarantino Genre with Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.

The Revenant

12/25: The Revenant: DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, who are perhaps two of the greatest actors working in films today, star in this movie, also based on a true story, of 19th Century trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio).  The plot revolves around Glass seeking revenge after being attacked by a bear and left for dead by his companions.

About The Great Gatsby…”Do I Have to?”

 The Great Gatsby has been made into a movie. Again. For the fifth time. I remember the last time they made this film as a big budget production back in the seventies. That filmed version featured Robert Redford as Gatsby. This one has Leonardo DiCaprio. Both of these men are great actors. But the problem might be that the material remains the same.

Can it be that one of the quintessential books of the twentieth century, one of the Great American Novels, is just not good movie material? That’s what I’m thinking….

 Here are  the two closing paragraphs from Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby”

 “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning-

 So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

 In the short story, The Rich Boy, Fitzgerald expands upon this theme of the rich as careless and consciously embracing class warfare with this famous passage: (It contains the sentence which his biographer, Bruccoli, calls Fitzgerald’s “most promiscuously misquoted sentence”:

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves”

 The two stories, The Great Gatsby and The Rich Boy, both deal with the careless rich; those who have plenty.  Fitzgerald manages to hold up a ruthlessly accurate looking glass to the lives and psyche of the very rich. A quote from Fitzgerald himself says it all,  “I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich…”

 Sadly, one of the take-aways from the life of Fitzgerald may be that he himself was the ultimate model for Gatsby. The character of Gatsby met a tragic end and died in obscurity. The Golden Girl that was Daisy was shown to be little more than a callous and shallow object of desire, unworthy of such intense devotion.

In reality, Zelda Fitzgerald, a lionized symbol of the age of flappers and the newly-emancipated woman, died in a fire after enduring years of treatment for mental illness. And Fitzgerald died in Hollywood, an alcoholic who was living in relative obscurity after being feted as one of the golden darlings of the Jazz Age and the Modern Era of Literature .

 As stated earlier, Gatsby has been filmed before. This will be the fifth film, the first one starting out as a silent picture. Zelda said of that first movie: “It’s rotten and awful and terrible and we left. (Hollywood).”  In the seventies I recall also that the big budget spectacle with Redford and Mia Farrow was panned as a fairly rotten and awful disaster. This time around, again some of Hollywood’s elite players have gathered together to tell this simple story that defies the cinematic art form.

 Could it be that the Great American Novel was never meant to become the Great American Film? I believe the honorary title of “Great American Film” goes to “The Godfather”. The original Godfather, or to be precise the trio of films surrounding Coppola’s masterpiece, gets to the heart of the American Dream far faster and much more effectively than does this beautifully written novel.

 Fitzgerald is telling a tragic tale about the limits and capacities of the American Dream. In The Godfather, there is no moral compass and no limits beyond the immediate family. Gatsby kept a list of resolves as a young man that serves to illustrate his transformation. In The Godfather, the head of the Corleone family simply puts forth offers that no-one can refuse. Both men, Gatsby and Corleone, operate outside the law. Both are bootleggers and lawbreakers. In Gatsby’s world, there is an unspoken code that doesn’t allow vulgar new money to infiltrate the ranks. In The Godfather, the family unit is the only boundary that is found to be worthy of protection.  Michael Corleone shields his wife and children when the bullets infiltrate the walls of his home. With Gatsby’s death, the violence is swept under the carpet and he is simply brushed aside.

 In Gatsby’s world, there is the green light. In The Godfather, the light has been shattered. We identify with those who fashion their own destinies in The Godfather. Much as Lawrence of Arabia glowingly decreed a decade earlier. “Nothing is written” and as Americans, we know we must shape our destiny. This was the theme of The Godfather. In The Great Gatsby, the will is crushed, the memory is swept away and there is no justice or retribution. We are left as helpless bystanders without hope.  With Gatsby, there is not the overwhelming feeling of power shown on screen in which we feel this new immigrants (the Corleone’s) need to shape destiny. That is not found in the film or in the book version of The Great Gatsby.(Gatsby is not a new immigrant, but he is infiltrating a different class)

Fitzgerald had it about right when he spoke of the rich. In the same sense, we have seen the abuses of power and money that have taken its toll on our society in the last decade. However, the films that endure are the ones that suggest hope, or at the very least, they project hopelessness in a manner we relate to as Americans and/or as a cog in the wheel of society, i.e., the middle class.

In Gatsby, we see a world of privilege, a glimpse of helplessness and a wave of despair. There is no “there” there for us. That may be the biggest problem. No matter what, it always turns out the same. The green light still shines brightly for no apparent reason. We need a reason to believe in the green light.