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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, March 05, 2006

Who wins and why

Apocalypse Now (1979) Should have won Oscar
for Best Picture

People are whining about how Hollywood doesn't reflect America, with the nominations of films like Good Luck and Good Night and Brokeback Mountain. Of course this is nonsense, because it varies by year. Some years that happens, and some years critical hits win. Of course, this is fundy carping, but the fact is that movies are not static things.

One example: Vertigo. When it was released, it was a flop. People didn't get it and it was seen as one of Hitchcock's lesser films. But by the magic of Francois Truffaut and other critics, suddenly it became one of the great films.

Look at the films from the 30's and 40's. Only in two years does the winner match the film which should have won according to Filmsite

You Can't Take It With You Frank Capra

Not nominated
Bringing Up Baby
Angels With Dirty Faces
The Lady Vanishes

Should have won
The Adventures of Robin Hood

Gone With The Wind Victor Fleming
Not nominated
Destry Rides Again
Gunga Din
The Women

Should have won
The Wizard of Oz

Rebecca Alfred Hitchcock*
United Artists (Selznick)

Not nominated
His Girl Friday
The Sea Hawk
The Shop Around the Corner

Should have won
The Grapes of Wrath

How Green Was My Valley John Ford
20th Century-Fox

Not nominated

Ball of Fire
That Hamilton Woman

Should have won
Citizen Kane

Mrs. Miniver William Wyler

Not nominated
Sullivan's Travels
The Palm Beach Story
To Be or Not to Be

Should have won

Sullivan's Travels
The Magnificent Ambersons

Casablanca Michael Curtiz
Warner Bros

Not nominated

Shadow of a Doubt


Going My Way Leo McCarey

Not nominated

Meet Me in St. Louis
Murder, My Sweet
The Suspect
Hail the Conquering Hero
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

Should have won

Double Indemnity

The Lost Weekend Billy Wilder

Not nominated

They Were Expendable
Scarlet Street
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Should have won

The Best Years of Our Lives William Wyler
RKO Radio

Not nominated
My Darling Clementine
The Big Sleep
Brief Encounter

Should have won
It's A Wonderful Life

Look at what kind of films won and what films were not even nominated. How Green Was My Valley? Going My Way? They beat Citizen Kane and Double Indemnity, one the best film ever made, the other, a classic.

Look at 1952

The Greatest Show on Earth Cecil B. DeMille*

Not Nominated

Singin' in The Rain
The Bad and the Beautiful
The Member of the Wedding
Rancho Notorious
Pat and Mike

Should have won

Singin' in The Rain
High Noon

Think about this for a minute, Neither the Bad and the Beautiful or Singin' in the Rain, both classic movies now, were not even nominated. That just seems amazing today. If you think that is bad, look at 1956

Around the World in 80 Days Michael Anderson*
United Artists

The Searchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Killing
Richard III
The Seven Samurai
The Bad Seed
Bus Stop
Friendly Persuasion
High Society
Lust for Life
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Written on the Wind

Should have won
The Searchers

And it doesn't get any better in the 1960's

In the Heat of the Night Norman Jewison*

United Artists

Not nominated

Chimes at Midnight/Falstaff
Point Blank
Two for the Road
Cool Hand Luke
In Cold Blood
Up the Down Staircase
Wait Until Dark
Should have won
Bonnie and Clyde
The Graduate

But the worst years for nominations in modern film history were were 1979 and 1998. The reason is that the Academy voters are no different than other people who watch films. They often go with the popular film over the film which should win or the film which will be well regarded in film history.

There are many difficult films like Paths of Glory and Psycho which while great movies, are far too upsetting to make the cut. They're difficult films and people pass on them. The same for Citizen Kane, the most political movie ever made. William Randolph Hearst had a stranglehold on the media and the film went straight at him, in a way never seen before or since. There isn't a figure you could make a film about like that today.

Bill Gates is despised by some, loved by others, but an adulterous man who dumps his family for an actress? George Bush may be a dry drunk, but even a movie showing him vomiting and slapping his wife wouldn't be nearly as subversive. When Citizen Kane hit the screens, it was revolutionary in every way from set design (no film set had ceilings before this film) to the cinematography to the script.

Oddly enough, the only film to come close in it's political aggression was Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, until movies like The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May.

Kramer vs. Kramer Robert Benton

Not Nominated
Being There
...and Justice for All
The Black Stallion
The China Syndrome
The Electric Horseman
Escape from Alcatraz

Should have won
Apocalypse Now

Shakespeare in Love John Madden*

Not Nominated
The Truman Show
The Big Lebowski
Gods and Monsters
Primary Colors

Should have won
The Thin Red Line
Saving Private Ryan

Now why did these films win over the more difficult films? Because they spoke to issues like divorce and romance which won over the voters. Are they better films? Hell no.

This is a rare year in the Oscars, where small, independent films are nominated and can win. In most cases, it is rarely the best film which wins.

In most years, even popular films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, can be skipped over. It is amazing that Manhattan, Woody Allen's best film, wasn't even nominated. But then, it was filled with all kinds of weird quirks, like Allen dating a 17 year old Dalton student, played by Mariel Hemingway, and him trying to kill Meryl Streep's lesbian lover, as well as it being shot in black and white.

Shakespeare in Love harks back to the old romances Hollywood used to produce, but even with Saving Private Ryan's and The Thin Red Line's flaws, they are vastly superior films. If you want to talk about Hollywood being tone deaf, that's a perfect case. People were flashing back during that movie, with some of the realism of the scenes. It could have had a stronger, less sentimental script, but as a film, it was honestly brutal.

The Thin Red Line is a beautiful film, but is either an half hour too long or two hours two short. But to compare that to Gwyneth Paltrow screwing Joseph Fiennes is to miss the point. I mean Driving Miss Daisy beat Henry V, which wasn't even nominated, Ben Hur beat a non-nominated Some Like it Hot and North by Northwest. So to say that Hollywood doesn't listen to the public is talking out of one's ass.

One could say that the better a film is, the less likely it is to win an Oscar. You can count the number of years on both hands when the best picture Oscar goes to the best picture.

So when people complain about the nominations, or the simpletons on TV go on about how few people have seen this or that film , as if cable and DVD's don't exist. Ignore them. One example of the power of cable to change minds is the Shawshank Redemption. When it was released in theaters, it was a flop, but on cable, it became a hit. While people might have been unwilling to sit through the film, they would watch it on TV.

Which seems to a point people have been missing on TV as of late.

posted by Steve @ 12:17:00 AM

12:17:00 AM

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