Oscar History

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a look back atKing Kong(1976)

"Worth every dollar spent to mount it on Broadway."-Romy

"It looks fabulous but a love story musical does need two lead that have chemistry or no matter how dazzling the show will not work"-Jaragon

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Directors ofFor Sama

Lulu Wang(The Farewell)
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Entries in Malcolm X (4)

Jan 03 2017

Doc Corner: 'I Am Not Your Negro' is a Towering Achievement

InDoc Corner,Glenn Dunkslooks at current,future and past documentaries of note...

With new year resolutions no doubt already a distant memory (it's been three days!),it's probably time to remember that it is really hard for people to change.And I don't just mean quitting smoking.We can try all we want,but even those of us who consider ourselves ‘progressive' probably can't say with any real confidence that we're not set in our ways;the same person deep inside that we were a decade ago.And even if that isn't the case,as hard as it is to change just ourselves,just think how much harder it is to change the larger mass.And with a new President about to be inaugurated on the back of violent,blatant racism,it is sadly even more pertinent to remember this.

Now,these are not necessarily ideas that are at the forefront of Raoul Peck's superbI Am Not Your Negro,but as it was with13th,10 Bullets,3 ½ Minutes,O.J.: Made in Americaand many other documentaries about race,it is a recurring theme that bubbles to the surface as if by default.The more we think things are changing,the more they sadly stay the same.A film about race in the 1950s and 1960s is,sadly and inevitably,a film about race in the modern age for we are doomed to repeat the sins of the past no matter what we do...

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Nov 18 2016

Happy Birthday Mickey!And Other Things to Celebrate.

On this day in showbiz history...

1872Suffragette Susan B Anthony is arrested for illegally voting.She was recently forced to turn over in her grave.Where's her biopic?
1917Pedro Infante,Mexico's biggest movie star has his centennial next year!He died young at only 39 but not before his legend was cemented with nearly 60 movies and over 300 songs
1928Steamboat Willie,the first Mickey Mouse sound cartoon is released.It was his third appearance but Disney considers this Mickey Mouse's official birthday.So happy birthday!
1932The 5th annual Oscar ceremony before the ceremonies started following exact calendar years...

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May 19 2016

On This Day: Marilyn Mania and Sarah Connor x 3

May your 19th be beautiful.

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1536Anne Boleyn is beheaded.Her tragedy is later reenacted by hundreds of actresses on tv,stage and film including Natalie Portman,Vanessa Redgrave,Helena Bonham Carter,and Genevieve Bujold (Oscar nomination).
1836Cynthia Ann Parker is kidnapped in Texas during an Indian raid after her family is slaughtered.That's a tough break but not many people get to live on in history through multiple classics albeit under pseudonyms like "Debbie Edwards"(Natalie Wood inThe Searchers) and "Stands With Fist"(Mary McDonnell inDances With Wolves).
1925Malcolm X is born.67 years later Denzel Washington wins his second Oscar playing him (Shut up!This is our preferred version of history because Al Pacino inScent of a Woman.Ugh,really?)
1941Nora Ephron is born spewing witticisms.

1958Attack of the 50 Foot Womanis released in movie theaters.
1962Marilyn Monroe,who looms larger than 50 Feet in the American consciousness,sings happy birthday to President John F Kennedy
1978Thank God It's Fridayreleased.Out-discoed in collective disco-movie memories byCan't Stop the Music,two years later.
1982Rebecca Hall is born.Remains underappreciated 34 years later

1984It is a veryverybad day to be named "Sarah Connor"in Los Angeles.Unless you're unlisted.[src]
1989Legendary bad movieRoad Houseopens in theaters
1992Sam Smith is born.24 years later he tortures global audiences with an off-key rendition of a song no one likes and Hollywood hands him the Oscar -anything to make him stop.
1999Star Wars: the Phantom Menaceopens in theaters which is something like discovering a razor blade in your Halloween candy.Jar Jar Binks is the razor blade.Nostalgia is the candy.
2017Baywatch: The Movieopens.God help us all.

and finally...

2154Jake Sully will arrive in his wheelchair on Pandora and meet hisAvatar.Just in time for James Cameron to be cryogenically unfrozen and announce that he's starting production onAvatar 2andAvatar 3.For real this time,promise.

Jan 29 2015

What Link Gets Wrong About Blog

AV Clubdeep screen capture to reveal how well constructed shots inDivergentdont make for a good film
BuzzFeedgreat essay on the current relevancy ofBefore Sunrise(1995) and instant nostalgia
Heat VisionTyrese Gibson obsessed with playing Green Lantern in a film that's at least 5 years away based on a character already ruined by the movies
Decider10 essential movies about nuns from our belovedBlack Narcissusto less impressive but famous offerings likeDoubt

HuffPoAdam Scott and Jason Schwarzmann discuss their prosthetic penises inThe Overnight.(Takeaway: no actor will ever truly be naked again onscreen.That's only for actresses)
THRtalks to the director ofBook of Life- though disappointed by the lack of an Oscar nomination,he cherishes stories from fans about how it effected their families
Towleroadarts teacher in Texas does "Uptown Funk"with students.Cute.But I only share it because I love Uptown Funk because you know why (first verse)
PlaylistPaul Thomas Anderson lovesEdge of TomorrowandThe Grand Budapest Hotel
THRWhyMe and Earl and the Dying Girldid not choose the highest bidder at Sundance

This Week's Must Read
You undoubtedly know already that Mark Harris is one of the best writers on movie culture and the awards beat in general (if for some insane reason you haven't read his first bookPictures at a Revolution,it's the most invaluable Oscar book since "Inside Oscar") but I think his latest column for Grantland is one of his all time finest.He goes deep on "HowSelmaGot Smeared: Historical Fiction And Its Malcontents"I only wish this essay had broken sooner before Oscar nomination voting.Now you may be thinking 'please,Nathaniel,I have read enoug about Selma's LBJ problem' and you may even be thinking (as I have been) that complaints about Selma's "Oscar snub"are starting to feel weirder and weirder as the season progresses.Fact:Selmawill now go down in movie history as a Best Picture nominee,something only 8 movies from hundreds and hundreds released in 2014 can claim.But trust me you need to read this anyway.

Here's a part I particularly love (bold is mine) that is really illuminating about historical fiction:

About a third of the way intoSelma,Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) has a private meeting with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) in an Alabama church (this is not an invention of the movie;the two met in Selma on February 5,1965,two weeks before Malcolm X was assassinated).The scene is introduced with a shrewd recurring device — an onscreen teletype legend that tells moviegoers what's happening,but only through the warping prism of FBI surveillance."C.King in Selma to meet with Negro militant Malcolm X.03:46 p.m.LOGGED."The description denotes the assumption of white law enforcement that a conspiracy of one kind is taking place — a clandestine meeting in which King may be moving closer to throwing in with a more militant,potentially violent faction of the movement.In reality,the "conspiracy"that's unfolding is exactly the opposite;Malcolm tells the wary Coretta that he is not in Selma to impede her husband's work,but to allow himself to be used,even to be misrepresented,to further King's goals.


DuVernay's view of the uses of history and of (mis)representation is not careless in this scene or in the movie;it's clearly thought through.The onscreen typed summary is a perfectly deployed example of how something can be factually correct (meeting with a "Negro militant"is,literally,what Coretta King is doing) without being true;the movie,by contrast,finds many ways of being true without being strictly factual.That is exactly what good historical drama must sometimes do,and must be given permission to do,including in this scene itself,in which DuVernay has a character express an understanding that his presence and his motives may have to be slightly distorted in order to achieve a greater truth and justice.

And Harris illuminates it,strategically,in a scene not even involving LBJ.