As the month draws to a close I have a few random thoughts circulating around in my head regarding the movie industry, so I thought I’d share them here today with you. Here are 10 of 'em:
THE OSCARS SCREWED OVER L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
Filmmaker Curtis Hanson died Tuesday, and his greatest film was easily his adaptation of James Ellroy's classic noir novel L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. As I think about it, it remains one of my five favorite films. And also to this day, it remains one of only two films to have swept all four of the major film critics group in its year. It won Best Picture from the New York Film Critics, the LA Film Critics, the National Board of Review, and the National Society of Film Critics in 1997. (SCHINDLER’S LIST was the only other one that did it, in 1993.) And yet the Oscars gave their Best Picture in 1997 to TITANIC, and not Hanson's classic. What a shame.
TOM HANKS' SULLY DESERVES AN OSCAR NOD
Speaking of Oscars and shames, why has Tom Hanks been overlooked so often recently? He was passed over for a Best Actor nomination for both CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and BRIDGE OF SPIES, and if the Academy ignores his work in SULLY, it will be a true shame. Few are as good as he is at portraying the inner struggle of decent men in a time of conflict, but his subtle talents may be lost on voters who favor more emotive performances.
HORROR ISN’T DEAD, JUST A LITTLE STIFF SOMETIMES
A lot of click bait has asked that lately, but they always ask such things when a horror movie doesn’t perform quite as well at the box office as expected. Granted, horror usually slays at the box office, but films like BLAIR WITCH underperform because they’re not good, not because horror is in decline. DON’T BREATHE has done very well this past month, due to it being well-made, unique, and serving up characters we care about. If horror directors do that, then the genre need never be eulogized.
OLIVER STONE SHOULD GET MORE RESPECT
Sure, sometimes his films are over-the-top or on-the-nose, but who else is tackling the subjects that he is? His niche as political filmmaker is actually quite refreshing compared to too many directors and producers out there who only want to traffic in tentpoles or superhero flicks. His latest film SNOWDEN may be a bit straight by Stone’s standards, but it’s a compelling piece nonetheless. Not only does he paint a complex portrait of the famed whistleblower, but his film asks the audience to reckon that it may be all too compliant in letting our privacy continually be invaded in the name of "security."
|Original caricature by Jeff York of THE AVENGERS (Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg) copyright 2016|
THE AVENGERS ARE STILL STEED AND PEEL TO ME
Don’t get me wrong, I like the Marvel superhero bunch, but when I hear the name "Avengers" I think this - “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.” Perhaps I am old school. But if you ever saw Emma Peel, you’d forget Black Widow.
BIG SCREEN? BAD SUMMER. SMALL SCREEN? AWESOME!
Did any summer film really enter the zeitgeist this year? I mean, are we quoting any film over and over again, or still thinking about, examining it, and dissecting it from top to bottom? However, everyone is still obsessing about the Netflix series STRANGER THINGS, aren’t they? Audiences just can’t seem to get enough of it. Fan art is everywhere. Speculation about the second season is at full throttle. Even the “Uptown Funk” performance by three of the kids from the cast before the Emmy telecast has gone viral all over the web. So will the project that every studio in town turned down except for Netflix teach movie moguls a lesson? It should. They should realize that genre scripts have mass appeal, period pieces are not a turn-off, and yes, adult fare can stars kids. I doubt Tinsel Town will get it wholly, but hey, stranger things have occurred…
MOVIE TRAILERS ARE GETTING BETTER
There was a time not long ago that movie trailers practically gave away the entire film. It was almost as if the studios wanted to coddle the audience into feeling smarter than they were so they could enter the theater with some weird advantage over their friends who hadn’t seen the trailer. Whatever the dumb reason was, if not that one, too many trailers gave away the story. But now, trailers are getting slyer and keeping up more of the mystery. Take a gander at the new trailer for PASSENGERS starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt (http://bit.ly/2d0Z9h8). It sets up the premise, yes, and shows some great moments, of course, but it doesn’t give away too much. There are even fleeting shots of Andy Garcia and Laurence Fishbone towards the end, and who knows what they’re doing there. All that makes me really want to see this movie. When you hold things back from the audience, you whet their appetites even more.
|Veteran actor Donald Sutherland...still without an Oscar.|
THE HONORARY OSCARS
At this year’s special November ceremony, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will be acknowledging four great careers that never got any due from Oscar. Receiving special trophies will be movie star Jackie Chan, veteran casting agent Lyn Stalmaster, and filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. Editor Anne V. Coates already won in competition for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 1962, but she will being honored additionally for her seven-decade career. (She edited THE PICKWICK PAPERS in 1952!) It’s nice that they’re honoring Coates again, but there are those who have never won so it would be even nicer to see the Academy tap those folks. How about recognizing Catherine Deneuve, Donald Sutherland, Glenn Close, Tom Cruise, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and director Ridley Scott? They’ve all been major and important players for decades, and yet they all remain Oscar-less. So show them some due, Academy. Put them on your slate for next year.
AND THE NEXT AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT RECIPIENT WILL BE...?
Those who follow this blog know that that award is a preoccupation of mine. Off the list of potential possibilities, I’d love to see Robert Redford or Michael Caine receive the AFI accolade, but the venerable group could also honor the likes of Francis Coppola, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman or Diane Keaton. I’ve floated all those names before. I should mention that the organization did finally pick composer John Willliams after many lobbied for him, including me. In fact, when he was picked, they emailed me to tell me and thank me for being his champion. (How cool was that?) So, you never know. My money is on Caine.
CAN THE OSCARS BE LIKE THIS YEAR'S EMMYS?
When it came to honoring diversity and truly worthy recipients, the Emmys absolutely rocked this year. Host Jimmy Kimmel and the producers of the telecast also put on one helluva show as well. Let’s hope the Oscars are just as good come February.