January 2012

Turner Classics Movies gives us 31 Days of Oscar

It’s that time of year again.  Turner Classic Movies embraces the Oscar season with its arms open and gives us 31 straight days of Academy Award nominated films.  It was because of this very month that I adjusted my cable package several years ago to make sure I could see the films they were showing that I was missing.  And, granted, this worked a lot better when the Oscars were in March, but extra kudos to TCM for keeping the extra days even when they don’t correspond perfectly to the calendar anymore.

Well, those days of finding all sorts of pick ups for my list are pretty much gone.  Of the over 300 films they’re showing, only three of them are films I haven’t seen before.

But, I’ve seen a lot more than most people and I’ve been good at finding films that are hard to find.  So this is a little guide for films for everyone else – films that are hard to find and if you want to be an Oscar completist, you’ll need to see at some point.  Not necessarily the best films – in fact, many of them aren’t that good.  But they’re very hard to find and you should take the chance when you can.  Here’s the complete package: 31 Days of Oscar.  But after the jump are my highlights of the month.  Below the film is its Oscar nominations – bold if it actually won.  All times are EST, so you might have to adjust.  Oh, and they do this weird thing where the day starts at 6 AM.  Anything between midnight and 6, I list for the actual day it is on, not the day you’ll see it on the schedule.


"You don't like me. You really really don't like me," Albert Brooks said after not getting an Oscar nomination for Drive.

There are Oscar snubs and there are Oscar surprises.  When Albert Brooks won four critics awards this year but failed to earn an Oscar nomination, it was clearly a snub.  But, since he had failed to earn a SAG or BAFTA nomination, it wasn’t actually that much of a surprise to those of us who were paying attention.  There are certain indicators that are more important than others when you’re trying to guess what the Academy will do.  The Globes have long been the one the major media sources pay attention to.  But SAG has always been a better barometer for acting and given that all nine Best Picture nominees were also Broadcast Film Critics Association nominees, it’s time people really paid more attention to the Critic’s Choice Awards.

So, I’m going to take a quick tour through the major categories and mention whether I think any of this year’s prominent non-nominees are worthy of either the term “snub” or “surprise.”  So that’s Picture, Director, the four acting, the writing and Animated Film.  I won’t be doing Best Foreign Film because it’s hampered by the idiotic Academy rules.  True, of the Top 20 films all-time in awards points specifically for Foreign Film, five of them were nominated for the Oscar and failed to win (in descending points order: Farewell My Concubine, Raise the Red Lantern, Pan’s Labyrinth, Amores Perros, Ridicule) and for that the general membership can be blamed.  But of those Top 20, 9 of them weren’t even nominated and 8 of those weren’t submitted, so blame the Academy rules (Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days is the only film in the Top 20 submitted but not nominated).

A brief word on what I mean when I talk about points and when I talk about percentages.  Points come from 11 sources: the six major critics groups (New York Film Critics, LA Film Critics, Boston Society of Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics and the National Board of Review) and the five major awards groups (the Oscar, the Golden Globes, the major guilds, the BAFTAs and the Broadcast Film Critics Association).  Wins are worth double the points of a nomination and all critics awards are wins.  Since there are far more groups than there used to be, I total up all the points in a category and figure out what percentage of the points someone / some film got.  That allows for a better historical analysis.


Woody Allen directing a scene in Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen made his first Oscar appearance in the Best Director race since 1994 and Martin Scorsese made it four of his last five feature films this morning.

Martin Scorsese making a cameo in Hugo

I only have to add one director to my all-time Oscar Best Director ranking list, since the other four have all been nominated before, and conveniently, Michel Hazanavicus’ last two films, his French spy farces, are available on Watch Instantly on Netflix.

As usual, I jotted down quick predictions for the major categories (except Picture, since we didn’t know how many nominees there would be) and generally went 4 for 4.  Surprisingly, I went 5 for 5 on Best Director, correctly getting the inclusion of Terrence Malick. (more…)

the original Thomas picture from our first post

We interrupt the regularly scheduled movie post (which isn’t finished anyway) to thank everyone who has ever come to the blog.

Thomas and Veronica in our most recent picture, from October.

This means family members, those who come for my movie pieces and those who randomly find us (usually looking for the best novels of the 21st Century).  Why am I thanking everyone?  Well, because this afternoon while I was at work, our blog passed 1,000,000 hits all-time.  It’s stunning to look at it and realize this.  When we started this back in 2007, we couldn’t have imagined this would happen.

The blog went live either in April (our stats begin there and that might have been when our About page went up) or in June (our earliest post is from the day after Thomas’ third birthday, which you can see here).  Our life was very different – one town and three apartments ago.  Thomas is now 7 and a half.


Two hardboiled Aussie L.A. detectives: Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential (1997)

My Top 20:

  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. The Sweet Hereafter
  3. The Ice Storm
  4. Boogie Nights
  5. Jackie Brown
  6. Amistad
  7. Oscar and Lucinda
  8. Good Will Hunting
  9. Grosse Pointe Blank
  10. The Full Monty
  11. Chasing Amy
  12. Insomnia
  13. The Fifth Element
  14. The Wings of the Dove
  15. Deconstructing Harry
  16. Absolute Power
  17. Donnie Brasco
  18. Waiting for Guffman
  19. Ponette
  20. Kundun


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: Haruki Murakami's masterpiece

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle  (ねじまき鳥クロニクル Nejimaki-dori Kuronikuru)

  • Author:  Haruki Murakami
  • Rank:  #25
  • Published:  1995; 1997 (English translation)
  • Publisher:  Shinchosha; Random House (English translation)
  • Pages:  607
  • First Line:  “When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.”
  • Last Line:  “In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Acclaim:  Yomiuri Literary Award
  • Film:  none
  • First Read:  Fall 2001


2010 DGA nominee Woody Allen directing Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson on the set of Midnight in Paris

So, the Directors Guild nominees have been announced.  I haven’t been posting anything about the current year in film because I get to the theater so rarely anymore that I’m way behind and I have to catch up once everything hits DVD.  And while last year, I kept a running log of all the awards (which will come out when I reach 2010 in the Year in Film – a while from now at the glacial pace I’ve been at lately), I haven’t done anything this year.

But, since I pride myself on having all this knowledge in my head (or on my spreadsheets), I thought I would throw out a few tidbits of trivia concerning this year’s nominations. (more…)

A touching moment in the desert: "Am I K in your book?"

The 69th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1996.  The nominations were announced on February 11, 1997 and the awards were held on March 24, 1997.

Best Picture:  The English Patient

  • Fargo
  • Secrets and Lies
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Shine

Most Surprising Omission:  The People vs. Larry Flynt

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Lone Star

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #14 (more…)

Kris Kristofferson threatens Matthew McConaughey in a tense moment from Lone Star (1996)

My Top 20:

  1. Lone Star
  2. Trainspotting
  3. The English Patient
  4. Fargo
  5. Hamlet
  6. Secrets and Lies
  7. In the Bleak Midwinter
  8. The Crucible
  9. Jerry Maguire
  10. Cold Comfort Farm
  11. Romeo + Juliet
  12. Evita
  13. Emma
  14. Star Trek: First Contact
  15. Beautiful Girls
  16. Everyone Says I Love You
  17. Breaking the Waves
  18. The Birdcage
  19. The People vs. Larry Flynt
  20. Ridicule