MARTHA: And it was an accident . . . a real, goddamn accident!
(GEORGE takes from behind his back a short-barreled shotgun, and calmly aims it at the back of MARTHA’s head.)  (p 57)

My Top 10:

  1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  2. A Man for All Seasons
  3. Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
  4. The Professionals
  5. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
  6. Alfie
  7. Red Beard
  8. You’re a Big Boy Now
  9. The Shop on Main Street
  10. Georgy Girl

Note:  Back up to 12 films on my list this year.  One is reviewed below as a WGA nominee (Harper) and the final one is on a separate list at the bottom.
Note:  No less than five reviews in this year were lost when my computer died and three of them (Morgan, Alfie, Shop) were of sources that had been a pain to get the first time and so I have tried to write them again as best as possible from memory. (more…)



A Century of Film

The Genre:

Westerns are a uniquely American art form.  It has been said that the three things America has contributed to world culture are baseball, Jazz and Westerns.  The very start of Westerns goes back to the start of narrative story-telling in American film with The Great Train Robbery perhaps the first great narrative American film.

I had written a paragraph about what I see as the basic Western (as opposed to the sub-genres listed below) but then I found this bit on page 195 of The Rough Guide to Westerns that summed it up much better than I had:

Pulp writer Frank Gruber says there are seven essential Western plots:

  1. The Union Pacific story (the railroad/stagecoach comes to town or wagon train adventures)
  2. The ranch story (conflict between ranchers or ranchers vs. others)
  3. The empire story (an epic version of the ranch story)
  4. The revenge story
  5. The cavalry and indians story
  6. The outlaw story
  7. The marshal story.

Those pretty much sums it up.  The fifth one is a specific sub-genre below and the third one really kind of fits into the “Epic” sub-genre.  But otherwise, those are pretty much the films that don’t have a sub-genre.  Ironically, most of the films starring the biggest Western stars (also listed below) aren’t in any of the sub-genres but fit those basic story types.  You can also get much more detailed by going here, though most of what is down below you will only find here which is why I wrote all this. (more…)

Three out of three amigos have now won Oscars.

The 90th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 2017.  The nominations were announced on 23 January 2018 and the awards were held on 4 March 2018.

Best Picture:  The Shape of Water

  • Lady Bird
  • Dunkirk
  • The Post
  • Darkest Hour
  • Phantom Thread
  • Get Out
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Most Surprising Omission:  I, Tonya

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Coco

Rank (out of 90) Among Best Picture Years:  #10 (more…)

The best ending of the year in the best film of the year.

My Top 20:

  1. Lady Bird
  2. Dunkirk
  3. The Shape of Water
  4. The Post
  5. Coco
  6. Darkest Hour
  7. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  8. Phantom Thread
  9. I, Tonya
  10. It: Chapter One
  11. Get Out
  12. Call Me By Your Name
  13. T2 Trainspotting
  14. Beauty and the Beast
  15. Wonder Woman
  16. The Greatest Showman
  17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  18. Blade Runner 2049
  19. The Big Sick
  20. Okja

note:  The first 15 films are ****.  There are a few awards films I haven’t seen yet that are all mentioned below. (more…)

A Century of Film: 1912-2011

So when does film begin?  Does it begin with some of the Edison shorts?  Do you start with Méliès?  What about a specific film to start with like A Trip to the Moon in 1902 or The Great Train Robbery in 1903?  You could easily start in 1906 with The Story of the Kelly Gang, the first film to run over an hour, kind of the demarcation point for what constitutes a feature film (though the Academy defines it as 40 minutes).  The problem is The Story of the Kelly Gang, while running over an hour in length, today consists of only fragments and those fragments add up to only 17 minutes.  So where to begin?

All of this also brings up the question of where to end a history of film.  Every week new films get released.  Do you include them?  Do you need time to truly reflect on them?  You could cut things off on December 31, 1999 and call it a day but that leaves 17 years of films worth out in the cold and it accounts for considerably less than a century’s worth of films since feature films didn’t yet exist in 1900. (more…)

“You realize who this linen girl Tanya is?” (p 612 – Pevear / Volokhonsky translation)

My Top 9:

  1. Dr. Zhivago
  2. The Pawnbroker
  3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  4. The Collector
  5. A Thousand Clowns
  6. King Rat
  7. The Human Condition: Part III
  8. Thunderball
  9. The Train

Note:  That’s it.  After years and years of a list longer than ten, I can only come up with nine films and one of those, The Train, was actually nominated in the Original Screenplay category even though it was based on Rose Valland’s book. (more…)

And Marty tallies yet another Nighthawk Award.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 20 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Hugo  *
  2. The Artist  **
  3. Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy
  4. Midnight in Paris  *
  5. The Descendants  *
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
  7. A Separation
  8. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
  9. The Tree of Life
  10. My Week with Marilyn
  11. The Ides of March
  12. Contagion
  13. Beginners
  14. Incendies
  15. Jane Eyre
  16. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  17. Rango
  18. Margin Call
  19. As If I Am Not There
  20. Moneyball  *

Analysis:  The first 15 films are ****.  The rest are ***.5.  In spite of an overall weak year (see various categories below), the Top 5 tracks almost exactly along with 2009.  In fact, the first four films here all earn the exact same ratings as the first four in 2009 and The Descendants is one point better than Broken Embraces in the #5 spot, so this year’s Top 5 is actually one point better.  That said, it’s still the second weakest Top 5 since 1998 (and the same goes for the Top 10 and Top 20).
The Help was actually 4th in the Consensus.  There are 5 films because Midnight in Paris and Moneyball tied for 5th (as did War Horse). (more…)

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