A Century of Film
Original Score

It’s tricky to even call this category Original Score since the only group that actually holds true to that is the Oscars and even they have had a lot of different categories over the years.  Nonetheless, I have tried to hold true to that, even though at times I disagree with the Academy’s distinction of how much pre-existing music can dilute that score. (more…)

A Century of Film
Sound

Sound in film debuted in 1927.  It managed to come into being at the same time that the Oscars did, which helps bring a demarcation point between early film (The Silent Era) and the rest of film history.  Sound would become an important feature to films because it added a whole new dimension of the kind of story you could tell, not just with the dialogue, but with sound effects as well.  Especially with Musicals, sound would really change how a story could be told. (more…)

A Century of Film

Sound Editing

It’s hard to know precisely what to think of Sound Editing, partially because of its strange awards history.  The Academy has a long history of awarding Best Sound (which will be the next category, up before too long) but made no distinction other than “Best Sound”.  In 1963, they branched out a bit and added a second award for Best Sound Effects, an award that is generally considered to be the same as today’s Sound Editing award.

Yet, the Academy was slow on the ball there.  The Motion Picture Sound Editors began their own award way, way back in 1953, at a point where the only existing guild awards were those for the two major guilds that had been such a part of union battles for so long and had formed their own awards, in part, to lash out at the academy (the directors and screenwriters).  This is the only guild award that actually pre-dates an equivalent award at the Academy and did so by a decade. (more…)

Still one of the best openings ever.  Oh, and still the best film ever made and by default, the #1 film on the Best Picture list.

Still one of the best openings ever. Oh, and still the best film ever made and by default, the #1 film on the Best Picture list.

Back in 2009, I did a long series of histories of all the Academy Awards categories (you can find a full list here).  The final thing I did was a ranked list of all 468 Best Picture nominees.  When I revised all those posts in 2010 I only added in the 2009 Best Picture nominees to the ranked list rather than redo the list.  There was a reason for that – for a long time, that one post was by far the most popular thing I had ever put up.  There were stretches where it accounted for almost 20% of the hits on the entire site.  But that changed drastically with Google’s changing of how images come up.  But still I didn’t revise it, because by then, I was in the middle of a project that began on 9 March 2010 and only finished on 6 March 2013 – a year by year look at Best Picture in every year.  So I wanted to wait until the project was done. (more…)

He was the hero for the Silent Era and a model for heroes to come: Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood.

When I first put up my various literary lists, I also put up this one.  The point of it was that, yes, in spite of all the things I write about, I do actually enjoy reading books.  And I read some books just for the sheer enjoyment of them.

Now, I write a lot about great films.  And in the course of all that writing, I write a lot about great acting.  But there is more to film than just great acting, great directing and great writing.  Some films can simply be pure enjoyment.  True, the very best of those films – the ones that manage to perfectly weld together sheer enjoyment with phenomenal talent are the best of the bunch – films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  But there are a lot of films that are just fun to watch.  Hell, over the last few weeks I have been watching my way through all the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan films.  Not the greatest bunch of films ever, but enjoyable to watch (never mind the strange family story that my uncle once broke his hand punching Weismuller’s son in the back).

So, this is a shout out to four stars – four of the greatest stars in film history.  They weren’t great actors, with the exception of a couple of performances.  But they were great stars, they were fun to watch and their films would bring a smile to your face.  Hell, while those pathetic decrepit bad action stars are starring in The Expendables 2, I want to make sure to point out the kind of stars who deserve to be seen. (more…)