Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oscar Snubbed Film Classics

Many of my favorite films and all-time classics got no Oscars®, such as Dr. Strangelove, Memento, Being John Malkovich, Gangs of New York (Scorsese’s most ambitious), and Pulp Fiction, still Tarantino's best. Most of these are much more daring and memorable than the winners, each is a classic. [Many of these are linked to my reviews at '1000 Dvds to See'] Dr. Strangelove - to me, possibly the best comedy of all time, and up there with 2001 for a Kubrick achievement; both are best of their genres, and Peter Sellers also deserved an Oscar® for this, playing three parts. Kubrick also wanted Sellers to play the bomber pilot, but he declined saying "I'll be onscreen for every scene, the audience will tire of me", so Slim Pickens made this role into a film classic (photo rt.), and a young James Earl Jones was the navigator, while a young George Scott was war hawk General Turgid. Now #27 on the IMDB top 250 (viewer rated). "Gentlemen, there's no fighting here, this is the war room!" Hero - the incredible Zhang Yimou film is the highest grossing in Chinese history and lost the Foreign Language Oscar® to Nowhere in Africa (also a great film) and got nothing at all. This is an all-time top ten film for me, and was even used by Bose in commercials for its surround sound system. Out of the Past - the quintessential film noir from director Jacques Tourneur, with superb acting from Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas (his 2nd film). 22-year old Jane Greer was the archetypal femme fatale (and Howard Hughes girlfriend to boot!) This was also an homage to cigarette smoking, as they lit up whenever things got tense. (photo left) "The view's no good unless you have someone to share it with." City of God - Fernando Meirelles received a deserved nomination for director of this Brazilian masterpiece, and the film got 3 other nominations (incl. cinemagotraphy and editing, but not one for Best Foreign Film, which it should have easily won. Now near the top of all major film lists. Pulp Fiction - Tarantino's crime classic, told in 3 parts jumbled up chronologically, was inspired by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai's films Chungking Express and the sequel Fallen Angels, which were supposed to be one film but were so long (four hours) that Wong released them as two films. Lost best picture to Forrest Gump, because sometimes you get a chocolate you don't like so much. Once Upon a Time in America - Leone’s finest achievement and a worthy successor to the two Godfather films, and even longer at nearly four hours. It received NO nominations! With De Niro, James Woods, Tuesday Weld. (photo rt.) Note: avoid the 2-hr US theatrical version! Minority Report - terrific Spielberg film about an anti-crime unit in the future that can predict a crime and arrest the criminal beforehand. Based on a Philip K. Dick story, same author whose novel was used for the film Blade Runner, though the title was bought from an unrelated book - the phrase was never used in Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Being John Malkovich - before winning an Oscar® for the screenplay Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, screenwriter Charles Kaufman penned this bizarre classic in which John Cusack discovers a portal in his half-floor sized office that leads entrants into the mind of actor John Malkovich for 15 minutes. Very unusual and interesting concept, at least got a screenplay nomination. Memento - winner of five Indie Spirit awards, including best picture and director, this breakthrough film from Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Dark Knight) goes chronologically backwards as Guy Pierce tries to solve a crime that left him with short-term memory loss, so he tattoos important clues on his body and takes photos of people in his life so he can remember them. (photo rt) The Color Purple - from Alice Walker's bestseller, this was Spielberg's first "serious" film, in his own words. The story involves the bond between sisters, and how one, played by Whoopi Goldberg, has to endure a masochistic, domineering husband (Danny Glover) in order to find her own self-worth and independence. Received a record 11 nominations without a single win. Gangs of New York - one of Scorsese's most ambitious films, about a violent period in New York history when the five points area was a battleground of immigrant gangs. Historically accurate, based on a history book, this was also the only time the U.S. military (both navy and army) was called on to fire on its own citizens. Staggering crowd scenes and in Daniel-Day Lewis' Bill the Butcher, my favorite screen villain. List of great movies that didn't win any Oscars® The Color Purple (Spielberg -11 nominations, a record for NO wins) Gangs of New York (Scorsese - 10 nominations, photo rt.) It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra - a flop when released, gained popularity when the copyright expired and tv stations showed it for free) Angels With Dirty Faces (38, Michael Curtiz) Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) The French Lieutenant's Woman (Karel Reisz) Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick) Auntie Mame (Morton Da Costa) 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet) The Maltese Falcon (John Huston's first) The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont) Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (38, David Hand, the first feature length animation film) The Caine Mutiny (54, Edward Dmytryk) My Man Godfrey (36, Gregory La Cava) Rebel Without A Cause (Nicholas Ray) Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder) The Witness for the Prosecution (Billy Wilder) Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger) The Birdman Of Alcatraz (John Frankenheimer) Taxi Driver (Scorsese) photo left Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (58, Richard Brooks) Brief Encounter (David Lean, who did win two Oscars afterwards) Seabiscuit (remake) Das Bööt (Wolfgang Peterson, who originally wanted Paul Newman) Empire Of The Sun (Spielberg) Scarface: Scourge of the Nation (31, Hawks) Psycho (Hitchcock, who admitted using Hershey's chocolate syrup for blood!) The Remains of the Day (James Ivory) Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson) Lenny (Bob Fosse) City of God (Fernando Meirelles, Brazil, four nominations) Good films with NO nominations Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 28) Freaks (Tod Browning, 32) King Kong (33, Cooper and Schoedsack) Kind Hearts And Coronets (Robert Hamer) His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, who never won) Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur) The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, his only film as director, with Robert Mitchum as a fake, homicidal preacher with "Love" and "Hate" tattooed on his fingers) photo - note the church look implied by the lighting High Sierra (Raoul Walsh) The Searchers (John Ford, who did win three for directing, a record) The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 61) A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan) The Servant (Joseph Losey) The Life and Death Of Colonel Blimp (Powell/Pressburger) Repulsion (Roman Polanski) Touch Of Evil (Welles) Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes) photo left Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook) Once Upon A Time In America (Sergio Leone, his most serious effort at nearly four hrs) Beautiful Girls (Ted Demme) Mean Streets (Scorsese) [Only Special Effects Oscars®, at least they got something] 2001: A Space Odyssey - epic science fiction story about the evolution of man into a spiritual being, was mostly done in silence to simulate the loneliness and quiet of space. Stanley Kubrick's best work forever changed the way SF films looked, as from then on they had to look realistic. This film made Star Wars and Close Encounters possible. #3 on the critics consensus top 1000. Babe - perhaps the finest family film and animal film both did win for Special Effects, but will remembered and watched long after the over-blown and dreary Braveheart; Babe had the real heart that year, and actually caused pork sales to plunge. For me, this was the absolute worst best picture ripoff of all time. Possible articles to follow: - Snubbed directors, who include Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks (His Girl Friday), Stanley Donen (Singin in the Rain), Ingmar Bergman, Frederico Fellini, Lena Wertmuller, George Lucas - Snubbed actors, like Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers, Robert Mitchum, and Edward G. Robinson (photo rt), who was never even nominated! Would a supporting win for Double Indemnity or A Boy Ten Feet Tall have been too much to ask?


Jon Thompson said...

Wasn't the American release of Once Upon A Time in America 90 minutes shorter and in chronological order? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing this is the cut that the Academy voted on. Leone's original uncut film that premiered at Cannes, and released throughout Europe is the only way to view it in my opinion. If everyone had seen it uncut then this brilliant piece of cinema would be held in even higher regard than it is.

Jose Sinclair said...

You may be correct - the short version was an abomination, like Lynch's original DUNE release. No way to show either story in less than 2 hrs.. the full-length Once Upon a Time is the only one worth discussing- it's a lifetime study of one group of individuals that, imo, was a response to the first 2 Godfather films. Interesting that Italian Sergio Leone chose to make his film about the Jewish Mafia

It's a classic in every sense, both a great crime film, a great epic, even a romance, albeit twisted and dysfunctional. I hope everyone noticed 12-yr old Jennifer Connelly as the young ballerina that Noodles falls in love with..

I can watch this movie over and over! -- Jose

David Petersen said...

I will agree with City of God, Being John Malkovich and Empire of the Sun!

Anonymous said...

> The story involves the bond
> between sisters, and how one,
> played by Whoopi Goldberg, has
> to endure a masochistic,
> domineering husband (Danny
> Glover)...

I think you mean "sadistic".