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Posts Tagged ‘Oscars’

Tearjerkers

February 28, 2014 | by

cinema_Paradiso

Still from Cinema Paradiso, 1989

Looking at this year’s Best Picture nominees, I realized that while I had liked three, nine out of nine had made me tear up—including The Wolf of Wall Street. Fellow movie criers will understand. Especially for those of us who might hesitate to cry in the light of day, there is a singular pleasure to letting tears flow, even—or maybe especially—when what’s happening on screen is really stupid. I come by this honestly. My father refuses to see any movie in which a child dies.

This outpouring of emotion is not limited to the cinema; after watching Audra McDonald and Norm Douglas perform “Bess You Is My Woman Now” in the recent revival of Porgy and Bess, my mom and I were so overcome that we had to skip the second act and go get a drink across the street. And the list of songs I can’t listen to dry-eyed is so long that I’ve had to quarantine them in their own Spotify playlist. But movies are the biggest culprit.

The first movie that made me inconsolable was Dumbo—Baby Mine,” of course, after he’s been taken from his mother—and the second, I believe, was Chipmunk Adventure, after the baby penguin is taken from his mother. My brother and I both sobbed so loudly in Land Before Time (after the baby dinosaur is taken from his mother) that we had to leave the theatre. Thank God we were never exposed to Bambi. (My mother, traumatized to realize that she was “Man,” resolved at age five to spare her own kids the same shock.) Read More »

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James Bond’s Breakfast, and Other News

February 25, 2013 | by

bondWhisk

  • Well, this is depressing: for fiscal reasons, a Tennessee post office has taken to tossing books that get returned to sender. Hopefully Dolly Parton, whose charity is involved, will intervene and make everything right.
  • Ten “unfilmable” books, made into films of varying quality.
  • Meanwhile, Penguin has been toting up the Oscar wins on adaptations of their titles, all of which are discounted. (The Shakespeares seem like cheating.)
  • If all that was old news to you, perhaps we can interest you in a literary Oscars quiz?
  • “Meticulous breakfast prep often signals violent tendencies.” On James Bond’s prandial fussiness and breakfast as character indicator in fiction. 
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    On the Shelf

    February 22, 2012 | by

    P.G. Wodehouse.

    A cultural news roundup.

  • R.I.P. Barney Rosset.
  • Judy Blume’s Oscar picks.
  • Paramount makes the Puzo Estate an offer it can refuse?
  • Surely you’re joking, Mr. McCarthy.
  • A site of one’s own.
  • A room for one’s books.
  • Wodehouse’s wartime legacy.
  • The Master Book of All Plots?
  • A truly beautiful library.
  • Forget Washington. Things to do for Wallace’s birthday.
  • “Fans trek across the country for the chance to see Wallace’s underlined paperbacks, his early drafts, his e-mails to tax experts. The staff has even received a request for a scan of Wallace’s handwriting, for use as a tattoo.”
  • He fought Wikipedia, and Wikipedia won.
  • Lin-ericks.
  • Lin-dles.
  • Lin(coln) Towers.
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    First in Flight

    February 21, 2012 | by

    On February 26, approximately forty million people will tune into ABC to watch the eighty-fourth Academy Awards. It was around this time eighty-three years ago that the first winners of the Academy Award of Merit were notified, via telegraph, even though it would be another three months before the ceremony itself took place—an event that drew an audience of only 270 people, each of whom paid five dollars for a private dinner at the Roosevelt Hotel. While guests dined on filet of sole sauté au buerre and half-broiled chicken on toast, master of ceremonies Douglas Fairbanks dispensed with the awards in a mere fifteen minutes. There were no speeches and no cameras. It was the only untelevised Academy Awards in history.

    There aren’t too many people who are still under the impression that the Oscars shine an unbiased eye on all the films of the year. But, in fact, it was never intended to be an impartial awards ceremony. According to MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, who created the awards, “the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them ... If I got them cups and awards they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.” Predictable though they may now be, even the most jaded of cinephiles can’t help but get at least a little excited when the nominations are announced each year.

    Only this year one not-so-predictable contender was announced: the unlikely audience favorite The Artist swept up ten Oscar nominations, including Best Motion Picture. If it wins it will be only the second silent film in history to win in the category. The other was Wings, a war film by William A. Wellman, which won Best Picture at the very first Academy Awards.

    This fact alone is a point of contention. In 1929 the Best Picture award was split into two separate categories, Unique and Artistic Production, which went to F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans, and Outstanding Picture, Production, which went to Wellman’s action-packed WWI aviation adventure. The next year, when the award was consolidated into the single Best Motion Picture, it was Wings that went down in the books as the sole winner and, according to many historians, as the last great silent film. Read More »

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