February Prompt: Best Picture Winners

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With the Oscars around the corner (March 4th) and the recent announcement of the Oscar nominees, we decided to make the prompt for February be about Best Picture winners.

89 films received this recognition. Are they the best and the greatest films of their time? Highly subjective, but I do believe they reflect the times of Hollywood and cinema, maybe not the best of times but they show some small evolution in film making. I was surprised to remember how many of my personal favorite films were actually Best Picture winners such as Marty, The Apartment, The Lost Weekend and The French Connection.

I believe the Oscars had a big impact on guiding me to certain films and helped me access the large and vast world of cinema. Let’s face it, there are a ton of movies and this was one way for me to find “the best of the best.” I look forward to the Oscars, mainly for the debate between cinephiles and the bridge it creates to discuss movies with non-cinephiles. I probably can’t have a deep conversation about mother! with co-workers but thanks to the nominations I can talk about Get Out or The Shape of Water.

When compiling the list of Best Picture winners I was expecting my number of unwatched films to significantly outweigh the number of watched, instead it was 45 unwatched and 44 seen, simply 50/50. I can thank TCM for their 31 Days of Oscar programming during high school for helping me knock out a lot of these films.  I hope to have multiple picks for the month but for right now I’m going to choose one and it will be 1927/28’s Best Picture winner and the first film to receive the award, Wings. I have two reasons for picking this film, it was the first film to obtain the honor and I recently read that Rian Johnson had a tribute/homage to it in a scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Pick an unwatched Best Picture from the table below and let us know by email (cinemashame@gmail.com) or tweet us (@CinemaShame) with your choice. Happy Cinema Watching!

Year Best Picture Winner
1927 Wings
1928 The Broadway Melody
1929 All Quiet on the Western Front
1930 Cimarron
1931 Grand Hotel
1932 Cavalcade
1934 It Happened One Night
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty
1936 The Great Ziegfeld
1937 The Life of Emile Zola
1938 You Can’t Take It With You
1939 Gone with the Wind
1940 Rebecca
1941 How Green Was My Valley
1942 Mrs. Miniver
1943 Casablanca
1944 Going My Way
1945 The Lost Weekend
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives
1947 Gentleman’s Agreement
1948 Hamlet
1949 All the King’s Men
1950 All About Eve
1951 An American in Paris
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth
1953 From Here to Eternity
1954 On the Waterfront
1955 Marty
1956 Around the World in 80 Days
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 Gigi
1959 Ben-Hur
1960 The Apartment
1961 West Side Story
1962 Lawrence of Arabia
1963 Tom Jones
1964 My Fair Lady
1965 The Sound of Music
1966 A Man for All Season
1967 In the Heat of the Night
1968 Oliver!
1969 Midnight Cowboy
1970 Patton
1971 The French Connection
1972 The Godfather
1973 The Sting
1974 The Godfather Part II
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1976 Rocky
1977 Annie Hall
1978 The Deer Hunter
1979 Kramer vs. Kramer
1980 Ordinary People
1981 Chariots of Fire
1982 Gandhi
1983 Terms of Endearment
1984 Amadeus
1985 Out of Africa
1986 Platoon
1987 The Last Emperor
1988 Rain Man
1989 Driving Miss Daisy
1990 Dances with Wolves
1991 The Silence of the Lambs
1992 Unforgiven
1993 Schindler’s List
1994 Forrest Gump
1995 Braveheart
1996 The English Patient
1997 Titantic
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1999 American Beauty
2000 Gladiator
2001 A Beautiful Mind
2002 Chicago
2003
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 Million Dollar Baby
2005 Crash
2006 The Departed
2007 No Country for Old Men
2008 Slumdog Millionaire
2009 The Hurt Locker
2010 The King’s Speech
2011 The Artist
2012 Argo
2013 12 Years a Slave
2014 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2015 Spotlight
2016 Moonlight

–Nick Britt

 

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WANTED: 2018 Shame Statements

Only nine more days left in the month of January. A few brave contributors have committed to knocking off some major films in their Cinema Shame Lists. Below are the links to the list of these writers. If you would like to add your Statements for the year to the site, reach out to us on Twitter @Cinemashame or check out the instructions located here.

@movielovebogart  – https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/aint-that-a-shame-2018/ (Statement is also listed at @movielovebogart’s own website https://areyouthrilled.com/)

@007hertzrumble – https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/so-2018-is-still-shameful/

@campbelldropout –  https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/2018-cinema-shame-list/

@deaconsden – https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/shame-statement-2018/

@BNoirDetour – https://bnoirdetour.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/cinema-shame-2018/

@realweegiemidge  – https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/collaborations/cinema-shame-2018/january-realweegiemidgets-11/

@TakingUpRoom – https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/movies-eleven-2018/ 

@jrwells82 – https://jrwells82.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/cinema-shame-statement-2018/

@quellelove – http://www.outofthepastblog.com/2018/01/cinema-shame.html 

February Prompt

Award Season is in full swing and on March 4th will be the Oscars. So for the month of February, we will be using Best Picture winners as our source of shame. Posts will be provided later in the week providing information.

Best Picture Winners and Nominees from Wikipedia –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Picture#Winners_and_nominees 

 

 

 

Police Story 3: Supercop (1992, Stanley Tong)

Photo 04-01-2018, 03 04 11In my defence I thought I’d seen Police Story 3: Supercop years ago but it turned out to be the spin-off movie Supercop 2 with Michelle Yeah reprising her role from the earlier film and Jackie Chan making a brief cameo. Somewhat confusingly both films have been released in some territories under the title Supercop so in an era where getting hold of HK movies usually involved replying to adverts in martial arts magazines from specialists offering VHS copies at ridiculously high prices I don’t feel too bad about my error. If anything it was great to have another film from that great period between 1982-1994 when Chan was at his peak as a performer.

Photo 04-01-2018, 02 53 57Though a sequel the film also functions as a comeback for Michelle Yeoh after five years away from acting. It’s a buddy movie teaming Chan’s laidback HK police officer with his initially stern Chinese counterpart to take down a drug smuggling kingpin. The film also anticipates the impending handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule by showing the two working together despite their differences.

Photo 04-01-2018, 03 00 07There’s the usual clashes you get in movies about mismatched partners, mostly involving Chan making fun of the Chinese government’s extreme training techniques for their cadets before the two begin to complement each other and become an effective partnership. The plot involves going undercover to infiltrate the network of a drug syndicate run by a jovial Nintendo loving psychopath. While the first two were quite gritty for 80s’ Jackie Chan movies Police Story 3 is much larger in scale and has the feel of a Bond movie. In fact I’m pretty sure the makers of Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, Roger Spottiswoode) must have watched this at least once given Yeoh’s presence in that film and Brosnan’s Bond effectively fulfilling the Chan role as the wise-cracking partner.

As you’d expect from this era in Chan’s career the stunts are life-threatingly insane with Jackie dangling from a helicopter as it flies for miles over the city and Yeoh riding a motor bike onto a moving train. There’s a little too much gunplay which may well be a reaction to the popularity of John Woo movies at the time and Yeoh’s own contributions to the “Girls with Guns” sub-genre which made her a star. The only downside is Maggie Cheung reprising the least rewarding role of her career as Chan’s girlfriend whose presence is meant to provide comic relief but the treatment of her character through this franchise leaves much to be desired.

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Yeoh and Chan (for about 5 minutes) would return for Supercop 2 a year later as would director Stanley Tong. Soon Hollywood would beckon for both of them and I reckon Yeoh has fared better in that respect with a diverse and interesting career. Jackie’s greatest achievements remain the films he made in the 80s’ and early 90s’ and Police Story 3: Supercop is one of the best of them.

 

 

2018 Cinema Shame List

For the past week I’ve been thinking about what to include in my Cinema Shame list for 2018. With the change in prompt, I’ve decided to limit the overall picks for the year to provide some wiggle room for additional films throughout the year. I used several resources to compile this list including the following: previous shame lists, contributors lists of shame, conversations on twitter, Danny Peary’s film books, various film books by critics and of course the intimidating “to watch pile” (stop judging me unopened Phenomena blu-ray).

2018 Cinema Shame List

Touch of Evil – Orson Welles is a true blind spot in my cinematic viewing.

Malcolm X – Denzel Washington and Spike Lee.

Zardoz – I would say Connery is an icon however I’ve only seen his Bond films and his work from the mid 90s to his retirement.

Two Lane Blacktop – Everybody needs more Warren Oates in their cinematic diet.

The Thing – This will be watched, no matter this will be watched for 2018. It’s been on my list since 2015, I’ve owned the DVD for years and I’ve had the Shout Factory blu-ray for months. This will come off the list.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Deaconsden discussion of the western genre in his 2018 Cinema Shame list has pushed this title onto my list. A genre that is sorely lacking in my catalog of watches. Also, this was a previous entry on past Cinema Shame statements.

Pale Rider – A discussion on twitter about Eastwood’s directing made me realize excluding stuff from the past 15 years and Unforgiven, I’ve watched very little of his directed films. Probably the least exciting entry of the group especially after watching Heartbreak Ridge and the first hour of Firefox.

Alien 3 – I like David Fincher and the first two Alien films.

Short Cuts – From the to watch pile and I’ve watched so little Altman.

Hell in the Pacific – Lee Marvin.

Pretty Poison – Recommendation from Danny Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic and a co-worker recommended this film within the past month.

Episode 6: Friday the 13th / El Cinemonster

fridaythe13thshame

David aka “the Cinemonster” joins James to discuss his monstrous creation, the Hooptober Horror Movie Challenge on Letterboxd.com. Our host and guest then give birth to a pair of “baby Hooptober” lists to demonstrate the ever-growing social media phenomenon and give a few horror viewing recommendations to populate your own Hooptober lists.

Cinema Shame’s Halloween Special also flips the Shame script and places our host in the hot seat for his first viewing of Friday the 13th Parts 1 and 2 for a conversation and analyzes how a horror-loving child of the 1980’s somehow avoided the grandaddy (or at least the Great Uncle) of the modern American slasher genre. The conversation then turns to the historical origins of the slasher within film, literature and contemporary popular culture.

Subscribe on iTunes / Stitcher Radio

Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/Hooptober1.mp3

 

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Host, lover of horror and crazy cinema challenges.

David the Cinemonster (@ElCinemonster) – Horror lover, expert and Cinema Shame’s resident Dr. Frankenstein.

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Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

“Friday the 13th Original Theme” – Harry Manfredini

“Red Right Hand” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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Supplementary Links:

El Cinemonster’s Hooptober 4.0 Rules and List on Letterboxd.com

James Patrick’s Hooptober 4.0 Watchlist

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Supplementary Materials:

Theatre of Fear & Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962

So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

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Recommended Homework Films:

Bay of Blood (Mario Bava, 1971)

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Sergio Martino, 1972)

Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)

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Recorded in October 2017.

Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

The Last Tycoon (1976, Elia Kazan)

 

Photo 02-09-2017, 16 10 41Elia Kazan was a coward who named names to the House of Un-American Activities Committee to protect his own career so I’ve never felt ashamed about not having seen many of his films. I quite liked On the Waterfront until somebody pointed out the film was a thinly veiled justification for Kazan’s own actions at those hearings. However Kazan’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon has been on my list since attending a workshop held by novelist Stewart O’Nan at the Edinburgh Book Festival a couple of years back. O’Nan had just published West of Sunset, a novel based on Fitzgerald’s experiences as a screenwriter in Hollywood working at MGM for two years. His only screenwriting credit was for 1938’s Three Comrades (Frank Borzage), but his time in the film industry clearly gave him enough material for The Last Tycoon and there are moments in the novel that feel like they come from first hand experience.

Published posthumously The Last Tycoon is only a fragment. You can read it in a few hours. It’s loosely based on the short life of MGM’s wunderkind producer Irving Thalberg who passed away in 1936, the year before Fitzgerald took up employment at the studio. The novel is narrated by Cecilia Brady, daughter of a studio boss, who is attempting to carve out a career in Hollywood despite her father’s objections to her working in the industry and in particular the close relationship she forms with his younger partner Monroe Stahr.

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I think this story works better if seen through Cecilia’s eyes but in the film Stahr (Robert De Niro) takes centre stage while Cecilia (Theresa Russell) is relegated to a supporting character. Otherwise Harold Pinter’s screenplay remains largely faithful to the narrative. Later editions of the novel include Fitzgerald’s notes which show the novel’s third act would have been much more dramatic with blackmail plots and murder but these are ignored.

The opening scene establishes Monroe Stahr’s involvement in all aspects of the studio production and his near mythical status in the eyes of the public. An elderly tour guide (John Barrymore) leads a group of visitors through the studio and tells anecdotes about Stahr and his tragic love affair with the late movie star Minna Davis (Ingrid Boulting). Barrymore’s presence, “I’ve been here since the silent days,” lets us know this is a film about Hollywood and it’s past. Then we are introduced to Stahr at work as he oversees the editing of a movie, fires a director because the leading lady (Jeanne Moreau) doesn’t respect him, and has a heart-to-heart with an ageing matinee idol (Tony Curtis) who is unable to make love to his wife anymore.

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There’s a rueful moment when Curtis stares at a publicity still on the wall showing him in his younger days and it must have chimed with the former movie star who was now working regularly on television. Had Kazan made The Last Tycoon in the 50s’ Curtis would have been perfect as Monroe Stahr. He’s got a restless hurt quality which would have suited this part, but I’m not sure about De Niro. Charm isn’t exactly his thing. He’s good in the quiet reflective moments but his Stahr orders people around like a gangster.

The lack of story means there’s a lightness to The Last Tycoon, but this works in the film’s favour. At times it feels like a Hollywood ghost story with Stahr haunted by the absence of his wife. When returning home after working late he looks to the stairs as if expecting Minna to appear suddenly. When he enters his bedroom Kazan cuts to a scene from one of her movies as if he is retreating into that world. Later he’s stunned to see a woman on the lot who resembles Minna, Kathleen Moore (Boulting again), and he seeks her out as if to reassure himself she wasn’t an apparition. They begin a tentative affair but they both want different things from each other. With it’s Hollywood setting, doppelgängers, and potential for melodrama I wonder what David Lynch could have done with this kind of material.

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I don’t know if Kazan meant this to be his final film but it feels like a farewell and a fuck you to the business. While Fitzgerald was writing a tragedy about a man brought down by his own flaws Kazan’s version of Stahr is undone by the machinations of those around him. The climactic scene is taken from the book, a lengthy meeting between a writer’s union rep which ends in a booze-fuelled punch-up. Here this is the incident which gets Stahr removed from his position at the studio. The talented filmmaker finds himself exiled from Hollywood, undone by the work of a Communist agitator (played by Jack Nicholson). I get the feeling Kazan never felt any shame about destroying his former friends lives at all.

The film closes with a reprise of an earlier scene in which Stahr had schooled an over-literary screenwriter (Donald Pleasance) in the art of keeping the story simple and yet dramatic (something I think Fitzgerald probably had said to him during his time in Hollywood) but with De Niro now addressing the camera. “I was only making pictures…” which given Kazan’s history feels like he’s speaking directly to the viewer and insisting his work is more important than any other aspect of his life and that’s what he should be remembered for. He’s still a grass though. I’m with Nick Nolte and Ed Harris who refused to applaud Kazan when De Niro presented him with an Honorary Oscar in 1999.