Finally, a Five Star Rating! (9th BPW)

I previously mentioned that I wasn’t sure what it would take for a Best Picture Winner to get a five star rating from me, but it turns out it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. Before we even finished this BPW, I had made up my mind to give it five stars. The strange thing is that I wasn’t looking forward to watching this movie, and even remembered disliking it when I was forced to watch it in a High School history class. Ten plus years later and I’m a very different person! Which, interestingly, led to a very different movie watching experience.

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BPW #16: Casablanca — 1942 — Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” Rick Blaine. (Also, “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “We’ll always have Paris.”)

“Play it, Sam.” Ilsa Lund. (Often misquoted as “Play it again, Sam.” Rick also shouts, “Play it!” to Sam in another scene, referring to the same song, “As Time Goes By”, which was definitely stuck in my head long after the movie ended.)

Rating —

Bobby: 4 out of 5 stars

Niki: 5 out of 5 stars

Bobby’s Blurb: “I’ll never be as cool as Humphrey Bogart in that movie.”

Casablanca was based on an unproduced stage play called, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s.” The day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, which occurred on December 7th of 1941 and triggered the United States official entry into the Second World War, a Warner Brothers reader began evaluating the play as a possible movie. At that time studios were racing to get patriotic pictures into production and shortly thereafter they did just that with Casablanca. 

The plot centers around Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick Blaine, an American expat who owns an upscale bar in the city of Casablanca. As explained in the movie, Casablanca served as a major stepping stone on the escape route for those running from the Nazi regime and, more importantly, trying to get to America. Rick ends up having to help his former lover, Ilsa Lund, and her husband, a famous resistance leader who had escaped from a concentration camp, avoid recapture and travel to the United States.

Casablanca was an overtly anti-Nazi film and fun fact (!) many of the actors who played Nazis in the film were in fact actual German Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany. During the famous scene where “La Marseillaise” (French National Anthem) is sung over the German song “Watch on the Rhine,” many of the extras had real tears in their eyes. I had fun singing along to the lyrics of “La Marseillaise” that I was familiar with during this part of the film, much to Bobby’s confusion. I have my sister to thank for that, who learned it in French class and thought it was fun to use for “car karaoke” Katie Catton style. I suspect some of you may have, unfortunately, also been subjected to a version of this at some point in the friendship if you know her. *EYE ROLL*

Really this movie is the epitome of a classic, to me. It meets and exceeds all the criteria. Solid, star performers for the time period. Completely on point and relevant, also for the time period. Compelling throughout, with some humor, some drama, some action — just exceptionally well rounded. The fact that so many quotes from this movie have seeped into popular culture speaks clearly to its relevance and staying power, even if many people (formerly me) couldn’t tell you specifically where the quote came from!

But the most interesting part of all of this, for me, is that my reception of Casablanca was so different during the present stage of my life than it was when I was in High School. For some bizarre reason I thought I remembered Ilsa’s character dying at the end of the film. No idea where that came from. But more importantly, I remember not being satisfied by the ending. I can only imagine that my 16/17 year old self was unhappy that Rick and Ilsa, two people who were so clearly in love, did not end up together. Fast forward to now and I grumbled throughout the movie that the lying bitch didn’t deserve her husband and I kind of wish she HAD died in the end! Just kidding, I almost never like when major characters die at the end of movies. Ilsa thought her husband, who had been sent to a concentration camp, was dead and this was why she allowed herself to become involved with Rick in Paris. I get it, and I don’t demonize her for that. But COME ON, she had every opportunity to come clean to her husband after that, to be honest and tell him what had happened, but instead she ran around trying to fix everything herself and continued to trample all over poor Rick’s heart and the life he had set up for himself while trying to forget about her. She didn’t deserve him and he was the better person for sending her away with her husband to a new life in America. That’s it, I’ve said my peace and I am done.

Last thing is the drink.

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A champagne cocktail. Because, if you’ve seen this movie, duh. The characters almost exclusively drink champagne and order champagne cocktails like, the whole movie. I actually really enjoyed mine! And on another note…

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I want some champagne coupe glasses like these ones. Preferably antique ones. Somebody keep an eye out for me.

Mispronouncing Biopic (8th BPW)

Note: I can’t settle on a good way of naming these blogs to save my life. And I got bored with movie titles. Also I need a tutorial on customizing Wordpress, which is sad.

Do you know that I JUST learned how to correctly pronounce the word biopic? It’s “bi-oh (pause) pick” rather than “bi-ah-pick” (no pause). Yes, biopic is short for biographical picture, so obviously the former pronunciation makes logical sense. But if you ask me, there should be a space in between bio and pic in order for this pronunciation to work with a quick eye-scan. Even in reading over this blog post and sounding everything out in my head, I cannot for the life of me say the word correctly! Language can be super annoying. Especially for people like me who read so much and developed their language more through text than by hearing words spoken, because I frequently mispronounce things due to sounding them out incorrectly in my own head.

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BPW #43: Patton — 1970 — George C. Scott

“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton.

Rating —

Bobby: 4 out of 5 stars

Niki: 2 out of 5 stars

Bobby’s Blurb: Other than complaining about having to give me a blurb…”I think the goal of a biopic is to give you a feeling of who the person is and they did that very well. Instead of focusing on the action and the battles, they really gave you a sense of who Patton was.”

Sure! This is accurate. But I was still bored and I don’t like war movies, even biographical ones. I did appreciate that it wasn’t all just a bunch of gory battle scenes, although there were plenty of those. But you have to remember that this was 1970 and the special effects, design, graphics, etc. were not much to see at this point in time. I could have done without the random, skeletal dog chained to a tank at the beginning of the movie, also. Still don’t get the point of that and it upset me.

Patton is a biopic about the American WWII General George S. Patton. If you haven’t watched Patton, you may still have seen the iconic opening scene (shown in the poster above) re-enacted comedically by Bugs Bunny and I bet you didn’t even know it was from this movie! (I didn’t).  Fun fact: George C. Scott refused to film the famous speech in front of the American flag when he learned that the director, Franklin J. Schaffner, intended to put it at the opening. His opinion was that his performance for the remainder of the film could not live up to that scene and he did not want it at the beginning. Schaffner solved the problem by lying to Scott and telling him that it would appear at the end of the film. Nice!

The other contenders for Best Picture at the 43rd Academy Awards were Airport, Five Easy Pieces, Love Story, and MASH. Scott won the Oscar for Best Actor and became the first actor to reject the award, claiming that the Academy Awards were “a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons.” Smart man.

Another fun fact: the ivory-handled revolvers Scott wears in the opening speech were Patton’s actual revolvers. Bobby invented a drink for this movie and named it after one of the two weapons!

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  • 2.5 oz Ballantine’s scotch
  • 1 oz Fernet-Branca
  • Splash Grand Marnier
  • 1.5 oz lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ginger Ale

Combine lime juice and honey. Warm to thin honey. Add spirits and top up with ginger ale and ice. Stir in salt.

68th Best Picture Winner: Braveheart and a new quilt! (7)

IMG_3193Bobby has recently become obsessed with hammocks.  IMG_3191

So we watched our most recent Best Picture Winner outside from the comfort of hammocks under a carport. I actually spent the last hour of the movie being viciously attacked by demon mosquitoes so the comfort aspect is seriously questionable.

 

Before we climbed into our hammocks, we had cocktails. IMG_3186From The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, CA I bring you the Braveheart: “an off-the-menu scotch drink with ginger and lemon” [recipe].

I would say that based on this picture and the description, it looks and sounds delicious. Unfortunately, the bartender read a different recipe first that didn’t indicate the fresh ginger juice should be mixed with simple syrup, so the fantastic looking cocktail pictured here actually has enough ginger in it to practically knock you dead. We doctored them up with some ginger ale to make them drinkable and the flavors were actually really good if you like ginger (so long as it isn’t trying to kill you). Making ginger juice was pretty easy also, you just need some some cheesecloth, a juicer or food processor, and patience for peeling ginger. Of course the ginger peeling was my job 🙂

 

#68: Braveheart — 1995 — Mel GibsonBraveheart_imp

“They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” William Wallace.

Rating —

Bobby: 4 out of 5 stars

Niki: 3 out of 5 stars

Bobby’s Blurb: We almost didn’t have one because I forgot to get it until nearly a week after watching the movie and then Bobby said he hadn’t given me one that night because I was mean to him after watching the movie and he didn’t remember what I had done exactly, but he wasn’t going to give me one now, either. For reals? Then he ended up talking about what he thought about the movie anyway and I just wrote it down.

“It wasn’t as good the second time, I feel like partly because it was so long. It’s hard to keep your attention for that long, especially when you’ve already seen the movie and know what happens.”

Bobby 0 : Niki 1

So I agree with Bobby, and I have decided post watching this movie again and doing some research on it that I really dislike Mel Gibson and this dislike is affecting my view of the movie in general. Also, at the end of the day it really isn’t that special. And I don’t see it having any real, lasting cultural impact, which for some reason has become important to me in a Best Picture?

It really bothers me that the movie is based on a historical person, William Wallace, but is almost 100% historically inaccurate. Allegedly, if one believes certain assertions on Wikedpedia (yes, that was an intentional misspelling), Mel justified his choices as director in a DVD audio commentary for the movie, saying that it was more “cinematically compelling” to portray events in the way that he chose to do so in the film rather than basing them on historical fact or myth. This makes me roll my eyes SO HARD.

I don’t really have anything else to say about the movie so…NEW QUILT!

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I made this one for my Grandfather who is a Canadian WWII vet, hence the poppies. I’m not super thrilled with the quilting itself, honestly, and as a result of laziness and not ironing my backing fabric (UGH) there are some wrinkles that got quilted into the backing. The quilting isn’t my fave because my lines are pretty crookedy throughout and my stitches are frequently uneven and it just looks kind of sloppy if you look at it really close up. I think ultimately the lessons learned are 1: iron and quit being lazy, and 2: if you’re going to choose a bold thread that will stand out for your quilting then be prepared to step up your quilting game and put more time into it, which I didn’t do. My piecing, on the other hand, I’m pretty proud of. At the end of the day I felt like my blocks all matched up really well and it looks good overall from a broad, not close-up aspect.

I’m making a rag-quilt next and I have literally a week from today to start and finish it so…that should be fun! Look for a blog about that coming up soon!

64th BPW: The Silence of the Lambs (6)

So you know how I said that I like zombies? This is still accurate, but do you know what I like even MORE than zombies? Serial killers. I’ve seen every episode of the original CSI and Law and Order SVU, the episodes that follow serial offenders being my favorites of course, and am equally obsessed with Criminal Minds (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders is good too if you like the original show). I now fondly remember the days when my former roommate and first ever college friend, Katherine, would groan over how corny Gil Grissom was and I would cut my eyes at her and tell her she was ruining the fun. These days my mother-in-law and I watch new episodes of Criminal Minds together and my father-in-law complains that he hates it and thinks it’s depressing. I can see the truth in this (in fact ten years ago I would have agreed with him), and yet I’m fascinated all the same. But there has to be some humor or cheesiness thrown in there with the dismemberment, demon worship, etc. or else I’m on Tom’s side.

That being the case, our next Best Picture Winner (BPW) was right up my ally!

#64: The Silence of the Lambs — 1991 — Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Hannibal Lecter.

Bobby and I paired the movie with homemade shrimp and blue cheese stuffed crust pizza and Chianti, of course.

Rating —

Bobby: 4 out of 5 stars

Niki: 4 out of 5 stars

Bobby’s Blurb: “It’s rated so high because the storyline is good and because Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster did such a great job, but the filming itself is not that great. There’s nothing that earth shattering about it, you know what I mean?” Nope, Bobby. You’re directing this question to the wrong non-film critic.

I kind of disagree with him, actually. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT trying to analyze this movie from a cinematography standpoint because that is all kinds of not my forte, but I did find several aspects of the filming to be quite interesting. And from my research it appears that I am not alone. I would guess that what I was able to find in a quick google search is only a tiny fraction of what has been written about this movie and it seems to be a popular subject for film analysis. Much of the filming was done as if to break the elusive “fourth wall”, where the actor speaks (or looks) directly to the audience. Director Jonathan Demme used this technique to great effect throughout much of the movie, focusing on the eyes of the actors as they look directly into the camera. This was particularly noticeable, in my opinion, during the scenes at the asylum when Clarice is interviewing Lecter. The perspective was often narrowed down exclusively to Hannibal’s face as he taunted and questioned her, visually creating a tense and terrorizing atmosphere while developing a sense of fear and loathing in the audience directed towards the conniving serial killer.

From an Academy Awards standpoint, The Silence of the Lambs was only the third movie to win Academy Awards in all five major categories, which include: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay. It also remains the only BPW that is widely considered to be a horror film (other “horror” nominees having been considered are Jaws in ’75 and the Exorcist in ’73). Considering Silence to be a horror movie, I feel, is terribly inaccurate. It’s a thriller, plain and simple. It follows the classic mold of a thriller and there are only two somewhat disturbing scenes that might qualify it for horror status, but that I still don’t feel rise quite to that level. Maybe I’m so against this label because I absolutely hate horror movies, and really enjoyed The Silence of the Lambs. Oddly enough, one film that terrified me and that I qualify as horror is widely considered to be a thriller and I am frequently told is “not scary”. That would be The Sixth Sense, the movie, which, next to the original It, has probably had the most formative impact on my dislike of horror. I don’t do ghosts. Period. I informed my husband that if The Sixth Sense were a BPW, I would not be meeting the challenge of watching every one of them, because I was not re-watching that movie unless you taped me to a chair and held my eyelids open. I’m infinitely more scared of ghosts than serial killers because of this illogical analysis: I firmly believe that it is more likely ghosts exist and might torment me than that I will ever run afoul of a serial killer. I know you are saying to yourself, but serial killers do actually, really and truly, exist. My response is, and your point?

Fun fact: in a rare act of cooperation at that time, the FBI actually allowed scenes to be filmed at the FBI Academy in Quantico and some FBI staff members even acted in bit parts.

There were socio political aspects of this film as well that have been cause for an equal number of research papers, film reviews, discussion posts etc. The major issues were both feminism and the portrayal of a cross-dressing or transsexual man, this label changing depending on the opinion of the person you ask. The film was criticized by members of the LGBT community for its portrayal of Buffalo Bill, the serial killer whom FBI agent Clarice Starling was trying to find with the help of the renowned former psychiatrist and convicted cannibal Hannibal Lecter. Director Demme responded to the criticism by commenting that Buffalo Bill was not a gay character, but rather a tormented man who hated himself and wanted to be a woman. Obviously the only way to achieve this noble purpose was to kill women and skin them so that he could make a woman-skin suit!

This apparently upset the notable feminist icon Betty Friedan who, in an interview with Playboy magazine, stated that she did not like the fact that women were being skinned alive in the film and stated that this is what she found offensive, not the Playboy centerfold. Upon further investigation I found that prior to this she said (and this makes far more sense to me), “Another big thing in TV and movies is portraying women only when they are in jeopardy.” I’m going to have to disagree with Betty on this point though (in relation to Silence) because Jodie Foster’s character is confronted at almost every turn by extremely sexist attitudes toward her and she fights the entire movie to confront these gender based obstacles of male power and dominance. Friedan might have a point about the victims of the serial killer in the film (although I can also see how this holds true to real life victims of serial killers in many cases), but the real triumph and focus of the movie is Clarice kicking ass and coming out on top, as a woman, not being cowed by the men that are determined to keep her in her supposed place.

I leave this review wondering what my criteria is for a five star movie and I have absolutely no idea. Going to have to think some more on that one.

BPW #40 (5)

If you know anything about me, then you know that I am the self-proclaimed “Worst Carolina Fan” in existence.

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Karen’s Drink (like a Bahama Mama sans coconut): OJ, pineapple juice, grenadine, spiced rum.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud alum and I can tell you what color the sky is and sing the UNC Fight Song (which I did proudly on Monday night after our victory), but I also famously gave away tickets to a UNC versus Duke game my Senior year because I knew someone else would enjoy going far more than I would. That may have also been the last year we won the NCAA…nevermind let’s not talk about this anymore. Anyway, it seemed appropriate to display my school pride, albeit limited, while watching our latest BPW this past weekend. So even though we didn’t have a themed drink for this film, still, there were drinks.

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#40: In the Heat of the Night — 1967 — Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger

Rating — (Got to start this section off by saying that Bobby and I both regret our first ratings and wish we’d gone a point lower, but…c’est la vie)

Niki: 4 out of 5 stars

Bobby: 3 out of 5 stars

Bobby’s Blurb: “I don’t got nothin’ to say about that f#&*$%^ movie. Also, Poitier is a funny word.” Well…this is going well, isn’t it! Insert my eyes rolling into the back of my head here.

In the Heat of the Night is a mystery/drama centered around a murder in a small Southern town. Virgil Tibbs, played by Sidney Poitier, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and is initially accused of being the murderer by the racist Sheriff Bill Gillespie, played by Rod Steiger. Gillespie eventually discovers that Tibbs is actually a police homicide detective from Philadelphia, and begrudgingly asks for his help in solving the murder.

Ironically in my research for this movie, I came across an article published yesterday in the Hollywood Reporter, that was a conversation with Norman Jewison, the director of In the Heat of the Night. This year marks the film’s 50th anniversary and it is screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood today. Our timing is SO on point! But in all seriousness, the aforementioned article was a good read, so if you’re interested: check it out here. Jewison’s very last comment in the article was this: “It’s amazing how people are telling me, ‘You know, that film plays today just as well as it did then.’ But I say, ‘That’s sad. To still have that kind of racial confrontation in America, that’s sad.'” So this movie is absolutely still culturally relevant, as unfortunate as that is.

The other BPW competitor’s for the 40th Academy Awards were Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I couldn’t find anything interesting about the reception of In the Heat of the Night or controversies surrounding its choice as Best Picture, but fortunately there are lots of other interesting things I did find out about the movie and the awards that year.

The 40th Academy Awards were actually postponed two days due to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. Prior to the postponement, four African American stars, including Sidney Poitier, announced that they were withdrawing from the event in order to mourn Dr. King, but ended up attending as planned on the new date.

In the Heat of the Night made it onto the famed movie critic Roger Ebert’s list of top 10 films from 1967, although it seems he personally preferred it’s Academy competitor Bonnie and Clyde.

One of the most interesting things I found about the movie was how accurately they depicted the actors as constantly sweating in the Mississippi heat. Apparently this took quite the effort as in reality they were filming in weather so cold that they had to suck on ice chips in order to keep their breath from showing!

One majorly controversial aspect of the film was a scene in which Sidney Poitier’s character Virgil Tibbs slaps a wealthy plantation owner and white man, which would have put his life in serious danger at that time as a black man and did cause him to be relentlessly attacked in the film. Initially when Poitier agreed to work on the movie he had requested that no filming be done south of the Mason Dixon line, as he had previously been chased by the KKK while driving through Georgia and did not wish a repeat experience. Unfortunately Jewison could not find a cotton plantation that wasn’t in the South and persuaded Poitier to do a weekend of shooting in Dyersburg, Tennessee for several key scenes. Reportedly the main hotel in town was whites-only at that time, so the cast and crew stayed at a nearby Holiday Inn and Poitier slept with a gun under his pillow.

My favorite part of the film was both Steiger’s acting, which earned him the award for Best Actor that year, and also the relationship that formed between his character and Mr. Tibbs. By the end of the movie they both held a grudging respect for one another and had formed a sort of friendship that seemed exceptionally unlikely considering where they began. I like endings that are hopeful in regards to humanity, but not sappy, and I think this movie really delivered.

Best Picture Winner (BPW) #71 (4) and Writing Blog Posts

“A plague on both your houses!” Relevant because of #71 and also because I feel like I have the plague. Since my nephew (who I live with) started daycare, we’ve had round after round of illness in our household. I’m sure many of you with young children, or any children, can relate. I’m currently dealing with sinus issues that feel like the plague that cannot be cured. I can’t hear well or breathe well and I wake up in the morning feeling like my throat is the sahara. I need to drink more water.

Prior to watching our 4th BPW and writing this post, Bobby and I may have had a tiny (heated) argument about improving the content of my movie reviews. He suggested more critique and less synopsis, which I think is a valid criticism. My blog posts haven’t really been reviews at all, with as little critique as I’ve been giving, but that wasn’t necessarily my intent. The problem and source of our disagreement, is that I feel like any movie critique written  by me would not be genuine or credible since I’m not a movie buff or expert of any kind or even really interested in becoming one and therefore don’t have an opinion worth sharing or reading. Bobby thinks that any person is qualified to give an opinion about any subject matter, therefore I can write a movie critique. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.

But as a compromise, and with advice from my sister, I’ve decided to include ratings on a scale of 1-5 for each movie by both me and Bobby and also a blurb from the latter with his thoughts about the movie. Then I’m going to go down a more research related route in lieu of criticism and find out/report why each film was nominated and won best picture. I think the controversies surrounding this decision for each of the films is interesting and after all, why are we doing this anyway? We could watch any of a million movies, but this list is important for some reason. So let’s investigate what those reasons are, shall we?

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#71: Shakespeare In Love — 1998 — Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes

Rating —

Niki: 4 out of 5 stars

Bobby: 3 out of 5 stars

Bobby’s Blurb: “I disliked three quarters of the movie, but somehow ended up liking it. Do you know how?” I did not. “It’s a mystery!” (You will only understand this if you’ve recently watched the movie or know the dialogue exceptionally well, but suffice it to say: corny). He had no further explanation.

It is rare that I have seen a movie and Bobby has not, but that was the case with this film. It was also the first of the BPW’s so far that was not brand new to both of us. I came into this movie with positive preconceptions that I was going to enjoy it, being that I remembered liking it the first time I saw it. Shakespeare in Love was funny without being corny or stupid, romantic without being sappy, and dramatic without being over the top. I don’t know that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character was my favorite or that I particularly liked Shakespeare either, but the cast as a whole worked together well. I also enjoyed how the plot that was acted out in the play within the movie (Romeo and Juliet) mirrored the doomed tryst of William and Viola in their “real” lives.

Shakespeare in Love’s win for Best Picture is widely viewed as one of the major Oscar upsets of all time. The other contenders for the 71st Best Picture award were Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Life is Beautiful, and Elizabeth. Many people credit Shakespeare’s win to the ad campaigning efforts of Henry Weinstein, Miramax chief and co-producer of the film, and feel that the win should have gone to Director Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan instead. I haven’t seen the movie (I’m pretty sure?), but I’m not a big fan of war movies, particularly if they’re sad, which is usually the case… because, war.

To understand this “ad-campaigning” business, it’s necessary to know how the Oscar nominee’s are chosen. There are strict procedures that are governed by specific guidelines set by the Academy to first determine the eligibility of a film and then it has to be nominated, typically by a member of the Academy who belongs to the corresponding branch of their nomination. For example: actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. For the Best Picture Award, however, all voting members are able to nominate an eligible film. Nominations voting is conducted and then all votes are tabulated by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, who has been doing this since like the beginning of time. Or for the last 80 years, whichever. After the nominations voting the results are whittled down to only a few candidates and then the final vote takes place. There are some 6,000 Academy members involved in the voting process and as a filmmaker, director, producer or whathaveyou, your job is to make sure that your film gets seen by said members. Cue ad-campaigns!

So the Shakespeare detractors are of the opinion that the movie won purely due to Weinstein’s marketing and ability to get his film in front of more Academy members. Strangely enough, Harvey Weinstein just wrote an article about this last February with his thoughts on the subject (as well as the current Awards season), which you can read here. Due to the fact that Shakespeare also topped the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which is a key factor and stepping stone to Oscar success, I’m not seeing the real upset factor here. But I guess without having seen any of the other nominated films, it’s hard to say with any kind of conviction that the right movie won the award.

Perhaps our next mission after watching all the BPW’s is to watch the runners-up? Or maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself…after all, we’re only on number 4!

Best Picture Winner #10: The Life of Emile Zola (3) and a French 75

It feels really weird to be sitting around at home watching an old movie and drinking cocktails at noon on a Tuesday, but that’s what happens when you’re unemployed and your husband works 12 hour nights. He thinks it would be fun if I found a job working nights too so that we could be on the same schedule. And we would be what, like a vampire family? I’m not so sure about that. 

But moving on, Bobby is officially fired from random number generating since we haven’t gotten anything newer than 1950 as of yet…BUT I have to say that I did really enjoy this movie. It wasn’t quite as serious as the first two, but still had a good message and feeling to it and was in black and white. This movie is biographical, obviously, and takes place in Paris, France. Emile Zola was an author who lived with artist Paul Cezanne while they were both completely unknown and trying to get their respective careers off the ground. Zola was considered a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the movie his career skyrocketed when he met a prostitute by chance upon whom he modeled his scandalous book, Nana. After marrying, becoming wealthy and established in his career, Zola thinks that his revolutionary days are behind him and that he will spend the remainder of his life enjoying his wealth and fame. This doesn’t last long, however, when he is contacted by the wife of Alfred Dreyfus, who pleads with him to help expose the corruption and lies that caused her husband, an artillery officer, to be falsely accused and convicted of treason against the French military. Eventually Zola agrees to help and publishes a series of articles bringing out the truth of the Dreyfus Affair, which eventually leads to his exoneration. And in a fateful twist, Zola dies from an accidental carbon monoxide leak in his home the night before the ceremony where Dreyfus is to be restored to his former military position. 

The French 75 is not even tangentially related to this movie…it’s just French. And also proves that I don’t actually hate Gin since it’s the second Gin drink I somewhat like after the Gin Fizz.