Monday, January 23, 2012
Mix and match movies with Oscar and TCM
The nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow morning and while we don't yet know which film is bound for Oscar glory,it's not too soon to see which former Academy competitors made the cut for Turner Classic Movies' month long salute to the business called show.
TCM's 31 Days of Oscar begins on February 1st,and their theme this year is travel,as in covering films set in locations both international and domestic. From the movies already slated for airtime,I thought it would be interesting to see if pairing up a film from back in the day with one of potential nominees for this year would be a challenge.
Well,it was tricky but I think that some of my picks for Oscar related double features should go together well,like peas and carrots. Take a look and see if I paired these past and present wonders off right:
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST INSIDE DAISY CLOVER
For this season's big critical darling,The Artist,most people would head straight for one of the many film versions of A Star is Born. However,with the plot of The Artist being about the crash and burn of a Hollywood icon,the more intriguing choice for me is 1965's Inside Daisy Clover.
Natalie Wood plays the title character,an ambitious young woman who abandons her mother to a mental home in pursuit of stardom during the 1930s in Hollywood. She becomes an overnight sensation and marries another actor(Robert Redford)who can't return her love in any possible way.
The only thing they truly have in common is being controlled by Ray Swan, the head of the movie studio(Christopher Plummer)who doesn't care how miserable they are as long their contracts are fulfilled.
All of this pressure leads to Daisy having a big league nervous breakdown which involves blowing up a beach house. Sounds pretty over the top but in this day and age,Daisy would be a TMZ dream come true.
The film won two Golden Globes and received three Oscar noms for it's trouble. Inside Daisy Clover has become a cult movie classic,saluting the bizarre nature of fame as much as The Artist does,only in a louder and wackier way:
MAKING MONEY BALL OFF THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES
It's hard to tell if Brad Pitt's sports film Moneyball will get any love from the Oscars but the odds are favorable that a few nomination bones will be tossed to it. The tone of Moneyball is radically opposite to the one set for baseball films in The Pride of the Yankees back in 1942,with Gary Cooper in the leading man but there are a few dots that can be connected here.
Both films are based on true stories that were written as nonfiction works by journalists,with one being a sports writer(Paul Gallico)and the other happening to write about sports more than once(Michael Lewis also wrote the book that was the basis for The Blind Side).
Also,each story is about radical changes to how the game of baseball is perceived,with Lou Gerhig's valiant stance to keep playing as long as his health allows him in order to not let the team down and Billy Beane's determination to make his team better by taking the unorthodox advice of a economics student in acquiring new players that cost less but are greater assets in the long run.
While Moneyball isn't as beloved as Pride of The Yankees(which ended up with ten Oscar nominations,including Best Picture and Best Actor for Cooper),the critics loved it enough to make a difference that will hopefully pay off this award season. I don't know much about sports but these two films certainly sound like home runs for baseball fans to me:
HARD NOT TO ASK FOR THE HELP WHEN YOU GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER
The Help is a film that I personally hopes shines at the Academy Awards this year and when looking the TCM 31 Days list,Guess Who's Coming to Dinner stood out like a lighthouse beacon. Both films take place during the sixties and challenged the racial stances of the day right in the homes of regular folk.
While interracial dating was a controversial subject in 1967,by the time a remake of GWCTD was filmed in 2005,turning the story into a comedy instead of a drama felt more natural to the movie makers. However,the power of the original film starring Sidney Poiter,Katherine Hepburn(who won Best Actress)and Spencer Tracy has not been diminished over time.
The Help has it's own share of controversy,with many people feeling that both the book and film are more of a step back than two steps forward in discussing race relations. Many others,including myself,would prefer to agree to disagree about that and want the stars of this engaging film,Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer,to be respected as well as nominated for their work here.
Making a movie that pleases everyone is an impossible task,but weaving real life struggles with fictional thread to create a story quilt that speaks to all is the challenge that both of these films faced and succeeded at quite handily.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner earned ten nominations and won two,which was great but let's root for The Help to do a little better than that:
RIDING A WAR HORSE OVER THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER
Between the second season of Downton Abbey and the Steven Spielberg boy and his horse tale,War Horse,nostalgia for World War One has become the order of the day. Fitting the bill nicely for this brand of melodrama, 1944's The White Cliffs of Dover starts in WWI as an American girl marries a British army officer just as the war begins.
During their time apart,she has a son but has to raise him alone when her husband is killed in action. By the time WWII starts up,their boy is ready to follow in his father's footsteps as a solider with a loved one of his own to leave behind.
With the only romance in War Horse being a platonic one between a young man and the horse he reluctantly gives up for service during his country's time of need,the sentimental value may not be quite on the same level as The White Cliffs of Dover. Yet,both are touching and inspirational in their unique fashion that appears to suit the audiences they were made for.
The White Cliffs of Dover got a technical nomination at the Oscars that year,for cinematography,and it's a safe bet that War Horse will claim what it can from those categories this time around. Given it's pedigree,perhaps War Horse will be able to rise up a few Academy heights that White Cliffs only dreamed to reach:
By this time tomorrow,we'll know who is up for what in this Oscar race(and yes,I'll be putting in my two cents worth as well). Regardless of which films are chosen,many of them are worth watching and even if you don't have TCM on your dial,the majority of the movies to be shown next month for their Oscar fest are available for rental.
Celebrating the art of film is a lovely way to start the new year and like selecting a menu for a proper feast,being choosy about what to feed your brain with is not a bad way to go here:
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