Tag Archives: Academy Award for Best Picture

Decade Recap – The 1920s and 1930s

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After seeing the first 12 Best Picture Winners from the 1920s and ’30s, we have yet to have a Double Gobble rating (a perfect 5 star movie), but there were still some very enjoyable films.  All Quiet on the Western Front and It Happened One Night were our favorites while You Can’t Take It With You was the surprise of  the bunch.  Here are the rankings for the first 12 movies:

1) All Quiet on the Western Front – 4.5 stars

2) It Happened One Night – 4 stars

3) You Can’t Take It With You – 3.5

4) Gone With the Wind – 3 stars

Mutiny on the Bounty – 3 stars

Wings – 3 stars

7) Cimarron – 2.5 stars

Grand Hotel – 2.5 stars

The Great Zeigfeld – 2.5 stars

10) The Life of Emile Zola – 2 stars

11) Broadway Melody – 1.5 stars

12) Cavalcade – 1 star

What do you think about our list? Tell us in the comments!

 

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Gone With the Wind – Best Picture Winner; 1939

Gone-With-The-Wind

The Basics – Gone With the Wind (1939) – Director, Victor Fleming; starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh; Run Time – 238 mins. – Drama, Romance, War – “A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War.”

Prior Knowledge

Kristy – I had watched bits and pieces of this film before but never sat down to watch it in its totality.  I am obviously aware of its theme as well as some of its more popular lines.

Koob – This is my mom’s favorite movie and we saw it together on the big screen around 14 years ago.

Fun Facts from IMDB

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to be nominated for, and win, an Academy Award.

Vivien Leigh worked for 125 days and received about $25,000. Clark Gable worked for 71 days and received over $120,000.

The movie’s line “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” was voted as the #1 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).

1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part of Scarlett O’Hara. 400 were asked to do readings.

Viewing Source – we own this on DVD but it is available for only $0.99 on Amazon Instant Video

Post Viewing Responses

Ratings (with 1 star = the worst and 5 stars = the best)

Koob: 3 stars

Kristy: 3 stars

Double Gobble Score: 3 stars

 

The Takeaway: A beautifully shot movie with great acting but with an outdated worldview that glorifies the Old South and slavery.

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You Can’t Take It With You – Best Picture Winner; 1938

You Can't Take It With You

The Basics – You Can’t Take It With You (1938) – Director – Frank Capra; starring Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore; Run Time – 126 mins. – Comedy, Romance –  “A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.”

Prior Knowledge

Kristy – In order to prepare the food, I had to do a little research on the movie, so I know that it is basically about a collision of worlds between two very different families.

Koob – All I know about this movie is that it is by the great Frank Capra.

Fun Facts

Shortly before filming began, Lionel Barrymore lost the use of his legs to crippling arthritis and a hip injury. To accommodate him, the script was altered so that his character had a sprained ankle, and Barrymore did the film on crutches.

Lionel Barrymore plays Jean Arthur‘s grandfather in the film. In reality, he was only 22 years her senior.

-A 1938 feature film usually ran to 8,000 feet of film. Frank Capra shot 329,000 feet for this one.
-The original play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was still running on Broadway when the film opened.
The first film collaboration of Jean ArthurJames Stewart and Frank Capra. Later the same teamed up for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Viewing Source – Free streaming video @ http://stagevu.com/video/lchbzzytrcbd

Post Viewing Responses

 

Ratings (with 1 star = the worst and 5 stars = the best)

Koob: 3 stars

Kristy: 4 stars

Double Gobble Score: 3.5 stars

 

The Takeaway: An under-appreciated Frank Capra film that should be recognized by modern audiences for its witty, intelligent comedy and memorable cast of characters.

 

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A Symphony of Cheeses for “The Life of Emile Zola”

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Cheese in all its incarnations is definitely one of Kristy and Koob’s favorite foods, and France is the home of so many delicious cheeses. But with so many different kinds, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose just one. As Charles de Gaulle once famously said of France, “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese”.

Emile Zola captured this sentiment in his 1873 novel “Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris)”. Much of the novel focuses on Les Halles which was the central market of Paris for many years. While the book is a social commentary on the struggles of the working class and the “fattening” of the bourgeoisie, it is also filled with beautifully descriptive passages of the amazing variety of food found at Les Halles; the most well-known of which is the “Cheese Symphony” which is excerpted below:

All around them the cheeses were stinking. On the two shelves at the back of the stall were huge blocks of butter: Brittany butter overflowing its baskets; Normandy butter wrapped in cloth, looking like models of bellies on to which a sculptor had thrown some wet rags; other blocks, already cut into and looking like high rocks full of valleys and crevices. […] But for the most part the cheeses stood in piles on the table. There, next to the one-pound packs of butter, a gigantic cantal was spread on leaves of white beet, as though split by blows from an axe; then came a golden Cheshire cheese, a gruyère like a wheel fallen from some barbarian chariot, some Dutch cheeses suggesting decapitated heads smeared in dried blood and as hard as skulls – which has earned them the name of ‘death’s heads’. A parmesan added its aromatic tang to the thick, dull smell of the others. […] Then came the strong-smelling cheeses: the mont-d’ors, pale yellow, with a mild sugary smell; the troyes, very thick and bruised at the edges, much stronger, smelling like a damp cellar; the camemberts, suggesting high game; the neufchâtels, the limbourgs, the marolles, the pont-l’évèques, each adding its own shrill note in a phrase that was harsh to the point of nausea; […]
A silence fell at the mention of Gavard. They all looked at each other cautiously. As they were all rather short of breath by this time, it was the camembert they could smell. This cheese, with its gamy odour, had overpowered the milder smells of the marolles and the limbourg; its power was remarkable. Every now and then, however, a slight whiff, a flute-like note, came from the parmesan, while the bries came into play with their soft, musty smell, the gentle sound, so to speak, of a damp tambourine. The livarot launched into an overwhelming reprise, and the géromé kept up the symphony with a sustained note.

( The Belly of Paris, by Émile Zola, Oxford University Press, translated by Brian Nelson, 2007, p210-216)

So grab yourself some brie or some roquefort or some camembert (personally, we say the stinkier the better) and enjoy “The Life of Emile Zola” while creating your own cheese symphony.

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The Life of Emile Zola: Best Picture Winner – 1937

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The Basics – The Life of Emile Zola (1937) – Director – William Dieterle; Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Schildkraut; Run Time – 116 mins. – Biography, Drama – “The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.”

Prior Knowledge

Kristy – The only thing I know is that Emile Zola was a well-known French author and activist.

Koob – The only knowledge that I have of this movie was what I read on Wikipedia about Emile Zola; that he was a French writer and that he wrote “J’accuse” and was involved in the Dreyfus Affair

Fun Facts from IMDB

The film was shot in reverse order; Paul Muni grew his own beard for the role, and it was trimmed and darkened as he proceeded to scenes where Zola is younger. His makeup took 3-1/2 hours to apply each morning.

 Studio boss Jack L. Warner, who was himself Jewish, personally ordered that the word “Jew” be removed from all dialogue in this movie, apparently in order not to offend the Nazi regime and hurt business for the film in Germany–this according to Ben Urwand in his controversial 2013 study, ‘The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler’.
This was the first film to receive 10 Academy Award nominations.

Considered highly contentious in France, the film wasn’t granted a proper release in that country until 1952

Viewing Source – Amazon Instant Video ($2.99 rental)

Post Viewing Responses

Ratings (with 1 star = the worst and 5 stars = the best)

Koob: 2 stars

Kristy: 2 atars

Double Gobble Score: 2 stars

The Takeaway: A fairly standard biopic with some solid acting and an interesting history lesson.

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Mutiny on the Bounty – Best Picture Winner; 1935

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The Basics – Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – Director, Frank Lloyd; starring Clark Gable, Charles Lauhgton, Franchot Tone; Run Time – 132 mins. – Adventure, Drama, History –  “Fletcher Christian successfully leads a revolt against the ruthless Captain Bligh on the HMS Bounty. However, Bligh returns one year later, hell bent on avenging his captors.”

Prior Knowledge

Kristy – My knowledge of this movie is limited to the fact that it takes place on a ship near Tahiti.

Koob – Once again, I saw this movie around 12 or 13 years ago.  I remember it being pretty entertaining and Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh is one of the great screen villains of all time.

Fun Facts from IMDB

-The only film in Oscar history that had three nominees for Best Actor: Clark GableCharles Laughton, and Franchot Tone. Because of this, the Academy introduced a Best Supporting Actor Oscar shortly afterward to ensure this situation would not be repeated.

James Cagney was sailing his boat off of Catalina Island, California, and passed the area where the film’s crew was shooting aboard the Bounty replica. Cagney called to director Frank Lloyd, an old friend, and said that he was on vacation and could use a couple of bucks, and asked if Lloyd had any work for him. Lloyd put him into a sailor’s uniform, and Cagney spent the rest of the day as an extra playing a sailor aboard the Bounty. Cagney is clearly visible near the beginning of the movie.

Clark Gable had to shave off his trademark mustache for this film for historical accuracy. Mustaches were not allowed in the Royal Navy during the time the story takes place.

-In order to break the ice before shooting, Clark Gable, apparently unaware of co-star Charles Laughton‘s homosexuality, took him to a brothel. Laughton’s wife Elsa Lanchester always said that Laughton was nevertheless “flattered” by this gesture.

Viewing Source – Amazon Instant Video ($1.99 rental)

Post Viewing Responses

Ratings (with 1 star = the worst and 5 stars = the best)

Koob: 3 stars

Kristy: 4 stars

Double Gobble Score: 3.5 stars

The Takeaway: Worth seeing for the incredible story and the great performance by Charles Laughton as the villainous Captain Bligh.

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Does Genre Matter?

Many genres have been represented in the 85 years that The Academy Awards have been handing out Oscars, there are, however, some clear favorites in regard to the genres that tend to win.

According to collider.com , 89.2% of Oscar winners are Dramas and 41.0% are Romance (obviously these categories can overlap- as in the case of Dramatic Romance films). As far as Best Picture Winners, there are are no winners in the genre of Science Fiction and only a handful in Action, Fantasy, and Mystery.

Another interesting note, our next movie to be reviewed is the lowest rated Best Picture winner on IMDB. Be sure to check out our upcoming review of 1931’s Cimmaron!


		
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The Broadway Melody – Best Picture Winner, 1928/1929

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The Basics

The Broadway Melody (1929) – Director, Harry Beaumont; starring Bessie Love, Anita Page, Charles King; Run time – 100 minutes – Musical, Romance 

Prior Knowledge

Koob: This is one of the few Best Picture winners that I have pretty much no             prior knowledge of.  I’m guessing it’s about the production of a broadway musical and that it was probably one of the first “talkies” since it’s advertising “talking” on the poster.

Kristy: Talking. Singing. Dancing.  That’s all I got.

Fun Facts from IMDB

-The first all-talking musical feature. Also the first musical to spawn sequels (The BroadwayMelody films would appear every few years until 1940).

-A silent version was also released as many cinemas hadn’t acquired sound equipment in 1929.

Eddie Kane starred as a big shot broadway producer named Francis Zanfield, which is an obvious take on broadway legend Florenz Ziegfeld Jr..

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Wings- Best Picture Winner, 1927/1928

wings 1927

The Basics

Wings (1927) – Director, William Wellman; starring Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen; Run time – 2 h 24 min. – Drama, Romance, War

Prior Knowledge

Koob: I have actually already seen Wings probably around 12 or 13 years ago.  I remember liking it well enough and as far as the plot, I remember the two main characters become pilots in WWI and wind up in France where one of them falls in love and the main female character played by Clara Bow becomes a nurse helping wounded soldiers.  I don’t remember too many of the details or the ending so I am looking forward to a second viewing.

Kristy: My knowledge of this film is limited to it being about young men signing up for and flying out to war. By the cover image, I assume the following to be essential to the plot: a love story, fantastic makeup and looking forlornly off into the distance.

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