Hello Film Fans! This is an exciting month for those of us who love movies. The Oscars are Coming! The Oscars are Coming! Sunday, March 27 is the 94th year of the Academy Awards.
There are so many films to choose from in Best Picture category, and now there are so many different ways to watch the films. Live streaming or now, (Perhaps post-pandemic?)…at the theatre!
Women’s History/Women on Film: A Different Viewpoint
The women who are now involved in more than simply acting, but those who are writing and producing and directing the films have begun to leave a definite mark on the direction that film is headed! There is more diversity both behind and in front of the camera. And the stories also mark a change in tone from the tired and stilted way of looking at sensitive subject matter.
They are not simply coming-of-age films, but those films that deal with women who are aging, and of LGBTQ stories. And in addition to those, we see more stories of minorities and indigenous peoples as well as storylines about people of color. And they are told with a different perspective when the production is seen through the lens of those who have lived experience. They have been able to ‘walk a mile in the shoes’ of different viewpoints, and it has begun to take hold even in the hallowed halls of Hollywood!
TCM has also been able to use their platform to introduce many of their older films with controversial subjects in a way that acknowledges the time periods in which the films were made and also the perspective in which the films were produced.
There are so many classic films that cannot be dismissed or seen as simply stereotyped relics without pausing to appreciate the artistic beauty or intrinsic value that is still evident in these classics. Kudos to Turner Classic for tacking some tough subjects with sensitivity for the most part.
The films to watch this month include some from the top ten lists of most major critics. They include both Academy Award winners and those films that are acknowledged by most critics to be some of the greatest films ever made. Movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lawrence of Arabia as well as 8 1/2 and Raging Bull.
The Strong Women: Pioneers of Cinema
Katherine Hepburn is seen in Philadelphia Story, Sigourney Weaver is in The Year of Living Dangerously. Myrna Loy portrays a judge in The Bachelor & the Bobby Soxer. Anne Bancroft stars in her Academy Award winning performance from The Miracle Worker and Emma Thompson starred in and wrote the award winning adaptation of Sense & Sensibility.
The List for March: Recommended to watch & record
*Download “The 100 List” from 6 Degrees!
The Sting: The Buddy movies were a ‘thing’ after this film was made.
The Miracle Worker- Patty Duke debuts as Helen Keller in an extraordinary performance, along with Anne Bancroft.
The Year of Living Dangerously is #58 on The 100 List: —Early film of Peter Weir starring a young Mel Gibson, who give one of his best performances as an antihero. Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt are also perfectly cast in this film. Six Degrees of Film: Foreign correspondents; culture, politics, and money; good intentions gone awry; Syriana; A Mighty Heart; The Quiet American
On the Waterfront: One of Brando’s best performances. I like it better than his Streetcar role!
The Search- One of the best from Montgomery Clift, who along with Brando, was a method actor unsurpassed by any thespian then or since…
2001: A Space Odyssey is #7 on The 100 List—This great film works on many different levels and is the gold standard for most science-fiction films of the latter part of the twentieth century. The beginning and end of the film take place in very different settings than one would think of as “outer space.” The scenes with the apes on earth and the old man in a sterile room contrast directly with the high-tech world associated with science fiction, and they are vital for the film to work. Six Degrees of Film: Science-fiction films, futuristic and innovative speculative fiction, Aliens, Blade Runner, The Matrix
Lawrence of Arabia is #4 on The 100 List: This movie is a not-so-simple tale based on the real-life exploits of T. E. Lawrence, the famous English adventurer. The deceptively simple quality to this complex man is introduced at the beginning of the film when various people at his funeral try to describe him and each comes up with a different description (see appendix for the Six Degrees of Film blog post, “The Timeless Appeal of Lawrence”). Six Degrees of Film: Psychological dramas, epic films, Indiana Jones
Casablanca is #13 on The 100 List: The most famous of all B movies ever made. Six Degrees of Film: All B movies made on a budget with word-of-mouth notoriety
An American in Paris is #11 on The 100 List: Gene Kelly stylishly executed many dance moves that broke the rules when he filmed this beautiful musical with Paris and a host of Gershwin tunes as the backdrop. S ix Degrees of Film: Musicals, musical scores that are instantly recognizable-Daddy Long Legs, Funny Face
The Big Country is #62 on The 100 List: A lesser-known Gregory Peck film, with the western vistas providing the perfect backdrop. Six Degrees of Film: Giant and Australia
Giant is #60 on The 100 List: This film was James Dean’s third—and last—film as a leading actor, and one for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson were costars. Six Degrees of Film: Australia was a recent epic that is reminiscent of this blockbuster production.
To Kill a Mockingbird #1 on The 100 List: Voted by the AFI, along with many other esteemed film organizations, as one of the best films ever made, this is Harper Lee’s moving, simple story set in the Depression-era South. The plot within- the-plot includes the courtroom drama and trial within the sweet and innocent coming-of-age story of three children. Six Degrees of Film: All courtroom dramas, coming-of-age films, A Few Good Men, Juno
Documentaries: The Life & Times of Harvey Milk/Woodstock – Documentaries are recommended and at times surpass the filmed versions that recreate the historical events. The film on Harvey Milk couldn’t capture the life & the surrounding times where he lived and how he died. And Woodstock was all about the music! You had to hear it to know and feel “You are there!”
The Big Questions about the movies
Besides looking at the contributions of women in film, the other major Hollywood news is still the ongoing battle between streaming services vs the cinematic experience. There is a push/pull effect with major advocates for both camps!
Another memorable film that is part of our American Experience-Bullitt with Steve McQueen, is the next target for Steven Spielberg. We are seeing so many classic films being remade and it is also part of the ongoing dearth of new ideas that is problematic with film-makers these days!
For instance: Why do we need a new Batman? Rolling Stone writer David Fear tries to answer that question in his article. All of these are discussions that try to get to the heart of the real problem. What has happened to the most innovative and cutting-edge art form-film-making? Why aren’t more films of the 21st Century breaking new ground? It’s a mystery and a puzzle wrapped in a riddle!
The Godfather at 50
It’s hard to believe one of the films that has defined America for the past half a century is celebrating the fifty-year Anniversary of its release. The Godfather has defined so many things that are a part of our lives and “Americana” (See my post on this!)
Some of the best and most thoughtful pieces about this film center around the vision of director Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola names his favorite scene from the film, as well as some facts that aren’t well-known in the articles in Friday Flix.
And to close, one of the controversies around modern blockbusters was apparent when Francis Coppola stated in an interview that the modern film hits are really just one ‘prototype movie.” Sadly, I agree with him! There are too many formulaic films that are remade over and over with CGI edits and not too much in the way of plot or storyline.
Stay tuned, film fans, for the Sunday, March 27th Oscar presentation and the Oscar News wrap up that 6 Degrees will post. Till then, Happy St Patrick’s Day & see you at the movies!-ML