Film fans, there has been a lot of hype surrounding this awards season in Hollywood. Some films were snubbed and some great acting performances were overlooked. But there has been more emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and this is something new to the Hollywood brand!
The Oscar Nominees for 2022
Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of MacBeth) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Power of the Dog), are two actors that are always in my top tier of Best Actor choices. Also nominated in the Best Actor category: Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos),, Will Smith (King Richard) and Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick..Boom!)
For Best Actress: Kristen Stewart is nominated for Spencer along with Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), and Nicole Kidman (also Being the Ricardos) plus Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter.) Jessica Chastain has long been one of my favorites, and she is up for The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
The Best Picture list is long (too long!) There are ten films that include most of the usual suspects that were expected to be nominated, or have won other prestigious awards. The Power of the Dog is a strong favorite, along with Belfast from Kenneth Branagh. The other films are Dune, Drive My Car, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, Don’t Look Up, CODA & West Side Story.
The Best Director category is notable as Jane Campion is one of the few female directors who has even been nominated for this honor. Kenneth Branagh is a strong favorite, as is Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza. But the Japanese film, Drive My Car has also won several top honors so director Ryuseke Hamauguchi has a good shot at it, making this a very tight race!
Turner Classic Films: The Armchair Film Fest
We often speak of the Armchair Film Festival (even before there was COVID!), so this month is chock full of films to record and to revisit in the wake of the Oscar Nominations.
The Boxing films to record for an Armchair Film Fest would begin with the great documentary on Muhammad Ali’s fight with George Foreman called, When we were Kings. It is a good film to see as part of Black History Month also.
The Set Up with Robert Ryan tells the classic story of an aging boxer on the ropes who is asked to throw a fight. Robert Ryan is one of my favorites from the Noir genre. The director is notable too; he is Robert Wise, the same director from the Film Noir genre who went on to fame with his masterful direction of The Sound of Music in the sixties.
The women pioneers of #MeToo are out in force in February. Judy Garland plays this remarkable character in The Harvey Girls that was based on the real-life women who worked in these Western towns and really were instrumental in helping to build and to carve out civilization in the “Old West.”
Lauren Bacall debuted opposite Humphrey Bogart in To Have & Have Not, which was based on a story by Ernest Hemingway. It’s a good film, not as good as Casablanca, and not as engaging as The Big Sleep, but it’s still a good B movie.
Armchair Film Fest Recommends…
One of the best Film Noir stories is shown in a two-part Armchair Fest featuring Gene Tierney. Laura is the Film Noir classic that is definitely required viewing for all lovers of Noir. Next is The Ghost & Mrs Muir, which is an entertaining and unique romantic tale of two lovers who meet and are doomed to be apart as one of them is already dead! The ghost is played superbly by a young Rex Harrison.
Some of the greatest actors in Hollywood are featured on TCM this month. Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper are outstanding in Hoosiers. And Montgomery Clift is featured in Red River followed by Wild River. The young Monty Clift vs the older version is worth recording for the Armchair Film Fest…
And since PBS has shown a series based on the Jules Verne classic, “Around the World in 80 Days,’ it’s worth seeing the version that was a big hit in the fifties starring David Niven.
Rounding out Turner Classic this month are films that honor black history. We have mentioned When we were Kings, and for your Armchair Film Fest, you can add the documentary Black Panthers, and the film, Mississippi Burning, starring Willem Dafoe. The film was based on a true story of what happened to Freedom Riders in the sixties as they tried to register African-Americans to vote in the deep South.
6 Degrees of Film: The Long Reads
This month, Friday Flix has an article from Film Comment that delves into the question of what is going to happen to the art form of cinema in the post-COVID world. That is an interesting question that was also discussed at length in my book from 2013: 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village. The era of streaming and the pandemic has created a real dilemma for the film industry which has always been based on the big business of profit and loss over the question of artistic freedom and purity.
There are other questions that are raised when discussing where film is going, and were also addressed briefly in 6 Degrees of Film. One of them regards the 74 year old court ruling known as “The Paramount Decree” which sunsets in August of this year. The move paved the way for the rise of television but also ushered in the end of the Golden Age of Film. Movie theaters controlled a monopoly, as they also owned the theaters in which their films were shown. When they were ordered to sell their theaters, the profit margin collapsed along with their business model! That ruling is discussed as well as what may happen to the industry when the law sunsets in August.
Another fly in the ointment of Hollywood film-makers is the looming specter of China. China has begun to control the box office winners as their country has moved to become a dominating force in film-making in the 21st century.
There are also some major problems that have plagued major film-makers in the past few decades regarding their lack of diversity and inclusiveness in the entire process of film-making. There is a good article in The Atlantic covering the discovery suddenly of the middle-aged woman in Hollywood, entitled, “Hollywood Discovers the Middle-Aged Woman”!
That’s all for now, film fans! The Academy Awards will be presented in March this year on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Stay tuned each week as we highlight top films and reviews in 6 Degrees of Film @the Movies on Flipboard!