Monday, August 19, 2019

1954 BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!


This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1954.  My criteria is that I can only use films that are on the 1001 list. To make it a little easier on myself, I am using the rules of the first Academy Award and name a winner for Best Picture (won by Wings for 1927-1928) and Best and Unique and Artistic Picture (won by Sunrise from 1927-1928). 

This year is often noted as being the best year of the Classic Movie era. There are a lot of potential choices here, but my two winners seem pretty clear.

And the nominees on the entries from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
Johnny Guitar
On the Waterfront
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Les Diaboliques
Animal Farm
Rear Window
A Star is Born
The Barefoot Contessa
La Strada
Senso
Silver Lode
Carmen Jones
Sansho the Baliff
Salt of the Earth
                    
And the winner for the Best Picture of 1954 is…Rear Window

Rear Window

In Rear Window, Stewart plays Jeff Jeffries, a photographer with a broken leg and an impossibly beautiful society girlfriend (Grace Kelly) who likes to bitch at him about his lifestyle and talk about eating at Twenty-One. Jeffries has little to do but sit around his apartment and spy on his neighbors, who seem to, luckily for the movie audience, not believe in curtains. We, the viewer, get to put ourselves in the postion of Jeffries, also the viewer, and live vicariously through him. Of course, he witnesses foul play from one of these neighbors and putting together the puzzle pieces as to what is going on is most of the fun in one of my favorite Hitchcock movies.

Rear Window


And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1954 is...The Seven Samurai
The Seven Samurai

I had never seen an Akira Kurosawa movie until about fifteen years ago when I decided to finally pick up a copy of The Seven Samurai from the Criterion Collection. And after my viewing, I have to admit I was blown away. It's definitely on the short list of greatest films of all-time by any definition. 

It's the story of seven samurai warriors hired by villagers to save their village from the onslaught of oncoming bandits. It's great as an adventure film, a philosophical treatise of good vs. evil, right and wrong and there are so many stories within the film's many characters, that one can watch it many times and always get something new out of it. I liked it watching it for the third or fourth time this time out and hope not to wait so long before watching it again.

The Seven Samurai was remade in America as The Magnificent Seven, but that film pales when put up against the original in my opinion.

The Seven Samurai

Saturday, August 17, 2019

1953 BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!


This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1953  My criteria is that I can only use films that are on the 1001 list. To make it a little easier on myself, I am using the rules of the first Academy Award and name a winner for Best Picture (won by Wings for 1927-1928) and Best and Unique and Artistic Picture (won by Sunrise from 1927-1928). 

Seventeen count 'em seventeen movie to choose from for this year!

And the nominees on the entries from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
The Bigamist
The Bandwagon
The Earrings of Madame De...
From Here to Eternity
Tokyo Story
Roman Holiday
Wages of Fear
The Naked Spur
Pickup on South Street
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The Big Heat
Mr. Hulot's Holiday
Voyage in Italy
Tales of Ugetsu
Shane
Beat the Devil
Summer with Monika
                    


And the winner for the Best Picture of 1953 is…Wages of Fear

Wages of Fear

Henri Georgies-Clouzot's Wages of Fear could have won in either of these categories. The story of four men hired to transport nitroglycerin over rough terrain works a a great adventure film and is also an artistic triumph. I really do need to watch this one again...and maybe William Friedkin's remake Sorcerer as well? Two more for my viewing queue!

Wages of Fear


And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1953 is...Tokyo Story


Tokyo Story

I had a friend who was a big Ozu fan and lent me all his Ozu DVD's and watching them in succession was quite interesting. The plots involving family life are mostly the same throughout each picture, yet with slight variations. Tokyo Story is the most famous of the bunch and the story of a daughter dealing with her aging parents is quite moving. Isn't life disappointing? Yes, but Tokyo Story doesn't disappoint.

Tokyo Story

Thursday, August 15, 2019

1952 BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!



This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1952.  My criteria is that I can only use films that are on the 1001 list. To make it a little easier on myself, I am using the rules of the first Academy Award and name a winner for Best Picture (won by Wings for 1927-1928) and Best and Unique and Artistic Picture (won by Sunrise from 1927-1928). 

This year is often noted as being the best year of the Classic Movie era. There are a lot of potential choices here, but my two winners seem pretty clear.

And the nominees on the entries from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
The Quiet Man
Forbidden Games
Angel Face
Singin' in the Rain
Ikiru
Europa '51
The Bad and the Beautiful
The Big Sky
High Noon
Umberto D
The Golden Coach


                  
And the winner for the Best Picture of 1952 is…Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain

This most famous of musicals is a pretty interesting piece to see after just seeing the recent Oscar-winning film The Artist cover similar terrain.

The plot of Singin' in the Rain involves two silent movie stars who have trouble adjusting to the new "talking" picture phenomenon. It's funniest moments involve either Jean Hagen and her grating voice or Gene Kelly's sidekick Donald O'Connor.

Kelly's mammoth Broadway Melody number is memorable,though his waterlogged rendition of the title song is such a part of movie lore it overshadows virutally everything else. However, I still am giving this the nod over worthwhile contenders The Bad and the Beautiful and High Noon.

Singin' in the Rain


And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1952 is...Ikiru


Ikiru

Ikiru is a story that seems to look better the older you get. The plot involves a by-the-book office manager who finds out he has only a few months to live and decides to do something meaningful with his life. It doesn't sound all that exciting by the description, but it is in an emotionally charged and inspirational film if you are in the right mood for it. The unusual storytelling order with the last half of the movie being told in flashback is another effective touch.

Ikiru

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

1951 BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!


This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1951.  My criteria is that I can only use films that are on the 1001 list. To make it a little easier on myself, I am using the rules of the first Academy Award and name a winner for Best Picture (won by Wings for 1927-1928) and Best and Unique and Artistic Picture (won by Sunrise from 1927-1928). 

And the nominees on the entries from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
Ace in the Hole
A Streetcar Named Desire
Strangers on a Train
The Lavender Hill Mob
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
The African Queen
Diary of a Country Priest
An American in Paris
A Place in the Sun
The Day the Earth Stood Still
                    

And the winner for the Best Picture of 1951 is…A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun

One of the most famous dramas from the fifties, A Place in the Sun is based on Theodore Dreiser's early twentieth century novel, An American Tragedy. The plot involves poor, but ambitious George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), who works his way up the corporate ladder of his rich relatives business and gets involved with the loving, but simple Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters). He later meets the beautiful Anglea Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) who he falls for right away. This creates a problem with the lingering presence of Alice, whose relationship with George is further complicated by the fact that she is in a family way...

It sounds like a bit of a soap opera when you try to recount the plot, but it really is a strong drama, with well-cast leads, a tragic story (as the original title indicates) and very solid directorial touches from George Stevens (who won the Academy Award for A Place in the Sun). In fact, the film won the most Academy Awards of any film released in 1951 (6), but lost out to An American in Paris for Best Picture.

A Place in the Sun

And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1951 is...Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole is probably the most famous Billy Wilder film that I had never seen before starting this blog. It is the story of a little news story about a man trapped in a cave that gets blown up by an opportunistic reporter played by Kirk Douglas. And it is dark. And it is seedy. And it is a movie that is so bleak and has such a dearth of unsympathetic characters, I'm surprised that even a director as respected as Wilder got it made! The alternative title of the film was The Big Carnival, which is what the reporter turns this story into it.

Spike Lee commented that Wilder had a crystal ball peering into the future of modern day news coverage and how things are in today's media. It's easy to imagine the plot of this story being played out today each night on The Nancy Grace Show or on various Internet news outlets. Definitely not a feel good movie, but certainly a good if not great one.

Ace in the Hole