Tag Archives: Award Season

Most Popular Film: An Idea

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a new Oscar category: Achievement in Popular Film. Many pixels have been broadcast on the pros and cons of this idea. If the Academy wants to go this route, there’s no think piece or celebrity rant that’s going to stop them. However, they should go all in with the idea. Here’s how:

1. “Nominate” the five highest grossing films of the previous year. For releases that straddle years, the Academy can institute a cut off of February 1. January and February are notoriously slow months at the movies anyway.

2. Allow the audience to vote during the show. Make it interactive!

3. Cut off the voting right before Best Director and announce the winner. This will isolate the “prestige” of the “big four” categories.


(C) 2018 D. G. McCabe

2014 Emmy Nominations – Snap Reactions

By D.G. McCabe

So a bit of a summer lull here at Grandcanyonscope has been broken up with some actual news – Emmy nominations:


My snap reactions are as follows:

1. I think the word “category” doesn’t mean what the Television Academy thinks it means.  Orange is the New Black is a comedy? American Horror Story is a miniseries but True Detective is a Drama Series?

2. One day people will be watching the complete series of “The Americans.”  Like “The Wire” before it, there will be abject surprise and shock when those viewers find out that the show got only two Emmy nominations for its first two seasons.  The Wire got only two as well, neither of which it won, and is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, series of all time.  Way to go Emmy voters.

3. That’s another thing – how does Downton Abbey keep getting nominated for awards?  Sure this past season was better than the Game of Thrones-light slaughterhouse that was season three, but not much better.  I get that Maggie Smith is amazing but the rest of the show is descending in quality like whale droppings.

4. Game of Thrones deserves its nominations, but I think that it might keep getting passed over for Best Drama.   If it can’t win for seasons with Blackwater and Rains of Castamere, I’m not sure if it can.

5. And this year’s “old voters desperately trying to look ‘with it'” nomination goes to: Silicon Valley!

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe

The Year in Review – 2013

By D.G. McCabe

Well 2013 is drawing to a close, so let’s talk about who had a good year, a bad year, some predictions, and a couple good-byes.

2013 was a good year to be:

1. The Walt Disney Company

Four of the top eleven highest grossing films of 2013 were released by Disney (Iron Man 3, Monsters University, Thor: The Dark World, Oz: The Great and Powerful).  Add this to the fact that Star Wars Episode 7 production seems to be moving ahead smoothly, and they’re probably feeling pretty great.

2. Robert Downey, Jr.

Iron Man 3 could have moved him to a bigger house, but the next two Avengers movies can move him to his own private continent.  Get ready Antarctica!

3. An Experienced Actress

Take a look at “best actress” nominees for the Golden Globes.  Their average age is just under 50.  This is great news for everyone.

2013 was a bad year to be:

1. An A-List Actor

There was a time even crappy movies featuring Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford, or Will Smith would crush it at the box office.  This year…let’s review:

I guess this is what happens when you: 1) still let M. Night Shyamalan make movies for some reason; 2) dig up properties that haven’t been popular since TV’s emitted that weird buzzing noise; and, 3) try to make films based on thirty year old, niche science fiction novels who’s author can’t cool it with the racist/homophobic rants2. 3D!!!!!!

The late Roger Ebert thought that 3D was a fad, even after Avatar (2009) made the most money ever by basically remaking Dances with Wolves (1990) with weird, blue aliens.  The cancellations of the 3D re-releases of the Star Wars movies and the death of 3D television seem to bear this out.

3. Blockbusters

None other than the inventors of the form, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, are thinking that we might hit “peak blockbuster” in the near future.  The disappointing to terrible returns of After Earth, Ender’s Game, The Lone Ranger, Elysium, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, The Smurfs 2, White House Down, RIPD, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters seem to agree with this theory.  Let’s see what happens over the next couple of years.

Not so Bold Predictions:

1. Best Picture Oscar: 12 Years a Slave.  Actual Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave – because even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

2. Will Smith no longer has the ability to make a film profitable just by being in it. I predict that unless he joins a super hero franchise his days of $100 million opening weekends are behind him.

3. The new “giant robots fighting each other” movie will be the #1 film at the box office in 2014.  Thankfully, the role of whiny, annoying, pointless human has been apparently written out of the film, as Shia LaBeouf is not going to be lending his “talents” to this one.  Mark Wahlberg will be in it instead.

Eight Scenes from that Great Alehouse in the Sky:

1. Peter O’Toole – now sharing a drink with Richard Burton in a corner table.

2. Roger Ebert – Sitting nearby, telling them that as good as O’Toole was in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), that’s how bad Burton was in Cleopatra (1963).

3. Annette Funicello – Waiting for open mic night to start.

4. Ray Harryhausen – Figuring out how to make the chairs dance to the cheesy 1960’s surf pop that Ms. Funicello will perform.

5. James Gandolfini – Trying to avoid being typecast in whatever gangster movie James Cagney is bending his ear about.

6. Dennis Farina – Trying to avoid being typecast as a cop in the same movie.

7. Karen Black – Setting up the open mic night, trying to avoid Burton.

8. Paul Walker – Waiting for Steve McQueen to come by so that they can compare notes.

And that’s our 2013 Year in Review! Bring it – 2014!

(c) D.G. McCabe

Oscar Preview – Writing Categories

By D. G. McCabe

There aren’t enough hours in the day to preview all the categories, but at least we should preview the big 3 types (Acting, Picture/Director, Writing).  We’ll start with the writing categories, best adapted and best original screenplay.

Best Original Screenplay (Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty)

I would say that it’s between Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty.  Zero Dark Thirty won the Writer’s Guild award, but I suspect the voters may want to award Tarantino since he didn’t get a Best Director nomination.

Best Adapted Screenplay (Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook)

All good scripts, but Argo won the WGA Award and Ben Affleck got snubbed for Best Director.  I’d be shocked if it didn’t win.

(c) 2013 D. G. McCabe


The Great Oscar Re-Do Part 3 1976-2011

Everyone ready for part 3?  Sure you are!

1976 – Winner: “Rocky;” Should Have Won: “Taxi Driver.”  I know, I know, Rocky is your favorite sports film and its your inspiration for life in general.  Taxi Driver is the 1970’s, sorry everyone.

1977 – Winner: “Annie Hall;” Should Have Won: “Annie Hall.”  Star Wars is arguably more influential, but Annie Hall casts a shadow in its own right.  What Star Wars was to special effects, Annie Hall was to dialogue.

1978 – Winner: “The Deer Hunter;” Should Have Won: “The Deer Hunter.” And so it was, America bore witness to the costs of the Vietnam War.

1979 – Winner: “Kramer vs. Kramer;” Should Have Won: “Apocalypse Now.”  Kramer vs. Kramer hasn’t aged well now that we’ve accepted divorce as relatively commonplace in American life.  Apocalypse Now, however, is still as haunting as the day it opened.

1980 – Winner: “Ordinary People;” Should Have Won: “Raging Bull.”  Here’s another well publicized Oscar snub.  It remains a shame that Scorsese’s only Oscar is for his fourth or fifth best film.

1981 – Winner: “Chariots of Fire;” Should Have Won: “Reds.” Chariots won largely due to its impressive score, and Reds is a more complete film.

1982 – Winner: “Gandhi;” Should Have Won: “Gandhi.”  Blade Runner may ultimately prove to be a more influential film, but Gandhi, despite its flaws, is a more important one.

1983 – Winner: “Terms of Endearment;” Should Have Won: “Fanny and Alexander.”  Bergman’s long, autobiographical film did win Best Foreign Language Film, but it should have won the big prize too.

1984 – Winner: “Amadeus;” Should Have Won: “Amadeus.”  Amadeus’ narrative may be heavily fictionalized but it is a fantastic film nonetheless.

1985 – Winner: “Out of Africa;” Should Have Won: “Ran.”  Ran is Kurosawa’s last great epic and possibly the greatest screen adaptation of King Lear.

1986 – Winner: “Platoon;” Should Have Won: “Platoon.”  Platoon is Oliver Stone’s best film by a longshot and I couldn’t justify replacing it here, although it had some strong competition from Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

1987 – Winner: “The Last Emperor;” Should Have Won: “The Last Emperor.”  Stone’s “Wall Street” is close second, but Bertolucci’s epic has more historical importance on a global scale.

1988 – Winner: “Rain Man;” Should Have Won: “Akira.”  Rain Man is a fantastic, well acted movie, but it did not launch an entire genre into critical and global acceptance the way Akira did.

1989 – Winner: “Driving Miss Daisy;” Should Have Won: “Glory.”  Glory is the greatest film about the American Civil War, although it should be said that 1989 is another tough year to call with “My Left Foot,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” also released.

1990 – Winner: “Dances with Wolves;” Should Have Won: “Goodfellas.”  Dances with Wolves looked so great in 1990 but has lost its luster, while Goodfellas’ reputation has only improved over the years.

1991 – Winner: “The Silence of the Lambs;” Should Have Won: “The Silence of the Lambs.”  I haven’t been giving enough due to amazing acting performances, and this film has two of the best.

1992 – Winner: “Unforgiven;” Should Have Won: “Unforgiven.”  Clint Eastwood’s deconstruction of the Western myth continues to be an important film.

1993 – Winner: “Schindler’s List.”  Should Have Won: “Schindler’s List.” Spielberg’s masterpiece in every respect.

1994 – Winner: “Forest Gump;” Should Have Won: “Pulp Fiction.”  Yes “The Shawshank Redemption” is a fantastic film as well, making this as good as a three-way tie.  The tiebreaker goes to Pulp Fiction, however, for its influential dialogue.

1995- Winner: “Braveheart;” Should Have Won: “Toy Story.” Could anyone have predicted what revolution Toy Story would launch in animation?

1996 – Winner: “The English Patient;” Should Have Won: “Fargo.”  It was a bit of an upset at the time and it’s still a head scratcher as to why Fargo didn’t win.  I would venture to suggest that The English Patient is a more conventional film.

1997 – Winner: “Titanic;” Should Have Won: “Titanic.”  Titanic has been intensely criticized over the years, but it remains a popular and important film.

1998 – Winner: “Shakespeare in Love;” Should Have Won: “Saving Private Ryan.”  It made no sense at the time and over the years it makes less and less sense.

1999 – Winner: “American Beauty;” Should Have Won: “American Beauty.”  I almost put “The Matrix” here, but American Beauty is an important film in its own right.

2000 – Winner: “Gladiator;” Should Have Won: “Gladiator.”  Although Gladiator has been criticized over the years I think it has aged well and it remains a worthy selection.

2001 – Winner: “A Beautiful Mind;” Should Have Won: “Amelie.”  Peter Jackson’s first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is great too, but they really are one single film.  Amelie is a landmark of French cinema and superior to A Beautiful Mind.

2002 – Winner: “Chicago;” Should Have Won: “Chicago.”  It had been a while since a musical made the kind of impact on a year that Chicago had on 2002.  It keeps its spot despite tough competition from “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers,” “Spirited Away,” and the underrated “Gangs of New York.”

2003 – Winner: “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King;” Should Have Won: “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.”  Lord of the Rings is basically one film, and its third part deserved all of the accolades in received in 2003.

2004 – Winner: “Million Dollar Baby;” Should Have Won: “Sideways.”  I think Million Dollar Baby’s controversial ending pushed it over the top of Sideways at the time.  Sideways remains a better film.

2005 – Winner: “Crash;” Should Have Won: “Brokeback Mountain.”  I personally find Crash pretentious and pushy.  Its victory over a superior and more important film is a testament to the power of good marketing.

2006 – Winner: “The Departed.” Should Have Won: “The Departed.”  The Departed is far superior to its source material, “Infernal Affairs,” and one of Scorsese’s finest films.

2007 – Winner: “No Country for Old Men;” Should Have Won: “No Country for Old Men.”  No Country remains the Coen brothers’ best film.

2008 – Winner: “Slumdog Millionaire;” Should Have Won: “Wall-E.”  Slumdog Millionaire is a good film, but Wall-E somehow merges Chaplin with Kubrick to create possibly the best animated film of all time.

2009 – Winner: “The Hurt Locker;” Should Have Won: “The Hurt Locker.”  It’s far too early to knock this movie out of this spot, although I would posit that someday a movie will prove itself to be more influential and important.

2010 – Winner: “The King’s Speech;” Should Have Won: “The King’s Speech.”  A lot of people feel “The Social Network” should have won but I disagree.  I think The Social Network is so much creature of its time and place that it will someday land in the category where “The Graduate” currently resides.  The King’s Speech has more timeless qualities.

2011 – Winner: “The Artist;” Should Have Won: “The Artist.”  Let me say that I have no idea what will turn out to be the best picture of 2011 and I don’t believe that anyone else does either.  As I’ve said before, The Artist is essentially an homage to previous, better films and does nothing to move the artform of motion pictures forward.  Still, I can’t justify replacing it just yet with another movie, although I hope that someday I will.

That’s a wrap!  Thanks for reading!

(c) 2012 D.G. McCabe

The Great Oscar Re-Do (Part 2: 1951-1975)

Here’s Part 2 of Cinema Grandcanyonscope’s Great Oscar Re-Do:

1951 – Winner: “An American in Paris;” Should Have Won: “An American in Paris.”  1951 was a competition between An American in Paris and A Streetcar Named Desire, and it’s close enough that I wouldn’t be able to argue with either result.

1952 – Winner: “The Greatest Show on Earth;” Should Have Won: “Singin’ in the Rain”  This is often listed at the top of the list of greatest Oscar snubs, especially considering when most people imagine a Western, they are imagining High Noon.  Still, it is Singin’ in the Rain that has stood the test of time from 1952 rather than either of these films.

1953 – Winner: “From Here to Eternity;” Should Have Won: “Tokyo Story.”  From Here to Eternity was the best American film of 1953, and I had difficulty bumping it from its perch.  It is high entertainment, but Tokyo Story is high art.

1954 – Winner: “On the Waterfront;” Should Have Won: “Seven Samurai.”  This one stings a bit, and “Rear Window” came out in the same year as well.  “On the Waterfront” is one of the greatest American films by any estimation, but Seven Samurai is a far more important film.

1955 – Winner: “Marty;” Should Have Won: “Pather Panchali.”  Ernest Borgnine’s greatest performance deserves the recognition it received, but Pather Panchali is the milestone that marks the start of a truly world cinema.

1956 – Winner: “Around the World in Eighty Days;” Should Have Won: “The Searchers.”  What many consider John Ford’s greatest work is meditation on the destructive power of vengeance where the supposed hero and supposed villain are basically the same character.

1957 – Winner: “The Bridge on the River Kwai;” Should Have Won: “The Seventh Seal.” Some years had an embarrassment of riches.  The Bridge of the River Kwai is one of Lean’s finest films, but it is flawed in ways that The Seventh Seal isn’t.

1958 – Winner: “Gigi;” Should Have Won: “Vertigo.”  Vertigo is now considered by some polls to be the greatest film of all time, but it was actually a commercial flop when it come out.  That is probably the reason it did not win Best Picture in 1958.

1959 – Winner: “Ben-Hur;” Should Have Won: “Ben-Hur.”  While it’s true that Ben-Hur has been surpassed in the epic genre and in some respects it hasn’t aged well, it won everything in sight in 1959 for good reason.

1960 – Winner: “The Apartment;” Should Have Won: “Breathless.”  Oh 1960, what to do with you?  Billy Wilder’s greatest film (The Apartment), Kubrick’s first great epic (Spartacus), Hitchcock’s most popular film (Psycho), or the French Citizen Kane (Breathless)?  L’Avenntura, and La Dolce Vita also came out that year.  In final analysis, the French New Wave changed everything in cinema as an artform and Breathless is a worthy representative from that movement.

1961 – Winner: “West Side Story;” Should Have Won: “West Side Story.”  West Side Story has had so much praise lavished upon it that I won’t repeat that here, except to say that I recently watched it and I still can’t get Bernstein’s score out of my head.

1962 – Winner: “Lawrence of Arabia;” Should Have Won: “Lawrence of Arabia.”  Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence blows out a match and the scene transitions to the sun rising over the desert, and to cinema’s greatest adventure.

1963 – Winner: “Tom Jones;” Should Have Won: “8 1/2.”  8 1/2 is the greatest movie about the art of making movies.

1964 – Winner: “My Fair Lady;” Should Have Won: “A Hard Day’s Night.”  I pose the following – the Academy picked the wrong musical in 1964.

1965 – Winner: “The Sound of Music;” Should Have Won: “The Sound of Music.” I pose the following – the Academy picked the right musical in 1965.

1966 – Winner: “A Man for All Seasons;” Should Have Won: “Persona.”  Bergman once said of Persona, “Today I feel that in Persona, and later in Cries and Whispers, I had gone as far as I could go. And that in these two instances when working in total freedom, I touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover.”

1967 – Winner: “In the Heat of the Night;” Should Have Won: “In the Heat of the Night.”  It must have been tough awarding a primarily American award in the 1960’s when so many great and influential foreign films were coming out.  Still, In the Heat of the Night is an important American film and deserves its spot here.

1968 – Winner: “Oliver!;” Should Have Won: “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  This one is hard to imagine, but the Academy loved musicals in the 1960’s since so many of the older voters were nostalgic for the “Golden Age” of musicals earlier in the century.  If movies like Oliver! were the past, movies like 2001 were the future.

1969 – Winner: “Midnight Cowboy;” Should Have Won: “Midnight Cowboy.”  Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider were the harbingers of the New Hollywood, and either could be considered best picture of 1969, so I’ll defer to the Academy.

1970 – Winner: “Patton;” Should Have Won: “Patton.”  I almost put “MASH” here, but Patton is a good choice too.

1971 – Winner: “The French Connection;” Should Have Won: “The French Connection.”  The French Connection is the epitome of early 1970’s action cinema.

1972 – Winner: “The Godfather;” Should Have Won: “The Godfather.”  The greatest American film.

1973 – Winner: “The Sting;” Should Have Won: “Day for Night.”  Day for Night actually did win Best Foreign Film in 1973.  The Sting is a fun movie with great actors, but Day for Night is the last of the great French New Wave masterpieces and may be Truffaut’s greatest film.

1974 – Winner: “The Godfather, Part II.”  Should Have Won: “The Godfather, Part II.”  I’ve heard some arguments for Chinatown but none that have really convinced me.

1975 – Winner: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest;” Should Have Won: “Jaws.”  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won everything there was to win in 1975, but Jaws changed everything about the film industry.  Also I find that Jaws has aged better.

Now we’re rolling.  Stay tuned for Part 3!

(c) D.G. McCabe

The Great Oscar Re-Do 2012 (Part One: 1927-1950)

Awards season is upon us! Here’s a fun little exercise – what was really the best film for every year of the Academy Awards?  I’ll admit I’m slightly re-imagining the Oscars since they really are awards for American films primarily.  I’ll try to keep to that and only select a foreign films sparingly, although that will be tough to keep to in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The following is my opinion, and it’s just a fun exercise since I realize Hollywood people do not have magical powers to veer into the future and never have.  Today 1927-1950:

1927 – Winner: “Wings & Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans;”  Should Have Won: “Metropolis.” It’s close and critics love Murnau’s Sunrise, but Metropolis was ultimately more influential.

1928 – Winner: None; Should Have Won: “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”  The Oscars took a bit to grow into their format, as there were two winners in 1927 but none in 1928.  Dryer’s masterpiece is a landmark of cinema, however, and quite possibly the pinnacle of silent film.

1929 – Winner: “The Broadway Melody;” Should Have Won: “Man with a Movie Camera.”  I did my research since the Sight and Sound Poll came out, and Man with a Movie Camera is one of the first demonstrations of the potential of film as an artform completely separate from the theater.

1930 – Winner: “All Quiet on the Western Front;” Should Have Won: “All Quiet on the Western Front.”  They don’t always get it wrong that Academy, and in 1930 they awarded the Best Picture to the first realistic portrayal of warfare committed to celluloid.

1931 – Winner: “Cimarron;” Should Have Won: “M.”  Fritz Lang invented the police procedural in M, and fans of CBS shows have been thankful every since.

1932 – Winner: “Grand Hotel;” Should Have Won: “Grand Hotel.”  What were the Hollywood Golden Age films like?  This one is considered a good representative.

1933 – Winner: “Cavalcade;” Should Have Won: “Duck Soup.”  The Academy hates comedy, but with the Marx Brothers being as influential as they were, the film considered their best deserved more recognition.

1934 – Winner: “It Happened One Night;” Should Have Won: “It Happened One Night.”  Another old Hollywood classic that people still enjoy today, and one of Capra’s best.

1935 – Winner: “Mutiny on the Bounty;” Should Have Won: “Mutiny on the Bounty.” 1935 wasn’t a particularly notable year in film so I’ll defer to the Academy’s judgement.

1936 – Winner: “The Great Ziegfeld;” Should Have Won: “Modern Times.”  Florenz Ziegfeld’s ultra-mega-huge celebrity had a lot to do with this biopic’s success, but Chaplin’s masterwork belongs in this spot.

1937 – Winner: “The Life of Emile Zola;” Should Have Won: “The Grand Illusion.”  The Grand Illusion is possibly the greatest pre-war French film.  “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” is a close runner-up.

1938 – Winner: “You Can’t Take it With You;” Should Have Won: “The Lady Vanishes.” It’s close but Hitchcock’s first great film trumps Capra’s fourth or fifth.

1939 – Winner: “Gone with the Wind;” Should Have Won: “The Wizard of Oz.”  I could produce a long list detailing why the Wizard of Oz is a better film but I don’t have that kind of time.

1940 – Winner: “Rebecca;” Should Have Won: “The Grapes of Wrath.”  And likewise to 1938, John Ford’s masterpiece trumps Hitchcock’s eighth or ninth best film.

1941 – Winner: “How Green was My Valley;” Should Have Won: “Citizen Kane.”  Duh.

1942- Winner: “Mrs. Miniver;” Should Have Won: “The Magnificent Ambersons.”  Orson Welles should have gotten two Oscars in a row, as many critics and historians feel Ambersons is almost equal to Kane.

1943 – Winner: “Casablanca;” Should Have Won: “Casablanca.”  Double Duh.

1944 – Winner: “Going My Way;” Should Have Won: “Double Indemnity.”  A bit of a surprise going down the list and not seeing this one.

1945 – Winner: “The Lost Weekend;” Should Have Won: “Children of Paradise.”  This wouldn’t have happened in 1945 but Children of Paradise deserves its due if only for the seemingly insurmountable conditions during which it was made. “Rome, Open City” is a close second.

1946 – Winner: “The Best Years of Our Lives;” Should Have Won: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  It’s a Wonderful Life wasn’t appreciated until years later when it was revived by television.

1947 – Winner: “Gentleman’s Agreement;” Should Have Won: “The Lady from Shanghai.”  Orson Welles had already angered everyone in Hollywood by this point in his career, so this one got predictably shut out.

1948 – Winner: “Hamlet;” Should Have Won: “Bicycle Thieves.”  Due respect to Sir Lawrence Olivier but the Academy awarded the wrong foreign film best picture in 1948.

1949 – Winner: “All the King’s Men;” Should Have Won: “All the King’s Men.”  1949 wasn’t a banner year for movies so I’ll defer to the Academy.

1950 – Winner: “All About Eve;” Should Have Won: “Rashomon.”  All About Eve is a good movie, but the effect of Rashomon on how movies are made can’t be overstated.

Join us for Part 2!

(c) D.G. McCabe