I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Argo, 2012


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rated R 

The Academy Awards have come and gone again and I’m back to comment on last year’s winner for Best Picture.

“Argo” is a drama/ thriller that is based on the true events taking place during the Iran Hostage Crisis in the Middle East during 1979. Six US Embassy workers escaped the building during a storm of Islamic revolutionaries and take up hiding in the private home of the Canadian ambassador. CIA agents then concoct a scheme on how to free the homebound six without being noticed and/or identified at the airport.

CIA “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez (Affleck), comes up with a risky idea to sneak the diplomats out of the country: He’s going to go over there, posed as a movie director, and take the six trapped Americans out in public as the rest of his Canadian film crew in search of ideal filming locations for their new sci-fi adventure flick “Argo”. Of course, he has to change their appearance a bit, but not too much, so that they aren’t immediately recognized by the revolutionaries who have word of their hiding, but enough so that their Passport pictures still look like them. Given all new identities to memorize, the six are understandably shaken at the prospect of this literal life or death covert operation. And they’re not the only ones, several CIA members back home aren’t too thrilled with this plan but admit, it’s their best chance. It’s an incredibly precarious move for Mendez too though. Not only is he risking the lives of the six, but if this situation fails, it could be a national embarrassment for the US AND Canada. The plan is so crazy that it just might work.
 
 
This secret mission was kept secret from the public for decades in an effort to protect everyone’s identities. I’m glad it was eventually revealed though, because I knew nothing of this story.

The costuming and make-up departments did an excellent job recreating this time period. Everything looked incredibly authentic. In fact, I think there was real footage of the protests interspersed with the film in the beginning. I did wonder how true it truly was towards the end (the escape). My heart was racing like I was standing there next to Mendez waiting to be interrogated at the airport. Was the getaway really that close? Or were things a bit “Hollywoodized”?

This film was up against eight other films including “Amour”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Django Unchained”, “Life of Pi”, “Lincoln”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, and “Les Miserables”. I didn’t go to the theatres much last year, but being that I adore the stage version, I did make time to see “Les Mis”. It was a bit of a surprise that “Lincoln” didn’t win since that was the favored frontrunner and highest grossing film that year. Although, six of the nine films pulled in quite a bit of box-office sales all within a small range of each other. There are some claims that “Argo” won the sympathy vote for the obvious snub of Ben Affleck’s nomination for Best Director… who knows. He did win that award at the Golden Globes, and it’s very unusual (only three films in the past) for a Director not to be nominated when the film is nominated for Best Picture. No matter what, I recommend this film and am very pleased I was “forced” to see it for this continuing Oscar challenge. “Argo” was nominated for 7 awards and walked away with 3 including “Best Adapted Screenplay” and “Best Film Editing”.

FAVORITE SCENE:

The whole last half hour or so kept me glued to the screen due to the suspense of the escape. Here they are as they’re being interrogated by airport security after showing their Passports. They have to pull out all their fake film materials and really sell it to them.
 
 
LESSONS LEARNED:

Think of others. Mendez could’ve been a coward and refused to put his own neck on the line, but he had confidence in himself and knew he had to do what was right in order to save innocent lives.

Sometimes, you have to take risks in order to get rewards.

The CIA has some crazy stories hidden in their secret files that we may never know…

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Final Thoughts

My thoughtful husband is having all of my posts from this blog bound in book form for me as a memento. Before he sent it in for publication, I reread all my posts to check for any errors, and to be reminded of my thoughts.

I am so happy that I gave myself this challenge… It “forced” me to see a lot of films I would have never thought to watch. It was very interesting to be able to see the large range of films that won the coveted Best Picture award. There are dramas, comedies, westerns, musicals, and everything in between. I especially enjoyed watching how movies have changed over the decades. To see how humor, story-telling, and visual effects have changed through the years is quite apparent. I plan on revisiting this blog every year, around Awards time, to comment on the newest member of the club: the current holder of the Best Picture title.

Hopefully you feel driven to see a few films you haven’t seen yet based on my reviews. Now it’s your turn… I challenge YOU to see all the Best Picture winners. If you watched just one new film a week, I bet most of you will have seen all of them in about a year’s time. Make it a New Year’s resolution some year. Then you can see how cinema has evolved, audiences’ tastes have changed, and how some classic films have stood the test of time. Then come back here and let me know what you thought. :)

I thought I’d compile a few lists (in no particular order) for you in case you were wondering how I would rate these 84 films. What's interesting is that my five favorites are all films I had seen prior to this challenge, meaning no first-time viewing of another film could usurp any of those. However, I was pleasantly surprised with many movies, so I added another section for that.

MY 5 MOST FAVORITE FILMS:

MY CLOSE “SECONDS”:

MY 5 LEAST FAVORITE FILMS:

5 FILMS THAT PLEASANTLY SURPRISED ME:


You can see how the Academy seems to favor those films with an adult rating (once the MPAA ratings system was set in place).

RATINGS:
Not Rated: 35
Rated G: 6
Rated PG: 12
Rated PG-13: 9
Rated R: 22


I also wanted to included a little section of the facts and records compiled from the Best Picture winners.

RECORDS:
Three films have tied for most wins: “Ben-Hur” in 1959, “Titanic” in 1997, and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003. Each film walked away with 11 wins, with the only “clean sweep” (winning every nominated category) being “LOTR”.

Two films have tied for being the most nominated: “All About Eve” in 1950 and “Titanic” in 1997, each with 14 nominations.

Only one film has won this one award: “Grand Hotel” in 1932, and interestingly, it received no other nominations other than Best Picture, so in a way, it was a "clean sweep" as well.

The lowest-grossing film in Oscar history is: “The HurtLocker” in 2009.

Three films have won the "Big Five" (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress & Screenplay): “It Happened One Night” in 1934, “OneFlew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1975, and “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991.

The shortest film is: “Marty” in 1955 clocking in at 90 minutes.

The longest film is: “Gone With the Wind” from 1939 clocking in at 238 minutes. Although... the Extended Edition of the winning film“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” from 2003 is 251 minutes long.
 
And because I am such a Disney fan, I have to boast...
The most awards won by one person: 22 Oscars won by Walt Disney (22 competitive, 4 honorary). He also won the most Oscars in one year (4) in 1953.

And the most nominations for one person is also Walt Disney with an astounding 59.


THANKS OSCAR FOR THE MEMORIES AND ENTERTAINMENT! See ya next year….