Friday, February 27, 2015

TCMFF Top 5 Redux

A couple of weeks ago I posted my top 5 films that they are showing at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). Well, it looks like I jumped the gun, because since then, the list has about doubled. At the risk of looking like a flake, I'm going redo my list, and that should keep me satisfied until the full schedule comes out. The films announced so far:

1776 (1972)
42nd Street (1933)
The Apartment (1960)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Calamity Jane (1953)
The Children's Hour (1961) 
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Grim Game (1919)
Gunga Din (1939)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lenny (1974)
Limelight (1952)
The Loved One (1965)
Malcolm X (1992)
Marriage Italian Style (1964)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Out of Sight (1998)
Patton (1970)
Pinocchio (1940)
The Proud Rebel (1958)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Reign of Terror (1949)
The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913 (2015)
  • A Trip to the Moon (1902)
  • The Great Train Robbery (1903)
  • A Corner in Wheat (1909) 
  • Suspense (1913)

Rififi (1955)
Roman Holiday (1953)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
The Wind and the Lion (1975)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

My revised top 5:
5. Kind of a tossup between Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) and Pinocchio (1940), but I have to make a choice, so I'm going with Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
4. Marriage Italian Style (1964)
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
1. The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913 (2015)

  • A Trip to the Moon (1902)
  • The Great Train Robbery (1903)
  • A Corner in Wheat (1909) 
  • Suspense (1913)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Sister's Psycho Quilt

My sister Laura is a quilt artist. Normally, when you think of when you think of quilts, you think of geometric patterns and colonial designs. My sister's stuff, not so much. I was visiting with her last weekend, and we were talking about old movies.

She told me that she had been running in a challenge for her local quilt group, where everybody in the group would do a quilt built around a certain theme. It was her turn to pick the topic for the theme. She picked movies.

Her first thought was Fantasia. Then she found out that Disney was very picky about letting people use their characters. Not just picky, really, they didn't want people to use their characters at all. If they caught somebody using their characters, they would make them take down not just the single piece of art that had the Disney characters, but would shut down the entire show.

Since she didn't want to take a chance on having the show shut down, much less get sued by Disney, she had to come up with something else. She had already started the Fantasia quilt, so she decided to turn it into a Psycho quilt.

Makes perfect sense, right? Well, here it is.

Full quilt, size is about 3 feet square 

Detail – Owl, Patrolman, and Norman's eye

Detail – The Shower

Detail – The Fly, lettering in green is a bit hard to read, but says, "... she wouldn't even hurt a fly"

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

TCMFF Just Got Real

I recently posted a list of my top 5 picks of what I wanted to see at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). Well, looks like I was a little premature. Since then, the following films have been added:

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lenny (1974)
Malcolm X (1992)
Out of Sight (1998)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913 (2015)
The Wind and the Lion (1975)

This more or less decimates my top 5 from three days ago. I haven't had a chance to digest and figure out how much, but I think at least two of these would push out something from my top 5. Easily my top of what's just been added is, The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913 (2015) which includes Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) and other early classics (details here).

Previously announced films:

1776 (1972)
42nd Street (1933)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Calamity Jane (1953)
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Grim Game (1919)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Marriage Italian Style (1964)
Patton (1970)
Pinocchio (1940)
The Proud Rebel (1958)
Rififi (1955)
Roman Holiday (1953)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Look for #TCMFF15YO Hashtag at 2015 TCMFF

This year at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), my lovely, smart, and snarky 15-year-old daughter will be providing her <140-character film reviews of the films we see. This will be happening on the @TCM Twitter feed and tagged with the hashtag, #TCMFF15YO.

[Update 3/23 – Looks like the tweets will be going out through my @ChrisSturhann account and be retweeted from the @TCM Twitter feed]

To give you an idea of what this will be like, we watched The Bad Seed yesterday. Her review:
If I gave you a basket of kisses, what would you give me? A restraining order
The Bad Seed 

Some of my favorite over the last several months:

I know I'm only 14 and all, but these guys get way more dates than I ever do
Some Like It Hot 
Now I need to add Electric Sex to my everyday vocabulary 
A Christmas Story

I've never felt so threatened by boiled eggs
Blade Runner 

And of course, the one that started it all:

That was so cute. Now, my heart feels all weird
City Lights 

If you're attending TCMFF and on Twitter and you have not already done so, you should follow at least these accounts:
  • @tcm – Official TCM Twitter account
  • @tcmfilmfest – Official Twitter of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival
These accounts are a good source of last-minute info of things happening at the Festival, and if you want to follow me too, @ChrisSturhann, I probably wouldn't complain.

Confession – My Mom Used to Do FanFic

My sister and her husband were down from the Bay Area this weekend. We had dinner on Saturday and spent Sunday afternoon in the living room at my house just talking, killing time before their flight. I had TCM on with the sound down real low, and no one was really watching, but I think having an old movie on in the background made her think of something she might not have otherwise. My sister told me something about our mom that I didn't know before.

It turns out my mom was so upset by the ending of the book, Gone with the Wind, that she wrote a final chapter that ended of the story the way she thought it should have ended. Doing the math, my mom would have been about 9 going on 10 when the novel, Gone with the Wind, was first published. I'm assuming she was a little bit older, maybe 13 to 16 when she wrote it.

She hung onto it for years to come, but unfortunately ended up throwing it out when she and my dad moved the family out from Kansas to California in the mid-1950s. I would have loved to read it. The upshot to this is that my mom was writing FanFic about half a century before they even had a name for it. I'm not saying my mom was a pioneer or anything. I'm sure lots of girls did that sort of thing back when. Still, it's kind of cool.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


At about this time last year, I posted a list of the top five movies I was looking forward to at the 2014 TCM Classic Movie Festival (TCMFF). This is what my list looked like last year:

[Read explanation here]

So far, they've announced the following films:

1776 (1972)
42nd Street (1933)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Calamity Jane (1953)
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Grim Game (1919)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Marriage Italian Style (1964)
Patton (1970)
Pinocchio (1940)
The Proud Rebel (1958)
Rififi (1955)
Roman Holiday (1953)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

[Spartacus was pulled off the list.]

To be honest, I'm less psyched about the initial list of this year's offering than I was about last year's. Am I worried? Not in the least. Let me explain.

Last year, I only saw three of my top 5. First off, numbers 1, 3, and 4 were all playing between 6:00 and 10:00 pm on Friday night. Double Indemnity and Blazing Saddles were playing one after the other at the TCL Chinese IMAX. Why Worry was playing at a different theater more or less opposite Double Indemnity. I toyed with the idea trying to watch a bit of Double Indemnity, leaving early to pick up Why Worry, and trying to  make it back in time for Blazing Saddles, but decided it wasn't worth the risk. I might end up screwing up all three.

Number 5, The Wizard of Oz (new restoration in 3D), was playing opposite The Lodger (new restoration of Alfred Hitchcock silent film with live musical accompaniment). Although I had initially planned to see The Wizard of Oz, I completely changed plans on Sunday. It really came down to The Wizard of Oz, which I might get a chance to see in the theater vs The Lodger which I might never get a chance to see in the theater again. The Lodger it was. The Lodger was great, and Ben Mankiewicz was very funny in his intro. He told a great story about something that happened to him on his way over to the theater that night. And as it turned out, I ended up seeing The Wizard of Oz twice in the theater back home after the Festival anyway.

Were they good calls? Most definitely. So when I say, I'm not as psyched about what they are offering so far this year, I know this is just a small fraction of what they will be showing. I know if will be great, and I'll be just fine.

Without further ado, I give you my top 5.

5. The Proud Rebel  I honestly don't know if I've seen this or not, but it sounds really good.  Plus, David Ladd will be in attendance.
4. 42nd Street – I've never seen a Busby Berkeley film in the theater. I saw it a few weeks ago the first time. The choreography is not quite as impressive as some of the other Berkeley films, but I'll give it a shot.
3. Marriage Italian Style – One word, Sofia Loren. Okay, that's two words, but who's counting.
2. Pinocchio – Of the old Disney animated features, Pinocchio is my second favorite behind Fantasia. This year my 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine, is along. I don't think she's even seen it. I know we used to own it on VHS, but I don't think we ever replaced it on DVD. Jasmine is young enough to have not been around when we still had a functioning VCR.
1. Steamboat Bill Jr. – I love Buster Keaton, but I don't think I've ever seen one of his films on the big screen. This should be a treat.

Under normal circumstances, The Sound of Music would go in there somewhere. Since it is a special screening, and I can't get in with the level pass I have, I won't list it. Also Spartacus would probably make the top 5, but it got pulled from the schedule.

Friday, February 13, 2015

µ-Blog – My 15-Year-Old Daughter and the Dress

µBlog – Too long to tweet, too short to call a real post

My 15-year-old daughter is out of school today. Apparently they get a four-day weekend for Presidents Day. I poke my head in her room. She's sitting on the floor organizing one of her drawers. "I want to buy you a dress," I say. [She looks at me like I have snakes growing out of my ears.] "For the TCM Film Festival." [Apparently the snakes just got bigger or they're doing that thing with their tongues and hissing.] "Okay, I'm planning on getting that white dinner jacket. It's like a tuxedo. I think you should have a dress."

"But I like wearing sweats." she says.

"You wore a dress at your graduation."

"My middle school graduation?" [Still snakes]

"Yes, your middle school graduation." I say. "You wore a dress at your graduation and you survived it. Wearing a dress, that is. So I want to buy you a dress so that you look nice when I'm wearing a dinner jacket."

"Umm, I guess," she says under her breath. [Snakes got a little smaller; possibly wishful thinking on my part.]

Now, I love that we get along as well as we do. But as good as we get along, she's still 15. I just have to deal with that.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Good The Bad and The TCM Film Festival

I have good news and bad news. Actually, the bad news isn't all that bad, and the good news is awesome. Still, I always like to get the bad news out of the way first, so here we go.

The bad news, I will *not* be walking the Red Carpet or attending the opening night screening of The Sound of Music at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) this year. I had originally bought an Essential pass with an eye toward doing this. Then something happened that altered my plans, way for the better.

The good news, my lovely and amazingly snarky 15-year-old daughter will be attending TCMFF with me, and the two of us will be acting as Social Media producers at the Festival. I'll  be posting short videos of the event, and my daughter will be providing her 140-character reactions to the films we see on Twitter using the #TCMFF15YO hashtag.

How did this come about? Seeing how as I've never been any good at making a long story short. I'll start at the very beginning.

I never had much success getting my kids to watch classic movies. My sole victory was that my oldest my son Matthew really likes Arsenic and Old Lace. My daughter Jasmine now 15 was not much better. I would try to get her to watch old movies with me but she would always lose interest and drift away after about 10 minutes. 

That changed one night last summer when City Lights was playing. I asked Jasmine if she wanted to watch, half expecting her to bail about 10 minutes in, but much to my surprise she stayed for the whole thing. Now if you're not familiar with City Lights, shame on you. It's a Charlie Chaplin silent film, and like much of Chaplin's stuff, very funny and touching at the same time. I saw it last year at TCMFF and at the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. So after we watched it together, I asked my daughter Jasmine (Jazzy) what she thought. She said, "That was so cute. Now, my heart feels all weird."

I ended up tweeting this with the #TCMParty hashtag, and within a few hours, the official TCM twitter account retweeted it. I told Jazzy, and she was totally psyched. After all, kind of a big deal when you're 14 and someone big and important takes notice. I honestly figured that was the end of it. Now, it was about this time that I stumbled on some local theaters that on occasional would show classic films. I started asking Jazzy if she wanted to go, and she said yes, at least most of the time. Each time we would go to see an old movie, I would get her reaction, and they were often both funny and insightful and short enough that I could tweet them.

A couple of months later, we were going to some movie, Rear Window, I think, and I tweeted that I was taking my 14-YO to see Rear Window, or whatever film it was. Anyway, I got a response from the @TCM twitter account, saying that they hoped it wouldn't make her heart feel all weird. I thought, wait, that was like two months ago. I had met the young woman who does Social Media at TCM at last the 2014 TCMFF, and she had remembered something my 14-year-old daughter had said about movie two months earlier. That's kind of cool. I told Jazzy; she was all psyched again. I honestly figured that was the end of it.

In early November, the tickets went on sale for TCMFF. I toyed with the idea of bringing Jazzy, but it was a lot of money and more importantly looking at my travel plans, coming up on Wednesday and go back home on the Monday, she would need to miss almost a week of school. I ended up just buying a ticket for myself. I decided to spurge and go for the Essential pass and see what all the fuss was about.

Fast forward to about a month ago, I got an e-mail from the woman who does the TCM Social Media. They are looking for Social Media Producers. What would that mean? It means that you would get in as Media person (equivalent to a Classic pass). And what would you do? Well, there's the rub. They had never done this before, so they were looking for proposals on what you think you could do to help them broaden their presence on Social Media.

I gave this some thought. I figured I could do short interviews with the people standing in line next to me. Things like, hi, where are you from? How long have you been coming to 
TCMFF? What have you seen so far? Then I thought about Jazzy. It would be cool if I could get her to do her little movie review tweets. Plus, she could work the camera, since 
I'm way too much of a dork to use a camera and talk to people at the same time. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a really cool idea. Of course, she still had school, but I decided to look at her school calendar. It turns out the Monday after TCMFF is her spring break, and Wednesdays are her short days. That means we could get away just having her miss two or three days rather than four.

Hmmm, what about the hotel. This year I had wanted to stay at the Roosevelt. I booked a room at about 5:30 pm, the day they announced the TCMFF dates. By that time, they only had two types of rooms left at the Roosevelt. Gawdawful expensive rooms with a balcony and for $80 more a night, a gawdawful expensive room that sounded like a mini-suite. I figured that if I was paying that much, why not spend a little bit more and get a nicer room? I called the Roosevelt. At that point, I didn't remember the details of the room, only that I had gone for the nicer of the two gawdawful expensive options. They looked up my reservation, and I asked what the layout of the room was. It turned out that it was a room with a kingsize bed connected to a separate living room with a couch with a fold out bed. Wow, that sounds kind of perfect for Jazzy and me.

I wrote up a proposal, me doing short interview videos etc. and Jazzy working the camera and doing her classic film reviews on twitter with the #TCMFF15YO hashtag. Plus, I would normally be tweeting and posting pictures anyway, and Jazzy kind of lives on Tumbler, so she could do stuff there as well. I sent it in and almost immediately got a response saying she really like the idea, but they'd have to run it by the rest of the team. About a week later, I got a response. We'd been accepted. Jazzy, we're going to Hollywood! Woohoo!

This year at TCMFF, look for my videos and of course Jazzy's reactions on Twitter hashtagged, #TCMFF15YO. These are a few of my of my favorites from films we have seen in the last 6 months or so:

I know I'm only 14 and all, but these guys get way more dates than I ever do
Some Like It Hot 
Now I need to add Electric Sex to my everyday vocabulary 
A Christmas Story

I've never felt so threatened by boiled eggs
Blade Runner 

Look for more details here and on twitter as they become available.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon – Envelope please. And the snub goes to...

Genre pictures, well, at least certain genres.

I have to admit that this is based on not so much research, but more on what my gut is telling me. And what my gut is saying is, I think the Oscars are biased toward certain genres, and more importantly, against others.  After all, if you look at it a certain way, drama is a genre, and dramas win lots of Oscars. Then again, me, I don't really consider drama to be a particular genre. It's more like drama is the baseline, and the other genres are what depart from that. However, some genres do fare well at the Oscars; war movies, histories, epics, and to a lesser degree comedies, have all done pretty well over the years. Other genres, not so much.

So when I say genre pictures, I mean Westerns, Science Fiction, Film Noir, etc. And it seems to me that that these genres not just win, but tend to dominate certain technical categories, visual effects, production design, makeup, and sound editing. However, if they are nominated in one of the big categories, Best Picture, any of the acting categories, Best Director, or screenplay, they rarely win. Just a nomination is honor enough for these films. It makes me think that maybe the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a 13½ inch 8½ pound statuette up their collective butts, which in comparison to a stick of similar size, I'd probably go with the statue too.

Anyway, I thought the best way to approach this was to use examples of specific films from the seven genres I feel are particularly neglected to demonstrate (one primary film and one honorable mention). My first thought was to limit it to pictures that didn't get any nominations at all. But that was way too restrictive. I decided it was better to concentrate on great movies that may or may not have been nominated but didn't win a single Academy Award.

King Kong (1933) received no Oscar nominations. Executive Producer David O. Seznik suggested to that Motion Picture Academy that a special award in visual effects (none existed at the time) be given to King Kong, the Academy declined. The film placed in six  American Film Institute (AFI) lists, including slots in the top 50 of AFI 100 Years 100 Movies list (original and 10th Anniversary Edition). Also ranked #4 in AFI's 10 Top 10 Fantasy films. Big winner that year, Cavalcade.

Despite what by today's standards are primitive special effects, they were ground-breaking at the time. King Kong in short is a thrill ride that still works for me today as it did for audiences in the 1930s.  
  • Honorable mention: I chose Die Hard (1988) mostly because it is the quintessential modern action movie. Solid story, clever dialog, and great action. Bruce Willis was perfect in his role as a New York cop who's just trying to deal with his wife's new career when he gets stuck in a high rise with a bunch of "terrorists." Alan Rickman makes an an awesome villain, smart, cultured, yet deadly when it serves him. Nominated for 
    • Best Sound - Lost to Bird
    • Best Film Editing - Lost to Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    • Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing - Lost to Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    • Best Effects, Visual Effects - Lost to Who Framed Roger Rabbit
White Heat (1949) received one Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story; didn't win. That year, it was nominated for an Edgar (Mystery Writers of America) for Best Motion Picture and #4 in the AFI's 10 Top 10 Gangster films. Big winner that year, All the King's Men.

For me, this is James Cagney's best film. The Crime genre evolved in the 1930s as Gangster movies and here James Cagney raises the bar. Cagney's Cody Jarrett character is a smart but vicious criminal who suffers from debilitating headaches and is often soothed by his elderly mother. The mother's a bit of a psycho too, but he's good to her, and you have to respect that.
  • Honorable mention: Heat (1995) is the type of film that Academy Awards would normally like. At close to 3 hours, it's epic in scale, and the acting performances in parts both big and small were great. Starring two of the best actors of their generation, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, it's a wonder this film did not get a single Oscar nomination. By the mid-1990s, the Academy was more likely to take Crime films seriously, though it probably didn't help that it was directed by Micheal Mann, best known for the Miami Vice TV series. Big winner that year, Braveheart.
Film Noir
Double Indemnity (1944) received seven, count 'em, seven Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Sound, Recording, and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture); didn't win any. Double Indemnity is kind of a snub within a snub. Edward G. Robinson gave what I thought was the performance of his career, and wasn't even nominated and never won nor was even nominated for a competitive Oscar. Robinson's competition that year was, Barry Fitzgerald (won for Going My Way), Hume Cronyn, Claude Rains, Clifton Webb, and Monty Woolley. The film placed in five separate AFI lists, including slots in the top 40 of AFI 100 Years 100 Movies list (original and 10th Anniversary Edition). Big winner that year, Going My Way.

On a  related note, while both Double Indemnity and Gaslight were both nominated seven times that year, Going My Way was nominated 10 times and ended up winning seven. At the 17th Academy Awards ceremony, Billy Wilder (director of Double Indemnity) who was expecting to take home the lion's share of the awards that night sat by and watched as Going My Way took award after award. By the end of the night, it appeared that Going My Way was going to more or less sweep the awards. When they announced the award for Best Director, Billy Wilder who was sitting near the aisle tripped Leo McCarey (Going My Way) as he walked passed. McCarey noticeably stumbled as he walked up to accept his award.

As much as I love, Going My Way, it's sentimental hogwash compared to Double Indemnity. Yes, I know the War was on and people were looking for something uplifting, but still Going My Way not nearly the picture that either Gaslight or Double Indemnity are. I would have tripped McCarey myself.
  • Honorable mention: The Maltese Falcon (1941) was nominated to for three Oscars; didn't win any. This is the movie that turned Humphrey Bogart from a character actor, who specialized in playing thugs, into an A list star. This is one of those films that if someone asked why you spent so much time watching old movies, you'd let them borrow, The Maltese Falcon. If they didn't get it, they would never understand. The big winner that year was, How Green Was My Valley, snagging five of the 11 it was nominated for. The Maltese Falcon was nominated three times:
    • Best Picture – Lost to How Green Was My Valley
    • Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet) – Lost to How Green Was My Valley (Donald Crisp) 
    • Best Adapted Screenplay – Lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Frankenstein (1931) received no Oscar nominations. Obviously, the Academy was very young at the time, so it seems unlikely that they'd find any way to nominate a film like Frankenstein. Still, the film has endured the test of time and ranked No. 87 in the first AFI 100 Years... 100 Movies list (though it was removed from the 10 anniversary update). The film was also ranked No. 56 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list and nominated several times for other AFI lists. Really was no big winner that year. Two films won two awards Bad Girl and The Champ, and Best Picture went to Grand Hotel. There was a tie in the Best Actor category Wallace Beary for The Champ and Frederick March for Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. So much for Horror films not getting Oscars.

I'm not a big Horror movie person. I chose Frankenstein because it is one of those films that is sort of etched into our collective psyche. It created the mythology of what a Horror film was all about. Even The New York Times called Dracula which came out earlier that same year tame in comparison to Frankenstein.
  • Honorable mention: Psycho (1960) appears on numerous top lists including slots in the top 20, AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (both original and 10th anniversary) lists and No. 1 on their 100 Years...100 Thrills list. To this day, I still find the shower scene the most brutal sequence ever put on film. The fact that the main character gets killed about halfway through movie makes it all the more disturbing, leaving the audience at a a loss for what the film is now going to be about. The big winner that year was The Apartment. Psycho was nominated four times:
    • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Janet Leigh) – Lost to Elmer Gantry (Shirley Jones)
    • Best Director – Lost to The Apartment
    • Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Lost to Sons and Lovers
    • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White – Lost to The Apartment
North by Northwest (1959) received three Oscar nominations Best Writing, Story and Screenplay, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color, and  Best Film Editing; didn't win any. If anyone, Alfred Hitchcock is the poster boy for Oscar snubs. When I say, I didn't do any research for this post, that's not really true. Naturally,  I needed to look up which movies won awards and which didn't. Still, most of the research I did for this was on Hitchcock. When I went to check which of the better Hitchcock movies didn't receive any Oscar nominations at all, I couldn't find any, well at least not the first time I looked. Finally, when I went really deep. Of what I consider his best films, only Rope and The Trouble With Harry and his UK films didn't receive any. Between Rebecca (1941) and The Birds (1963), Alfred Hitchcock films were nominated 52 times and won only six. Hitchcock was nominated and lost five times as best director:

  • Rebecca (1941) – Lost to John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Lifeboat (1945) – Lost to Leo McCarey, Going My Way
  • Spellbound (1946) – Lost to Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend
  • Rear Window (1955) – Lost to Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront
  • Psycho (1961) – Lost to Billy Wilder, The Apartment

Rebecca did win Best Picture, but Best Picture is presented to the producer, not the director, so the Oscar for Rebecca went to David O. Selznick, not to Alfred Hitchcock. 

North by Northwest is my personal favorite Hitchcock film. It appeared as No. 40 on AFI 100 Years 100 Movies list (No. 55 in the 10th Anniversary Edition) and was No. 7 on the AFI 10 Top 10 Mystery films. Big winner that year was Ben Hur winning 11 awards, including two that North by Northwest was nominated for. The third that North by Northwest was nominated for (Best Writing, Story and Screenplay) went to Pillow Talk. Now, I love Pillow Talk, great movie, but better story than North by Northwest? I feel like throwing myself off Mount Rushmore.
  • Honorable mention: The Night of the Hunter (1955) received no Oscar nominations. I had a very tough time coming up with an Honorable Mention in this genre mostly because whenever I think Mystery/Suspense movies, the films of Alfred Hitchcock tend to blot out everything else. The Night of the Hunter was not considered a success when it was first released and only truly found an audience years after its release. Though looking at the film now, you could easily see Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish being nominated in their respective acting categories, despite tough competition that year especially for Mitchum. Also, it was also Charles Laughton's only film as a director, yet David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, and the Coen brothers all site it as an influence on their work. The Night of the Hunter appears as No. 34 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list.
Science Fiction
Blade Runner (1982) received two Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, lost to Gandhiand Best Effects, Visual Effects, lost to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Blade Runner appeared on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies list and was No. 6 on the AFI's Top 10 Sci-Fi Films of All Time, as well as numerous other top lists. Big winner that year was Gandhi.

I think that one of the problems with Blade Runner was that it had the misfortune of being released the same year as E.T. Science Fiction in particular is a genre that is relegated  to certain categories. The Motion Picture Academy has only so many bones to throw, and to carry through with the metaphor, E.T. was a much bigger dog that year. For me, I actually think that Blade Runner is a bit short on story, but it is such a visually stunning film. I could run it on a continuous loop and never tire of it.
  • Honorable mention: 12 Monkeys (1995) was nominated for two Oscars; didn't win any. I personally think it is a much better film than Blade Runner. I went this way mostly because I wanted to keep this grounded in classic film, hence Blade Runner over a film I think is much better. In particular, Brad Pitt's performance was brilliant. It's what made me sit and notice that Brad Pitt was not just at pretty face, he could really act. Also, I could easily see Terry Gilliam being nominated if not winning as best director. Big winner that year, Braveheart. 12 Monkeys was nominated in two categories:
    • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Brad Pitt) – Lost to The Usual Suspects (Kevin Spacey) 
    • Best Costume Design – Lost to Restoration
The Searchers (1956) received no Oscar nominations. The Searchers appeared as No. 96 on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies and No. 12 10th Anniversary Edition of the same list and was No. 1 on their 10 Top 10 Westerns list. Big winners that year were Around the World in 80 Days and The King and I, both with five wins.

I'm kind of at a loss here. My opinion is that this is easily John Wayne's best performance. The cinematography was beautiful. It's a very good story, not just standard Western shoot-em up. There were some very good films nominated that year, but only a handful that could stand up to The Searchers.
  • Honorable mention: Red River (1948) was nominated for two oscars; didn't win any. Both Montgomery Clift and John Wayne both turned great performances. I have to say I think that John Wayne was better in The Searchers, but I think Red River showed the world that John Wayne could act. The big winner that year was Hamlet. Red River was nominated twice:
    • Best Film Editing – Lost to The Naked City
    • Best Writing, Motion Picture Story – Lost to The Search

This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon 2015 hosted by Paula's Cinema Club, Outspoken and Freckled and Once Upon a Screen, Thanks Paula, Kellee, and Aurora for all of your hard work.