Thursday Movie Picks 2021: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Picture

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy first full week of 2021! It’s also the first TMP of the week. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Oscar Winners Edition – Best Picture.

Well, Oscar nominations isn’t coming out until March 15 this year, but naturally Oscar talks have already begun and film fans are likely making their predictions already. For this Best Picture edition however, I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane and pick from three different genres released in three different decades. I’m also picking those that I actually enjoy watching more than once.

In any case, here are my three picks:

The Sound of Music – 1965

Directed by Robert Wise

I’ve mentioned this a few times on this blog that this is one of the three VHS my late mother brought home from a European trip when I was in my early teens, which also marks my introduction to big Hollywood movies. The other two are also Oscar Best Picture winners: Gone with the Wind and My Fair Lady. 

I’ve since watched The Sound of Music at least a dozen times. I know a few of the songs by heart to this day, and there’s such a timeless quality to the story and obviously the music. Irwin Kostal also won an Oscar for Best Music in this movie, his second one after scoring West Side Story a few years prior. Well, both of the lead actors are still working today. In fact, it’s quite amusing to hear Dame Julie Andrews’ voice in Bridgerton series as Lady Whistledown.

Fun Trivia:

Christopher Plummer accidentally said the word “Captain” to Julie Andrews during the argument scene. Despite the error, producer and director Robert Wise thought it was that amusing, and liked it so much, he kept it in the movie.


Forrest Gump (1994)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

I actually haven’t seen this one in a while but I’ve definitely seen it at least 2-3 times. It’s crazy that this movie is 26 years old already and Tom Hanks is still one of the best and most prolific actors working today. This is easily one of Hanks’ most memorable performance even in his illustrious career filled with indelible characters. It’s also one of the most quotable movies, some hilarious and some profound. It’s nice to see a character like Forrest Gump being such a popular icon… an earnest, good-to-the-bone human being that’s lacking any kind of malice, you could say he’s the modern day George Bailey.

Fun Trivia:
Tom Hanks signed onto this film after an hour and a half of reading the script, but agreed to take the role only on the condition that the film was historically accurate. He initially wanted to ease Forrest’s pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded by Robert Zemeckis to portray the heavy accent stressed in the novel, and he patterned his accent after Michael Conner Humphreys (young Forrest), who actually spoke that way.


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Directed by Peter Jackson

It’s quite rare for a big franchise film to get an Oscar nomination and this one won 11 Oscars, rivaling Titanic and Ben-Hur, the latter is one of my all time favorites. I actually think The Two Towers is as good if not better, which was also nominated for Oscar’s Best Picture. The Battle of Helm’s Deep is perhaps one of the most amazing battle scenes ever filmed. But of course, The Return of the King is a spectacular end to the trilogy, with Aragorn leading the forces of good against Sauron’s evil army. This was the first fantasy film to ever win Best Picture. It’s still a rarity for fantasy films to nab the award, though The Shape of Water did win Best Picture in 2017.

Fun Trivia:

The last shot of principal photography was when the newly-crowned Aragorn bows to the four Hobbits. Although Viggo Mortensen did not need to be on-set for that day, he nevertheless insisted on attending. He didn’t have a crown (it wasn’t necessary, he wasn’t being filmed), so he fashioned one out of paper. With each successive take, the crown was becoming more ornate and sillier as crew members kept decorating it, so the four actors playing the Hobbits often had difficulty suppressing their giggles.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

Follow-up Question of the Week: Favorite FICTIONAL biopics?

Hello everyone! As I’m still working on my review of Lee Daniels’ The Butler that’ll be up tomorrow, biopics are still on my mind this week. Thanks to Chris from Terry Malloy Pigeon Coop and Nick from Cinematic Katzenjammer for bringing up this topic on the comments of yesterday’s post on favorite biopics.

When I did my post, I excluded documentaries from the discussion but I didn’t think of fictional biopics, which are actually made quite often in Hollywood. I do think it’s a separate sub-genre than straight biopics that are based on real life individuals. Nick brought up Forrest Gump, in which Tom Hanks winning an Oscar for playing the fictitious protagonist, and Big Fish in which Albert Finney & Ewan McGregor plays a fantastical character Ed Bloom. I’d think that The Great Gatsby is a fictional biopic on a larger-than-life character Jay Gatsby.

FictionalBiopics

Of course I can’t leave out my own personal favorite, Ben-Hur. Perhaps one of the most epic of all fictional biopics, shrewdly mixing the fictitious Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur with historical events, i.e. Christ’s crucifixion. As far as music-themed ones, you might consider Velvet Goldmine a fictional musical biopic as the character Brian Slade is based on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character. It’s a bizarre and amusing film for fans of Christian Bale and Ewan McGregor, and a must for Bowie fans too naturally.


So for today’s question, what’s your favorite FICTIONAL BIOPIC(s)?

Memorial Day Special: Pictorial Tribute to U.S. Soldiers in the Movies

MemorialDayTribute

The final Monday of May is a Memorial Day holiday here, which is a day to remember the fallen men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a U.S. resident, I’m definitely grateful of the service of Military men and women. Freedom is definitely NOT free and the people serving in the various U.S. military branches – Navy, Army, Air Force and the Marines – risk their lives to protect their country and its citizens.

So today, as I reflect on their bravery and dedication, I thought I’d do a pictorial tribute to memorable portrayal of American soldiers in the movies from various era and genres. Obviously I have not seen too many war/military-themed movies so these are meant to only be a sampling of military roles represented.

So here are (roughly) 27 of them, simply to coincide with today’s date of May 27:

WILL-SMITH_ID4
Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) – ‘Independence Day’

TheHurtLocker_Renner_Mackie
Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner) & Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) – ‘The Hurt Locker’

WashingtonHackmanCrimsonTide
Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) & Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) – ‘Crimson Tide’

Major "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) – 'Predator'
Major “Dutch” Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) – ‘Predator’

CaptainAmerica_Evans_Jones
Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) & Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) – ‘Captain America’

Caviezel_ThinRedLine
U.S. Army Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) – ‘The Thin Red Line’

ForrestGump_Hanks_Sinise
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) & Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise) – ‘Forrest Gump’

BornOnTheFourthofJuly_Cruise
Marine Sergeant Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) – ‘Born on the Fourth of July’

first-blood-rambo-sly
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) – ‘Rambo’

MegRyanDenzelWashington_CourageUnderFire
Captain Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) & Lt. Colonel Serling (Denzel Washington) – ‘Courage Under Fire’

GeorgeCScott_DrStrangelove
Gen. ‘Buck’ Turgidson (George C. Scott) – ‘Dr. Strangelove’

jake-gyllenhaal-vera-farmiga-source-code-2011
US Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) – ‘Source Code’

Cruise_Nicholson_Moore_AFewGoodMen
LT Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson), Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) – ‘A Few Good Men’

Holden_CmdrShears_BridgeRiverKwai
Navy Commander Shears (William Holden) – ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’

ClooneyIceTWahlbergThreeKings
Major Archie Gate (George Clooney), Sergeant First Class Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Staff Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) – ‘Three Kings’

Peck_TwelveOClockHigh
Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) – ‘Twelve O’Clock High’

GossettGere_OfficerGentleman
Sgt. Emil Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.) & Officer Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) – ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’

Now, I made an exception with this last pick. Even though I have not seen Saving Private Ryan yet, but everything I’ve read (including this fine review by good friend Mark) about this Steven Spielberg masterpiece suggests that Tom Hanks as Captain Miller is more than worthy to be included.

Hanks_CapMiller_SPR


Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans!


Now, which other U.S. military movie characters would YOU add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Guest Post: Summer films from my teen years



So with the summer movie season well under way, I’ve decided to go back to the time when I was still in my teens and looking forward to every summer season because not only I had the entire summer off from school, but also the big summer films Hollywood has to offer. I used to love watching Entertainment Tonight because they would always show the upcoming trailers of summer flicks; the internet was still new so you can’t watch movie trailers online yet.

I’m going to list big the films from the summer seasons of 1990 to 1996; I was still in my teens in those years and went to see a lot of movies in theater. And I’ll name my favorite films from that Summer, too. If you’re the same age as me and love films, then you might remember what went on during those hot Summer seasons.

1. Summer of 1990:

The notable big films were Days of Thunder, Dick Tracy, Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Ghost, Fire Birds, Back to the Future Part 3, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs., Gremlins 2, Presumed Innocent and Air America. Around this time I was too young to get into R rated films so I didn’t see Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Total Recall and Air America until they came out on VHS. A lot of people probably don’t remember but the summer of 1990 was the summer of Disney vs. Paramount. Disney has Dick Tracy and Paramount has Days of Thunder and the marketing for both films were huge! I remember I went to McDonald’s that summer and all I could see was Dick Tracy related items and Burger King was pimping Days of Thunder.

Jerry Bruckheimer didn’t have nice things to say about Disney and their big film Dick Tracy (This was a few years before Bruckheimer signed with Disney), so the battle was on. The results? Well the two films didn’t earn that much at all compare to the other films, in fact no one saw it coming that Ghost ended up being the biggest hit of the season. My favorites were Die Hard 2, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs. and Back to the Future Part 3. Robocop 2 and Days of Thunder were quite disappointing to me.

2. Summer of 1991:

The big guns were Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Rocketeer, Backdraft, Point Break, Mobsters, Doc Hollywood and Child’s Play 3. I don’t remember why but the summer of 1991 offerings were pretty weak, maybe because a lot of studios were afraid of T-2 and they were right because it’s the biggest hit of the summer and the year. It’s also the first film to actually have cost over $100 mil to make and it set the standards for special effects in films. I actually saw the film on the big 70mm screen and I was blown away by it. The picture and sound were pretty spectacular.

My favorite from the list was Point Break, I fell asleep watching Backdraft, while Robin Hood with Kevin Costner was okay. The only other film I saw in theater that summer was The Rocketeer, I don’t remember much about it though, and I might have to give it a rent soon.

3. Summer of 1992:

The big films were Lethal Weapon 3, Alien 3, Batman Returns, Far and Away, Sister Act, Patriot Games, Iron Eagle 3, A League of Their Own, Cool World, Prelude to a Kiss, Universal Soldier, Unforgiven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Death Becomes Her, Mo’ Money, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and Single White Female. I called this the summer of sequels and Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns and Patriot Games were big winners.

Alien 3 on the other hand was the biggest bombs of the year, it was plague with bad behind the scenes rumors and it was way over budget. Another big bomb of that summer was Far and Away, Ron Howard’s attempt to imitate David Lean’s film was met with bad reviews and audiences didn’t care to see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on the big screen. Howard even shot the film with Panavision Super 70, the highest quality in film, very similar to Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Ryan’s Daughter. My favorites were Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns, Patriot Games and Unforgiven (it’s probably my favorite western film ever).

4. Summer of 1993:

Hollywood offered us Hot Shots! Part Deux, Super Mario Bros., Jurassic Park, Cliffhanger, Last Action Hero, The Fugitive, Hard Target, Free Willy, Rising Sun, Another Stakeout, Coneheads, and In the Line of Fire. This summer was billed as Arnold vs. Sly since each of them had a summer flick, Stallone has been doing comedies for a few years and Arnold didn’t have a summer movie in 1992. So when it was announced that Cliffhanger would open in May and Last Action Hero in June, many predicted that both films would earn hundreds of millions of dollars.

Boy were they wrong, Cliffhanger ended up making around $80mil while Last Action Hero became one of the biggest box office misfires of the decade, ouch! The summer actually belonged to the dinosaurs and Harrison Ford. Jurassic Park became the biggest hit of the summer/year and The Fugitive was right behind it. My favorites were Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Cliffhanger, Hard Target, In the Line of Fire and Rising Sun.

5. Summer of 1994:

The summer kicked off with Maverick then Beverly Hills Cop 3, The Flintstones, The Cowboy Way, Speed, City Slickers 2, Wolf, Wyatt Earp, The Lion King, Forrest Gump, True Lies, The Client, The Shadow, The Mask, Natural Born Killers and Clear and Present Danger. So this was the first summer ever that has two films earned over $300 mil at the box office, Forrest Gump and The Lion King. Also, it was a reunion for Arnold and James Cameron, their film True Lies was the priciest of the year costing at around $120mil to make. Even though this was a huge summer for films, somehow I don’t remember much about it. I think I only saw 4 films in theater that summer; True Lies, Speed, Clear & Present Danger and Forrest Gump and I enjoyed all of them. The rest were pretty forgettable with the exception of The Lion King which I didn’t see until it came out on video and I really enjoyed it.

6. Summer of 1995:

The theaters were filled with big films such as Crimson Tide, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Braveheart, Casper, Congo, The Bridges of Madison County, Batman Forever, Pocahontas, Apollo 13, Judge Dredd, First Knight, Species, Under Siege 2, Clueless, Free Willy 2, The Net, Waterworld, Babe, Dangerous Minds and Mortal Kombat. 1995 was a pretty weak year in films and the summer season offerings weren’t that impressive either.

The summer kicked off with Crimson Tide (Jerry Bruckheimer’s first big budget film with Disney after he and his business partner Don Simpson left Paramount). I went to see it with a friend and we loved it and thought this could be a great summer for films. Boy was I wrong, the next movie I went to see was Die Hard 3 and even though I enjoyed it, I was still quite disappointed with the movie. Then I saw Congo and wow that was bad, Batman Forever and Judged Dredd were also quite bad. In July I saw Under Siege 2 and Waterworld, I was surprised how much I enjoyed both films but by no means they were great or even good films.

At the time, Waterworld was the most expensive movie ever, cost around $175mil to produce. The last summer movie I saw in theater was Mortal Kombat and I really enjoyed that one. I didn’t get to see Braveheart in theater until it won all those Oscars and they decided to re-release it back in theaters in the spring of 1996. My favorites were Braveheart, Crimson Tide and Mortal Kombat.

7. Summer of 1996:

Hollywood gave us Twister, Mission: Impossible, Dragonheart, The Rock, The Cable Guy, Eraser, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Striptease, The Nutty Professor, Independence Day (ID4), Phenomenon, Courage Under Fire, The Frighteners, A Time to Kill, Chain Reaction, Escape from L.A., Tin Cup and Island of Dr. Moreau. I remember this summer well because I graduated from high school that May and also it was the summer of films filled with CGI. Also, this was the year where most movie theaters in America updated to digital sound. I think I’ve seen most of the films on the list in theater that summer.

My favorites were Mission: Impossible, The Rock, Eraser, ID4 and Twister. Now I’m not saying these were great or even good films, but they were quite entertaining, especially if you saw them at a theater that has digital sound. I thought I was gonna go deaf after I saw The Rock at the revamped theater close to where I used to live.

….


Well those are my memories of summer films during my teen years, what about you? Feel free to share your memories of summer flicks; I would love to hear from someone who grew up in the 70s since I believe that decade had so many great films.