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?

Thursday Movie Picks: ADAPTATIONS

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. 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… film adaptations.

Now, it’s not specified what sort of adaptations we’re supposed to pick. So I’ve decided to select a couple of different adaptations, from books and play/stage work. I was going to do one based on video games, but there isn’t really one I’d even recommend, ahah.

In any case, here are my three picks:

Little Women (2019)

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.

Ok so I have not read Louisa May Alcott‘s autobiographical novel, but based on this article, Greta Gerwig adds a simple twist to the story by imagining that Jo is actually the author of the novel Little Women. This transforms the story into one about creative passion and achievement, and in one stroke makes a classic feel fresh without betraying its essential nature.’

Now, I think the film itself has much to be admired. The performances, especially Saoirse Ronan as Jo is simply marvelous. Her passionate speech that ‘she’s so sick of people saying love is a woman is fit for’ is so emotional and indelible. It’s a film with an inspiring message for girls and women alike, and a good one for boys as well to serve as a reminder that the journey for women equality still continues. The production values, set pieces, costumes, cinematography and music are all excellent, so it’s definitely one of the best literary adaptations in recent memory.


Sense & Sensibility (1995)

After the death of Mr. Dashwood, the Dashwood family takes a step down in society and faces hardship as they are four women virtually penniless. Elinor and Marianne, two sisters with different perspectives on life and interests, keep one another in line and support one another through death, hardship, love, and friendship.

I can’t possibly have a list of literary adaptation and not mention a Jane Austen film, especially one of my all time favorites!

Confession: Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, but when it comes to Sense & Sensibility, I actually like the film version by Ang Lee a bit more than the book. Emma Thompson made some changes to the script, which won her an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, but she kept the essence of the story and its um, sensibilities.

In the book, there’s no Shakespeare connection between Willoughby and Marianne, thus no scene of Marianne crying in the rain, citing the poem as she looks upon Willoughy’s estate. But it’s no doubt one of the most emotional scenes of the film…

… and of course, who doesn’t love the heroic scene of Col. Brandon rescuing Marianne, which is another beautiful and emotional moment.

The casting alone is outstanding, particularly Emma Thompson herself as Elinor and Kate Winslet as Marianne (who’s far less irritating than how she’s portrayed in the book). Alan Rickman will forever be my favorite Austen hero despite being much older than what the character is supposed to be in the book.


My Fair Lady (1964)

Snobbish phonetics Professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society.

So for the movie-based-on-a-play, I’d have to go with one of the first three films my late mother bought when I was in my early teens that introduced me to big Hollywood classics. The 1964 film was adapted from the Lerner and Loewe Broadway musical starring original Broadway and London shows starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, which was originally based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It was quite a controversy that Audrey Hepburn was cast as Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who learns manners from a phonetics professor named Henry Higgins (Harrison).

I loved this movie and as someone still learning English at the time, it was a lot of fun watching Eliza trying to pronounce things properly. There are sooo many memorable scenes, the Ascot horse-race scene still makes me grin every time I remember it “Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ arse!” [tee-hee!] The eternally classy and elegant Hepburn is so marvelously convincing as someone from a lower class, and she’s got such a delightful chemistry with the pompous Prof. Higgins. Of course the music is absolutely wonderful. To this day, I’d still hum or sing the songs from time to time.


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

Weekend Roundup: RIP Charmian Carr – My tribute to her performance as Liesl in ‘The Sound of Music’

Happy Monday all! How’s your weekend? Mine was quite a busy one and given the glorious weather on Saturday, my hubby and I tried to be outside as much as we could. We made a stop at the Guthrie Theater as we love to visit the endless bridge and get a great view St. Anthony Main & the Stone Arch bridge over the Mississippi River. It’s the second week run of Sense & Sensibility there and I actually caught a glimpse of a couple of the actresses during intermission of the 1pm performance! I’ll be seeing the play on Oct 14, can’t wait!

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On a sad note, Charmian Carr, best known as Liesl in The Sound of Music just passed away this weekend at the age of 73 😦

I felt such a pang in my heart when I heard the news Sunday night. I was writing a review of the film I saw this weekend, but when I heard of her passing, I felt compelled to do a tribute for her instead.

The Sound of Music is one of the three major Hollywood classics that my late mom first showed me. She brought home three VHS from her trip to the US: Gone With the Wind, My Fair Lady and The Sound Of Music. Those three films hold a special place in my heart (as those are amongst a handful of films that defined me)… so I get sentimental whenever I hear news about the film and/or the cast.

But more than that, since I saw the film when I was in my early teens, I so identified with Liesl and Carr’s performance is so beautiful and indelible. Her Sixteen Going On Seventeen rendition (with Daniel Truhitte’s Rolfe) is such a joyful and sweet celebration of young (and oh-so-innocent) romance that never fails to put a smile on my face.

I also love the reprise of the song later in the film with Julie Andrews‘ Maria. Even though Maria wasn’t Liesl’s real mother, there’s such a formidable bond between them.

It wasn’t just that Carr was beautiful and could sing beautifully, she brought the character of Liesl to live in such a wonderful way. The Sound of Music is as beloved and memorable as it is today because we all root for the Von Trapp family, and as the eldest, Liesl is certainly the most developed character of the seven children. She fell in love, went through a heartbreak, and later had to face the harsh realities of war when the boy she loved joined the Nazi party.

This Edelweiss scene where Liesl sings with her father (Christopher Plummer) always gets me all teary eyed. It’s perhaps one of my favorite on-screen duets of all time.

Though Charmian Carr only had a single film credit in her career, her contribution to film is so tremendous. I think it’s only fitting that I ended with this delightful farewell scene performed by the Von Trapp children…

Farewell Charmian Carr and rest in peace.
Thank you for your beautiful performance as Liesl…
your iconic performance shall live on.


 

Weekend Roundup: Catching up on Downton Abbey + a ho-hum Hitchcock film

Happy Bastille Day Monday everyone!

Man now I wish I were back in Paris again [sigh] So how’s your weekend? It was another glorious Summer day on Sunday, ahead of the Polar Vortex (or you can call it the cool Canadian air) that keeps temps only in the 60s today. Yep, I actually have to wear a light jacket today, heh.

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I guess he has every reason to feel triumphant

So it seems that a lot of you saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes this weekend. ‘Apes’ Goes Bananas says Box Office Mojo [though we never saw any of the apes actually ate a banana], and the mojo is definitely with director Matt Reeves as the sequel brought in a whopping $73 mil domestically, and it’s already over $100 mil internationally. It’s the only tentpole film opening this weekend so basically there’s no competition. Besides who in the right mind would want to see those dreadful robots over these intelligent & emotive apes?

Well, if you’ve read my review then you already know I LOVED it. I actually don’t mind renting that again when it’s out on Blu-ray, maybe a double feature w/ the 2011 reboot. I sure hope Reeves will be back at the helm for the third film, man it’s poised to be one heck of a sci-fi trilogy!

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My weekend viewing is mostly home cinema. After nearly a year, I finally caught up with Downton Abbey again. Yes I know, my TV viewing is quite pathetic, I’m still on season 2! I don’t know if I’ll finish all four seasons by year’s end but I sure will am gonna try.

Well, everything I loved about it that I wrote last year is still true. I love all the characters, there are a lot of them but even the minor characters like Mr. Lang is intriguing. Dame Maggie Smith still has the best lines, and I LOVE seeing dashing Iain Glen as a newspaper mogul Sir Richard Carlisle. It’s a testament to his versatility that he’s starring in Downton Abbey AND Game of Thrones around the same time, the two couldn’t be more different from each other.

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There are lots going on this season! What with Downton being turned into a hospital & all the intricacies that brings, Anna and Mr. Bates, not to mention the scandals of Lavinia and Sir Richard. Plenty of juicy scenes awaits!

***

As part of my Hitchcock catch-up, I also saw a lesser-known film Torn Curtain (1966) as part of this Hitchcock Blogathon by Rob & Zoe. I learned about the blogathon pretty late so the films are all picked over. Still I was curious to see this one because the premise sounded intriguing and so is the casting of Paul Newman + Julie Andrews. Heh, I wish I had picked another film, it was such a bore!

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As I read the IMDb trivia, apparently Hitchcock himself didn’t like the film. So much so that he didn’t even want to appear in the trailer. He’s apparently unhappy with the screenplay and Newman’s performance but my main beef is with Julie Andrews’ casting. Well I’ll spare you the detailed review until August, but suffice to say I’d never watch it again.


Well so that’s my weekend viewing folks. How about you? Seen anything good?