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?

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!

ripcharmiancarr

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.


 

Monthly Roundup: August Movie Watching Recap

It’s the last day of the year before we enter the ‘brrr’ months. Well, September is still relatively balmy here in the upper Midwest, and after the Sahara-like Summer we’ve been having, I must say I’m looking forward to Autumn.

I know I always say time flies but really, I feel like August just passed by like lightning. Well, out of 31 days, I made 25 posts, well 26 including this one. Thanks to my loyal contributors Ted, Kevin (a.k.a. Jack Deth) and Cecilia for providing awesome content for this blog. It’s getting increasingly tough to do five posts a week, and lately I’ve been taking a blog break midweek and substituting it with a blog on a weekend day.

This month I participated in a few blog-a-thons:

And here are some of the posts you might’ve missed, including a few of Olympics-themed posts I did in honor of its host, London, one of my favorite cities in the world!

Well, what did I manage to watch this month?

Movies I haven’t seen before:

Re-watch:

Well, I only re-watched one movie this month and that was The Bourne Ultimatum. Yeah, even five years after its release it’s still eons better than The Bourne Legacy. It feels like it’s on a whole different league, from story, direction, style and of course acting, and I’m not just talking about Matt Damon who’s excellent as Bourne, but also the supporting cast including the two that was *promised* to be on the latest movie: David Strathairn and Joan Allen. The massively underrated Julia Stiles also have some memorable scenes, boy why doesn’t Hollywood cast her more often?? [scratch head]

I also re-watched the Licence to Kill which confirms once again that Timothy Dalton is my favorite Bond. Even after re-watching Connery’s Bonds I still prefer Dalton’s gritty, no-nonsense style. It doesn’t hurt that he looks so darn good in a wet suit 😉 But he’s not just bad ass, as he’s also very convincing in the emotional moments when he found out what happened to his friends Felix and Della. I also love Robert Davi as the villain and Carey Lowell as the tough Bond girl. I always get a kick out of watching a young Benicio del Toro as Davi’s henchman, back when he was still svelte you could actually see his high cheekbones, ahah. I also watched the bonus features which is fun to watch as Dalton did a lot of his own stunts. There are also some creepy stuff going on during filming as the filmmaker and crew were talking about the unexplained accidents and ghostly phenomenon on location at a haunted road in Mexico.

I also watched the bonus features of The Sound of Music. I LOVE Liesl and the actress who played her, Charmian Carr, gave a tour to Salzburg on one of the featurettes. I adore this movie and watching the special features just makes me want to rewatch it again!

Favorite August Movie:

I rarely give a movie a full 5/5 rating but this one was sooo enchanting and totally lives up to my already-high expectations, being that it’s the inspiration of one of my favorite rom-coms Sleepless in Seattle. I don’t even mind seeing this one on the big screen if TCM choose that one as one of the TCM Fathom Events. An Affair to Remember has become my favorite Cary Grant movie now, edging even North by Northwest!


So, what movies did you get to see this month and which one is your favorite?

Films That Define Us Blog-a-Thon

Marc from Go-See-Talk invited a bunch of movie bloggers to take a trip down memory lane to list movies that ‘define’ our taste in movies. The films in question are those I saw at a young age and the ones I constantly refer back to as ‘classics.’ Not having grown up in America, I didn’t have as much access to movies when I was a kid, so without a doubt my taste was highly influenced by what my late mother exposed me to. In fact, three of the movies listed here I saw with my family before I could barely speak/understand much English, so she had to translate most of the story for me. I’ve since gone back and re-watched them as adults, and found that they are still as enjoyable and meaningful to me then as they did before. I will forever treasure these movies for years to come!

  1. My Fair Lady (1964)

    This is the movie that made me adore Audrey Hepburn. I was in awe by her beauty and grace, even when she was playing a lowly flower girl who encountered a misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor Higgins and his buddy Col. Pickering one fateful night. It’s a fairy-tale musical, with wonderful tunes, affecting performances and whimsical scenes that stay with you for years (who could forget Eliza yelling “Come on, Dover, move yer bloomin’ arse!” and the lady next to her fainted!). George Cukor’s masterpiece is truly one of Hollywood’s best musicals, though this movie easily transcend just one genre, it’s a comedy/romance/drama that will delight anyone of all ages.

    On a related note, I know Hollywood’s still circling the remake of this, last I heard John Madden might take the helm with possibly Carey Mulligan as Eliza? Well, I think Alan Rickman might make a great Professor Higgins wouldn’t you think? He’s got that pompous air about him (a la Professor Snape in Harry Potter) and that voice… I wouldn’t mind him as my phonetic teacher! 😀
  2. Gone with the Wind (1939)

    Interestingly enough, George Cukor almost directed this movie, but a dispute with the shrewd but brash legendary producer David O’Selznick dismissed him from the production. Is this a chick flick? Even Clark Gable himself reportedly dislike his most famous movie, calling it a ‘woman’s picture.’ Well, I never see it that way the many times I’ve seen this movie, I’ve always regarded it as an epic drama. The first time I saw this, despite my mother translating it extensively, I had no idea what it was about, yet it didn’t stop me from being dazzled by it… and Rhett Butler 🙂 For the life of me I could not figure out what it was that Scarlett see in Ashley, and upon repeated viewings later I just figure that the only reason she was crazy for him was because she couldn’t have him. The production, the costume, the sets, one iconic scene after another, everything about this movie is done in a grand scale. A quintessential classic in every sense of the word, one might dislike this movie, but it’s hard to dispute its key place in the history of cinema. On a related note, here’s my Top Five Favorite GWTW scenes.
  3. The Sound of Music (1965)

    Another musical that sets the bar for future movies decades later, this movie never cease to delight me. It has become ‘my favorite things’ I’ll treasure forever. It’s hard not to be dazzled by the lush opening scene, the highly uplifting Reverend Mother’s Climb Every Mountain, cheerful Do-re-mi, patriotic Edelweiss and the romantic Something Good. I seriously think this movie is extremely tough to remake, so I hope Hollywood would never attempt no matter how dry their creativity well is. The musical genre is a tough one to do well at (I mean look at Nine that even all those actresses and Daniel Day-Lewis could not save), which makes Robert Wise’s masterpiece all the more impressive. The music is as much the star of this movie as Julie Andrews, but Christopher Plummer and all seven kids deliver wonderful performances to support the inspired screenplay and top-notch direction.

  4. Superman: The Movie (1978)

    I’ve mentioned several times that this is the first movie I saw a the theater… and I think I’ve gone more than once. I remember my uncle finally buying me the VHS as I kept renting it over and over again. This is probably what makes me love the superhero genre, so even if the technology looks dated now, it’s got all the ingredients that makes this one stand the test of time: the perfect actor to play Superman, a rousing score and epic, memorable scenes that truly made us believe that yes, a man can fly! To this day, Hollywood still has yet to capture the indelible charm that the first Superman movie had. The inspiring John Williams’ score is pretty much the only thing intact in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, but not much else comes close to matching the beauty of this classic superhero movie.
    >>
    This chopper scene is one of my faves of all time, never fails to get me clapping and cheering as I watched it 🙂  As I said in that post, Christopher Reeve will always be Superman in my heart, inimitable and unrivaled to this day.
  5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

    This wasn’t the first Disney Princess’ flicks I saw, but it’s one I still love to this day. I used to doodle as a kid which often got me sent to detention, and I remember always using Princess Aurora as my model. I thought the illustrations were so beautiful then, but as I just watched it not too long ago, I was still dazzled by it. The colors are so vivid and gorgeous, and I love Mary Costa’s voice as the Princess, easily one of Disney’s best voice work. I also love the fact that Prince Philip has a bit more screen time than the other love interests in previous Princess’ flicks. And who can forget one of the best Disney villains, the self-proclaimed Mistress of all Evil, who’s as graceful as she is sinister. Reportedly, Tim Burton and Angelina Jolie are interested in a spin-off adaptation of the evil queen. In any case, though the sub-genre of Animated Princess Movies might not be as popular these days, this stands as at the top of that genre.
    ….
  6. Ben-Hur (1959)

    If you read my blog long enough, you’d know how much I LOVE Gladiator. I guess you could say that Ben Hur is the reason I have a penchant for swords and sandals epic. The first time I saw this, I was not only dazzled by the visual effects and grandiose scale of this movie, but I was tremendously moved by the story as well. It’s a fictional story of a Jewish prince falsely imprisoned and came back with a vengeance, intertwined with a true story of the King of Kings who was also falsely sent to His death but came back to forgive. There isn’t many movies out there that moved me as much as this one, two of the scenes in particular are on this list. Even with all the advanced CGI technology of the movies today, the chariot race scene is still a tough one to match! I have not yet seen the TV adaptation, but from what I heard/read so far, it’s nowhere close to this masterpiece on so many levels.

So that’s my list of films that defined me. So what about you?

The meme goes around: 10 Movie Facts About Me

Internet meme (pronounced meem): an idea/concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet

Fresh out of the fun blog event Desert Island DVDs, I’ve been tagged by Castor, Marc, and Meredith (who interestingly enough are the same kindhearted friends who nominated me for Kreatif award earlier this year, thanks again all!) I’ve also found out this morning Andy tagged me as well, so THANK YOU! I always love a chance to ‘get to know’ fellow bloggers a bit better, so in the spirit of community, I give you my ten movie tidbits:

  1. The three movies that made a huge impression on me as a young girl were The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and Gone with the Wind. My mom brought those VHS home from a European trip when I could barely understand English, and she had to translate most of them to me. I’ve since re-watched them several times since, and they remained one of my favorites!
  2. Click to see both autographed photos

    I’ve only written a fan letter to one actor in my entire life, which was to Christopher Reeve. I was in my Junior High and it took nearly a year to receive a reply, but I ended up getting not one, but two autographed photos from him (arrived separately).

    He’s also my first ever movie crush as I said in yesterday’s post.
    ..

  3. My most-watched flick has got to be Sense & Sensibility. It’s amazing that it never failed to move me every time I watch it. That’s why I had to bring it to the island if I’m ever stranded.
  4. Borrowing from Castor’s list, I too have not seen classics such as Clockwork Orange, Citizen Kane, nor Casablanca. In fact, out of AFI‘s Top Ten list, I’ve only seen two of them: Gone with the Wind and Schindler’s List.
  5. Despite my affinity for swords & sandals movie (one of my all time faves are Ben Hur and Gladiator), I don’t care for Spartacus at all. I found it boring and preposterous, plus Kirk Douglas just wasn’t convincing nor sympathetic enough as the hero. Thanks to William Wyler for not casting him as Ben Hur as I don’t think I’d have liked the movie as much without Charlton Heston!
  6. As my hubby and I are going to London in mid May (God willing the volcanich ash situation won’t delay our trip!), I’ve started to jot down the movie locations I want to visit, such as this Pemberley mansion from Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. Would you all do me a favor and help me out on this one by suggesting a movie location worth a visit? Mostly in the London & vicinity area as we’re only going to be there for 7 nights.
  7. I’ve got a few soundtracks that I play in my car from time to time: P.S. I Love You, Sense & Sensibility, Phantom of the Opera, Gladiator and Moulin Rouge. Oh, and the James Bond theme songs!
  8. I’ve just watched Kill Bill vol. 1 for the first time this past weekend, partly inspired by MadHatter’s comment on this post as well as the fact that Uma Thurman’s The Bride character is picked by Empire magazine as one of the Icons of the Decade.
  9. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen to this day has got to be The Exorcist. Regan’s face still makes me shudder in terror every time I come across it or when it happens to cross my mind. My hubby’s aunt who was a flight attendant have actually met Linda Blair on an airplane and said ‘oh you look familiar, where have I seen you?’ Blair obligingly gave her the Regan spine-chilling smile and his aunt immediately recognized who she was.
  10. My hubby and I obviously have an affinity for film trilogies. We don’t have a huge dvd selection, but we’ve got boxed sets of The Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars. We’ll inevitably get the Bourne trilogy set once we get our Blu-ray player 🙂

Ok, now it’s my turn to tag people to keep this going. Castor, Marc, Meredith & Andy, as you’ve done your meme duty, I’m going to pick those I haven’t done their meme post yet as I’m writing this post:

Don’t drop the ball, ok guys! 🙂