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Posts Tagged ‘american film institute’

1. Casablanca (1943)

Other Nominated Films:
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Curie, The More the Merrier, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Song of Bernadette, Watch on the Rhine

Casablanca is a unique film in many ways. For one, it only won three Academy Awards. You have films like Ben-Hur which won 11 Oscars, All About Eve which was nominated for 14 and won 6, and plenty of other films that were nominated and won more Oscars than Casablanca. Also, Casablanca is a relatively short film — the shortest of the Top 10 on this countdown (should note that Marty is the shortest film in history to win Best Picture at 90 minutes). Then, you have epic films like Ben-Hur (again), Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, and all of them are great in their own ways. And finally, Casablanca was nominated for two acting awards, but came out empty handed. Humphrey Bogart would go on to lose to Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine and Claude Rains would lose to Charles Coburn in The More the MerrierCasablanca‘s storyline revolves around Rick Blaine (Bogart), a cynical American living in Casablanca in 1941. Rick runs a swank nightclub/gambling den known as “Rick’s Café Américain.” The joint attracts people of all kinds: the Vichy French, the Italians, and the Nazi’s for example. It is also a place where refugees go when trying to escape to the United States — as well as the men who are trying to catch them. Rick tries to keep neutral and detached in all matters involving the war. Petty crook Signor Ugarte (Peter Lorre) comes into Rick’s Cafe and brags to Rick about having “letters of transit” that were obtained through the murder of two German couriers. The significance of these papers is that they allow those who possess them the ability to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and into the neutral land of Portugal from where they could book passage to the United States. These papers would be considered a treasure by any refugees looking to get out of Casablanca.  Ugarte intends to sell the letters to the highest bidder at the club that night. Unfortunately, he is arrested by the local police under the command of corrupt Vichy Captain Louis Renault (Rains). Ugarte dies in custody without revealing to anyone that he had given the letters to Rick. The film really begins to move when Rick’s ex-lover and her husband arrive at the Cafe: Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). The reason for Rick’s cynical and bitter attitude lies in his past with Ilsa, and this is where I feel I should end.  For those of you who have seen Casablanca, you know that the rest is history…you know that this is the greatest love story ever told on the big screen. For those of you who have yet to see it…well…what are you waiting for? Casablanca is on seven of the American Film Institute‘s top 100 lists: #2 on Movies (although on the revised list it was bumped down to 3), #37 on Thrills, #1 on Passions, #4 on Heroes and Villains (Rick Blaine), #2 on Songs (As Time Goes By), #5, 20, 28, 32, 43, and 67 on Quotes, and #32 on Cheers. But that’s not all — in 2005, Casablanca was named one of the 100 greatest films over the last 80 years by Time.com (the films were not ranked), and in 2006, the Writers Guild of America, West voted Casablanca the best screenplay of all time in its 101 Greatest Screenplays list. I actually rented a book that contained Casablanca‘s screenplay, and I really have to say that it is truly a piece of art. I’ve read about 50 screenplays over the past few years and there are none that even come close to it. I can go on and on about how fantastic Casablanca truly is, but I think you understand what I’m saying. There’s only one way to end this piece, and that’s by giving you a fun fact. One of the most famous magazine publishers and night club owners was inspired by Casablanca. Who is it? you ask? The one and only Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Clubs.*

 

Winner of 3 Oscars, Nominated for 8
Best Director – Michael Curtiz (WON)
Best Picture – Warner Bros. (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay – Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Humphrey Bogart
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Claude Rains
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Arthur Edeson
Best Film Editing – Owen Marks
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Max Steiner

(#5) Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.
(#20) Rick: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
(#28) Ilsa: Play it, Sam. Play “As Time Goes By.”
(#32) Captain Renault: Round up the usual suspects.
(#43) Rick: We’ll always have Paris.
(#67) Rick: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Source of Hugh Hefner Note: http://www.nbc.com/the-playboy-club/video/hef-on-the-history-of-the-clubs/1347658/

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6. All About Eve (1960)

Other Nominated Films:
Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Sunset Boulevard

14 Academy Award nominations. Four female acting nominations. #28 ranking on AFI’s Top 100 films. One of the first 50 films to be registered into the U.S. National Film Registry. It’s safe to say that All About Eve is one of the greatest films to ever hit the silver screen. Based on the short story The Wisdom of Eve, by Mary Orr, All About Eve begins with an awards dinner celebrating Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), one of Broadway’s brightest new stars. Attending the event is theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) who recounts, in a voiceover, his interpretation of how Eve rose to stardom as quickly as she did. A year earlier, the biggest star on Broadway was Margot Channing (Bette Davis). On the night of one of her performances, Margo’s close friend Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) meets Eve Harrington in the alley outside of the theater. Karen recognizes Eve since Eve has waited in that alley many nights trying to catch a glimpse of her idol (Margo) leaving the theater. Karen takes Eve backstage to meet Margo, and at that time Eve also meets Margo’s entourage — Celeste’s husband and the play’s author Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe); Margo’s boyfriend Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill) who is also a director; and Margo’s maid Birdie (Thelma Ritter).  Eve gushes on about how she’s followed Margo’s last theatrical tour and then goes on to tell about the difficult life she’s led being an orphan and losing her husband in the war. Margo takes an immediate liking to Eve and hires her as her assistant. From this point on, we witness some of the greatest acting of all time, as well as one of the most ruthless on-screen betrayals in a long time. In my opinion, All About Eve was way ahead of its time. I plan on finding and reading the script at some point because the dialogue is some of the wittiest I’ve heard in any movie. The film portrays the entertainment industry as brutal; one day you’re on top, the next day someone younger and better looking steals the spotlight from you and you are forgotten. It all depends on who has the more driving ambition, and if you can’t keep up, you’re going to get knocked out of the way. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, All About Eve held the record for most nominations of any film until James Cameron released one of the most expensive melodramas in history, Titanic. To this day, All About Eve is the only film to receive four female acting nominations (Davis and Baxter as Best Actress, Holm and Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). All About Eve also brought us one of the earlier important roles for a certain young up-and-coming actress who would forever change the movie industry — Marilyn Monroe. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Sunset Boulevard, which was the main competition for All About Eve. Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, exceeded only by All About Eve.

 

Nominated for 14 Oscars, Winner of 6
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – George Sanders (WON)
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White – Edith Head, Charles Le Maire (WON)
Best Director – Joseph K. Mankiewicz (WON)
Best Picture – 20th Century Fox (WON)
Best Sound, Recording – 20th Century-Fox Sound Dept. (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay – Joseph K. Mankiewicz (WON)
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Anne Baxter
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Bette Davis
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Celeste Holm
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Thelma Ritter
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White – Lyle R. Wheeler, George W. Davis, Thomas Little, Walter M. Scott
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Milton R. Krasner
Best Film Editing – Barbara McLean
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Alfred Newman

Margo Channing: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!

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7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Other Nominated Films:
The Longest Day, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird

Before I go on to talk about this film, I would just like to say one thing: David Lean is one of the finest directors of all time. Lean doesn’t have just one film in my Top 10, but two, one of which is ranked in my Top 5. Lawrence of Arabia is undoubtedly one of the greatest films ever made, and if that isn’t enough, it also revealed the greatness of actor Peter O’Toole to the world. The film opens with the death of Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) by a motorcycle accident. At his memorial service, reporters try to better understand who this remarkable and complicated man really was. From here, we flashback into the life of Lawrence and where his military career begins…Lawrence is a British Army lieutenant stationed in Cairo during World War I. Mr. Dryden of the Arab Bureau (Claude Rains) sends Lawrence to evaluate the progress of Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) in his revolt against the Turks. The journey is not an easy one but I won’t go into detail here so that you can see it for yourself — but I’ll continue talking about what happens next…At the end of this journey, Lawrence meets Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle), who tells him to be quiet, assess Faisal’s camp, and leave at once. Lawrence instead ignores Brighton’s orders and advises Faisal to attack Aqaba — and thus begins Lawrence’s exploits as he leads the Arab revolt against the Turks. Again, I don’t want to ruin the movie for you by going into any great detail here, but suffice to say that Lawrence uses guerilla warfare tactics and performs heroic feats but also experiences emotional struggles with acts of violence and his personal identityLawrence of Arabia was a huge success both critically and financially, and is still popular among viewers today. Critics have repeatedly cited the film’s impressive visuals, music and screenplay, as well as the magnificent performance of Peter O’Toole. O’Toole was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, but would wind up losing to Gregory Peck who played Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (which is also one of the best films in the history of cinema). It’s interesting to compare O’Toole’s performance as Lawrence and Peck’s performance as Finch since they’re both ranked on the American Film Institute’s 100 Heroes and Villains list; O’Toole would be ranked as the 10th Hero, while Peck would be ranked as the #1 Hero. Both excellent performances; both iconic roles; and yet both very different types of heroes.  Lawrence of Arabia would be producer Sam Spiegel’s third Academy Award for Best Picture (the first two are #4 and #2 on this list),and David Lean’s second Academy Award for Best Director (the other being #4 on this list). O’Toole would go on to be nominated for another seven Academy Awards, but would not win any – however he was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award for his remarkable talents that “provided cinema with some of its most memorable characters.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 7
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color – John Box, John Stoll, Dario Simoni (WON)
Best Cinematography, Color – Freddie Young (WON)
Best Director – David Lean (WON)
Best Film Editing – Anne V. Coates (WON)
Best Music, Score – Substantially Original – Maurice Jarre (WON)
Best Picture – Sam Spiegel (WON)
Best Sound – John Cox (Shepperton SSD) (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Peter O’Toole
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Omar Sharif
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium – Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson

Prince Feisal: But you know, Lieutenant, in the Arab city of Cordoba were two miles of public lighting in the streets when London was a village?
T.E. Lawrence: Yes, you were great.
Prince Feisal: Nine centuries ago.
T.E. Lawrence: Time to be great again, my lord.

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14. The Sound of Music (1965)

Other Nominated Films:
Darling, Doctor Zhivago, Ship of Fools, A Thousand Clowns

Now this is one of the weeks I’ve been looking forward to writing about! There are a lot of movies I’ve enjoyed watching, but these next two films are definitely up there as far as my all-time favorites go. Let’s begin with what the hills are alive of (I just couldn’t resist.) Nominated for ten Academy Awards, The Sound of Music became the highest-grossing film of all time in 1966, overtaking the top spot from the #3 film on my countdown list — which would again jump back to the #1 spot in 1971 usurping The Sound of Music…just a bit of trivia here. Anywho! Until about a month ago, I’d only seen clips and tidbits from The Sound of Music…sorry to say. But, after watching the whole film for the first time, I was completely blown away.  From the iconic opening scene when we see Maria twirling around on the beautiful mountainside amid the snow-capped Alps, to the suspenseful ending as the Von Trapp family tries to escape the Nazis — I was captivated in every way.  Not only was the film fun and romantic, and at times quite serious due to the historical implications — the Rogers and Hammerstein songs were simply magnificent and unforgettable!  Julie Andrews was so charismatic as the free-spirited Maria — truly phenomenal and easy to love.  And, although it’s no secret that Christopher Plummer (who played Captain Georg von Trapp) absolutely hated this movie, it doesn’t change the fact that this is one of his most memorable roles. Ranked as the #4 musical of all time by the American Film Institute, The Sound of Music is an experience you will never forget.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 5

Best Director – Robert Wise (WON)
Best Film Editing – William Reynolds (WON)
Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment – Irwin Kostal (WON)
Best Picture – Robert Wise (WON)
Best Sound – James Corcoran (20th Century-Fox SSD), Fred Hynes (Todd-AO SSD) (WON)
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Julie Andrews
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Peggy Wood
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color – Borin Leven, Walter M. Scott, Ruby R. Levitt
Best Cinematography, Color – Ted D. McCord
Best Costume Design, Color – Dorothy Jeakins

Captain von Trapp: Fraulein, is it to be at every meal, or merely at dinnertime, that you intend on leading us all through this rare and wonderful new world of… indigestion?

(more…)

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