This Day in Oscar History: September 20 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Poll: Remaking Best Production Design, 2002

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Polls

Remaking Best Production Design, 2002

In our third pass of the Oscar nominees from 1997 through 2016, we take a look at the nominees for Best Production Design. Each week, we’ll present a list of contenders from which you can select five to make up the Best Production Design slate. There will be an “Other” option, but you can only use this once and you’ll have to specify your other in the comments. Now on to the game: Best Production Design.

Cinema Sight Asks: Which Hopefuls Should Have Been Nominated for Best Production Design (select up to 5)?

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Film Preview: Gretel & Hansel (2020)

Page Revisions:

(September 15, 2019) Original

Release Date:

January 31, 2020

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.”

Poster Rating: –


Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer Rating: C

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Review: Hoping to go for a horror film based on a Grimm fairy tale is an interesting idea, but this effort doesn’t quite work.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Lucky Day (2019)

Page Revisions:

(September 15, 2019) Original

Release Date:

October 11, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Red, a safe cracker who has just been released from prison, is trying to hold his family together as his past catches up with him in the form of Luc, a psychopathic contract killer who’s seeking revenge for the death of his brother.”

Poster Rating: B

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Review: There are a lot of elements here, which makes the design noticeable and that could bring audiences to the theater. There are a few questionable decisions (making the “U” look like a razor blade rather than a having been shot by a bullet, the yellow, sunny backdrop), but ultimately everything works fairly well together.

Trailer Rating: C+

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Review: It’s certainly a good idea to continue to explore cinema and find new ways to express it, but too often films like the one presented in this trailer come along to prove that there are no new or inventive storylines under the sun.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Oscar Profile #462: Philip Dunne

Born February 11, 1908, Philip Ives Dunne was the son of syndicated columnist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne and champion golfer Margaret Ives Abbott Dunne who had been the first ever female gold medalist at the 1900 Olympics when golf was an Olympic sport. Her mother was novelist Mary Ives Abbott.

Both Dunne and his older brother, Finley Peter Dunne, Jr. followed the family tradition and became writers. Both went to Hollywood, but Philip was by far the more successful. His first credited screenplay was 1934’s The Count of Monte Cristo. Other early works included 1935’s Magnificent Obsession and 1936’s The Last of the Mohicans after which he went to work for 20th Century-Fox where he remained for the next 35 years.

Having been one of the co-founders of the Screen Writers Guild, he served as Vice President of its successor, the Writers Guild of America from 1938 to1940. His films during this period included Suez, Stanley and Livingstone and The Rains Came. In 1939 he married actress Amanda Duff with whom he had three children and would remain married to for the rest of his life.

Oscar nominated for his screenplay for the 1941 Oscar winner, How Green Was My Valley, Dunne served on the Academy’s Board of Director from 1946-1948 after four years of war service. In 1947 he co-founded the Committee for the First Amendment (HUAC) with John Huston and William Wyler in protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although he worked with many actors, writers and directors who would be called before HUAC, including Dalton Trumbo on whose behalf he testified, he himself was never accused of being a Communist.

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This Day in Oscar History: September 19 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

Oscar Nominations

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Poll: What Are You Watching? (Sep. 20-22, 2019)

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Polls

What Are You Watching? (Sep. 20-22, 2019)

Cinema Sight Asks: What are you watching? (Sep. 20-22, 2019)

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Film Preview: Underwater (2020)

Page Revisions:

(September 15, 2019) Original

Release Date:

January 10, 2020

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A crew of underwater researchers must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory.”

Poster Rating: D+

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Review: IT’s dull and uninteresting, though it seems like it’s trying to look a bit like a poster featuring Ripley from Alien.

Trailer Rating: C+

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Review: There are elements here that want this to feel like an underwater version of Alien and we’ve been fooled before on entries in the franchise pretending to be something else and then confirming to be part of it. Then again, there are elements that could make this another entry into the Cloverfield saga, which is also well known for its far more successful attempts at misdirection.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Bad Boys for Life (2020)

Page Revisions:

(September 15, 2019) Original

Release Date:

January 17, 2020

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Marcus Burnett is now a police inspector and Mike Lowery is in a midlife crisis. They unite again when an Albanian mercenary, whose brother they killed, promises them an important bonus.”

Poster Rating: –


Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer Rating: C+

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Review: Fans of the original films may be intrigued to see this, but there’s little of those prior films that would warrant a sequel so far after and the trailer doesn’t do that well selling it all.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Looking at the Weekend: Sep. 20-22, 2019

Contemplative science fiction, television movie made for cinemas, or 80s action staple returned. Those are the three films trying to unseat It Chapter Two form the top spot at the box office and each of them have the kinds of positive and negative attributes that could elevate or sink them. Ad Astra follows in a long tradition of sci-fi on the big screen and that alone could push it to the top of the box office, but this is more along the lines of Arrival than Star Wars, and its pensive elements might not make it a big sell. Downton Abbey makes the transition to the big screen after six seasons on the small screen. Leaving television behind four years ago has given creator Julian Fellows an opportunity to transfer his successful and popular show to the big screen, but TV on the big screen, unless completely re-adapted, hasn’t found a lot of success, so this will be an interesting test case. Will it follow the Sex and the City trajectory of success or the Entourage flop? Finally, there’s Rambo: Last Blood, the supposedly final film in the very popular 80s action franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. The film’s biggest issue is that no one asked for the film and after the dismal disappointment of the prior attempt to revive the character, there can’t be a lot of hope for this one.

Ultimately, it’s probable that enough people don’t know that Ad Astra is supposed to be more cerebral than action-oriented and will give it their weekend dollars, but never underestimate the staff of Downton Abbey.

Our Highest Rated Films: Downton Abbey, Ad Astra
Our Best Awards Ratings: Ad Astra (Oscars); Downton Abbey (Oscars)

OTHER LIMITED RELEASES

Diego Maradona
Midnight Diner
Midnight Traveler
Tazza: One Eyed Jack
Where’s My Roy Cohn?
The Zoya Factor

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2019 Oscar Nominations Predictions: Post-Festival (September)

As is our tradition, May begins our first predictive look at the year’s Oscar hopefuls. A lot of factors will play into how well our guesses hold up. Expect many of them to fall by the wayside as the year progresses and new contenders to rise into their places.

With Telluride, Toronto, and Venice in the rear view mirror, Oscar season has shifted to its final stretch before the critics awards. In this timeframe, we should learn more about the films no one has seen yet (The Irishman, Little Women, and 1917 specifically). Those three films could upend some of the conversation that’s come out of the festival circuit, namely the emergence of films like Waves, Jojo Rabbit, The Two Popes, Just Mercy, Marriage Story, and more. While our predictions have are now sitting on a better foundation of critical response, our selections have widened, with Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress becoming far more polarized than they had been previously. We have added one new category to the list: Cinematography

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This Day in Oscar History: September 18 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Film Preview: Greener Grass (2019)

Page Revisions:

(September 15, 2019) Original

Release Date:

October 18, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Suburban soccer moms find themselves constantly competing against each other in their personal lives as their kids settle their differences on the field.”

Poster Rating: C+

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Review: It’s quirky in the same way that the trailer is and would fit right in with the era when films like this were more frequently being made, but the design is a bit too forced.

Trailer Rating: B-

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Review: Just when you think cinema can’t get terribly more interesting, a trailer like this comes along and although it tries awful hard to sell itself, there’s little denying it feels a bit original.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Page Revisions:

(September 15, 2019) Original

Release Date:

December 6, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.”

Poster Rating: C-

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Review: It ties into the title, but is that enough to make it compelling? No.

Trailer Rating: B-

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Review: This trailer presents a film that might have lesbian overtones, but looks like any number of other costume dramas that have been made in recent years.

Oscar Prospects:

If submitted by France for Best International Film, it could be a contender.

Trailer #1

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The DVD Report #638

Aladdin, Disney’s latest live-action version of one of its animated classics to hit the home video market, is a film I wasn’t expecting much from given its mostly negative reviews but was instead pleasantly surprised to find that I liked it.

Most of the negative reviews of the film come from comparing it to Disney’s 1992 animated version but my go-to version of the Arabian Nights story is 1940’s live-action The Thief of Bagdad, which was a remake of the 1924 silent classic of the same name. Although the stories are somewhat different, I find the live-action version of Aladdin closer in spirit to The Thief of Bagdad than Disney’s animated version, which may be why I liked it.

The principal characters in Aladdin are the titled orphan thief, his monkey Abu, the princess Jasmine, the evil Jafar, and a Genie who grants Aladdin three wishes. In one of the wishes, Aladdin is turned into a prince. In the more complex The Thief of Bagdad, the thief isn’t Aladdin but a younger orphan named Abu who is turned into a dog by Jaffar (with two f’s), the evil Grand Vizier who is plotting to become the next sultan. The prince is a separate character. In Aladdin, Abu the monkey is temporarily turned into other animals by the Genie, not Jafar whose name is now spelled with one “f”.

In the 1940 version, Conrad Veidt as Jaffar and Sabu as Abu have top billing with John Justin as the prince, June Duprez as the princess, and Rex Ingram as the Genie also in starring roles. In Disney’s animated Aladdin, it’s the Genie voiced by Robin Williams who dominates. In the live-action version, the Genie is played by Will Smith, but Smith is less dominant in the role, which to me is a good thing. It gives the other actors a chance to make more of an impression in their roles. Smith, as well as Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as the princess, Jasmime, are equally fine as actors, singers, and dancers. Marwan Kenzari makes an interesting Jafar under the direction of Guy Ritchie (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ).

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