The Morning After: Feb. 24, 2014

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I’ve seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I’ll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I’ll post individual comments here about each of them as I see fit.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The Conversation


In 1974, Francis Ford Coppola was one of the most prominent directors working in Hollywood. While working on the sequel to his Best Picture-winning film The Godfather, Coppola prepared the surveillance thriller The Conversation.

Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a well known wire-tapper, a surveillance expert recognized in the community for his clever and result-inducing methods. Having moved to San Francisco after an unfortunate job in New York City where his data resulted in the death of one of the observed, the incident haunts him. As he works his new case, the threat of murder once again rears its ugly head and Caul struggles to come to terms with his potential role in the affair causing him to question his own sanity.

Coppola’s film hit right as the news of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency-toppling wire-tapping was making news. Although his film was perfectly timed, it was not at all influenced by the Watergate scandal. Hackman delivers a perfectly conflicted performance in a film that uses its vast soundscape to envelop the viewer in its twisting narrative. Coppola’s screenplay is crisp, intense and terrifying. Delving into the world of illegal surveillance gives the audience a glimpse into the depraved and misguided practice and the lives it can destroy in the process. Sound designer and editor Walter Murch was responsible for much of the film’s success. While Coppola was in the editing bay for The Godfather, Part II, Murch was given free rein over the film. The film deserved its Oscar nominations, especially for Best Sound and should have won the award. Hackman should have been nominated and the film’s fascinating cinematography should also have been cited.

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  1. Correct.

    For 1928/29 there were no nominations. Those listed in the Academy records are those that received mention from the board of directors who voted the winners.

    They were still working things out in 1929/30, but the nominations, like those in the first year, were for individual actors with their films of note mentioned alongside their names. No one knows why only one film was named in the win.

    As for directors, the award is technically for Direction, not for the Director who is the actual recipient of the award although that’s the way it’s interpreted. Personally I think that if an actor can’t be nominated for more than one performance in a particular category than neither should a director be nominated for more than one film for direction, but that’s a rule change that we’ll probably never see.

    1. The Music categories of score and song have frequent double nominees. I think John Williams has received double nominations around 8 times.

      1. Yes – the nominations in all categories other than acting are voted on according to the film, not the artists involved.

  2. I wonder how close Frances Coppola came to a rare double nomination for Best Director. This actually leads into a question for our Academy Awards historians:

    In 1929/30, five performers received double nominations for the same category – George Arliss (Disraeli, The Green Goddess), Maurice Chevalier (The Big Pond, The Love Parade) and Ronald Colman (Bulldog Drummond, Condemned) for Best Actor and Normer Shearer (The Divorcee, Their Own Desire) and Greta Garbo (Anna Christie, Romance) for Best Actress. I think there was a rule change prohibiting this since it never occurred afterwards. Is this true? I have to believe there must have been a few occasions where a performer received enough votes for more than one film to finish is the top five of his or her category.

    Is the reason due to the higher visibility of actors/actresses than the other competitors (composers, cinematographers etc.), which are allowed multiple nominations within their categories. Is another reason due to the awkwardness of the publicity campaigns if performers had to compete against themselves. This of course doesn’t seem to be an issue when a performer receives a double nomination for lead and supporting categories. Also, this rule isn’t enforced for other award presenters. Leonardo DiCapriio received double lead dramatic actor nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press in 2007 for The Departed and Blood Diamond. Personally, while part of me feels that if an actor or actress gives two great performances in the same year, they should be recognized; but overall it seems that there is enough recognition spread around in awards season that it would just seem too gratuitous and lead to more griping that its worth. Just curious.

    1. Peter can probably check me on this, but as with other nominees that year, I believe that the actors were nominated and films then associated with them (much like some critics groups will give a supporting award to someone like Matthew McConaughey for a string of performances in a given year instead of a single one).

      1. I’m pretty sure they all were separate nominations in 29/30 rather than “body of work” nominations that occurred the first year of the Academy (e.g. Janet Gaynor for 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise).

        1. Sorry. I must have missed that 29/30 reference. Here are the two official Academy notes for the acting categories for that year that may partly explain the situation. You can find all the Academy notes in my new Awards Sections.

          1.[NOTE: As allowed by the award rules for this year, a single nomination could honor work in one or more films. Though the final awards ballot listed both Disraeli and The Green Goddess in his nomination, the award was announced for only the Disraeli performance. It has never been established as to why this was, but it possibly could have been because the original report from the Acting Branch Board of Judges only listed the Disraeli performance in the results of the nominations voting, or it could have been because on some of the final ballots, the voters had indicated the Disraeli performance over the other.]

          2.[NOTE: As allowed by the award rules for this year, a single nomination could honor work in one or more films. Though the final awards ballot listed both The Divorcee and Their Own Desire in her nomination, the award was announced for only the The Divorcee performance. It has never been established as to why this was, but it possibly could have been because the original report from the Acting Branch Board of Judges only listed The Divorcee performance in the results of the nominations voting, or it could have been because on some of the final ballots, the voters had indicated the The Divorcee performance over the other.]

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