Sunday, January 09, 2011

Everybody Goes to Mike's, and Nathaniel's

Slow going on this blog lately; ironically, I've been quite active on other people's. Last week, Mike's site served as the headquarters for our latest entry of the Best Pictures from the Outside In series, where he, Nathaniel, and I chatted up Gentleman's Agreement, 1947's earnest exposé of anti-Semitism, and Rain Man, 1988's innovative fusion of mushy drama, luxury car ad, autism-themed PSA, leaked actor's-rehearsal footage, odd comedy, incipient Reagan-era self-critique, and inexplicably didgeridoo'd kitsch object. Please read the transcript and leave your comments at Mike's place, but come back here to vote in our Reader's Poll of your favorite Oscar champs from 1943-47 and from 1988-92.

As you already know, I tend to exploit the typically long hiatuses between Best Pictures... installments as a reason to investigate other titles from the same years as our current headliners. I made a huge dent in 1947 when all was said and done, though I still have some luscious-sounding reader recommendations like Nora Prentiss, Daisy Kenyon, and The Unsuspected to hunt down. I opted to fill out a year where I hadn't seen much, rather than round out my bulkier albeit U.S.-centric viewing history in 1988, so that remains a bit of a loose end, with the Angelopoulos, Eastwood, Kusturica, Kieślowski, and Menges titles remaining especially enticing. Also, now that Pete Postlethwaite has passed, I'm all the more eager to at least take another trip to the sad but incandescent Distant Voices, Still Lives.

Meanwhile, over at Nathaniel's recently spiffed-up site, I added my voice to the semi-regular Oscar podcasts that he convenes with Joe Reid and Katey Rich. As is true of his apartment, Nathaniel's blog remains a host-space par excellence, and it's sweet of him to keep inviting me over. In the latest conversation, divided into a Part One and a Part Two, we pore over the tea leaves of what films and performers do and don't seem bound toward Oscar nominations on January 25th. We also gloss a few favorite semi-candidates (or, in my case, a non-candidate) who ought to have been walking in the front-runners' shoes.

The onetime front-runner that Nathaniel, Katey, Joe, and I all wonder (and maybe hope?) will find itself locked out of the Best Picture race is Danny Boyle's 127 Hours—which, in a fortuitous coincidence, will also be the title of my next Best Pictures... chat with Nathaniel and Mike, given how long it will take to re-screen Laurence Olivier's Hamlet and Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, a Top Ten of 2010 should follow in the next week or so, and maybe another special feature to keep things going at a steady hum in the new year....

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