I've already listed some problems I have with this years nominations. My two main beefs are the ommission of "The Dark Knight" in the Best Picture and Best Director categories and the inclusion of "The Reader" in the same. I'm beginning to wonder if many members of the academy even see the films they're voting on or if they just saw, "Wow, Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes directed by the guy who did "The Hours," it's got to be good." Or maybe they just let their maids and chauffeurs fill them out. Long time RANT readers may remember that I had the opportunity to help fill out an Oscar ballot for a friend many years ago. I wish I'd been able to do it again this year.
Another surprise to me was that only (3) original songs were nominated. An even bigger surprise was that Bruce Springsteen was snubbed for "The Wrestler." I expressed my surprise to my fellow Kansas City Critics and received the following information from colleague Keith Cohen:
Mike-There were only 3 nominees rather than 5 since the others received an average score of less than 8.25. Also note new rule of only 2 songs per movie. Last year ENCHANTED had 3 songs nominated which allowed a song from another film to prevail since those 3 split up the vote.
Here are the official rules (AMPAS Rule 16)-
In the Original Song category, Music Branch members shall meet to screen clips of the eligible songs and vote on the achievements. A DVD copy of the song clips will be made available to those Branch members who are unable to attend the screening and who request it for home viewing. Voting shall be conducted as follows:
Nominations will be determined by an averaged point system of voting using 10, 9.5, 9, 8.5, 8, 7.5, 7, 6.5 or 6. Only those songs receiving an average score of 8.25 or more shall be eligible for nomination. There may not be more than five nor fewer than three nominations.
Members who attend the song nomination screening will vote at that time. Those who receive the DVD will vote by mail ballot. Those members who have a song in contention for the nomination are not eligible to participate.
Only two songs may be nominated from any one film. If more than two songs from one film are in contention, the two songs with the most votes will be the nominees.
Now we're RATING the songs? On what, if it had a beat and you can dance to it? And who's rating them?
I wonder what criteria is used to "rate" the songs. Of course, I've never understood the whole song branch anyway. I'm still waiting for an explanation on how the Bee Gees got hosed on "Saturday Night Fever."
Glad I'm not the one who had to call Springsteen and say "Since we all loved "Sledgehammer" we went with Peter Gabriel and gave the other nods to the Indian guy!"
What a joke.
The Director's Guild of America released their nominees for Best Feature Film director this week as well. The nominees:
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
David Fincher (The Curious Case of
Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)
Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) Even his fellow directors know he did an incredible job!
Gus Van Sant (Milk)
Of course, if you're going to honor the years best films you might as well pay homage to the stinkers as well. The nominees for this years Golden Raspberries:
Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans (both lousy parody films, equally bad, so lumped together in the interest of justice)
The Happening (where have you gone, M. Night Shyamalan?)
The Hottie and the Nottie
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
The Love Guru (where have YOU gone, Mike Myers?)
Larry the Cable Guy in "Witless Protection"
Eddie Murphy in "Meet Dave"
Mike Myers in "The Love Guru"
Al Pacino in both "88 Minutes" and "Righteous Kill"
Mark Wahlberg in both "The Happening" and "Max Payne"
Jessica Alba in both "The Eye" and "The Love Guru"
The Cast of "The Women" (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Meg Ryan)
Cameron Diaz in "What Happens in Vegas"
Paris Hilton in "The Hottie and the Nottie"
Kate Hudson in both "Fools Gold" and "My Best Friend's Girl"
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Uwe Boll (as Himself) in "Uwe Boll's Postal" (I predict a win here will get Raspberries founder John Wilson an invitation to fight. Seriously)
Pierce Brosnan in "Mamma Mia!"
Ben Kingsley in "The Love Guru, War,Inc. and The Wackness
Burt Reynolds in both "Deal" and "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale" Oh, Jesus. Say it ain't so, Burt. Say it ain't so.
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Carmen Electra in both "Disaster Movie" and "Meet the Spartans" Someone needs a better agent, baby.
Paris Hilton in "Repo: The Genetic Opera"
Kim Kardashian in "Disaster Movie" Great, a battle between two "actresses" who are famous because their daddy's have money (and they like have sex on camera)
Jenny McCarthy in "Witless Protection"
Leelee Sobieski in both "88 Minutes" and "In the Name of the King
WORST CAREER ACHIEVEMENT
Uwe Boll, referred to here as "Germany's Answer to Ed Wood." That's going to get you an ass whipping!
PRES 1, POPE 0
In watching an old episode of "All in the Family," I overheard Archie Bunker telling Mr. Jefferson that God would never allow a black president. "We ain't got a black president yet Jefferson because God ain't ready for that yet. That's right, God's gotta try it out first by making a black Pope and he ain't done that yet."
Congratulations President Obama. Pope Benedict...watch your back!
MY FAVORITE FILMS, PART II. THE YEAR WAS 1990...
The Godfather Part III|
Starring: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia and Talia Shire
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
FIRST SEEN: Timonium 3 Cinema, Timonium, Maryland
FAVORITE LINE: "Zasa!"
FAVORITE SCENE: Any scene without Sofia Coppola....except (spoiler alert) when she dies. Thank you Francis.
1991 Academy Award nominations for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Garcia), Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Original Song.
1991 Directors Guild of America Nomination for Best Director
1991 Golden Globe nominations for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Pacino), Best Supporting Actor (Garcia), Best Original Score, Best Original Song and Best Screenplay.
1991 Golden Raspberry Awards given to Sofia Coppola for Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star.
For as long as I can remember there was always a rumor about a third "Godfather" film. It seems every time an up and coming actor that was, or could pass for, Italian, the Hollywood trades went wild. John Travolta. Eric Roberts (very hot after "King of the Gypsies," Sly Stallone. But nothing could budge Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo to write a third chapter. Except money. In the past 20 years, Coppola had received 12 Academy Award nominations and five Oscars. He had once been the true King of Hollywood, mentoring such directors as George Lucas, Marty Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. He even formed his own studio, American Zoetrope. Then came "One From the Heart." An over the top musical that neither the critics or public understood (I actually enjoyed it but my five bucks wasn't enough to save it), the film almost destroyed him financially. With the exception of "The Cotton Club," his next six films were critically applauded ("The Outsiders," "Rumble Fish," "Peggy Sue Got Married," "Tucker: The Man and His Dream") but didn't break any box office records. Enter Paramount, who had been trying to throw money at Coppola for 25 years. This time he caught it, reuniting with "Godfather" author Puzo to come up with the third chapter in the Corleone Family saga.
Thankfully for the authors, all of the major stars of the past two films were still alive and working. After approaching them about a sequel, Robert Duvall wanted more money then was being offered. When a deal couldn't be made, his character (Tom Hagen) was written out of the script, replaced by a new family lawyer played (quite well) by George Hamilton. Coppola was successful in rounding up the rest of the major stars from the previous films. The film was going to be part fact/part fiction, with Michael mentoring Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of his brother, Sonny ("Godfather" fans will remember Sonny nailing Lucy Mancini against the wall in the original film). The role of Vincent was one of the most sought in young Hollywood. Among the young actors auditioning: Alec Baldwin, Matt Dillon, Vincent Spano, Val Kilmer, Charlie Sheen, Billy Zane and Nicolas Cage (who is actually Coppola's nephew). The role was so intriguing that Robert DeNiro campaigned for it. But the winner was Andy Garcia, who eerily brought to mind James Caan's combination of charm and menace from the first film. Many of the original actors from the previous films reprised their roles as well. From stars including Shire and Richard Bright, who had played Michael's number one man Al Neri, to smaller characters Lucy Mancini (Jeannie Linero), Johnny Fontaine (Al Martino) and Calo, Michaels trusted Sicilian bodyguard (Franco Citti), Coppola did his best to maintain continuity.
The other major new character was Mary Corleone, Michael's now adult daughter. Coppola wanted Julia Roberts but she could not get out of a previous film commitment. Coppola then turned to actress Rebecca Schaeffer, but before she could committ she was tragically murdered by a deranged fan. Finally Winona Ryder was signed. However, shortly before filming, she dropped out. Her excuse was said to be exhaustion from filming so many back to back projects, but rumor is she dropped out so she could work with her "Beetlejuice" director Tim Burton on "Edward Scissorhands." Either way, with weeks to go before filming started Coppola had to make a choice. And, like the guy who took the big jewel encrusted cup in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," he did not choose wisely.
Sofia Coppola had seven movie credits to her name when her dad cast her in the pivotal role of Mary. And why wouldn't he, six of those parts had been in his movies. She was brilliant as the baby being baptized in "The Godfather." Then it was all downhill. If I had to think of another debut this terrible it would have to be Jennifer Jason Leigh (now a gifted performer) in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Copploa's monotonous tone and flat delivery brought down every scene she appeared in. Hell, she couldn't even die without muttering a questioning, "Dad?" My hats off to the real actors who had to share screen time with her, especially Pacino, who probably felt his talent being sucked out of his body every time she stood near him. OK, I'm done here.
As I stated earlier, the film was part fact/part fiction. Of course, the Corleone family was fiction. However, the subplot of the film, the worldwide banking scandal and the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I, is quite accurate to the real events. Now I'm not suggesting that the Pope was murdered but questions certainly linger.
The story: Michael Corleone is FINALLY going legit. In a color ceremony he is knighted by the Catholic Church. He is cutting all ties to organized crime, including selling off the lucrative casino businesses. He still wants to be a man of power, but in a legitimate world. It's only when he makes this move does he realize that perhaps it is the mafia world that is the more honorable. The performances, other then you know who, are excellent. Pacino is a marvel. His final scream of anguish at Mary's murder is heartbreaking. Where the hell was the academy this year? Shire, who plays kid sister Connie in all three films (and received an Oscar nomination for "Part II") grows with the character. She's no longer the fun seeking woman/child. When Pacino's diabetes acts up it is Connie that helps make the decisions, including the murder of rival Joey Zasa (the always excellent Joe Mantegna). As I said before, Garcia captures the essence of James Caans' Sonny. Soft when necessary he turns violent at the drop of a hat. But he too learns that sometimes it is better to listen then to act. He and Mary fall in love but he knows he must give her up. "That is the choice you must make for the life you lead," Michael tells him and he understands. In an ironic twist of casting, Frank Sinatra campaigned hard to play the part of the older mafia patriarch Don Altobello. However, when he saw the money being offered and the time required, ole Blue Eyes dropped out. He was replaced by veteran character actor Eli Wallach. In 1952, Wallach had pulled out of "From Here To Eternity" for the same reason and was replaced by Sinatra, who went on to win an Oscar for his performance as Maggio.
Of course, Sofia Coppola got the last laugh on all of her detractors. In 2004 she became only the third woman, and ONLY American woman, to be nominated for the academy award as Best Director for "Lost In Translation." She won the Oscar that same year for her original screenplay, helping make the Coppola family (Francis, his father, Carmine, Sofia and cousin Nic Cage) the most honored family in Oscar history (20 nominations and 8 wins).
Next week we take a look at one of the greatest films of the 1970s, Roman Polanski's "Chinatown."
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.