Are you kidding?!?: The Worst Oscar Snubs of All Time

The Academy Awards winners are soon to be announced and the controversy continues over this year’s various snubs, omissions and general shortsightedness over what constitutes a truly great film, great direction, or great performance. When you look back at various lists of Greatest Films in cinema history, it’s shocking to discover that some of cinema’s greats, not only didn’t win an Oscar, but were not even nominated, Vertigo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Singin’ in the Rain, considered by some to be some of the best in their respective genres didn’t make the list of nominees. It makes you wonder which of today’s non-nominated movies with be tomorrow’s great films.

So without further ado, here are John David and Ari’s top ten most shocking Oscar omissions over the past 88 years.

John David West’s List

1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

SinginInTheRain3Considered by many as the greatest movie musical that cinema has produced and, after recently watching this 1952 classic in the theater, it’s no surprise that AFI ranks it as the #5 Greatest American Film in their 2007 list. It holds up beautifully today. Singin’ ranks as the pinnacle of the MGM musicals with all elements in perfect balance including: direction, cinematography, dancing, and acting, and design; its still laugh-out-loud hilarious among today’s cynical audiences. In a year that gave the Oscar to The Greatest Show on Earth and nomination to Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man, and High Noon, the latter a deserving nominee, Singin’ in the Rain received only one nomination, a supporting actress for Jean Hagen. Rather, it should have been a clean sweep with nominations for Director (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen), Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Best Picture, Screenplay, and Best Picture.

2. Psycho (1960)

psycho 1Not only a horror, thriller classic, it’s an excellent ground breaking film, one of Hitchcock’s best. Psycho entered the zeitgeist of American culture and change how we view taking a shower. One doesn’t have to see Psycho to be familiar with the infamous shower scene or Bernard Herrmann’s shrieking violins. I may be cheating by slipping in another one, but Anthony Perkins’ performance as the serial killer, with mommy issues, Norman Bates is another notable omission for Best Actor nominee list.

3. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the thing 5Still one of the biggest controversial omissions in recent Oscar history and Spike Lee’s career best movie was snubbed in favor of the safer, family friendly Driving Miss Daisy, which won the Best Picture Oscar. Watch Do the Right Thing today, and it’s clear how wrong the Academy was in 1989. Lee, who also failed to receive a Best Director nomination, created a superb film with rhythmic dialogue, sharp wit, cinematography that makes you sweat, and in-your-face score. He captures the racial tensions of 1989 America that are, sadly, relevant today.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001 Space OdysseyIt’s shocking to know that as one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, Stanley Kubrick never won an Academy Award. While he was nominated for directing 2001: A Space Odyssey, the sci-fi masterpiece was not nominated for Best Picture. The Academy chose the traditional route, as they so often do, and went with the more accessible Oliver!, Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel, Rachel, and Romeo and Juliet.

5. The Third Man (1949)

the-third-man 1The Third Man stands today as one of cinema’s most glorious black and white movies, and Robert Krasker was awarded an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Despite a nomination for director Carol Reed, the film failed to receive a Best Picture nomination. The post World War II thriller was left off the list for Best Picture in favor of Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, and King Solomon’s Mines. Nominated for 14 Oscars, All About Eve won Best Picture that year.

6. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo 1Ranked in 2012 as the greatest film ever made, Vertigo knocked Citizen Kane off of the top spot by “Sight & Sound Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time.” Vertigo failed to receive a Best Picture nomination or a Best Director nomination for Alfred Hitchcock. With its emotionally complex themes, dreamy tone, the mystifying Vertigo has proven with time to age well and grow in appreciation among film lovers. With such consistent height praise it’s hard to believe that it was left off of 1958’s Oscar ballot.

7. City of God (2004)

City of God 4City of God wasn’t completely forgotten in 2004, as the Brazilian masterpiece garnered four Oscar nominations including Best Director (Fernando Meirelles), Best Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Cinematography, but it was oddly left off of the short list for Best Foreign Language film. Beyond that City of God should have been listed among the five nominees for Best Picture. That year nominees included a couple forgettable movies including Mystic River and Seabiscuit (!) 2004 was a big year for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with 11 Oscars.

8. Steven Spielberg for directing Jaws (1975)

Jaws 3It’s true, Spielberg was snubbed for the movie that entered the zeitgeist of America and changed how we experience swimming on the beach. But, let me be clear, he shouldn’t have been nominated for making an unforgettable film, or for making the movie that ushered in the Blockbuster, but rather for making a well-crafted film. It’s well acted with strong performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw (who should have been nominated as well), additionally, movies would not be the same today without one of cinemas most recognizable film scores. John Williams took home his second of five Oscars for Jaws.

9. City Lights (1931)

city-lights 1Charles Chaplin may have been considered behind the times when he released his masterpiece City Lights in 1931, after all the “talkies” were the rage and his silent movie was from a fading time. Cimarron won the Best Picture that year, but City Lights remains a timeless classic.

10. Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage (1934)

Bette Davis 1It’s her performance as the cruel waitress in Of Human Bondage that remains as one of Miss Davis’ most unforgettable and deserving Oscar nominations—and the first of many memorable Davis’ lines, “wipe my mouth.” Academy voters somehow didn’t see fit to honor her with the year’s Best Actress Oscar or a nomination, so many outraged members wrote in her name instead of voting among the nominees. That year Claudette Colbert won (along with Best Actor costar Clark Gable) for It Happened One Night. Next year Davis won (a consolation Oscar?) for her work in Dangerous.

11. Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierre Madre (1948)

Bogart 4It’s hard to believe that one of cinema’s most beloved actors wasn’t nominated for some of his most iconic performances including The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, but it’s his performance as the down and out American in Mexico who, upon finding gold with his partners, become increasingly paranoid and mistrustful. The Treasure of the Sierre Madre remains one of his best performances. While the film won Oscars for both John Huston as Director and his father Walter Huston for Best Supporting Actor, Bogart was left off the nomination list. Lawrence Olivier took home the trophy that year for work in that year’s Best Picture winner Hamlet. As a consolation prize for his work three years earlier Bogart would later win a Best Actor award for The African Queen in 1951. That year the Oscar should have gone to Marl0n Brando for A Streetcar Named Desire.

Ari Ansbro’s List

1. Best Actor: Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips (2013)

Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips

Most of the entries on this list are for films that were made long before I was born.  Perhaps that is why this one stings so much.  Two years ago, Tom Hanks was primed to get his sixth Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips, the real-life captain whose cargo ship was taken over by Somali pirates.  Throughout the entire film, Hanks shows both a strength and vulnerability that this man exhibited through the five most frightening days of his life.  This is clearly shown during the final scene of the film in which a wordless Phillips is examined by a Navy doctor.  For this scene alone, Hanks deserved a nomination. Watch it here.  Seriously. I personally feel that the reason for the lack of love for Hanks boiled down to two things: 1.) the feeling that he can play a heroic everyman like a pro, so why give him more accolades for that, and 2.) the Academy was in the process of showing David O. Russell how much they love him by nominating the four main actors in American Hustle for Oscars.  This included Christian Bale, who was not as deserving as Hanks. 

2. Best Actor: Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960)

Anthony Perkins - PsychoSPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen Psycho do not read skip on to the next entry.  I realize this is a 55 year old movie, but it still has one of the most amazing endings of all time and I would never want to spoil that for anyone.
Anthony Perkins was nominated for one Academy Award in his entire career.  That was for playing the son in a Quaker family who still feels that he must fight in the American Civil War in The Friendly Persuasion.  However, most of you reading that last sentence are amazed that his nomination was for a mostly forgotten movie, and not for his career-defining role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  Perkins enters the film as a sweet and vulnerable doormat, eager to help the stranded Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, who did receive an Oscar nomination for her role).  He then morphs into an emotionally stunted “Mama’s boy” who needs saving from his wicked mother.   Next he is the accomplice to his mother’s horrific crime.  The audience finds themselves worried for Norman as he sinks Marion’s car (with her body in the trunk) into a swamp behind his house.  When it is finally revealed that Norman’s fractured psyche had been disassociating and becoming “Mother”, the audience is shocked.  We then feel a bit complicit, since we had such sympathy for this young man, caught under his mother’s thumb.  How was this complex interpretation not nominated for an Oscar?  Click here to see what should have been his Oscar clip.

3. Best Actress: Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady (1964)

Warner Brothers bought the rights to the hugely popular stage musical My Fair Lady, they signed Rex Harrison to reprise his role as Professor Henry Higgins. Producer Jack Warner was not keen to also cast then unknown Julie Andrews to reprise her role as Eliza Doolittle. Instead, Warner cast Audrey Hepburn. For a woman who made a career of playing well-groomed, alluring characters, this was a departure for Hepburn. Determined to do justice to the part, Hepburn worked tirelessly to learn the songs and sing as best she could. Unfortunately, the studio was unimpressed and had her singing voiced dubbed with that of Marni Nixon. This information was leaked to the press and the movie was slammed for not having cast Andrews, a singer, and instead casting an established star. What is very much forgotten is that Hepburn is excellent in this role. Her transformation from Cockney flower girl to a well-spoken lady is truly spectacular. However, the Academy, in its infinite wisdom, punished Hepburn by not nominating her for this role. To add insult to injury, Julie Andrews was nominated and won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Mary Poppins. See the a clip of the film here.

4. Best Actress: Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage (1934)

Bette Davis - Of HumanBy 1934 Bette Davis had been in dozens of films, but Of Human Bondage is the first one where she commanded the screen.  Playing the truly horrid waitress Mildred Rogers, she is disdainful of a young medical student with a club foot who has fallen in love with her (Leslie Howard).  Davis is truly vile in this role, but her performance also has an undercurrent of vulnerability.  When the Academy Award nominations were announced for 1934, surprisingly, Davis was not listed among the honorees. Voters were so incensed that they wrote her name on the ballot in protest.  Even without being officially nominated, Davis came in third, after Claudette Colbert for It Happened One Night and Norma Shearer for The Barretts of Wimpole Street.  This “scandal” led to the tradition of having the votes secretly counted by PriceWaterhouse Cooper.  The following year, Davis was given a consolation Oscar for her role in Dangerous.  Watch Bette Davis deliver the film’s most memorable line.

5. Best Actor: Cary Grant, His Girl Friday (1940)

Cary Grant - His Girl FridayIt has been said that it is much harder for an actor to play a comedic role than a dramatic one.  Regardless, the Academy consistently overlooks comedic performances when nominating actors and films each year.  A great example of this ridiculous habit is the lack of Oscar love for Cary Grant.  Grant received only two Academy Award nominations in his 30+ year career, which is outrageous.  Grant was a fantastic actor who made it look easy.  Because it looked easy, the Academy assumed it must have been.  One of Grant’s most pitch-perfect performances is as the newspaper editor Walter Burns in Howard Hawkes’ His Girl Friday.  Perfectly teamed with Rosalind Russell, Grant expertly fires off quips and charms his ex-wife (Russell) while trying to save an innocent man from being executed.  Knowing how good both Grant and Russell were at improvisation, Hawks purposely kept their rehearsals to a minimum to encourage improvisation.  It pays off.  Grant is at his best in a role like this.  Too bad the Academy didn’t notice. Click here to see Grant spar with Russell.

6. Best Actor: Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine (2010)

Ryan Gosling - ValentineRyan Gosling and Michelle Williams stared in this depressing story of a married couple whose marriage is falling apart.  The present day portion of the story takes place during one evening, where Williams and Gosling decide if their marriage is worth saving.  This is interspersed with flashbacks to the beginning of the relationship, showing how far they have come and how different they are.  Williams, deservedly, was nominated for her role in this film.  For some reason that I may never understand, Gosling was not.  Gosling perfectly embodies the suave young guy who wants to impress a girl, as well as the aging worn out father trying to save his marriage.  Gosling was passed over in favor of Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), and James Franco (127 Hours).  To me, the weak link in this category was James Franco. Ryan Gosling was much better and more deserving.  Yup, I said it. You can watch the sweetest scene from this movie here.

7. Best Supporting Actor: Robert Walker, Strangers on a Train (1951)

Robert Walker - StrangersStrangers on a Train is the classic story of two men, Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) and Guy Haines (Farley Granger), meeting by chance, and during their initial conversation Bruno suggests that they swap murders.  Bruno will kill Guy’s estranged wife who is refusing to divorce him, and Guy will kill Bruno’s overbearing father so Bruno can inherit his fortune. Even though Guy does not actually agree to anything, Bruno takes it upon himself to murder Guy’s wife.  Robert Walker is so good at playing the sociopath in this film, that it is hard to realize that he ever played a sweet, romantic lead (see The Clock and Since You Went Away).  The sing-song voice that he uses as he taunts Guy with veiled threats, the fact that every calculated move he makes is traps the other characters so completely make for one of the best villains in the annals of film.  How was this man not nominated for this role?  As you can see by now, Alfred Hitchcock’s films were ignored in a huge way by the Academy.  This was partially because he saw the genius of television and started his own show.  The film industry felt, at the time, that television was a lesser medium, and that anyone who worked on TV was obviously not worthy of notice.  Sadly, for Walker, this was his last chance to be nominated for an Academy Award.  He died eight months after the release of the film due to an allergic reaction to medication.   Click here to see Walker lay out his murderous plan.

8. Best Actress: Carole Lombard, To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Carole Lombard - To beCarole Lombard did not start out in Hollywood as a comedienne.  As a matter of fact, she was in Hollywood a full ten years before she was given a comedic role.  Once she had it, she and everyone else knew it was what she was meant to be.  At 33, with her career in need of a jump start, Lombard starred in the very edgy (for the time) Ernst Lubitch film, To Be or Not to Be, costarring Jack Benny.  Lombard plays a stage actress in Warsaw, Poland in early 1938.  She and her husband, Jack Benny, are staring in a play that is satirizing the Nazi regime.  Even though this film was a show piece for Benny, Lombard skillfully brings her earnest comedic skill to the roll of the “straight man”.  Sadly, that year Lombard was not honored with a nomination, as there were other “important” war films to be honored, such as Mrs. Miniver.  She would never have another opportunity to earn a nomination, as she was killed returning home from a war bond promotional tour in a plane crash prior to the film’s release.   Watch Lombard go toe-to-toe with Benny in this scene.  Lombard enters at 3:48.

9. Best Director: Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Reiner - When Harry Met SallyA satisfying romantic comedy can be an elusive thing.  There are many romantic comedies that try too hard and fall too deep into clichés to be satisfying.  When that rare romcom comes along that works on every level, it should be treasured.  When Harry Met Sally… came along in 1989, it immediately became a hit for all of the reasons I mentioned above.  Rob Reiner directed the story of a man and woman who become friends before falling in love.  Even though the film stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the third star is the city of New York.  Every exterior scene is shot in such a way that it makes New York look like the perfect city to fall in love.  This is an extreme feat considering it was filmed during a time when the city was extremely crime ridden with over 1,000 murders that year.  For all of this, Rob Reiner should have received some recognition by the Academy for directing this world and these people who were so relatable, regardless of their neuroses. Unfortunately, the only nomination the film received was for Nora Ephron’s hilarious script.    Watch the most famous scene from the movie, which was filmed in Katz’s Deli here.

10. Best Picture: Rear Window (1954)

Rear WindowFor most fans of Alfred Hitchcock, the omission of Vertigo by the Academy is blasphemy. I am not one of those fans. For some reason Vertigo rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I have watched it numerous times and even paid to see it at BAM a few years ago, but I fear that the love for it is overhyped. For me, Hitchcock’s Rear Window is the real masterpiece. Filmed on one set, the audience becomes an accomplice of Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair bound voyeristic protagonist. Whenever we see what is going on outside of the window, it is done specifically from Stewart’s point of view. Did the salesman murder his wife in the middle of the night? We know only as much as Stewart. This is the genius of this film. Hitchcock was, deservedly, nominated for Best Director for his work on this film, (don’t get me started on the fact that he lost, even if it was to Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront) but the film itself was should have been nominated for Best Picture. Period. End of story. See a scene from the film by clicking here.

11. Best Picture: Notorious (1946)

NotoriousAlfred Hitchcock was a true master, not just the master of suspense.  Now, I do realize that on my list alone, there are four entries about how some aspect of an Alfred Hitchcock film was snubbed by the Academy.  However, many of his films from 1938 to 1963 are today considered classics that were not given their due.  Therefore, I close my list with one of the sexiest thrillers to be made during the Hayes Code era, Notorious.  This is the story of the daughter of a Nazi spy who is recruited by, what would eventually become the CIA, to infiltrate a fascist spy ring in South America.  Ingrid Bergman smolders as Alicia, the newly recruited spy.  Her handler is played by an equally tempting Cary Grant.  As you probably guessed, they fall in love, but when Bergman is encouraged to marry their target, played by Claude Raines, their affair comes to an end.  Grant and Bergman continue to work together, creating a suspicious and dangerous Raines.  Everything about this film is spectacular, from the technical to the artistic.  Isn’t that what is supposed to define a Best Picture (and Best Director) nominee?  Hitchcock did his best to get around the Hayes code’s strict edict that no on screen kiss could last longer than two seconds.  Want to see how Hitchcock made a 2:40 second kiss?  Click here.

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MoviefiedNYC’s Thowback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a day to reflect. A day where we can look back to the golden years of Hollywood, the funky flicks of the 70s, and the post-mod movies of the 90s so as to revel in our nostalgia. Today we look back to some of the greatest movies ever made…and the brutal remakes that came after. Here are our fast five most unnecessary remakes:

Please stop, just stop.

1. Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius. He shocked the cinematic world by flipping Hollywood’s classical narrative on its head, he created one of the greatest thrillers of all time and he produced a shock ending that still has people talking. So what in the world would possess Gus Van Sant to re-make it, in color, with Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates? This disastrous remake deservedly won both the 1999 Razzie for ‘Worst Remake or Sequel’ and ‘Worst Director’, it was even was nominated for ‘Worst Actress’ for Anne Heche’s portrayal of Marion Crane; Janet Leigh she is not. When asked “Why in the hell would you want to do a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho in color?” Van Sant replied“So no one else would have to.” Later, he went on to explain that the Psycho experiment’s purpose was to show that one director holding a camera is completely different to another, even if they are shooting the same character in the same place. As Van Sant said “Our Psycho showed that you can’t really appropriate. Or you can appropriate but it’s not going to be the same thing.” We couldn’t agree more.

Perfection

2. Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden lit up the big screen with class and character; they were true Hollywood stars whose very names instantly evoke a sense of glamor and beauty, a reminder of a golden age that has since passed. Under the careful guidance of Billy Wilder, these actors made Sabrina an Oscar winning classic.

Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear are fantastic actors, they are warm and relatable and very entertaining, but compare them to breathtaking, old Hollywood stars and they will fall short. Julia Ormond could have given the performance of her life but it was never going to be that of Audrey Hepburn. No one can match Audrey Hepburn. The remake will always be held up against the original, meaning that it never really had a chance. Wilder’s version is so infused with Bogart’s rough charm, Hepburn’s doe eyes and Holden’s charming smile that there was no way for Sydney Pollack to successfully remake it. He gave it a good try and even Roger Ebert appreciated the attempt, but to remake a classic and expect better results is just down right foolhardy.

American v British humor

3. Death at a Funeral

In 2007, Frank Oz directed a fantastically dry, British comedy that’s cast included Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, and Kris Marshall. It centers around the funeral of a man who has been leading two lives; one that his family knows about, and one that they will discover on the day of his funeral. This film finds humor in the darkest of places, including the coffin. In fact, one of the most memorable scenes takes place when Daniel opens his father’s casket to say his goodbyes, the camera follows his gaze and the audience waits for a reaction, perhaps even a glistening tear. Instead, he informs the funeral workers that they’ve brought the wrong body. This moment is played to perfection as the audience try desperatley to resist laughing at such a terrible mistake but fail miserably. The film is about laughing at the improper moment, finding humor in the dark and learning to have a macabre sense of humor.

Unfortunately, in 2010 Neil LaBute decided it was necessary to remake the film in a more slapstick American fashion. The same scene takes place, this time with Chris Rock as the son in mourning, and an old Asian man as the mistaken body. The joke becomes obvious, unfunny and totally missing the point, much like the rest of the film.

Carpenter v Zombie

4. Halloween

This 1978 classic has horrified, spooked and scared generations of horror fans. The character of Laurie shot Jamie Lee Curtis into stardom as the final girl trying to survive the terrifying pursuit of Michael Myers. John Carpenter soon became a film lover’s dream as he created shots that combined sex, blood and phallic symbolism – the horror movie staples.

In 2007 Rob Zombie directed the Halloween remake, a film that was truly terrifying for all the wrong reasons. Scout Taylor-Compton plays the final girl, who by the end of the film, we are hoping will actually die at the hands of Myers. While Curtis played the role of victim with a kind of determination that the audience cheered for, Compton whines and dithers her way through survival. I was hoping that a horror remake would include a more modernized look at the female role; perhaps Laurie could be more monster hunter than final girl. Sadly, this is not the case. Unsurprisingly, the film fails to live up to the name of the original and ultimately Carpenter trumps Zombie.

Bacon always wins.

5. Footloose

Movies from the 80s just have something about them; a kind of childish innocence mixed with adolescent woes and adult tragedy. Footloose deals with oppression, depression and repression all to the soundtrack of Kenny Loggins with the tagline: ‘One kid. One town. Once chance.’ Awesome.

A fresh faced Kevin Bacon sets out to fight the religious repression of a small mid-Western town through the power of dance. This street wise kid has moved from the big city to a place where dancing has been deemed untrustworthy and rock and roll is the music of the devil. With the support of Ariel, the troubled preacher’s daughter, Ren rallies his classmates together in support of a senior-prom. Their only obstacle is Ariel’s father, Revered Shaw Moore, who considers music and dance to be a recipe for disaster. Ren comes of age as he falls for Ariel, gains purpose in his new town, and dances like he’s in an MTV music video. Let’s hear it for the boy.

2011 dance movies do not have the charming innocence of the 80s. They tend to be flashy, pompous and generally unnecessary. It was hard to believe that dancing was banned in a town, no matter how small or religious, in the 80s but in 2011? The whole premise of the film seems off, the substance is lacking and the acting just isn’t up to scratch. Yes, Kenny Wormaid and Julianna Hough can dance, but this isn’t Step-Up 17, this is an anguish filled fight against authority, that just happens to take form through some nifty dance moves. All in all, another completely unnecessary remake.

Love remakes? Hate them? Let us know! Tweet us at @moviefiednyc #TBT

-Sínann Fetherston

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MoviefiedNYC’s Tuesday Tunes

Music and movies have always gone hand in hand. Whether it be a pivotal scene, an opening credit or an explosive ending, the two almost always work simultaneously to get the best reaction from an audience. How tragic is a scene without a heartbreaking melody to accompany it? How in love are two characters without a romantic track playing around them? Songs can lift a scene up and break characters down, it can create anticipation and even true fear. Films like The Exorcist, Jaws, and Psycho have some of the most intense and terrifying scores that provoke true fear and anxiety from its viewers.

Music can without doubt enhance a scene, but sometimes the tables turn and its is the film being overshadowed by its songs. After seeing 500 Days of Summer, for example, the first words out of everyones mouth were “I can’t wait to get the soundtrack”. The same thing happened with Drive, an excellent movie all round, but the first thing everyone did after seeing it was download Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’. The truth is, a song can become famous from the right movie and vice versa. Would The Bodyguard have been quite as tragic without Whitney Houston’s rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’? Would Trainspotting have kept its preppy dark humor without the help of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’? I truly can’t imagine some movies without their allotted soundtracks just as I can’t imagine finding some songs as appealing without their connection to a particular scene.

The Breakfast Club for example, when I think of this film I have visions of 80s fashion, dancing in libraries, skidding down hallways, and a triumphant fist being thrown into the air. All of this, of course, to the sound of Simple Mind’s ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’. The song evokes a feeling of joy and fulfillment that can only be found within a John Hughes movie. Would the song give me such cheesy happiness without its connection to Bender? I think not. Like any good 80s movie the songs, much like the fashion, are essential to the character’s development and ultimately the film’s success.

Quentin Tarantino is famous for his music choices as he likes to pair light pop songs to some of his most lethal scenes. Whether it be The 5678’s singing “Woo Hoo” before an almightily slaughter occurs between The Bride and The Crazy 88 in Kill Bill, or my personal favorite The Steve Miller Band’s ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ playing over a horrific torture scene in Reservoir Dogs. The songs upbeat tempo turns from cheerful to sadistic as Mr. Blonde sings and twirls his away around the victim’s chair before slicing an ear off. A cheerfully gruesome scene if there ever was one.

From sadistic to humorous we go to the wonderful world of Queen, a band that have provided songs for some of the most memorable scenes in cinema. In the fantastic Sean of the Dead, Simon Pegg and his apocalypse surviving friends attack a zombie with pool cues to the beat of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. At this moment, I cannot really think of more comic genius. While in Wayne’s World, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is honored by a car of head-banging rockers in one of the finest opening scenes I’ve seen to date. Queen are one of the most famous bands in the world, their songs need no further promotion but no matter how hard I try I can’t help but envision myself head banging along with Mike Myers every time I hear that song!

As I mentioned before, music and movies are thoroughly entwined, just as they should be. They enhance one another in an effortless way, going hand in hand to make a scene or a song more memorable and meaningful to its audience. Agree? Disagree? Have some of your own music/movie choices? Tweet them to @moviefiednyc #TuesdayTunes.

To see some of the above mentioned songs in action check out our Youtube playlist!


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Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew His Lamps*

 
Alfred Hitchcock

When you think of the films of Alfred Hitchcock many things likely come to mind: murder, intrigue, and blondes–but what about lamps? Yes, lamps! Hitchcock’s light sources are not only ingenious compositional framing devices, but also vital visual clues that someone or something significant is about to be revealed.

 
A lamp in the foreground is blurred, yet sheds some revealing light in the final scene of Notorious (1946). When Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) fails to meet Devlin (Cary Grant) for their secret rendezvous, Devlin goes to check on her at Sebastian’s (Claude Rains) Brazilian home. As he enters Alicia’s bedroom, a large lit ceramic lamp on the bedside table takes up a third of the frame. The shot occurs just moments before he discovers that Alicia is being poisoned and he confesses his love for her. 
Anthony Dawson,Ray Milland, Dial M For Murder 

In the 1954, 3-D thriller, Dial M For Murder, you can see Hitchcock’s love affair with lamps (and Grace Kelly)! That said, if you don’t get to see the 3-D version, even in two dimensions it’s obvious that Hitchcock is using lamps in a very deliberate way. In a London flat (where almost the entire film is shot) Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) blackmails his former schoolmate (Anthony Dawson) into committing the “perfect murder.” The celadon lamps (one of which is awkwardly placed at the end of a sofa table in the middle of the room) bisect, anchor and illuminate the actors as this sinister and layered plot unfolds.

In Rear Window (1954), mere seconds after we meet Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly) in an unforgettable close-up of her kiss with Jeff (Jimmy Stewart), he playfully asks her “Who are you?”  She elegantly yet methodically sashays from pendant lamp to table lamp to table lamp, and coolly responds as she turns each one on “Lisa, Carol, Freemont”.   Here begins the unveiling of a girl, who at first appears to be the polar opposite of Jeff, someone he tries to push away because of their differences, until he ultimately discovers she is much more than meets the eye, and realizes his love for her.
Grace Kelly, Rear Window
 
Cary Grant, To Catch a Thief

In To Catch a Thief (1955), a desk lamp is nearly as visually prominent as Cary Grant’s character, John Robie, as he seeks refuge from the police in the office of Bertani’s restaurant. The dark green and brass double adjustable desk lamp is almost impossible to ignore, as Robie’s checkered past is unveiled. The lamp makes its way into almost every shot with Cary Grant, getting nearly equal screen time.

 
Jimmy Steward, The Man who Knew too Much

In the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew too Much, Dr. Ben McKenna (Jimmy Stewart) goes to London to find Ambrose Chappell, whom he believes knows the whereabouts of his kidnapped son. At the very moment that he realizes he has the wrong Ambrose Chappell (and is about to be beaten up for the accusation) a hanging lamp is at the very center of the frame.

You can find lamps (or various types of light source) illuminating and enhancing the drama in almost every Hitchcock classic. Clockwise from top left: Marnie (1964), Topaz (1969), Dial M For Murder (1954), The Birds (1963), Torn Curtain (1966), The Birds, Frenzy (1972), and Rebecca (1940).
 
Martin Landau, James Mason, North by Northwest
 
In North by Northwest (1959), Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) has been kidnapped (seemingly for no reason) and brought at gunpoint to a library of a country estate where he awaits his fate. The striking Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) enters and interrogates Roger (whom he thinks is George Caplan) as he turns on not one but two oversized Chinese lamps as the film’s plot is revealed, that this is a case of mistaken identity. These brightened lamps are also used to frame the actors, as are the ones in the later scenes, namely in Eve Kendall’s (Eva Marie Saint) Chicago hotel room, and in the North Dakota cliff house, as more and more is brought to light, so to speak.

Kim Novak, Jimmy Stewart, Vertigo

While technically not a lamp, in Vertigo (1958), Hitchcock uses a green neon sign outside the Empire Hotel where Judy (Kim Novak) lives. As if it were a magician’s cabinet, the neon’s eerie glow creates a blurry green shroud for Judy to emerge from as Madeleine. It is the big visual reveal in the film, as Bernard Hermann’s music swells to its most memorable crescendo and we see just how far Judy will go to please the man she loves. 

 
Psycho

Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho (1960), keeps us in the dark for much of the movie (further emphasized by being filmed in black and white). Hitchcock holds us in suspense partly by keeping the light-bulb moment (pardon the expression) a secret, until the chilling and climactic scene where Lila Crane (Vera Miles) enters the fruit cellar of the Bates House. Here it is a hanging single bare light bulb that illuminates Anthony Perkins’ dark secret. As Lila descends the stairs into the basement, the exposed bulb (at times) takes up a fifth of the shot, illuminating an old woman in a rocker facing away from view. Spoiler alert! Lila approaches the old woman and slowly turns the chair toward us, as the cold, harsh light, leaving nothing to the imagination, shines upon the dried up corpse of Mrs. Bates. In horror, Lila reels back, hitting the light with her hand, causing it swing like a pendulum, creating moving, creepy shadows over the shriveled carcass.

 
Grace Kelly,  John Williams, “a lamp,” Jessie Royce Landis, Cary Grant
As with Jimmy Stewart, national monuments, and Bernard Hermann, when Hitchcock liked something he wasn’t afraid to use it again and again, and lamps it seems were a true fascination for the master filmmaker. Maybe next time when you’re watching a Hitchcock flick you’ll find yourself ogling the lamps instead of Cary Grant or Grace Kelly (though I doubt it).
 
–Glenn David Bassett

*Not to be confused with Robert Hitchcock’s kerosene lamps first designed in the 1860’s.


Glenn David Bassett is a musical theatre lyricist as well as an artist and set designer. He is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and a proud member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Advanced Workshop. At The Players Theatre in NYC, Glenn recently directed and co-wrote with composer Adam Cohen, The Blue Aspic, a musical based on Edward Gorey’s story of the same name. He and Mr. Cohen are currently writing an original musical with playwright Suzanne Bradbeer.  Glenn is also currently designing a set for an upcoming production of Six Women with Brain Death for The Little Village Playhouse in Pleasantville, NY.


 

Don’t miss…
 
 
MARCH 7
 
click here for tickets: Chelsea Clearview Cinemas

 

 
 
 

 

 

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Gifts for the Movie Lover or Myrna & David’s Letter to Santa

MoviefiedNYC’s guide to finding a cool gift for the movie lover on your list. 

Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection

The World of Bond – the 007 films have a look, style and attitude that is signature Bond. From the cars, to the women, to the villains and even the music, Bond films stand apart. The World of Bond takes the viewer through the best of five decades worth of classic James Bond in one thrilling montage.  

The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time

In time for the fifteenth anniversary of The Big Lebowski, film author and curator Jenny M. Jones tells the full story of the Dude, from how the Coen brothers came up with the idea for a modern LA noir to never-been-told anecdotes about the film’s production, its critical and commercial reception, and, finally, how it came to be such an international cult hit.


The movie that inspired filmmakers to direct is like the atomic bomb that went off before their eyes. The Film That Changed My Life captures that epiphany. It explores 30 directors’ love of a film they saw at a particularly formative moment, how it influenced their own works, and how it made them think differently. In this volume, directors as diverse as John Woo, Peter Bogdanovich, Michel Gondry, and Kevin Smith examine classic movies that inspired them to tell stories. Here are 30 inspired and inspiring discussions of classic films that shaped the careers of today’s directors and, in turn, cinema history. 

Universal 100th Anniversary Collection (Blu-ray)

The Universal 100th Anniversary Collection features a selection of 25 unforgettable films that helped shape the legacy of one of the most successful movie studios of all time. Featuring Academy Award winners such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Sting, genre-defining classics like Dracula and Spartacus, captivating storytelling such as Field of Dreams and Do the Right Thing, blockbusters like Jurassic Park and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and pure entertainment with franchises including The Bourne Identity and The Fast and the Furious.


AMC Theaters Gift Card
Help your friends’ and loved ones’ favorite movie stars come to them, by giving them the gift of entertainment – AMC® Gift Cards! AMC Gift Cards are good for both movies and concessions and are reloadable at any theatre in the United States. Even better, AMC Gift Cards do not have any associated fees or expiration dates so your gift spans the test of time. 

Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection 

(Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

Universally recognized as the Master of Suspense, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and unforgettable classics. Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career including PsychoThe BirdsRear WindowVertigoNorth by Northwest and many more. 

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