This is an index of the Movies of the Year posts I made between 2005 and 2008. I managed to cover from 1946-the present before totally losing momentum. Most of them are pretty awful, actually.
1946 Nov 18, 2008
1947 Aug 25, 2008
1948 Aug 06, 2008
1949 June 25, 2008
1950 June 05, 2008
1951 Jan 24, 2008
1952 Sep 26, 2007
1953 June 13, 2007
1954 Apr 12, 2007
1955 Jan 20, 2007
1956 Dec 21, 2006
1957 Oct 25, 2006
1958 Oct 04, 2006
1959 Sep 27, 2006
1960 Sep 04, 2006
1961 July 26, 2006
1962 July 26, 2006
1963 July 19, 2006
1964 June 13, 2006
1965 May 17, 2006
1966 Apr 23, 2006
1967 Apr 02, 2006
1968 Mar 22, 2006
1969 Mar 19, 2006
1970 Mar 15, 2006
1971 Mar 15, 2006
1972 Mar 03, 2006
1973 Mar 01, 2006
1974 Feb 10, 2006
1975 Feb 08, 2006
1976 Aug 31, 2005
1977 Aug 31, 2005
1978 Sep 01, 2005
1979 Sep 02, 2005
1980 Sep 02, 2005
1981 Sep 04, 2005
1982 Sep 12, 2005
1983 Sep 17, 2005
1984 Sep 18, 2005
1985 Sep 24, 2005
1986 Sep 25, 2005
1987 Oct 01, 2005
1988 Oct 05, 2005
1989 Oct 09, 2005
1990 Oct 16, 2005
1991 Oct 29, 2005
1992 Oct 30, 2005
1993 Nov 02, 2005
1994 Nov 06, 2005
1995 Nov 11, 2005
1996 Nov 16, 2005
1997 Nov 21, 2005
1998 Dec 07, 2005
1999 Dec 11, 2005
2000 Dec 15, 2005
2001 Jan 15, 2006
2002 Jan 25, 2006
2003 Jan 27, 2006
2004 Feb 07, 2006
2005 Feb 08, 2006
2006 (part one) Jan 14, 2007
2006 (part two) Dec 31, 2006
2007 (part one) Jan 07, 2008
2007 (part two) Jan 16, 2008
2008 (part one) Dec 29, 2008
2008 (part two) Feb 03, 2009
2009 (part one) Mar 08, 2010
2009 (part two) Mar 07, 2010
2010 (part one) Dec 31, 2010
2010 (part two) Jan 05, 2011
2011 (part one) Dec 31, 2011
The End: The Big Sleep
Oscar: The Best Years Of Our Lives
The End: Howard Hawks, The Big Sleep
Oscar: William Wyler, The Best Years Of Our Lives
The End: Frederic March, The Best Years Of Our Lives
Oscar: Frederic March, The Best Years Of Our Lives
The End: Ingrid Bergman, Notorious
Oscar: Olivia de Haviland, To Each His Own
The End: Claude Rains, Notorious
Oscar: Harold Russell, The Best Years Of Our Lives
The End: Rita Hayworth, Gilda
Oscar: Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge
The End: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, A Matter Of Life And Death
Oscar: Muriel and Sydney Box, The Seventh Veil
The End: Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, The Big Sleep
Oscar: Robert Sherwood, The Best Years Of Our Lives
Foreign Language Film:
The End: Paisan
The End: Claude Ibéria, Beauty And The Beast
Oscar: Daniel mandell, The Best Years Of Our Lives
Black And White Cinematography:
The End: Gregg Toland, The Best Years Of Our Lives
Oscar: Arthur Miller, Anna And The King Of Siam
The End: Lee Garmes, Hal Rosson and Ray Rennahan, Duel In The Sun
Oscar: Charles Rosher, Leonard Smith and Arthur Arling, The Yearling
Black And White Art Direction:
The End: Beauty And The Beast
Oscar: Anna And The King Of Siam
The End: Duel In The Sun
Oscar: The Yearling
The End: Notorious
Oscar: The Jolson Story
The End: A Matter Of Life And Death
Oscar: Blithe Spirit
The End: Roy Webb, Notorious
Oscar: Hugo Friedhofer, The Best Years Of Our Lives
The End: “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, Allie Wrubel & Ray Gilbert, Song Of The South
Oscar: “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe”, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren, The Harvey Girls
19. A Night In Casablanca
18. The Postman Always Rings Twice
17. Song Of The South
16. Tomorrow Is Forever
14. The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers
13. Duel In The Sun
12. Green For Danger
11. Beauty And The Beast
10. The Stranger – Following the disaster that was The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles tried to reconcile himself to the studio system with this little film noir about a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small town. Not especially dissimilar to Alfred Hitchcock’s superior Shadow Of A Doubt, the film was a failure and is generally considered Welles’s worst as a director. I don’t think it’s all that bad, Welles gives a nice performance as the bad guy, and he makes the small town creepy enough. Edward G. Robinson costars, and he’s as great as he always is.
9. The Killers – Robert Siodmak’s noir adaptation of a Hemingway short story stars Burt Lancaster as The Swede (think Miller’s Crossing) a former prizefighter who gets rubbed out by the eponymous hitmen. Edmund O’Brien is an insurance investigator who tries to figure out who killed The Swede and why. His investigation takes him through a series of Kane-esque flashbacks where we learn the story of The Swede’s last few years, including his association with archetypal femme fatale Kitty Collins, played very well by Ava Gardner. The opening scene is a noir tour de force: a point of view shot of a car driving at night, chiaroscuro headlights leading to a small town diner, scary hitmen looking for their target. The sequence is so great the rest of the film unfortunately pales in comparison.
Another mediocre film noir, this one featuring a superstar-making performance by Rita Hayworth as the title object of desire. Much like in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight (#8, 1996), a young gambler is adopted by an older man and shown how to survive. This time it’s Glenn Ford who’s taken in by George Macready’s Buenos Aires casino owner and would-be tungsten magnate. Things fall apart, as they must, when a woman gets involved, Hayworth in this case, Macready’s new bride and Ford’s ex-girlfriend. There’s more than just a hint of a homosexual relationship between Ford and Macready that isn’t exactly minimize by the hostility with which Ford treats Hayworth throughout the entire run of the film. Even after Macready fakes his death and he and Hayworth get married, he proceeds to lock her up in an apartment to punish her for her mistreatment of his “friend”. Of course, they all live heterosexually ever after, but we know what’s really going on. Hayworth, by the way, is as advertised, especially in her famous striptease in which all she manages to remove is a single glove. But I think she looked better in The Lady From Shanghai.
I haven’t seen it since then, but the film’s dizzying sexual politics sicks in my memory enough that I wouldn’t dare call it “mediocre” now. Bizarre and fascinating is closer.
7. The Best Years Of Our Lives – I first saw this over a decade ago when I was trying to watch as many Best Picture winners as I could stand. I really didn’t like it then: too long, too dull, too obvious. I watched it again a month ago, though, and while I still think it’s a bit too much on the obvious side (the Harold Russell subplot in particular is awfully repetitive), there’s a lot more here to love than I remembered. The film is marvelously shot by director William Wyler and cinematographer Gregg Toland, with textbook examples of the benefits of staging in depth and deep focus photography (David Bordwell writes about a particularly fine example in On The History Of Film Style: a single shot bar scene with three different planes of action following three different plot threads simultaneously. Frederic March, Myrna Loy and Dana Andrews all give marvelous performances. March, in particular, is a revelation; I’ve always found him to be rather stiff and dull as an actor. But he plays a great drunk here, and brings more depth to his returning veteran than either Russell or Andrews can muster. I still think the film is a bit overrated. After the first third (the vets first night home) the momentum slows and stops dead every time Russell appears. But I can better understand now why it’s so beloved.
6. Paisan – Six-part Roberto Rossellini film about the conquest of Italy in World War II. Unusual for this type of film, I actually really like every section. Some great action and suspense sequences (the opening story in a castle, the story about a woman attempting to reach her husband) and very moving non-action sequences (the bonding between an African-American soldier and an orphan who steals his shoes, a priest a rabbi and a minister having dinner in a monastery). One of the better war movies of the era, it manages to capture the epic scope of the Italian campaign within its human-scale stories.
5. My Darling Clementine – John Ford’s classical counterpart to his 1939 film Stagecoach, together the two films that have defined the genre ever since (and provided the foundation for all the variations and subversions of the genre ever since). Henry Fonda plays Wyatt Earp in this story of the Gunfight At The OK Corral, but the film has very little to do with action and instead focuses more on community-building (a constant Ford obsession). It’s a long way from George P. Cosmatos’s 1993 film Tombstone, with its histrionic action movie cliches and overbearing score and pace.
4. Notorious – We just played this Alfred Hitchcock film as part of our Metro Classics series. And of course it is a great film, with Cary Grant pimping his girlfriend (Ingrid Bergman, in possibly her greatest performance) to the CIA in order to ensnare Nazi Claude Rains. But watching it in the theatre this time, what I noticed most were the closeups: there’s a delirious amounts of extreme closeups in this film, more than I can recall in any other Hitchcock film. They come in both one and two shots (the famous long kiss between Grant and Bergman almost becomes an abstraction along the lines of the opening shots of Hiroshima, mon amour). I don’t know if this is something unique in Hitchcock, or just something I’ve never noticed before, but it made a great film even more fun to watch.
3. A Matter Of Life And Death – David Niven’s bomber pilot dies in a crash moments after meeting Kim Hunter over the radio. But there’s a mishap and the angel in charge fails to pick him up and his soul doesn’t get picked up. Before the mistake can be noticed, Hunter and Niven are in love, and so they decide to argue in court with the Powers That Be that Niven should be allowed to stay alive. That, or Niven’s totally insane due to a severe brain injury. This is one of the finest of Powell & Pressburger films, witty, romantic and profound, with great performances from Niven, Hunter and Roger Livesy as the doctor who diagnoses Niven’s injury and also helps him plead his case. P & P cleverly film the real world in Technicolor and heaven in black and white (a reverse-Oz), and their conception of the afterlife as a bureaucracy has become commonplace (Defending Your Life, After-Life).
2. It’s A Wonderful Life – Speaking of the afterlife, we have Frank Capra’s holiday classic, perhaps the most depressing and disturbing film ever to become an American cliché. James Stewart plays a suicidal bank owner who’s lost all his money, can’t stand his family, and has been stuck in his podunk town for life despite the fact that all he ever really wanted to do was leave and go somewhere else. So he throws himself off a bridge only to be rescued by an obnoxious angel and be given a vision of an even more hellish world where he never existed. The lesson, as always, is that no matter how much it seems like life sucks, it could actually be even worse.
1. The Big Sleep – Howard Hawks’s Raymond Chandler adaptation is one of the strangest of films noir, partially because censorship rules prevented the writers from explaining large sections of the plot, partly because those writers (Leigh Brackett, William Faulkner and Jules Furthman) were more interested in the crackle and spark of their dialogue (and the sexiness with which their actors (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall) delivered it) than any mundane issues like plot or narrative coherence. This, wedded to Hawks’s classical, don’t let the camera get in the way visual style, combines to make one of the most verbally wild and visually restrained noirs: funnier than most screwball comedies and lighter in tone, despite its many murders, framings, perversions and tortures, than a noir-influenced film like It’s A Wonderful Life. This is where the film lives: at the intersection of two of film’s most perennially popular genres, both perfected in the 1940s.
Some interesting stuff on my Unseen Movies list from this year, but nothing I feel a really strong desire to see anytime soon:
The Harvey Girls
The Razor’s Edge
No Regrets For Our Youth
Diary Of A Chambermaid
Utamaro And His Women
From This Day Forward
The Blue Dahlia
The Road To Utopia
Till The Clouds Roll By
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.”
The House Next Door provides this fascinating reading of the Kill Bill movies as a Zen allegory by Michael K. Crowley. I rewatched the films yesterday, and his theory holds up pretty well, and makes me appreciate Vol. 2 more than I ever have before. I’ve always defended these films on pure love of cinema grounds, arguing that Tarantino’s movies are as pure an expression of cinephilia as anything in film. But it’s nice to think that there might be some larger purpose to them as well.
The one question I’d have, is that Crowley leaves out the one scene that has always bothered me in Vol. 2, Beatrix’s meeting with the aged pimp Esteban. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with her Zen quest, though it might play a part in a feminist reading of the film, as another example of an evil male/father figure for The Bride to defeat along with Bill, Buck and arguably Pai Mei (Hattori Hanzo being the only unambiguously positive male figure in the films). But Beatrix doesn’t actually do anything to stop Esteban’s cruelty to women. Either way, the scene really kills the film’s momentum leading up to the final confrontation with Bill. I really don’t know what purpose it’s supposed to serve.