Golden Age Of Hollywood Oscar-Bound With “Mank”

There is no way to watch Mank and not be lulled back in time with deep fondness and a true thrill to the era when Hollywood sizzled and stars dazzled. This year the clear favorite for Oscar’s Best Film is the one centered on Herman Mankiewicz as he works on the screenplay for what would become Orson Welles’ 1941 cinema classic “Citizen Kane.” And who does not adore that old movie?

Hollywood is, by its very nature, attuned to a grand film about itself–and make no mistake this one directed by David Fincher–is perfectly packaged for the voters of the Academy. But far more than a movie that brings to life the tone and temper of a by-gone era it is also a masterfully presented story of the creative juices of a writer pitted against the crafty needs and motives of a movie mogul. The story has tentacles throughout the industry.

What captured me from the outset with Mank was its similarity to Citizen Kane through the use of flashbacks to advance the compelling story. Then place the film into the context–with historical accuracy–of the conservatism of 1930s Hollywood. Add in black-and-white cinematography. Include musical scores that reverberated with cinematic memories of yesterdays. Simply put the film was made with such technological precision one would think it was a film from that era.

So with all that being said, what do we have?

First, we have a movie to love.

And secondly, a movie that will take home the Oscars.

The nominations for the Academy Awards were released Monday morning and I was most pleased to see Mank had 10 of them ranging from Best Film, Director, Cinematography, along with Gary Oldman for actor and Amanda Seyfried for supporting actress. Oldman is a for-sure winner…he was superb as Mankiewicz.

The golden age of Hollywood was often shown on television when I was a teenager. Weekend afternoons and Saturday nights I would be captivated by the action, the lively nature of the music, the daring stuntmen, and the ability of dancers to land perfectly as they commanded attention. So it is not hard to fathom why anyone who has such respect and fondness for such moments would not delight in Mank, a film that revisits Hollywood when it was King.

Take The Super Bowl, Give Me The Oscars!

This is the Sunday night event I look forward to each year, along with the Tony Awards.


There are many reasons to be excited about films this year and as many reasons to second guess any of your predictions.

One of the things that makes statistical analysis of the Oscars, and especially the best picture race, so difficult is that they completely changed the best picture field beginning with the awards handed out in 2010, doubling the number of nominees from five to ten. Two years later, they changed it again, so there would be between five and ten nominees, depending on nomination voting. While the purpose of the expanded field was originally understood to be a desire to recognize high-quality “popular” films and maybe boost TV ratings for the ceremony (The Dark Knight was the spurned film most often mentioned as a potential beneficiary), what’s happened certainly seems to be that smaller films have wiggled their way in. (That may be why there was a recent attempt to create a separate “best popular film” category — an idea that was quickly dumped.)

I am not backing away from betting on 1917 to make headlines tonight.  That is taking nothing away from Parasite, but the talk, mood, and movement are making the World War I film the one to reckon with tonight.


Academy Awards Show Best In Years

Sunday night’s Academy Awards show was one of the best in years.  I just knew–deep down–that the 90th Oscars would be done with class and style.  And I was not let down in any way from what I hoped for.

The simply amazing and numerous montages with powerful themes, the grandly produced musical numbers which competed with the Grammy’s for power and punch, the skilled comedy of Jimmy Kimmel, the stars of yesterday and today–it all made for a night of joy!

I had to laugh heartly when soon after the show started Kimmel quipped that “Black Panther” co-star Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya.   And then added, “Let the tweet storm from the president’s toilet begin!”    Then later Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani spent a moment supporting Dreamers–and who was not applauding at that!

I was very pleased–as a crazed fan of “The West Wing” that Allison Janney won an Oscar.   I had goose-bumps on my arm when Kimmel took  several movie stars across the street to an actual theater and walked in to an unsuspecting crowd—and let them be a live part of the show!  When Mark Hamill walks up and shakes your hand——-damn!

Two thumbs up for Gary Oldman winning Best Actor Oscar for playing Winston Churchill.  James and I loved the movie.  Loved the ‘texture’ of the way it was filmed–simply marvelous!

What a wonderful night for film.  Those of us who sit in darkened theaters or at home and fall in love with the grand showcasing of humanity never grow tired of the wonders from Hollywood.  May it always be so.

Oscars And Movie Magic In 2018

I still thrill to the movies that Hollywood makes each year.  I have always loved film, appreciated the talent it takes to write, act, produce, and direct.   Some moves make me smile, others cry, some make me think, and others are just pure fun to watch.

Though I have loved escaping with film since a teenager, I have noticed that over the past two years my need for escape has increased due to the chaos filled world of Election 2016 and the time which has passed since the inauguration.  Movies are a tonic for my soul.

At our home James and I watch films throughout the year.  We also sit back and enjoy the Academy Awards Show–this year being the 90th presentation.   There is a sense of wonder as the men in tuxes and women in designer gowns enter with grace and hope.

The Oscars are for more than just looking at the films of the past year but also are a vehicle for montages to again remind us of the magic that film continues to hold from decades past.  I trust there are some legends who show up and make the night come alive with memories.

The film I simply adored this year–Loving Vincent--is not a contender but it was superb in every sense of the word.  But there are so many others that strike an emotional cord that whoever wins the coveted awards it is safe to say they are well deserved.

So just a few hours until it is the night of Movie Magic!

Bruce, Movies, And Amazing Events

Bruce, a close friend of mine since our broadcasting days in 1982, observed decades ago that we were witnessing events that simply could not be made up.  From the impeachment process for President Bill Clinton to the many weeks of waiting for the legal gears to move in order to name an eventual presidential winner in 2000.   Almost every time we get together there is a verbal reminder about how much happens in the world that is just way out of the ordinary.

Last night as James and I were at the end of the Academy Awards show from Los Angles I blurted out “God, I wish Bruce was here!”  The simply unbelievable ending to the broadcast made me so very much aware, once again, that Bruce’s statement is still accurate.

For years Bruce and I met for films and would even come up with our own predictions for the Oscars. We even predicted how many hours the broadcast would air.  We were very into the Oscars!  We both loved the movies and the way they made social statements or simply carried the viewer into another place for a couple of hours.   The years have passed and I make more political predictions than ones for the movies, and Bruce spends time with his musical group.  But our love of movies remain.  That will be one thing that never changes–even though the world seems to offer up plenty of the most amazing events.

Such as last night at the Oscars!

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Could “Precious” Be Upset Winner As Best Picture At Academy Awards?

I hope so.

While all the talk about Best Picture has been limited to Avatar and The Hurt Locker (both at even odds), savvy gamblers are starting to believe an Oscar upset is in order.  Precious odds were listed at 18/1.

And there is good reason to believe an upset is in order when it comes to Precious.

The film, a harrowing tale of an incest survivor’s struggle for self-acceptance, swept the Spirit Awards on Friday, taking home five prizes at the independent film world’s version of the Oscars.

“This is certainly an indicator of the voters mindset coming into Sunday night’s Oscars,” commented Payton O’Brien, Senior Editor of the website, noting that Precious had indeed been the early frontrunner.