2013 Ode to Oscar

So the Oscars are nearly here.

As a movie lover, this used to be a big event for me.  Before kids.  Before I had no time to go to the movie theater.  Before my TV was taken over by ninjas and princesses instead of very cool on-demand movies.  I used to make a point of seeing all of the nominations for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay.  I planned my morning commute on the day the nominations were announced so I could catch them live.

Not so much anymore.  But, hey, I heard The Little Mermaid 3D is coming out this year — that’ll be fun.

I’m having my annual guilt about not having seen most {OK, most = all} of this year’s nominated films, and so I’m going to make up for it by having some Oscar Week fun on the blog. I have many a funny blogging friend ready to tell you all about their favorite movie moments over the next few days.  In the meantime, and without any authority on who should win this year’s awards, I’ll instead write about my favorite movies of Oscars Past — both real and imagined.

In alphabetical order (since I can’t rank them), I present an unsolicited list of my favorite movies ever.


Almost Famous (2000) — Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (Cameron Crowe).  Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Frances McDormand and Kate Hudson) and Best Editing

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Cast Singalong

A coming of age story is one of the oldest themes out there, but this is just done so well — especially since it’s supposedly based on director Cameron Crowe’s own experiences.  And against the backdrop of 1970s music and all its overindulgences.  I don’t care if you love Elton John or not (OK, I care a little — you should love his older stuff), but you can’t *not* love that “Tiny Dancer” group singalong on the bus.  Also, the amazing moment when Billy Crudup’s character finally answers the question:  “What do you love about music?” and it launches into the whole ending sequence…complete with Led Zeppelin…Oh, I love it so much.

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American History X (1998) — Nominated for Best Actor (Edward Norton).

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Ongoing View of Edward Norton’s Abs  Best Skinhead in a Leading Role

This movie is more violent than most I’d typically watch, but Edward Norton is amazing in this role.  A total and complete badass.  The whole thing is a heartbreaking and very real look at the White Supremacist movement in our country.


Annie Hall (1977) — Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actress (Diane Keaton), Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen), Best Director (Woody Allen).  Nominated for Best Actor (Woody Allen)

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Opening Sequence of a Movie

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I know I said I can’t rank them but this is my all-time favorite movie, start to finish.  Even if you think you hate Woody Allen, just give this a try sometime.  For me.  Especially if you love When Harry Met Sally because, psssst, that movie is borrowed heavily from Annie Hall.


Casablanca (1942) — Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.  Nominated for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score

Imaginary Oscar: Best Global Love Triangle

Of course Victor and Rick both wanted Ingrid Bergman.  Stunning.  So, ladies, what would you have done in Ingrid’s shoes?  Me, I think I can safely say I would have stayed in Casablanca and lived in the casino with Rick, even if he remained emotionally unavailable.  Because we gals often gravitate towards the complicated stuff.  And I wouldn’t be much good at outrunning the Nazis.


Cinema Paradiso (1988) — Oscar for Best Foreign Film

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Non-Gangster Italian Film

Another coming of age film.  Quiet and gorgeous and will make you want to sit in an old-time movie theater with a huge glass of Chianti.  Ah, Alfredo — we all should have had someone like you in our childhood.


Double Indemnity (1944) — Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Barbara Stanwyck), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Recording.

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Cheesy Dialogue

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I know I said Ed Norton was a badass but I think that Barbara Stanwyck may be able to take him down.  She was that good — the original Femme Fatale.  Angelina Jolie, you could learn a thing or two from Barb.


Fargo (1996) — Oscars for Best Actress (Frances MacDormand) and Best Original Screenplay (Joel & Ethan Coen).  Nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (William H. Macy), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Use of a Wood Chipper

Oh, Frances MacDormand.  Oh, William H Macy.  Oh, Steve Buscemi.  Which of you do I love most in this movie?  I really couldn’t say.  Dark, dark humor against a blaring white North Dakota winter backdrop.  Crime, used cars and a very pregnant police officer.  Hats off, Coen Brothers, hats off.  Their very best, as far as I’m concerned.

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Goodfellas (1990) — Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci).  Nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Lorraine Bracco), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Handheld Shot

So this movie made me want to marry a gangster when I first saw it at age 19.  Ray Liotta fucking rocked this role.  And Martin Scorsese, who often calls the music in his films “the soundtrack of my life,” just nails this.  Here’s the handheld camera shot I referenced in my fake Oscar.  Not one cut.  Crazy.  And with The Crystals (“And Then He Kissed Me”) to boot.  Who doesn’t love a good back entrance tour of the Copa?

(I can’t find a clip of this anywhere that will embed into the page — sorry for the pop-up.)



Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) — Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest) and Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen).  Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Set Design.

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Husband Swapping

Mia Farrow.  Dianne Wiest.  Barbara Hershey.  Sir Michael Caine.  I think I’m done selling this one.  If you haven’t already, please see it.


Lost in Translation (2003) — Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bill Murray) and Best Director.

Imaginary Oscar:  Best Mystery Ending Line.  Best Karaoke Scene

You are more than a little dead inside if the end of this movie did not get you.  Bill Murray’s unknown whisper at the end, right into Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” —  I was a mess.  Plus a fabulous cover of Roxy Music by Bill Murray.  What a great, great movie.


Manhattan (1979) — Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Mariel Hemingway) and Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen)

Imaginary Oscar:  Most Stunning Visual Love Letter to New York City

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A lot like Annie Hall.  But with a very young Meryl Streep (her second movie role) and an even younger Mariel Hemingway.  And great line about Sanka:

I wanted to tell you about it.  I knew it would upset you. I…         
We had a few innocent meetings.    
A few? She said one. You guys should get your story straight. Don’t you rehearse?    
We met twice for coffee.   
Hey, she doesn’t drink coffee. Did you meet for Sanka? That’s not too romantic. A little on the geriatric side.


And the Honorable Mentions go to Jerry Maguire (yes, really), Radio Days, The Producers (original version) and The Shawshank Redemption.

OK, that was hard to narrow down!  But fun.  Surely my picks are not the same as yours — so let’s see your additions please.

And Happy Oscars to you all — even if you haven’t seen this year’s nominees.

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  1. You have a very fine film palate!

  2. All I could think through this entire thing was, “Damn. She’s SO much more cultured than me.” Out of that list I’ve seen Fargo, American History X (scary shit right there), and 2 of your honorable mentions. Sadly, I highly doubt I’ll be seeing the rest of the nominees because they don’t come on the Disney Channel.

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