Sunday, February 27, 2011

Favorite Oscar Nominated Movies 2011

Here is my list of Favorite Oscar Nominated Movies that were posted on my Facebook page throughout the month of February, 2011. Its not a totally complete list of my favorites (which can go on forever). There's so many movies that have been nominated throughout the years that are some of my favorites and then there are those I have yet to see. But I chose this list because they are some that I have watched more than once and continue to enjoy. Next time, I'm sure to have another list of great movies and commentary prepared that will added to this one.


Citizen Kane (1941) - A TRIBUTE TO CITIZEN KANE

Quite arguably, the greatest film of all time. It is the equivalent to the works of Shakespeare by which all modern writers owe a debt, “Citizen Kane” is the measure of film to which all modern directors of TV and Film have been influenced directly and indirectly. A film shrouded in controversy, director Orson Welles fought hard to get the film made despite opposition from a variety of enemies including American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, due to the fact the film was a semi-autobiographical take on his life. Hearing about the film being made enraged Hearst so much that he banned any word, review and ads of it in his papers and helped to persuade Hollywood film companies to make an offer to producers, RKO Pictures of $805,000 to destroy all prints of the film and burn the negative. Although Hearst's efforts to suppress it damaged the film's success at the time, the film is now inexorably connected to him. And yet, “Citizen Kane” endures. The first time I watched it was about 20 years ago after years of hearing from some movie fans how great it was. So I rented it, sat down and reminded myself, “OK. This was made in 1941.” With that perspective, I was blown away. I could see how revolutionary, at that time, this film came across. The cinematography was ahead of its time. I recently watched it on TCM a few months back and the restoration on the film looks great! I could even see clearly the reflection of one character’s face on a wood desk! If you have not seen the film itself, I would suggest you check it out. Most of all the movies and films that have been produced since its release can be traced to this highly recommended original. – Torrence King


It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” - “Hee Haw!” - “Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?” – These quotes, among others, are as timeless as the movie itself.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” was not as well received when it was released due to high production costs and stiff competition in 1946. It was also nominated for five Oscars without winning any. But, for some reason, in its re-release and countless airings on the then-new technology of television, it started to develop a life of its own and touching the hearts of many for generations to come. It is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of the few I know every bit of dialogue. Also, most of the humor in the film never gets old. It reminds me so much of an extended “Twilight Zone” episode with a little bit of heartfelt comedy and “Citizen Kane” thrown in for good measure with a more redemptive outcome for the main character. And, of course, who can forget the performances of James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and Henry Travers and the magic of directing by Frank Capra. Quite possibly, along with “The Wizard of Oz”, the most widely enduring film of all time. – Torrence King


The Last Emperor (1987)

One of the great films from the 1980's. The true story of the last Emperor of China, a man born into a world where he is absolute ruler over all around him but a twist of fate and the tides of war lead to his eventual fall. – Torrence King


Million Dollar Baby (2004)

“Girlie, tough ain’t enough.” In my opinion, “Million Dollar Baby” is the best motion picture in the purest form of the medium produced during the past decade. I watched this expecting a “Cinderella” story on par with “Rocky” and every other fighter-down-on-his-luck-turned-champion. What I got was life lessons, deeper truths and a tragic ending. Director Clint Eastwood, who I’ve told friends I “hate” because he keep making great movies I watch and love, crafted yet another work of art. Eastwood continues to change our expectations for most of his movies produced during the past decade and “Million Dollar Baby” is a crowning achievement (so far) to his current cinematic artistry. The acting and dialogue banter between Eastwood and actress Hilary Swank are both top notch and funny and to carry the movie along are fundamental lessons of a boxer’s methods and life poetically delivered as narration by Morgan Freeman. – Torrence King


Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) - Trailer

Clark Gable's Fletcher Christian can only stand by so long as Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh mistreatment of officers on the HMS Bounty finally causes him to take action. After seeing this movie, I could care less about its historical accuracy. The acting is superb. Plus, its message of defiance in the midst of injustice resonated with audiences back then and continues to this day. I believe most of us have become a witness to those in leadership positions who let their power go way too far and one person, out of many, that will not stand for it any longer. – Torrence King


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One of Jack Nicholson's greatest performances. I hadn't seen this since a broadcast of it years ago. Watching it a few months back, its amazing how many guys are in this movie that went on to become icons of TV and film. The matching of wits and wisdom between Nicholson's Randle McMurphy against Nurse Ratched played with subtle evilness by Louise Fletcher, is an engaging mental battle of epic proportions. – Torrence King


Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Surprisingly, this film did not win best picture the year it was nominated. That honor went to the less violent and even less impressive "Shakespeare In Love" (Which was OK but compared to this masterpiece...c'mon!) Director Steven Spielberg and company crafted the most realistic view of World War II the world had ever seen. Even I was shaken in the theater and thinking, "Damn, Now This is War!" And, again, Spielberg was snubbed that year. You can literally count how many times he along with Martin Scorsese have been snubbed versus how many times they actual won. ("Goodfellas" anyone?) The realism and popularity of "Saving Private Ryan" eventually led to the production of the equally, if not better, HBO World War II mini-series "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific" – Torrence King


Schindler's List - The 1993 American biographical drama film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. -

‎"Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire". I came to watching this movie because of the trailers, box office buzz and various scenes I saw on the Academy Awards the year it won the Oscar for Best Picture. When I did finally see it on a 2-tape VHS, afterward, I was a bit numb and tears did form. Director Steven Spielberg put his heart and soul into this film. Using all the techniques of storytelling, movie making and art to craft a testament to how one life can change many lives. Not only do we see how prejudice can drive a society to madness, we also see the scenes behind the darkness and are showed the lives of those who chose to hate versus those who chose to help. Plus, add the heartfelt theme music by John Williams and you have a cinematic masterpiece. – Torrence King


Star Wars (1977)

Quite literally the film that changed everything about movies since the time of its release in 1977. Sure there were other science fiction/action movies before like "The War of The Worlds", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "2001: A Space Odyssey", but nothing caught the imagination of the mass movie-going audience like "Star Wars" (and have yet to let go). Director George Lucas, took a huge gamble and it paid off. Influenced by classic comics and movies of space adventurers "Buck Rogers" and "Flash Gordon", whose stories relied primarily on the readers and/or viewers own imagination to carry the plot, Lucas created a whole universe of people and places that would surpass the popularity of most mythological and literary characters. The release of the movie in 1977 was at the right time when the future generation of current filmmakers and computer-tech kids would go see it (numerous times and, in a way, studying it over and over) and evenutally go on and create equally important films using the technology and visual effects Lucas and company pioneered. Without "Star Wars" there would be no Pixar's "Toy Story" and other great CGI animated films, "Tron", "Lord of The Rings Trilogy", "Spider-Man" movies, "Superman" movies, "X-Men" movies and the list goes on. – Torrence King


A Soldier's Story (1984)

“A Soldier’s Story” is an ensemble acting tour de force. Howard E. Rollins, Jr, Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington, and William Allen Young all give performances of high caliber. To me, It is part-“Mutiny on The Bounty”, part-“Billy Budd” and part-“Full Metal Jacket” due to the fact it deals with an authoritative figure whose hate and jealousy causes him to treat his subordinates with malice, and especially the one subordinate who is popular with everyone and talented; things that he does not possess. When he is killed, there are complications to the investigation that does not seem to have a clear resolution. A great movie indeed. Plus, you get to see a young Denzel in one of his earliest motion picture roles. A sign on great things to come…. – Torrence King


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