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Now in our ninth calendar year!

PCR #407 (Vol. 9, No. 2) This edition is for the week of January 7--13, 2008.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Awards aplenty this week, plus MY Oscars of 1978. Shall we begin?

The Keys To A Great Vacation, Part Three  by Will Moriaty
"The Bucket List"  by Mike Smith
The Audio Philes Top 20 Albums of 2007 pt. 1: #20-11.  by Terence Nuzum
How I miss Avant-Garde cinema  by Andy Lalino
DVD Review: "Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster"  by ED Tucker
The Critic's Choice .... Writers 1 Hollywood 0 .... Back And Still As Strong As Ever .... Batman 3 Superman 1 .... Free Time On Their Hands .... All First Timers (almost) .... Licking James Bond .... .... And The Oscar For 1978 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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As mentioned last week, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle had their annual awards ceremony this past weekend. The winners are:

FILM: There Will Be Blood

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD FOR DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson for "There Will Be Blood" and Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"

ACTRESS: Marion Cotilliard in "La Vie En Rose"

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton"

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Diablo Cody for "Juno"

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Joel and Ethan Coen for "No Country for Old Men"

ANIMATED FILM: Ratatouille

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

DOCUMENTARY: In the Shadow of the Moon


If you were planning on watching the Golden Globes this Sunday evening I hope you like your award shows fast and impersonal. As the Writer's Guild of America would not grant a waiver for the Golden Globes telecast, the show will now be a one hour press conference, with the winners announced individually. Ironically, this is how the Oscars used to be announced in their early days. The Hollywood Foreign Press has decided to postpone it's presentation of the Cecile B. DeMille award to Steven Spielberg until next year.

Tom Laughlin, probably best known for the "Billy Jack" films of the 1970s, is mounting a campaign for President of the United States. Give a look at http://www.billyjack.com/

Variety is reporting that Warner Brothers is ready to greenlight a third Christopher Nolan-directed "Batman" film, even as production on "The Dark Knight" continues. The magazine also speculates that the studio won't be asking Bryan Singer to make anymore "Superman" films.

Speaking of Warner Brothers, studio executives have announced that as many as 1000 employees may be layed off as early as the end of this week due to the production stoppage caused by the Writer's Guild strike.

Congratulations to this years Director's Guild of America nominees for best motion picture. With the exception of Joel Coen, who was nominated in 1997 for "Fargo," all of the nominees are first timers. They are: Joel and Ethan Coen for "No Country for Old Men," Paul Thomas Anderson for "There Will Be Blood," Tony Gilroy for "Michael Clayton," Sean Penn for "Into the Wild" and Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

Production started this week on the working-titled "BOND 22." Daniel Craig returns as 007 under the direction of Mark Forster. This week in England, the postal service released a series of stamps commerating the 100th birthday of Bond creator Ian Flemming.


Since much of the discussion board last week centered on a few films from 1978 I figured what better way to continue this series then by taking a look at the films of that year, which were honored on April 9, 1979. This was the year of the "Vietnam Film," with "The Deer Hunter" and "Coming Home" telling different stories of a war many still remembered. In fact, those two films were part of the nominees for Best Picture, along with "Heaven Can Wait," "Midnight Express" and "An Unmarried Woman." All great films at the time but looking at them now you have to wonder how "An Unmarried Woman" snuck in there. I'm guessing it was a safe, "woman's" film, a buffer to the violence of the war movies and "Midnight Express."
If I'd had my druthers, "Unmarried" becomes Un-nominated, replaced by any of the following: "American Hot Wax," "The Buddy Holly Story," "Go Tell the Spartans," "The Boys from Brazil" or "Superman the Movie." However, out of all of those films, the right film did win Best Picture: "The Deer Hunter."

Best Actor was a tough race that year, with the award going to Jon Voight for his role as a paralyzed soldier in "Coming Home." The competition was tough that year, as Voight went up against Laurence Olivier (Boys from Brazil), Gary Busey (Buddy Holly Story), Robert DeNiro (The Deer Hunter) and Warren Beatty (Heaven Can Wait). To me, the odd man here was Beatty. Great performance, yes. But not his best work. Besides, since Beatty would earn three other nominations that year for "Heaven Can Wait," this one he wouldn't have missed. Three performances I would have nominated instead include Tim McIntyre in "American Hot Wax," Anthony Hopkins in "Magic" and Brad Davis in "Midnight Express." Of the nominees, my choice was Busey, who practically became Buddy Holly on screen. On a personal note, had Roy Scheider not dropped out of "The Deer Hunter" I would have picked him!

Best Actress was a drama-fest, with really only one mildly comic performance. The drama queens included Jane Fonda (Coming Home), Ingrid Bergman (Autumn Sonatta), Geraldine Page (Interiors)and Jill Clayburgh (An Unmarried Woman). Sneaking in on the lighter side was Ellen Burstyn (Same Time, Next Year). In a not too strong year for the ladies, I really can't fault the nominees. The winner was Fonda, who took home her 2nd Oscar of the decade.

The Supporting Categories should have been swept by "The Deer Hunter" and almost were. Nominees for Supporting Actor were Richard Farnsworth (Comes a Horseman), Bruce Dern (Coming Home), Jack Warden (Heaven Can Wait), John Hurt (Midnight Express) and eventual winner, Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter). Again, all very deserving nominees, especially Dern, who had pretty much perfected the "crazy guy" routine he became known for. Oddly, the title would pass on to Walken, who, after being the go-to guy when you needed "odd," has now made a career out of not being typecast.

Supporting Actress should have gone to Meryl Streep, who was nominated for "The Deer Hunter," the first of a now record one thousand nominations she has received (ok, she's got 14 (and 2 Oscars) but that's still a lot). She really was the emotional focal point of the film. Without Streep, it's just another war movie. She should have easily beaten fellow nominees Penelope Milford (Coming Home), Dyan Cannon (Heaven Can Wait), Maureen Stapleton (Interiors) and the evening's winner, Maggie Smith (California Suite). Ironically, Smith became the only actor to win an Oscar by portraying a character that wins an Oscar on screen.

Director nominees: Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), Hal Ashby (Coming Home), Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (Heaven Can Wait), Woody Allen (Interiors) and Alan Parker (Midnight Express). Again, a tough race to pick, though I can't quarrel with winner Cimino. Film buffs will remember that Cimino took his Oscar clout over to United Artists, whose new owners greenlighted the mega-western, "Heaven's Gate," and never once visited the set during production. Too bad, since on set rumors include the cast having to take up to 60 hours of "schooling" to learn how their characters lived. Also, Cimino studied EVERY INCH OF EVERY FRAME of his films, even going as far as where to position extras in the background. The story is that it took him over 3 hours to position 100 extras for a shot at a dance that lasted only 13 seconds on film. Of course, the moral of the story is never go $50 million over budget or you'll take your studio down with you! Well, that's it for the major awards fromm 1978. FYI: some of my favorite films from that year: COMA, AMERICAN HOT WAX, F.I.S.T, THE END, GO TELL THE SPARTANS, JAWS 2, GREASE, DAYS OF HEAVEN, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, MAGIC, SLOW DANCING IN THE BIG CITY, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS AND SUPERMAN THE MOVIE.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.