Beauty and the Beast (1991)


“Who could ever learn to love a beast?” So the opening narration asks. What is remarkable about Disney’s 1991 version of the fairy tale is that it’s not about becoming a princess or a girl being rescued from an enslaved situation but it is about that very question. Belle rejects the “opportunity” to be wife to a man in high position in her village. She willingly gives herself to enslavement for the sake of her father. Her purpose isn’t to have dreams come true and to live happily ever after but instead to learn to forgive and to love the person responsible for her enslavement. She is the truest of all Disney heroes.

With the live-action remake being released this weekend, I hope that this empowering and spiritual message about the sacrificial nature of real love is retained. Belle first shows signs of being a hero just seconds after the beast releases her father. She tells him to come to the light, and he does. He lets her see the extent of his hideousness. She responds with natural fright, but we can see that in spite of her fear she is willing to look deeper beyond the exterior of both the beast’s appearance and even his actions. She is willing to look for the humanity buried deep within this hideous exterior.

During the song “Something There,” Belle sings about the difference between the past and present of how she saw the beast. She sings “but he was coarse and unrefined.” Those are pretty weak words for someone who locked up her father, repeatedly yelled at her unreasonably, and even hit her. She uses these words because there really wasn’t something there that wasn’t there before. She always saw beyond the hurt. She could tell that his beastly actions did not represent his real character long before she knew anything about the curse placed against him. She always knew that when he hurt him, he was acting out of his own pain and was not the abusive monster the rest of the world saw in him. She saw who he really is and who he is capable of becoming after receiving love.

Belle’s beauty is the beauty of a savior. In many ways, she is a Christ-figure. She gave her own freedom for the sake of others and lived toward the beast in a way very similar to Jesus’ prayer “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” She felt every bit of the pain and the shame of his fallen state but she was never controlled by it because she had the power to overcome it. She loved him, not the usual Disney princess love, but real love, unconditional love. Her love broke the curse so that just as she saw the beast as he really is instead of what his exterior showed, so he was able eventually to become that person, that prince, his actual identity. 25 years later, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remains surprising in its depth of spirituality, truth, and Biblical parallels. And just as Belle learns to love a beast, so do we every time we watch this marvelous, magical work of art.


List: Best Movies with Predominantly African-American Casts

At this year’s Oscars, Moonlight‘s Best Picture win made history in several ways far beyond the chaos that happened at the ceremony. For the rest of March, my Thursday lists will be related to some of those ways in which Moonlight made Oscar history. First, Moonlight became the first movie with an entirely African-American cast to win the top award. There have been very few widely seen movies with entirely African-American casts, so I will have to make a list of movies with mostly black casts (and there hadn’t even been one of those to win Best Picture before this year). So here are the best I’ve seen.

10. Chi-Raq (2015)


A modernization of Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata set in present-day Chicago in the midst of gang violence, Spike Lee’s audacious style in this film seems to polarizing, but I find it smart, thought-provoking, and emotionally devastating yet often hilarious.


9. What’s Love Got to Do with It? (1993)


Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburn were both nominated for their Oscars as Tina and Ike Turner. Their tumultuous relationship and Tina’s freedom both in her career and all of her life make for a powerful and ultimately inspiring picture.


8. Get on the Bus (1996)


Spike Lee created one of the greatest road films of all time with this journey of those traveling together for the Million Man March. The men come from very different backgrounds and though they gathered for a unified purpose, we see the conflict and confusion that challenges but never hinders that unity.


7. Boyz n the Hood (1991)


25 years before Moonlight,  John Singleton’s movie should have won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The story of life in the ghettos of L.A. and trying to avoid gang violence is far better than the year’s Oscar winner The Silence of the Lambs and better than any movie I’ve seen from 1991. Unfortunately, it was not even nominated. However, John Singleton did receive nominations for his direction and his screenwriting.


6.  Stormy Weather (1943)


Andrew L. Stone’s musical is a rare one that does have an entirely African American cast. It follows the same plot formats of Fred & Ginger movies and films with Busby Berkley choreography. The songs by Fats Waller are much better for the most part, and there is one number that makes Stormy Weather one of the most important films ever made. It has a reverse type of minstrel show with the black women made to look like the white women of the time. There may not be an attempt for “white face” but the number definitely represented a strong opposition taken against the norms of oppression against African Americans.


5. Eve’s Bayou (1997)


At age 11, Jurnee Smolett gave one of best child performances of all time, caught in the middle of trying to live the life of a normal child after having witnessed a very grown-up problem and being forced to keep it a secret at great risk to her family. She’s both the victim and the perpetrator of destructive deception. Kasi Lemmons’ direction is so perceptive in the creation of two separate worlds (the adult world and the children’s world) and how the collision of those two worlds should be productive for both but is harmful instead because of the lies and the secrets that fill and threaten to kill both. This is another one of the rare films to feature an entirely African American cast.


4. A Raisin in the Sun (1961)


Much like last year’s Fences, this film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s portrays an African American family in the 1950s who is unquestionably oppressed by the white world around them, yet we see none of that world in the movie but only the world of the family itself. Sidney Poitier gave one of his best performances as the man giving everything and making every sacrifice to give the family ever chance possible, but his sacrifices were so great that as beneficial as they may have been for the family, they also led to self-destruction. Hansberry wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of her own play, and it is a profound slice of life in a time period that may be past but is all too relevant to today’s culture.


3. Carmen Jones (1954)


Based on Oscar Hammerstein’s English-language adaptation of Bizet’s opera Carmen with a modern (as of 1943 when the stage adaptation was written) American setting is as great a tale of the downfall caused by greed and lust as Bizet’s original opera. This is yet another film with an entirely African American cast.


2. Do the Right Thing (1989)


27 years before Moonlight, Spike Lee’s masterpiece should have won the Oscar for Best Picture, but like Boyz n the Hood 2 years later, it wasn’t nominated. Only Spike Lee’s original screenplay and white supporting actor Danny Aiello got nominated. Simply showing the intersection of lives in one day in a New York City neighborhood, a complex and important story about how prejudices develop and stay alive forms. It asks huge questions of morality but has the decency not to give any simplistic answers but leave us very unsure about things we may have thought we were sure of before watching it.


1. The Color Purple (1985)

31 years before Moonlight became the first film with an entirely African American cast to win Best Picture, Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple should have become the first movie with at least a predominantly African American cast to win the award. Whoopie Goldberg gives one of the ten greatest acting performances as all time as Celie, a young woman whose existence is formed by the abuse and misogyny she was subject to as a child. We follow her in her journey from victim to survivor to victor. It’s the most inspiring film I’ve ever seen.

Rebel without a Cause (1955)


This year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, Moonlight was probably most inspired by the French and Italian neorealist films of the 1940s and 50s, especial Vittoria de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) and François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959). But when I watched the enthralling coming-of-age story of Chrion at three different stages in his life played by three different equally brilliant actors, I couldn’t stop thinking about the main characters in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel without a CauseRebel is entirely focused on teenagers, but like Chiron these are all young people who find themselves lost in life due to no fault of their own.

Jim (James Dean) wants to know what it means to be a man but has no one to show him. Just like Chiron, he has a father figure (in Jim’s case his real father, but in Chiron’s case, a man who shows real interest and concern for him but is torn in his own life as a reluctant drug dealer who hates what he does to other people but loves the money too much to give it up). Jim is right to call his father mush. His dad tries to show him how to be a man but obviously has no idea himself what that means. He knows he needs to take responsibility for himself and his family but has no idea how to do it. His life is torn apart and it results in tearing apart the lives of his family, leading of course to one of the greatest lines in movie history when Jim yells at his family, but especially his father, “You’re tearing me apart!”

Judy (Natalie Wood) has a father who’s unwilling to take any responsibility for the perverse attraction he has with Judy. The movie implies that no any actual incest happens. Her dad hates his feelings but he takes the easy way out of dealing with those feelings by blaming Judy even though she’s doing nothing wrong. When she tries to show appropriate affection of a daughter to her father, he instantly changes from the appearance of a fun-loving, easy-going personality into an angry, hostile, emotionally violent abuser. These rapid and unpredictable changes are a major part of the reality that Chiron in Moonlight has to endure at the hand of his mother. She’s a drug addict who seems to be loving and motherly when she wants something from him but hateful and neglectful when she doesn’t see him as useful to her.

And just like Chiron, Plato (Sal Mineo) has two absent parents, a father completely out of the picture, and a mother who puts her own selfish desires always ahead of her son, is often not with him, leaving him to grow up on his own. As Plato tries to find his way in the world, it’s his two friends Jim and Judy who give him his only semblance of family, just like the drug dealer and his wife do for Chiron. It’s also this pseudo-family that helps Plato (just like for Chiron) navigate his questions of sexual identity. But they’re not capable of doing it in any way that can promote a healthy future like a real family should be able to do, but he’ll take whatever he can get.

Like MoonlightRebel without a Cause is a very sad and troubling film that shows the harsh realities of growing up without stable relationships, without any modeling of a healthy life. But Both movies are extremely satisfying in the way they introduce us to characters that represent whole personalities of people who are much like the people we may be ourselves or may know. They require an empathy that cares about the characters in the movie and then reaches out to the people in our own lives with the same struggles as those in the movies.

And the Oscar Should Have Gone to…Best Film Editing

Here is the last installment of “And the Oscar Goes Should Have Gone to” for the 2017 Academy Awards season, though I will periodically continue those for particular years throughout the year. The last award to highlight is Best Film Editing. The award began for the films of 1934, but I will begin my list with the first Oscar year (for the movies of 1927 and 1928). Once I reach 1934, I will put the Oscar winner first, a grade for the editing of the film, and then my choice for the years best edited film. My only rule for eligibility is that the film must have received an American theatrical release in the year of consideration, not always aligning perfectly with the Oscars.

mv5bmtmznzc0ndg2of5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjqxmtkznq-_v1_sx1777_cr001777740_al_Lisa Fruchtman is one my most winning editors, along with George Tomasinin (at the bottom of the page). She should have won for Apocalypse Now (1979; pictured), The Right Stuff (1983), & The Godfather Part III (1990)



1927-28 Harold D. Schuster, Sunrise

1929 Marguerite Beaugé, The Passion of Joan of Arc

1930 Edgar Adams, All Quiet on the Western Front

1931 Clarence Kolster, Frankenstein

1932 Blanche Sewell, Grand Hotel

1933 Paul Falkenberg, M

1934 Conrad A. Nervig, Eskimo (Unseen); my pick: Robert Kern, The Thin Man

1935 Ralph Dawson, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (A+); my pick: William LeVanway, A Night at the Opera

1936 Ralph Dawson, Anthony Adverse (Unseen); my pick: Willard Nico, Modern Times

1937 Gene Havlick & Gene Milford, Lost Horizon (Unseen); my pick: William H. Terhune, Topper

1938 Ralph Dawson, The Adventures of Robin Hood (A+); my pick: Marthe Huguet & Marguerite Renoir, Grand Illusion

1939 Harold C. Kern & James E. Newcom, Gone with the Wind (A+); my pick: Blanche Sewell, The Wizard of Oz

1940 Anne Bauchens, North West Mounted Police (Unseen); my pick: Willard Nico, The Great Dictator

1941 William Holmes, Sergeant York (F); my pick: Robert Wise, Citizen Kane

1942 Daniel Mandell, The Pride of the Yankees (D); my pick: Owen Marks, Casablanca

1943 George Amy, Air Force (C+); my pick: Milton Carruth, Shadow of a Doubt

1944 Barbara McLean, Wilson (C); my pick: Doane Harrison, Double Indemnity

1945 Robert J. Kern, National Velvet (A); my pick: Doane Harrison, The Lost Weekend

1946 Daniel Mandel, The Best Years of Our Lives (A+); I agree

1947 Francis Lyon & Robert Parish, Body and Soul (B-); my pick: Samuel E. Beetley, Out of the Past

1948 Paul Weatherwax, The Naked City (B); my pick: Owen Marks, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949 Harry W. Gerstad, Champion; my pick: Ralph E. Winters, On the Town

1950 Conrad A. Nervig, King Solomon’s Mines (A); my pick: Oswald Hafenrichter, The Third Man

1951 William Hornbeck, A Place in the Sun (A+); my pick: Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon

1952 Elmo Williams & Harry W. Gerstad, High Noon (C+); my pick: Adrienne Fazan, Singin’ in the Rain

1953 William A. Lyon, From Here to Eternity (C); my pick: George Tomasini, Stalag 17

1954 Gene Milford, On the Waterfront (A+); I agree

1955 Charles Nelson & William A. Lyon, Picnic (D+); my pick: Robert Golden, The Night of the Hunter

1956 Gene Rugiero & Paul Weatherwax, Around the World in 80 Days (A+); my pick: Betty Steinberg, The Killing

1957 Peter Taylor, The Bridge on the River Kwai (B-); my pick: Carl Lerner, 12 Angry Men

1958 Adrienne Fazan, Gigi (B-); my pick: George Tomosini, Vertigo

1959 Ralph E. Winters & John G. Durning, Ben-Hur (A+); I agree

1960 Daniel Mandel, The Apartment (A+); my pick: George Tomosini, Psycho

1961 Thomas Stanford, West Side Story (F); my pick: Frederic Knudtson, Judgment at Nuremberg

1962 Anne V. Coates, Lawrence of Arabia (A+); my pick: Ferris Webster, The Manchurian Candidate

1963 Harold F. Kress, How the West Was Won (A-); my pick: Jim Clark, Charade

1964 Cotton Warburton, Mary Poppins (A+); I agree

1965 William H. Reynolds, The Sound of Music (C+); my pick: Anne-Marie Cotret & Monique Teisseire, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

1966 Fredric Steinkamp, Harry Berman, Stewart Linder, & Frank Santillo, Grand Prix (Unseen); my pick: Daniel Mandel, The Fortune Cookie

1967 Hal Ashby, In the Heat of the Night (A+); my pick: Alberto Grimaldi, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

1968 Frank P. Keller, Bullitt (Unseen); my pick: Ray Lovejoy, 2001: A Space Odyssey 

1969 Françoise Bonnot, Z (Unseen); my pick: Don Cambern, Easy Rider

1970 Hugh H. Fowler, Patton (A+); my pick: Thelma Schoonmaker, Woodstock

1971 Gerald B. Greenberg, The French Connection (B); my pick: Lou Lombardo, McCabe & Mrs. Miller

1972 David Bretherton, Cabaret (A+); my pick: William H. Reynolds & Peter Zinner, The Godfather 

1973 William H. Reynolds, The Sting (A+); I agree

1974 Howard F. & William Kress, The Towering Inferno (Unseen); my pick: Barry Malkin, Richard Marks, & Peter Zinner, The Godfather Part II

1975 Verna Fields, Jaws (B+); my pick: Dede Allen, Dog Day Afternoon

1976 Richard Halsey & Scott Conrad, Rocky (A); my pick: Robert L. Wolfe, All the President’s Men

1977 Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, & Richard Chew, Star Wars (A+); I agree

1978 Peter Zinner, The Deer Hunter (C); my pick: Pembroke J. Herring, Foul Play

1979 Alan Heim, All That Jazz (Unseen); my pick: Richard Marks, Walter Murch, Gerald B. Greenberg, & Lisa Fruchtman, Apocalypse Now

1980 Thelma Schoonmaker, Raging Bull (B+); my pick: Paul Hirsch, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

1981 Michael Kahn, Raiders of the Lost Ark (B+); my pick: Robert L. Wolfe, On Golden Pond

1982 John Bloom, Gandhi (A-); my pick: Carol Littleton, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1983 Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Stephen A. Rotter, Douglas Stewart, & Tom Rolf, The Right Stuff (A+); I agree

1984 Jim Clark, The Killing Fields (Unseen); my pick: Kent Beyda & Kim Secrest, This Is Spinal Tap

1985 Thom Noble, Witness (A+); my pick: Akira Kurosawa, Ran

1986 Claire Simpson, Platoon (C+); my pick: John Jympson, Little Shop of Horrors

1987 Gabriella Cristiani, The Last Emperor (A-); my pick: Lou Lombardo, Moonstruck

1988 Arthur Schmidt, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (A+); I agree

1989 David Brenner & Joe Hutshing, Born on the Fourth of July (B-); my pick: Barry Alexander Brown, Do the Right Thing

1990 Neil Travis, Dances with Wolves (F); my pick: Lisa Fruchtman, Jane Jenkins, & Roger Mussenden, The Godfather Part III

1991 Joe Hutshing & Pietro Scalia, JFK (F); my pick: “Roderick Jaynes” (aka Joel & Ethan Coen, Barton Fink

1992 Joel Cox, Unforgiven (A+); my pick: Geraldine Peroni, The Player

1993 Michael Kahn, Schindler’s List (A+); I agree

1994 Arthur Schmidt, Forrest Gump (A+); my pick: Sally Menke, Pulp Fiction

1995 Mike Hill & Daniel P. Hanley, Apollo 13 (B+); my pick: Richard Francis Bruce, Se7en

1996 Walter Murch, The English Patient (C+); my pick: “Roderick Jaynes” (aka Joel & Ethan Coen), Fargo

1997 Conrad Buff, James Cameron, & Richard A. Harris, Titanic (C-); David Freeman & Nick Moore, The Full Monty

1998 Michael Kahn, Saving Private Ryan (B-); my pick: Eric L. Beeson & Arthur Coburn, A Simple Plan

1999 Zach Staenberg, The Matrix (Unseen); my pick: Robert K. Lambert, Three Kings

2000 Stephen Mirrione, Traffic (D); my pick: Tim Squyres, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

2001 Pietro Scalia, Black Hawk Down (A); my pick: Jill Bilcock, Moulin Rouge

2002 Martin Walsh, Chicago (A); my pick: Kurt Engfehr, Bowling for Columbine

2003 Jamie Selkirk, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (C-); my pick: Dody Dorn, Matchstick Men

2004 Thelma Schoonmaker, The Aviator (A); my pick: Angie Lam, Vincent Lee, & Ru Zhai, Hero

2005 Hughes Winborne, Crash (A); my pick: Christopher Tellefsen, Capote

2006 Thelma Schoonmaker, The Departed (A+); I agree

2007 Christopher Rouse, The Bourne Ultimatum (Unseen); my pick: François Bonnot, Across the Universe

2008  Chirs Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire (A+); I agree

2009 Bon Innis & Bob Murawski, The Hurt Locker (B+); my pick: Salle Menke, Inglourious Basterds

2010 Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall, The Social Network (A+); my pick: Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan

2011 Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Unseen); my pick: Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazinavicus, The Artist

2012 William Goldenberg, Argo (A+); I agree

2013 Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger, Gravity (A+); I agree

2014 Tom Cross, Whiplash (A+); I agree

2015 Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road (D-); my pick: Michael Kahn, Bridge of Spies

mv5bnzq5ntywmdexnf5bml5banbnxkftztcwmjg3mju4mw-_v1_sy1000_cr0015381000_al_George Tomasini is one of my three most winning editors. He should have won for Stalag 17 (1953), Vertigo (1958, pictured), and Psycho (1960)

A Star Is Born (1954)


Even with the Best Picture shock, La La Land was still the most awarded movie at this year’s Oscar. This review of A Star Is Born is also honoring  La La Land‘s Oscar achievement with six awards, and next week I will similarly write  about a movie related to Moonlight, the Best Picture winner.

La La Land was most inspired by the films of Jacque Demy, especially The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but American musicals played a big role in the inspiration as well. Ryan Gosling has a scene where he dances with a street lamp just like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. But the American musical that its story, and song “Audition (The Fool Who Dreams),” resembles the most is George Cuckor’s A Star Is Born.

Like Mia and Sebastian, A Star Is Born‘s Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland) has big dreams that she’s in no position to fulfill on her own. Mia and Sebastian need each other to be the catalysts for their individual dreams to come true, even though it may cost their romantic relationship. Esther’s relationship with Norman Maine (James Mason) is what it takes for her to become a star. Just like for Mia and Sebastian, the sacrifice to become a star involves the very relationship that made the dreams possible in the first place.

Norman is in the advanced stages of alcoholism, and Esther knows it. She knows the pain involved in loving somebody in such a state. Yet this is exactly what she does. Their relationship is not merely professional for long, because she knows she’s in love with him long before he’s able to use his ability and stature as an already-famous Hollywood actor to help her achieve her own goals. Her love of Norman is not based on what he can do for her career. It’s not dependent on his willingness or ability to change or lack thereof. It’s real. It’s unconditional. It’s something probably very rare in real Hollywood, but in 1954 Hollywood was able to tell a beautiful and believable story about it set right in Hollywood.

The connection between dreams and sacrifice is found in movies and all art forms very commonly, but what makes Esther’s special is her willingness to sacrifice not for the sake of her dreams like Mia and Sebastian do, but to sacrifice her dreams themselves. Though she does eventually have success in Hollywood, she doesn’t use it for her own gain but to express her love for Norman. Until she meets Norman, she’s driven by her dreams but without any way of reaching them. Once she meets Norman, she has a way, but her love for him is her highest priority, far over her own career.

A Star Is Born is an interesting title, because the birth of Esther’s stardom under the stage name Vicki Lester requires the death of Norman’s career. His career was already pretty much dead because of his alcoholism, but the last bit of say he has in Hollywood he used to create Esther’s career. So her stardom is born but she is willing to dedicate it all to her husband and to live her life for him right in the midst of all the hurt aimed against her as a result his addiction. This loving postponement of a person’s own self interest is something movies rarely show. Esther Blodgett is much more than a movie star. She is a hero for loving a very unlovable person and loving him well.

This is the second version of A Star Is Born; the first 1937 starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Both gave great performances, but the movie settled for more conventional romantic plotting than the harsh sacrifice and tough love that makes this remake so remarkable. A third version was made in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. It failed in every way possible except for its great song “Evergreen.” Next year, there is to be another remake, and it is set to star Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, but so far, none compares to this 1954 masteriece.


And the Oscar Should Have Gone to…1948

The last year that came up at random for this year’s Oscar season is 1948. My only major criteria is a U.S. release in the year of 1965 for every category, which do not always align with the Oscar’s own eligibility rules. Like my other Oscar year lists, I will list the actual Oscar nominations first with the winner in bold print and a note for any nominated films I haven’t seen, and then my own picks. The picture that comes at the beginning of each category corresponds with my choice for the year’s winner in that category.

Best Picture


Oscar nominees:


Johnny Belinda

The Red Shoes

The Snake Pit

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

My picks:

10. Johnny Belinda

9. I Remember Mama

8. The Red Shoes

7. Red River

6. The Snake Pit

5. Rope

4. A Foreign Affair

3. Monsieur Vincent

2. Letter from an Unknown Woman

1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Director

John Huston in Mexico
© 1982 Tom Kelley

Oscar nominees:

John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Anatole Litvak, The Snake Pit

Jean Negulesco, Johnny Belinda

Laurence Olivier, Hamlet

Fred Zinnemann, The Search (Unseen)

My picks:

5. Alfred Hitchcock, Rope

4. Billy Wilder, A Foreign Affair

3. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, The Red Shoes

2. Max Ophüls, Letter from an Unknown Woman

1. John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre



Best Actor in a Leading Role


Oscar nominees:

Lew Ayres, Johnny Belinda

Montgomery Clift, The Search (Unseen)

Dan Dailey, When My Baby Smiles at Me (Unseen)

Laurence Olivier, Hamlet

Clifton Webb, Sitting Pretty (Unseen)

My picks:

5. John Wayne, Red River

4. Laurence Olivier, Hamlet

3. John Dall, Rope

2. Pierre Fresnay, Monsieur Vincent

1. Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Actress in a Leading Role


Oscar nominees:

Ingrid Bergman, Joan of Arc

Irene Dunn, I Remember Mama

Olivia de Havilland, The Snake Pit

Barbara Stanwyck, Sorry, Wrong Number (Unseen)

Jane Wyman, Johnny Belinda

My picks:

5. Jean Arthur, A Foreign Affair

4. Jane Wyman, Johnny Belinda

3. Irene Dunn, I Remember Mama

2. Joan Fontaine, Letter from an Unknown Woman

1. Olivia de Havilland, The Snake Pit


Best Actress in a Supporting Role


Oscar nominees:

Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama

Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama

Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda

Jean Simmons, Hamlet

Claire Trevor, Key Largo

My picks:

5. Celeste Holm, The Snake Pit

4. Edith Evanson, Rope

3. Beulah Bondi, The Snake Pit

2. Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama

1. Marlene Dietrich, A Foreign Affair


Best Actor in a Supporting Role


Oscar nominees:

Charles Bickford, Johnny Belinda

José Ferrer, Joan of Arc (Unseen)

Oskar Homloka, I Remember Mama

Walter Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Cecil Kellaway, The Luck of the Irish (Unseen)

My picks:

5. Montgomery Clift, Red River

4. Walter Brennan, Red River

3. Tim Holt, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

2. James Stewart, Rope

1. Walter Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Original Screenplay


Oscar nominees:

Louisiana Story (Unseen)

The Naked City

Red River

The Red Shoes

The Search (Unseen)

My picks:

5. The Naked City

4. Three Godfathers

3. Monsieur Vincent

2. Red River

1. Letter from an Unknown Woman


Best Adapted Screenplay


Oscar nominees:

A Foreign Affair

Johnny Belinda

The Search (Unseen)

The Snake Pit

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

My picks:

5. I Remember Mama

4. Rope

3. The Snake Pit

2. A Foreign Affair

1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Original Song (*My picks for music categories are based on the music I’ve heard I’ve seen the movie or not.*)


Oscar nominees

“Buttons and Bows” The Paleface

“For Every Man There’s a Woman” Casbah

“It’s Magic” Romance on the High Seas

“This Is the Moment” That Lady in Ermine

“The Woody Woodpecker Song” Wet Blanket Policy

My picks

5. “Buttons and Bows” The Paleface

4. “Black Market” A Foreign Affair

3. “For Every Man There’s a Woman” Casbah

2. “It’s Magic” Romance on the High Seas

1. “The Ruins of Berlin” A Foreign Affair


Best Original Film Score


Oscar nominees:

Brian Easdale, The Red Shoes

Hugo Friedhofer, Joan of Arc

Alfred Newman, The Snake Pit

Max Steiner, Johnny Belinda

William Walton, Hamlet

My Picks:

5. Daniele Amifitheatrof, Letter from an Unknown Woman

4. Miklós Rózsa & Frank Skinner, The Naked City

3. Franz Waxman, Sorry, Wrong Number

2. Alfred Newman, The Snake Pit

1. Max Steiner, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Adapted or Song Score


Oscar nominees:

Johnny Green & Roger Edens, Easter Parade

Lennie Hayton, The Pirate

Ray Heindorf, Romance on the High Seas

Alfred Newman, When My Baby Smiles at Me

Victor Young, The Emperor Waltz

My picks:

5. Victor Young, The Emperor Waltz

4. Lennie Hayton, The Pirate

3. Friederick Hollaender, A Foreign Affair

2. Ray Heindorf, Romance on the High Seas

1. Brian Easdale, The Red Shoes


Best Film Editing


Oscar nominees:

Joan of Arc (Unseen)

Johnny Belinda

The Naked City

Red River

The Red Shoes

My picks:

5. The Red Shoes

4. A Foreign Affair

3. Rope

2. Letter from an Unknown Woman

1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Cinematography


Oscar nominees (B&W):

A Foreign Affair

I Remember Mama

The Naked City

Johnny Belinda

Portrait of Jennie (Unseen)

Oscar nominees (Color):

Green Grass of Wyoming (Unseen)

Joan of Arc (Unseen)

The Loves of Carmen (Unseen)

The Three Musketeers

My picks:

5. Monsieur Vincent

4. Three Godfathers

3. The Red Shoes

2. Red River

1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Production Design


Oscar nominees (B&W):


Johnny Belinda

Oscar nominees (Color):

Joan of Arc (Unseen)

The Red Shoes

My picks:

5. Red River

4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

3. Three Godfathers

2. Hamlet

1. The Red Shoes


Best Sound


Oscar nominees

Johnny Belinda

Moonrise (Unseen)

The Snake Pit

My picks

3. Red River

2. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1. The Red Shoes


Best Special Effects


Oscar nominees:

Deep Waters (Unseen)

Portrait of Jennie (Unseen)

My picks:

2. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1. The Red Shoes


Best Costume Design


Oscar nominees (B&W):


B.F.’s Daughter (Unseen)

Oscar nominees (Color):

The Emperor Waltz

Joan of Arc

My picks:

5. The Emperor Waltz

4. A Foreign Affair

3. Letter from an Unknown Woman

2. Monsieur Vincent

1. The Red Shoes


Best Makeup & Hairstyling


Not an Oscar category in 1948; these are my picks only:

3. I Remember Mama

2. The Red Shoes

1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Best Foreign Language Film

An honorary Oscar in 1948: Monsieur Vincent

My pick: Monsieur Vincent


Best Ensemble Cast

Never an Oscar category, but I think it should be so here are my picks:

5. Letter to an Unknown Woman

4. Rope

3. A Foreign Affair

2. The Snake Pit

1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Star Wars (1977)


Whenever I watch Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, of course I love every second of it and am just as thrilled as the first time I saw it. But there’s a sense of wonder and even sadness beneath that, regretting that I was born too late to know what it was like to experience it in 1977. I grew up knowing all the Star Wars lingo, the characters, and the music before I even saw any of the movies. I have no idea what it’s like to watch the first movie as it was before it became known as A New Hope.

What was it like to see the words scrolling down the screen for the first time and hear the most spectacular music written since the 1800s? I think about what I might have thought watching those scrolling words. What in the world is a death star? Who is this Empire, and what’s kind of rebellion has formed against it? To go into the movie not knowing the answers to these questions must have been like Dorothy telling Toto “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

What would it have been like to see the opening dialogue between droids, one speaking in a language we can’t understand, having to rely on the other to interpret? Sure the world had seen Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet and other robotic characters, but never without any human activity alongside them. And then we have an abrupt transition from this charming and utterly unique relationship between R2-D2 and C3PO into a dark, violent, and terrifying scene where we meet Darth Vader for the first time. How shocking must that have been for people who didn’t know about Darth Vader?

And what would it have been like to see the first unmasked human character revealed in the film? An otherwise attractive young woman with hair that looks like a cross between a 7-year-old girl and a goat! And then not too long a while later, we’re expected to believe she’s a princess? Would I have been so quick to accept that if I didn’t already know about Princee Leia?

What would it have been like to see a light saber in action for the first time? Would I have wondered how a glowing stick can sever a man’s legs, or would I have just accepted it as I did since I already knew about the Force?

I’m not going to attempt any traditional type of review for Star Wars: A New Hope because we all already know it’s a masterpiece. But it’s become such a part of the fabric of the culture, at least in the U.S., that a new movie in the franchise is welcomed and loved without the sense of awe and wonder that George Lucas must have intended. Each movie in the original trilogy (alongside 2015’s The Force Awakens) are all wonderful, and I will probably write about them at some point on this blog. But as far as the original movie, I just want to ponder how original, how audacious, and how awesome (in the truest sense of the word) the first Star Wars film must have been before anybody knew the significance behind the veiled conversations about Luke’s father or that it would be impossible for Luke’s romantic feelings toward Leia to be returned. George Lucas took the world into a completely different world in 1977, and (I apologize if what I am about to say seems melodramatic or hyperbolic, but I do believe it) made the real world a better place because of it.