TIME is hosting a bracket-style competition to determine the best Best Picture of all time. Sixteen films have made the cut, and the first round begins tomorrow (Monday). Additional info here.
I'm throwing down the gauntlet and inviting last year's host of Oscar Trivia experts Jacqie Lipton, Kelly Anders, Lance McMillian, Colin Miller, and Garrett Levin to join me in this online daily competition. No doubt other friends (Jeff Lipshaw, are you out there?!?!?) will be part of the fun.
And what sixteen films made the cut? We'll soon find out. If I had a say in that decision (trying to keep in mind that "best" may not mean "most popular" or "my personal favorite"), my picks would come from the following list of twenty winners (in order by year):
It Happened One Night (1934)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
All About Eve (1950)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
On the Waterfront (1954)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
West Side Story (1961)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
My Fair Lady (1964)
The Sound of Music (1965)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather II (1974)
Annie Hall (1977)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Schindler's List (1993)
We'll see you on Monday! Let the competition begin!
Thanks for another delightful visit to The Lounge. In honor of today being a rather "political" day because of the Florida Primary, I thought it might be fitting to conclude this month's visit with a post about political films. In Advocacy to Zealousness, two examples of films with political themes are Judgment at Nuremberg(1961) and All the King's Men (pictured, 1949). I recently found a group that votes for the best political films of the year, so I thought I would also raise the question here, expanding it to include all political films. What are some other great political films that should be on the list of the best political films of all time? Which films should be listed among the best of 2011?
A couple of weeks ago I blogged asking readers for advice on what movies I should see to prepare myself for the Oscar race. Boy did I choose wrong. After dragging myself through Take Shelter, enjoying Young Adult and hanging in there for the U.S. remake of Dragon Tattoo, I find I have missed most of the movies that got the big Oscar noms. I still haven't seen The Descendants, The Help or The Artist. And Iron Lady only just opened in Cleveland...
But as bad as I feel, I have to feel worse for poor Michael Fassbender who garnered so much 'early buzz' and then completely struck out despite having donned some truly ludicrous costumes in X-Men, taken it all off in Shame and had a contentious affair with a patient in Dangerous Method.
The image of the t-shirt in Eric's post, and the various reactions it received (mine included) have been very enlightening. The use of insults and slurs can be used as "teachable moments" in various classroom settings, but we all have a moral compass that makes us seriously take pause when a certain usage crosses the line. In Advocacy to Zealousness, many of the films I've included have a secondary purpose of encouraging the exploration of various elements of diversity in the legal profession. Some of the films include the use of slurs. Perhaps the most famous example is To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Another is Gentleman's Agreement (pictured, 1947), an earlier film starring Gregory Peck that explores Anti-Semitism. My question concerns open discussions of diversity in classroom settings, either with law students or during CLE presentations involving attorneys. How do you approach these topics in classroom settings? What steps do you take to ensure that these potentially-heated subjects are discussed openly and civilly?
Of the 327 films I watched to select the films for Advocacy to Zealousness, one of my favorites is The Talk of the Town (1942), which chronicles the experiences of a persnickety law professor who is trying to complete a book while a felon secretly hides in the attic of the cottage he is renting for the summer. The felon is brilliantly portrayed by Cary Grant (pictured, far left, and born today in 1904). The storyline includes the possibility of the professor's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. With the recent appointment of Associate Justice Elena Kagan, we know that such an honor -- although somewhat rare in recent times -- is far from fictitious. So, in honor of this wonderful film, and what would have been Grant's 108th birthday, today's question concerns High Court appointments. Which current law professors or deans would make good candidates? (Bonus points will be awarded to anyone who can list Cary Grant's given name.)
Joining The Lounge for another visit this month is a great delight (and an honor). For my first post, I thought I would highlight an inaugural event that will take place during the AALS conference -- the first annual Law and Film Series. Four films will be shown -- two tonight, and two on Jan. 7. Tonight's pair includes a film that appears in Advocacy to Zealousness-- the wonderful Adam's Rib(1949). Although it was released more than six decades ago, the film has aged beautifully, and the witty dialogue is just as fresh and clever today as it was when it was first shown. I find it particularly interesting that the story was reportedly inspired by a real-life lawyer couple who represented a husband and wife in a divorce, and ended up marrying their respective clients. I also wish to publicly thank my publisher, Carolina Academic Press, for generously sponsoring this year's film series. The film will be shown tonight at 10 p.m. I would love to be there (my new book will be featured), and I hope others will give this event great support.
And speaking of our friend Kelly Anders and her Oscar Trivia prowess (and congrats on the book, Kelly!) it would be wrong of me to let the new year creep in without alerting everyone to the need to spend whatever is left of the break catching up on those Oscar-buzz-worthy films. The field is wide open this year according to Variety with no early indications of a front-runner in any of the major categories.
I can attest to the strong acting performances and quirky script in Young Adult, but I can't say I've seen too many of the other films being talked about.
Given that there's so little time and so many potential contenders, which films do Lounge readers think we should see in the remaining couple of months before the awards hit us?
Creighton law prof Kelly Anders (pictured) has been a Lounge visitor on multiple occasions, including stints as one of our "Oscar trivia experts" in recent years. Next month, Carolina Academic Press will publish Kelly's new book, Advocacy to Zealousness: Learning Lawyering Skills from Classic Films. Details are available here. A review of the table of contents reveals that Kelly builds her textual discussion of 26 different lawyering skills (one for each letter of the alphabet [including the always challenging "q" and "x"!]) around 26 different films, including such law-related favorites as To Kill a Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men, and others that are completely new to me, such as Pinky and Salesman.
Sounds like a book that should certainly interest those who teach a course in lawyering skills, Law and Film, or Law and Culture. And if you don't? A love of film should be hook enough!
In honor of today's opening of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (what's not to love - intelligent apes, dangerous biotech research etc?), I invite readers to comment on their favorite monkey movies over the years.
Was it in Madagascar the the monkeys were discussing when they should "fling poo" in cultured British accents?
And if anyone can explain all the time and space paradoxes in previous Planet of the Apes movies, I'd be most grateful. Don't they start in the future and end in the past?
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange said it is shutting down its iconic frozen pork belly futures market at the end of business on Friday.
The contract for a slab of frozen meat from which bacon is cut started trading in 1961 and as of Friday was the oldest existing CME livestock futures contract.
The closing had been expected. Trading in pork belly futures had dropped to nearly zero in recent years after the meat industry became integrated and used fresh pork bellies instead of frozen ones to make bacon.
. . .
Pork bellies had their heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s, when they were the CME's most popular agriculture contract.
“Because of a prolonged lack of trading volume and after significant discussion with industry participants, CME will be delisting frozen pork bellies futures and options” effective Monday, exchange parent CME Group said in a report to traders.
Pork bellies, used to make bacon, were once an anchor product at the CME. Launched in 1961, the contracts were used by slaughterhouses and food companies hedging price risks and speculators taking a punt on price direction.
As bellies futures predated the creation of financial futures, some traders also used them to protect against macroeconomic risks, said John Lothian, president of the electronic trading division at brokers Price Futures Group in Chicago.
“In the early 1970s, there were people that used pork bellies as an inflation hedge,” Mr Lothian said.
While catching up on the many TV series I've missed over the years, I stumbled on Commander in Chief, starring Geena Davis as the first female American president. Having recently succumbed to The West Wing and having always kind of had a soft spot for The American President, I started thinking about which are the best and worst portrayals of political leaders. I mean, you kind of have to love Bill Pullman in Independence Day talking about not quietly going into the night in the face of alien attack. And didn't Morgan Freeman try to lead the country out of meteoric disaster in Deep Impact?
And I haven't even started on portraryals of British royalty - Helen Mirren's Oscar Winning turn as Queen Elizabeth is a case in point. (Although to be fair, this is a fictional account of a real figure unlike the fictional accounts of fictional presidents listed above.)
Who were the best TV or movie presidents, prime ministers, and monarchs in your view?
OK - so I realize I absolutely must spend less time on Amazon and less time trying to find more time to read more books. But I did find something new on Amazon earlier today and did a little digging. Apparently, there's a new way of enjoying books and movies via "pre-loaded" digital book and video players. In other words, you don't buy content and download it to an MP3 device, but rather you buy hardware (a player) pre-loaded with the content you want. There's a company that sells a whole catalog of audio and video products this way. But I don't understand the marketing/pricing. A popular novel costs around $50 to $60 in this format and it's not clear to me whether the device can ever be re-used to play other content or whether you have to buy a new hard copy device for each book (or movie). If so, this is a pretty expensive pricing model. Even a hardcover new release book only costs $20 to $30. So I'm not 100% sure who the market is for these products and whether the manufacturers are pricing themselves out of the market anyway. With so many models available for listening to and viewing content relatively cheaply and flexibly, it's hard to understand where this one will fit in.
... I keep blogging about pop culture books and movies. Obviously, I'm busily and importantly attempting to finish a draft conference paper that is due next month so I'm distracted by just about anything and everything that isn't copyright law. One of my weekend distractions was the incessant replaying of Star Wars movies on TV over the weekend that my hubby was watching. I couldn't stop him because it was Father's Day and he deserved a treat. But even he agreed that one of the worst romantic couples ever put together in movie history was Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen in Star Wars, episodes 2 and 3. The lack of chemistry between them is truly awe-inspiring, particularly given that they are both very good actors in their own right.
This got me to thinking about some of the best and worst movie pairings of all time. I think the best for me will always be Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole in How to Steal a Million. And while I STILL haven't seen Water for Elephants, I suspect that the pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson (she's almost old enough to be his mother and actually played his mother in an earlier film) will be amongst the worst.
What are your thoughts on the best and worst movie pairings of all time?
Returning to one of my favorite topics, I was thinking about recent movies where "the movie wasn't as good as the book". There seem to be quite a few of them. For example, the film version of Water for Elephants received reviews so bad I didn't bother to see it at the theaters, even though I really enjoyed the book. Then there was I Am Number Four, a young adult sci-fi-oriented adventure story. The film wasn't terrible, but was pretty ordinary. And people will probably disagree with me on this one, but I finally saw the film version of Precious, and I have to say that I thought the book was actually better despite the fact that the movie was extremely well made and acted and deservedly nominated for several academy awards last year. The film just didn't capture the writing style of the book to my mind. And turning to mindless romantic comedy, Something Borrowed was a cute enough book but again I was talked out of seeing the film by others who told me how bad it was.
There's some forthcoming film adaptations of books that will be interesting to check out in terms of comparisons with the source work. For example, the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise. I must admit that Deathy Hallows Part I rivaled the book for me, although it obviously cut out significant parts of the lengthy plot of the book. And there's the much talked-about and not yet fully cast Hunger Games movies to look forward to. Then there's the American versions of the Dragon Tattoo books coming up. Will they be as good as the Swedish versions, which were pretty faithful to the books and probably as good a job at translating those books to the screen as I can imagine.
What books are you looking forward to seeing translated onto the silver screen over the next year or so? What books do you hope they don't turn into movies? And if they do turn them into movies, would you prefer that they not be in 3D??
Well, I started the summer reading binge with two celebrity autobiographies: Bossypants by Tina Fey and Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed both of them. They are actually very different books and both enjoyable for different reasons. And anyone who has ever been a breastfeeding mother (or who has attempted to breastfeed with little success) will love Fey's chapter on attempting to breastfeed her child.
Both books are well written and both deal with people who don't come from a traditional show-biz background but who made their way into success, ultimately both ending up with NBC sitcoms - Fey with 30 Rock and Lowe on Parks and Recreation.
Of course both authors are the stars in their own stories so to speak, so if you don't like (or are not prepared to like) either Fey or Lowe you may not like their books.
One little thing bothered me while reading Lowe's book, though. He refers to a number of his apparently well-known movies and I have no recollection of seeing or hearing of any of them other than St Elmo's Fire and About Last Night. I had never even heard of The Outsiders - neither the book nor the movie. I grew up in Australia and wondered if it was possible that none of these movies ever made it to distribution there. I checked with another Aussie friend who had also never heard of most of his movies. Do others from different countries have similar "gaps" in their "Brat Pack knowledge"? Or was I just a bookish young girl who didn't care much for the teen scene??
With the impending release of Cowboys and Aliens, which I understand is based on a comic book (?), I started to think of how many other movies or TV shows combined the Western format with Sci Fi. Of course I came up with the obvious - Joss Wheedon's Firefly. But it strikes me that some genres seem to meld together very well eg romantic comedy, historical romance, sci-fi thriller. And many genres don't meld often or well eg historical thriller (although I'm sure there are some good ones). Some genres seem to be diametrically opposed eg drama and comedy - although I'm sure the two have been cominbed to good effect occasionally. Another set of oppositional genres seems to be epics and thrillers because epic implies something that is long and drawn out and thriller implies something more fast paced. What are your favorite genre-bending movies? What are the most effective and least effective attempts at combining genres?
An interesting law suit has been brewing between the tattoo artist who created Mike Tyson's famous facial tattoo and the Warner Bros studios in respect of Ed Helms' character in their recent release, The Hangover 2. In the movie, Helms sports a facial tattoo very similar to Mike Tyson's original tattoo. The case re-opens a murky area of copyright law relating to tattoos and body art, including questions of whether skin art is copyrightable. A few law review articles have touched on this issue previously, notably Cotter and Mirabole's article: Written on the Body: Intellectual Property Rights in Tattoos, Makeup, and Other Body Art, 10 UCLA Entertainment Law Review 97-138 (2003). It will be interesting to see what the courts do with this case.