Monthly Archives: August 2011

Written in the Stars

It is a question that cinemaphiles eventually ask one another.  What was the movie that made you love movies?  What film awakened you to the possibilities of what a movie could be?  It is a fascinating question because the answer is always so diverse.

The movie that changed my life was actually the second movie that I ever saw.  I was six years old, the year that Star Wars was dropped into American culture and, for whatever reason, this movie just grabbed me as no film at that time really had.  It may have had something to do with the films that I was exposed to.  Most of the films I attended with my parents were Disney pictures, mostly comedies: Gus, The Love Bug, Pete’s Dragon, Hot Lead and Cold Feet and, the first movie I ever saw in my life, The Rescuers.

Star Wars was, for me, something special, something extraordinary.  Those characters opened my mind and my imagination to the idea of the future, the idea of great storytelling, the idea of that a movie could create entirely made-up worlds and, most importantly, the idea of what a movie could be.

Of course, it would take years and many more viewings to really understand all that Star Wars meant to me.  In a way, I’ve been chasing this movie my whole life, looking for that kind of grandeur and pure joy again.  In the 34 years since, thousands of movies have come my way, many have meant so much to me, but none has ever grabbed onto me like Star Wars.  As a kid, I wanted to see a movie, something, anything.  It didn’t matter what.  When I got older and was a teenager in high school, I began taking movies seriously, crawling underneath them to see what made them tick.  Today, I am aspiring to be a film critic and it is possible that I have Star Wars to thank for that motivation.

So it is a question, I love asking to my fellow film lovers.  What film really changed your life?

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Posted by on 08/12/2011 in Blog


The Academy Changes Its Rules

If you follow the Oscars as I do, and there is a lot to follow, you are often exasperated by most every decision made by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Yet, now I think they’ve made a command decision that might be beneficial, if it works.

For years, pundits complained that the Academy’s lock-up of five nominees was unfair, that it left too many good films out in the dust, while other films snuck in that really didn’t deserve to be there – some of them even one. As an antidote to this problem, In June of 2009, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a statement that the number of Best Picture nominees was being doubled from five to ten. There were probably a dozen reasons why, but the official word from academy president Sid Ganis was this: “Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going allow academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize.”

That was the official reason but, like most, I suspect that it was due to the ceremony’s slipping television ratings and the previous year’s fan-generated outrage when The Dark Knight did not receive a Best Picture nomination. The Academy was trying to save face, I believe, and expanding to ten nominees was a way to keep this from happening again.

It was a noble effort, but it didn’t work.  Having ten nominees means you have to fill that space and often it left a lot of question marks on the morning of the announcements (District 9 . . . really?!).  Well, now the academy is retooling The Best Picture category again, and this time they may have it absolutely right.  Now, instead of ten films being locked in as nominees, the list will float between 5 and 10 nominees.  That means a minimum of 5 nominees and a maximum of 10. According to the new rule, a film must receive at least 5% of the first-place votes to get nominated.

Will it work?  Will it boost the show’s sagging ratings?  Will it make the Oscar telecast less of a struggle to sit through.  I guess we’ll have to wait until February to find out.

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Posted by on 08/03/2011 in Blog, Movie of the Day Blog