Hello, it’s the end of 2016, and the first thing I’m thinking right now is I am even more behind than usual when it comes to preparing for the Oscars. A quick glance at the Golden Globe nominees is usually a good way to gauge how the Academy will divvy up its picks, but as is my wont, I have not seen all that many films from the current year. In fact, I’ve seen just five. Here, then, is Oscars and I’s official ranking of 2016 films, with the almost certain knowledge that none of them will pick up a nomination for Best Picture:
- ‘Til Madness Do Us Part, dir. Wang Bing (shot in 2013)
- Zootopia, dir. Byron Howard & Rich Moore
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, dir. Gareth Edwards
- I.T., dir. John Moore
- Hail, Caesar!, dir. Coen Brothers
I should say: Rogue One was not a good film at all…not just because of the CGI desecration of Peter Cushing, but because it was lazily written, sloppily directed, poorly paced, and overall just felt like the filler that it is. It is only so highly ranked because a) I saw very few movies, and b) the two below it are just awful. I initially placed I.T. at the bottom, because it is almost unwatchably bad, but decided to put it ahead of Hail, Caesar!, which is bloody terrible, because it was made by the Coen Brothers, which makes it all the more disappointing.
They got this shot by showing George Clooney the dailies.
So, of the five films I’ve seen from this year, three were bad-to-awful. It doesn’t bode well for this awards season, especially after the Academy awarded Spotlight the top prize last year, indicating they’ve lost their damn minds. Hell, maybe Rogue One will get a Best Picture nod…as usual, it’ll get all the technical nominations, and without a Mad Max to compete with, maybe it’ll take them (however undeservedly). And Zootopia will doubtless score Best Animated Feature.
But I wanted to dedicate this post to the New Year’s Eves of Oscars Past, and think about the Best Picture nominees down the years that have at least addressed this only-important-in-movies holiday. There have not been many.
Sadly, ignored by the Academy. Really thought de Niro would pick up his third Oscar for this one.
As far as I can tell, two Best Picture winners have heavily involved New Year’s Eve in their narratives. The second, 1960’s The Apartment, is sadly one I have not yet seen…and if I continue Oscar and I’s slow pace, expect my review of it sometime in the year 2029. But I do know the basic plot, and I can say its treatment of New Year’s Eve as some magical night where all the people who forgot to obtain the Love of Their Life at Christmas are given another chance. In a way, it led us to 2011’s New Year’s Eve, which I also haven’t seen, and you can expect my review of that sometime next never.
The first, which I covered…damn, two years ago…is Cavalcade, the winner of the 6th Academy Awards for 1932/33. It opens on New Year’s Eve 1899, with a ridiculously prim and proper English couple such as only Noël Coward could imagine coming home at midnight and optimistically predicting a wondrous and peaceful 20th century. It’s supposed to be ironic, I guess, but the whole film is just so full of stiff-upper-lippedness–especially when it condenses the First World War into an almost jubilant montage that doesn’t scar its participants in any way whatsoever–that it just flops through its overlong runtime like a salmon trying to make it to a fishing hole across a frozen lake.
In my review, I mentioned I could only obtain a grainy copy of the film that looked like it had been re-recorded several times, with subtitles in Portuguese that not only could not be turned off, but oftentimes directly contradicted the dialogue in English. This is because Cavalcade is the only Best Picture winner never to be officially released on home video.
And if we’re accepting suggestions to add to that list…
I suppose my favorite New Year’s-themed film has to be The Poseidon Adventure, a raucous film from the early 1970s disaster boom that also gave us The Towering Inferno and Earthquake. In this one, an ocean liner gets hit by a rogue wave and flips over, and it’s up to Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine to save the day. It did win an Academy Award, for the almost impressively awful song “The Morning After”, and also received a nomination for its original score.
Because Academy rules dictate that John Williams must receive at least one nomination per year.
And speaking of Best Original Score at the 45th Academy Awards, it was to be the only Oscar Charlie Chaplin ever received, for his film Limelight (which had actually been released 1952 but, due to a technicality, was not eligible for the Oscars until 1972). And even though it predated the Oscars, there’s also that almost unbearably touching New Year’s Eve scene in his 1925 classic The Gold Rush:
So unless ships are flipping upside down or there’s gold in them thar hills, it seems that New Year’s Eve is a pretty barren holiday when it comes to great films. That’s something someone can work to correct in 2017 and beyond…the Oscars deserve a win on this date. In any event, I’m off to see if I can eat 12 grapes in thirty seconds to portend prosperity in the coming year. And since I’m eager to go and start the obligatory drinking (since I rarely touch the stuff any other time of year…I may try this “beer” thing I keep hearing about), here’s another scene from The Gold Rush:
Happy 2017, everyone!