Sunday, April 7, 2019

1979 Alternate Oscars

My choices are noted with a ★. Historical Oscar winners are noted with a ✔.

As I look at my list of movies from 1979, I find it interesting just how many of them — Apocalypse Now, Manhattan, North Dallas Forty, All That Jazz, even the robot in Alien — were about the destructive nature of what we now call toxic masculinity. So, of course, the Academy (always with a finger on the pulse of its own product) gave all the Oscars to the movie about toxic feminism, Kramer vs. Kramer. Pee-yew!

Okay, I exaggerate. But Kramer vs. Kramer is, at its heart, comfort food for men in need of reassurance when what they desperately needed was a cold, hard slap in the face.

For years, I had Woody Allen's Manhattan down as the best picture of the year (I first saw it forty years ago, the summer I turned eighteen), but in revisiting it recently, I saw not the wistful romance I remembered but the uncomfortable story of a sweet seventeen year old girl (Mariel Hemingway) who finds herself in the clutches of a creepy, balding homunculus twenty-five years her senior (Woody Allen). Woody works overtime to remake the girl in his own crabbed, misanthropic image, but — good for her! — she wriggles free of his grasp at the last minute. The cinematography (Gordon Willis) is gorgeous, the Gershwin music sublime, and maybe I'm just cranky because both Mariel Hemingway and I are now old enough to be the girl's grandparents, but I don't find this stuff amusing anymore.


DKoren said...

Ahhhhhhh! How can you me choose between Jerry Goldsmith, Time After Time (fantastic movie), and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, which makes for one of the best endings of a movie, ever. The pain!


Happy April! Hope things are going well.

Mythical Monkey said...

Lot of good choices in 1979! Time after Time is one of my faves -- saw it in the theater back in the day and have seen it several times since.

Life here is good, hanging in there. Hope you're doing well!

mister muleboy said...

I thought that we had re-established equilibrium [wherein I know and appreciate nearly all the reasons that you voted a particular way, but I went another],as our votes synced . . . not at all. But you and I both saw Mariel Hemingway's performance as worth the vote.

She's always struck me as wooden and ill-fitted to her characters, and I've heard line readings that made me cringe (with accompanying uncontrollable retching noises). But my last viewing opened my eyes to some "choices" and some moments of honesty that made me reassess her work in Manhattan.

I might have considered Sellers (being blank is not at all easy, I think), but once I saw the outtakes, I couldn't ever see him again as Chauncey Gardner, but only as Peter Sellers portraying Chauncey.

OH BOY The Criterion Channel is live today.

Le Samourai awaits. . . !

Mythical Monkey said...

We, too, signed up for the Criterion Channel -- if nothing else, it might give me some options while in the hospital. Two weeks is a long time to be lying in bed.

As for Mariel Hemingway, I knew I would be swimming against the Meryl Streep tide but sometimes you just gotta take a stand.

By the way, I'm assuming you voted for Breaking Away every opportunity you had. It's a fine picture, but surprisingly seems to have slipped from the national consciousness over the last forty years.

mister muleboy said...

(1) I spent 1992 to 1994 lying in bed;

(2) I am indeed fond of Breaking Away. Unlike nearly every similar movie to follow, it depicted its "townies" and its "debutantes/frat boys" honestly. The boys/men at university aren't the blond assholes of Karate Kid/Revenge of the Nerds/ etc., but instead are just . . . young men. They dislike the people they don't know, puff their chests out, and act like 18-yr.-old dummies. The "townies" are conflicted, real people full of fear and/or resentment and/or ambition (in varying amounts). Th father, played perfectly by Dooley (and relied on for many, if not most, of the laughs) may be the most real father I've ever seen in a movie. My old man was comic relief, and smart, and sentimental, and unsentimental, and derisive, and supportive. And the Italian racing team are fuckers.

(3) I'm not a religious man, but if the notions of heaven and hell hold true, in 100 years Streep and Olivier will be entertaining untold masses, and the rest of us will be in heaven. . . .

Maggie said...

I love, 'Breaking Away.' Feels like home to me.