It's that time of year again, when for one night Americans remember that a place called Hollywood still exists and bask in the irresistible glow of the most glamorous show on Earth.
With the Academy Awards only four days away, it seemed an appropriate time to revisit the Oscars of years past.
"In Secret" might have been a much better film had the filmmakers acted as boldly as the characters.
Before I write anything about "The LEGO Movie," a disclaimer: I love LEGOs. My son loves LEGOs. My wife and I would be embarrassed by how many LEGO bricks currently reside in our house if they hadn't facilitated so many family memories.
Hollywood studios have, since their inception, placed their faith in the star system. Put enough A-listers in the cast, and ticket sales will follow.
The funniest unintentional laugh in "Labor Day" is the way adaptor / director Jason Reitman treats this eye-rolling, melodramatic romance novel as if he's got his hands on the works of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy.
As far as I can recall, I have never written a spring preview, because the season has always been nothing but a dumping ground for movies the studios knew wouldn't fare well against the competition during any other time of year.
If you are keeping track, and I know you are, I included three documentaries in my top 20 for 2013. Those were not anomalies but rather an indication of what a strong year it was for documentary film. As those films now move to home video, here are some you should track down.
"Life is very long."
"Lawrence of Arabia" is one of those movies I have always heard about but never took the time to watch. At almost 3½ hours long, I needed more than an idle recommendation from a friend or family member before I could commit to it.
Writer/director Spike Jonze is known for living in his own zip code. His films ("Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation," "Where the Wild Things Are") and music videos combine a childlike yet intellectually curious imagination.
When I was little, I grew up watching old Hollywood movies on Turner Classic Movies with my grandmother. Some of my favorites starred Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Clark Gable and Cary Grant.
Action movies aren't known for sparking debate, but "Lone Survivor" will likely incite disagreement among both veterans and civilians.
The movie year 2013 was a tale of two seasons. Summer was so disappointing numerous people began ringing the death knell for the American movie industry. Steven Spielberg warned Hollywood was heading for "an implosion," and he seemed right, given the alarming number of blockbuster flops and generally awful major studio product.
I recently wrote parts of "American Hustle" seemed like a Martin Scorsese film without the energy. "The Wolf of Wall Street" actually is a Scorsese film without the energy.
"Selma" wasn't the only film about race to get short shrift from Oscar voters this past year. "Black or White" is a frank, touching and very well-acted melodrama about child custody and cultural perceptions of "blackness" and "the race card," and could have earned Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner fresh Oscar nominations.
We have forgotten how subtle Al Pacino could be, pre "Hoo Hah!" Something about his Oscar winning turn in "Scent of a Woman" unleashed the beast, a performer as big, broad and puffed up as that mountain of hair he keeps teased about his head.
In June of 1964, three civil rights workers, two white and one black, went missing in Mississippi. Later found murdered and buried in an earthen dam, the case captured national attention and sparked a massive FBI investigation.
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