It's an annual tradition for film enthusiasts especially those who can't accept the past results of the Academy Awards. There will be overlooked films and snubbed performances, and many would see some as more deserving than the others. You can't please everyone, but Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will do everybody a favor. The 89th Academy Awards will be held on February 26, but fans will be treated to past winners and nominees for a month. It's the 31 Days of Oscar!
Warren Beatty, who won an Academy Award for Best Director, once quipped that the Oscar was all about business. The nominees aren't that stupid to think that the awards season is all about the red carpet and extending their fifteen minutes of fame. It's a chance to work with Hollywood studio(s), and some will have an enviable career if they play their cards right. The fans are the biggest winners, as they get to watch these old (and not-so-old) movies. There's no need to do a movie marathon, as TCM shows them on a frequent basis. It happens that February is that time of the year when you'll see them all.
You might have a viewing schedule, but it's not too late to change your mind after learning about the recommendations from others. Here's a few for your consideration:
La Ronde (1950) by Max Ophuls. The Academy voters saw the brilliance behind this fascinating, if not disturbing, a tale of extramarital affairs. Max Ophuls, the son of a Jewish textile manufacturer, wasn't promoting a liberal lifestyle. He knew Sigmund Freud well enough, such that his adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's play presented the illusion and probable truth about relationships. In this case, marriage is a tender trap. There's no doubt about it, but that significant other might be six degrees away. American moviegoers, a bit too conservative back then, would raise an eyebrow on this argument. Ophuls won't press his arguments, as Jean d'Eaubonne's art direction was enough to distract the audience. This one, along with the screenplay (by Ophuls), were nominated for an Academy Award. ("La Ronde" will be shown on February 14 at 4 PM ET.)
Mogambo (1953) by John Ford. Clark Gable would reprise the role of a game hunter torn between two beautiful women. "Red Dust" was filmed 21 years earlier, which made Gable too old for the role. Nonetheless, the actor showed why his younger peers couldn't play Victor Marswell too well. Grace Kelly's role resembled Princess Grace that she became known for, but Ava Gardner was the real deal. John Ford's camera turned the diminutive actress into a predator in the African wild. The Academy voters couldn't be blamed for basing their judgment on Gardner's sensual looks, as Audrey Hepburn's winsome face was one of the reasons that she won the Oscar (during that year). Africa had a myriad of problems, so there won't be any room for relationship problems. Ford, arguably the greatest filmmaker of his generation, knew he could do make something out of John Lee Mahin's flimsy screenplay. ("Mogambo" will be shown on February 17 at 12:15 AM ET.)
Now, Voyager (1942) by Irving Rapper. No one questioned Bette Davis playing a strong-willed woman, but a character lacking self-confidence would be something else. But she did. The adaptation of Olive Higgins Prouty's novel resulted to a melodrama, which suited Davis. It was hard to ignore Charlotte Vale (played by Davis), even remained indifferent to her attempts to be independent of her cold mother. (She preferred her three sons, which was another matter.) Director Rapper knew that Davis must have the best lines, the camera zooming in on that vulnerable face. (And it doesn't happen often.) "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars," Vale said before "The End" was flashed on the small screen. It couldn't get cheesier than that one. ("Now, Voyager" will be shown on February 19 at 9 AM ET.)
There's more to come.