Archive for February, 2015


Oscars 2015 The WinnersThe Arrivals

As I’ve been doing for the last few years, being a true Film buff, I woke up early, on 23rd of February, 2015, to catch the 87th Annual Academy Awards ceremony LIVE. The 87th Annual Academy Awards was held on the evening of 22nd February 2015, i.e. 23rd early morning, on this side of the Globe.

As I switched on the tele, at 5:30 a.m., the glitterati of Hollywood’s elite sashayed in, in their glamorous attire. The best dressed actresses of the evening included J-Lo, Emma Stone, Lupita Nyong’o, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Rosamund Pike, et al. Among the gents, Neil Patrick Harris, stole the show, when he walked in on the Red Carpet, dressed in a stunning tux, with his husband, David Burtka, walking behind him. Well, most of the male stars were smartly dressed, from director Richard Linklater and his young protégé, Ellar Coltrane, to actors Michael Keaton, Jared Leto, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Kevin Hart, to musicians Hans Zimmer and Adam Levine. Best moment on the Red carpet was the typical Mother/Daughter tiff, with veteran Melanie Griffith and daughter Dakota Johnson, where Johnson came on harsh on her poor mother, and Griffith seemed slightly hurt. Yet, it made them so normal. Poor Mother.

Neil Patrick Harris, Hosting the Oscars, 2015

Neil Patrick Harris, Hosting the Oscars, 2015

I enjoyed the show as well, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Though I agree, that he wasn’t the best person to host the Oscars, he wasn’t among the worst either, the way he’s been criticized about on social media. True, I agree that one of his gags was ill-timed. When; dressed in a black, pom-pom laden, elegant, evening gown; filmmaker Dana Perry; who was awarded for ‘Best Short Documentary’ for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013); dedicated the Oscar to her son, who had committed suicide, Patrick Harris quipped that ‘‘It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that’’. Neil Patrick Harris, here, wasn’t being witty, but pretty foolish and unsympathetic. But besides that; and walking in ¾ naked, in tiny-whities, onto the stage, as a parody to Birdman (2014), the movie which ended up taking home the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’; I generally enjoyed the show, despite a few dry jokes, Mr. Harris came up with. I actually enjoyed the gag with the briefcase, he tasked Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, to guard throughout the night. I didn’t think he was being racist, nor did I feel he was making fun of her weight. Of course, the gag ended up pretty silly, when he finally opened up the case. I even enjoyed the joke with the seat fillers, and Steve Carell.

Among the performances of the night, the one I enjoyed most, was Lady Gaga paying tribute to Julie Andrews, Maria Von Trapp and The Sound of Music (1965), for this musical’s 50th anniversary. Known for her shock value, with her, eccentric and weird, yet authentic and aesthetic, sense of style, Lady Gaga, stunned audiences at the Oscars, in her vintage gown, looking very much a graceful sophisticated lady of elegance and class, as the world has never witnessed her before. Added to which, she sure has a healthy pair of lungs, and sang all the mesmerising songs from the classic movie to perfection. Lady Gaga is no doubt one of the most popular pop stars, since Madonna and Michael Jackson, to grace the face of earth. But her popularity, has more to do with her unique image, she’s created for her self, than her music. Touching was the scene, when Dame Julie Andrews, with her face radiating pure warmth and kindness, walked onto the stage and thanked Lady Gaga, embracing her. This powerful performance of Lady Gaga, definitely should have elevated her status, with the elitist, adding to her already great fan base.

Another great performance of the night, was the tribute to Martin Luther King jr.’s long march for voting rights, from 50 years ago, as well. The song ‘Glory’, from the film Selma (2014), was performed by John Legend and Lonnie Lynn (Common), on stage, which ended up bagging the Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’, that night. The song got a standing ovation, with a teary eyed David Oyelowo, looking on. Oprah Winfrey gave Oyelowo a hug to console him. It was very a touching moment as well.

Thus, though Neil Patrick Harris, wasn’t among the better Oscar hosts, the evening (at day time here) was enjoyable enough.

Winners as Predicted

As I had hoped, Eddie Redmayne won the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar (See my post Redmayne ‘is’ Hawking, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking from earlier this month), for his brilliant performance as Stephen Hawking, in The Theory of Everything (2014). Interstellar (2014), grabbing the award for ‘Best Visual Effects’, was another plus for me. The Special effects were truly spectacular, as was the movie, for a change. Movies now a days, with great computer graphics, rarely tend to be great films as well (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under  from November 2014). Patricia Arquette winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Boyhood (2014), was as anticipated. She deserved the Oscar, for brilliantly showcasing a difficult stage of, 12 years of, ‘motherhood’, in the beginning of the 21st century, in my favourite movie from last year, so far (see my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). Though Ethan Hawke, too, was nominated for Boyhood, I didn’t think his role was great enough for him to win the Oscar. I hadn’t really predicted as to who might win, until Lupita Nyong’o announced the nominees, showcasing their talent on screen. As soon as I saw the scene with J. K. Simmons and Miles Teller, from Whiplash (2014), I guessed Simmons might take home the trophy, even though I hadn’t seen the movie. And so he did, end up winning the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar. Once I saw the performance of the song ‘Glory’ from Selma, on the stage at the Oscars (as I’ve mentioned above), I expected it to win for ‘Best Original Song’, and it did.

Unpredicted Winners

The unexpected winners, happened to be, movies I haven’t seen yet. Like for instance, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), which grabbed four Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ – to Alejandro G. Iñárritu, ‘Best Original Screenplay’, and ‘Best Cinematography’- to Emmanuel Lubezki. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) bagging four Oscars as well, was a total surprise. Whiplash won three. Citizenfour (2014), won ‘Best Documentary’. Citizenfour is based on and the United States, National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, of 2013, with regard to, former NSA contractor and American computer professional, Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the NSA to the mainstream media, back in June 2013. Snowdon currently lives in exile, under temporary asylum, in Russia. Am really keen on checking out this documentary.

The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar. Though, Felicity Jones from The Theory of Everything was nominated for ‘Best Actress’, I didn’t feel she’d win. And I wasn’t sure who’d win. Am a great fan of French actress, Marion Cotillard, yet I haven’t seen Two Days, One Night (2014), so I couldn’t judge. Thus when Julianne Moore won the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, for Still Alice (2014), another film I haven’t seen, though unexpected, it wasn’t a surprise either. In fact, I would have been surprised, if Felicity Jones did win. She was great in the movie, but her role as Hawking’s wife wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy.

Among others:
‘Best Foreign Language Film’ to Paweł Pawlikowski’s Polish film, Ida (2013).
‘Best Animated Short Film’ to Patrick Osborne’s Feast (2014).
‘Best Live Action Short Film’ to The Phone Call (2013).
‘Best Short Documentary’ to The Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (as mentioned above).
‘Best Animated Feature Film’ to Big Hero 6 (2014)
‘Best Sound Editing’ to American Sniper (2014)
‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ to Graham Moore, for The Imitation Game (2014). Moore gave a heart whelming speech, regarding his youth.
Mr. Turner (2014), Unbroken (2014), Foxcatcher (2014), Inherent Vice (2014), and the neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler (2014), not winning a single Oscar, though I haven’t watched any of them.

Boyhood (2014) The Best Film from last year, I've seen so far (NSFS)

Boyhood (2014)
The Best Film from last year, I’ve seen so far (NSFS)

Biggest Oscar Disappointment of the night

I was really disappointed when Boyhood didn’t win for ‘Best Picture’, along with a ‘Best Director’ Oscar for Richard Linklater. Although I haven’t seen Birdman, which I’d love to, Boyhood is a unique experience, rich in it’s context and an innovative study of family life today. A movie that shall age well, maturing as time goes by, and be remembered as one of the best movies, to ever come out of the 21st century. A film that film students would love to dissect and analyse. Richard Linklater has proved to be a true genius, through Boyhood.

But when Linklater lost out to, Birdman’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu, for ‘Best Director’, I had a hunch, that Boyhood might lose out to Birdman, yet again, for the Best Picture’ Oscar, for Year 2015. Sad!!

Another disappointment, was when Hans Zimmer’s hauntingly beautiful score for Interstellar was passed on, for the ‘Best Original Score’ award, to Alexandre Desplat’s background score, for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Besides these two, one other disappointment, that didn’t even make it to the Oscars, was, that Fury (2014), though an excellent war film, made with a unique sense of realism, was unfortunately, not even nominated in any of the categories. It might not have won any award anyway, but should have been nominated for it’s storyline, and various technical categories, at least, if not in the main categories (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014).

Honorary & Humanitarian Awards

Hollywood legend, Maureen O’Hara; Japanese Director, Hayao Miyazaki; and French screenwriter & actor, Jean-Claude Carrière; were awarded the Honorary Awards, this year, as was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, to singer/actor, Harry Belafonte.

With end of the month of February, Oscar Season 2015 comes to an end.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ The Oscars

Also See : The 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ The Oscars

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Being a true Film Buff, I woke up early today morning to catch the Oscars Live, at 5:30 am here, beginning with the fashionable elite of the film world, sashaying in, in their best. Altogether, the Red Carpet and the Award function, went on till 10:30 am. A very elegant and classy affair.

Oscars 2015 Red Carpet

Enjoyed the show hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Birdman (2014) bagged the BEST PICTURE Oscar, a movie I haven’t watched, but would love to.

All in all a fun evening. Shall do a proper post on this later. For the time being let the pictures do the talking.

Oscars 2015Congratulations to all the Oscar winners of 2015, for their incredible work from last year.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

 

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1940
A look back at The 12th Annual Academy Awards, held in February 1940.
Oscar FunctionThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, will be held tonight. Really looking forward to catching the live show (tomorrow early morning out here), to see who wins what.

So, for today’s post, I’ve decided, to travel back in time, to celebrate this years Oscars, with an insight, into the 12th Annual Academy Awards, from the ‘Year 1940’.

BEST PICTURE

The civil war epic Gone with the Wind (1939), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar that year. No doubt the Best movie to come out of the 30’s decade, Gone with the Wind, has aged well, and happens to be amongst the best loved Hollywood classics ever, from the 120 year history, of global cinema. Gone with the Wind received 13 nominations altogether, and took home 10 Academy Awards (8 from the competition, out of the 13 nominated, plus 2 Honorary awards). Among the winners, of this highest grossing film of 39’, included:-

  • The ‘Best Director’ Oscar to Victor Fleming. Although, initially, after the script went through many a revisions, it was Director George Cukor, who started working on this project. But Cukor was fired after three weeks of shooting, due to a disagreement, regarding the film’s pace and the script, between Producer David O. Selznick and Cukor. Actresses, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland heard that Cukor was fired, while the ‘Atlanta bazaar scene’ was being filmed, the two actresses apparently went straight to Selznick’s office, in full costume, and requested him to reconsider, as the film had already been delayed by two years, due to various other problems. Then Victor Fleming, took over the reins, for most of the project. But Fleming briefly left the project due to exhaustion, and director Sam Wood, worked on the film for a couple of weeks. Soon Fleming came back to complete the picture. Thus, though Victor Fleming directed majority of the picture, about 15 to 20 percent of the direction, should be credited to Cukor and Wood, each (i.e. 30 to 40 percent of the whole film). Thus, Victor Fleming was responsible for directing about 60 odd percent of this classic film.
  • The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar to Vivien Leigh. The search for someone to play the lead character, of Scarlett O’Hara, led to 1,400 potential Scarlett O’Hara’s being interviewed. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Paulette Goddard, were some of actresses tested for the part. None seemed to be right to play Scarlett O’Hara. When David O. Selznick watched the British flick, A Yank at Oxford (1938); an excellent film, related to sports and sportsman, starring Robert Taylor, in the lead; O. Selznick felt the British actress Vivien Leigh, was an excellent actress, but too British to play O’Hara. Yet Leigh was given a series of screen tests to do, and Voilà!! O. Selznick found his O’Hara.
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award.  She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939) NSFS

  • The ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar to Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. Olivia de Havilland, from this same epic tear jerker, too, was nominated, in this same category.
  • The ‘Best Screenplay’ Oscar to Sidney Howard. Sidney Howard died in August 1939, thus became the first person to garner a posthumous Oscar nomination and win.
  • The ‘Best Cinematography (in Colour)’ to Ernest Haller & Ray Rennahan.
  • The ‘Best Art Direction’ to Lyle Wheeler.
  • The ‘Best Film Editing’ to Hal C. Kern & James E. Newcom.
  • An ‘Honorary Award’ to William Cameron Menzies. The production designer and art director, was acknowledged for his outstanding achievement in the use of colour, for the enhancement of dramatic moods, in the production of Gone with the Wind.
  • The ‘Technical Achievement Award’ to Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures. Which was yet another ‘Honorary Award’, for pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment, in the production Gone with the Wind.

Added to these 10 trophies, Producer David O. Selznick, was also given the ‘Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award’ for his body of work, which includes this epical classic. Gone with the Wind was the highest-grossing film of all-time, back then, and remained so until, 1965, when The Sound of Music (1965), displaced Gone with the Wind, as the highest-grossing film of all-time. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history, till date. Added to which, Gone with the Wind, set records for the total number of Oscar wins, and nominations, at the time.

This, almost four hours long, timeless masterpiece was also nominated for; ‘Best Actor’ to Clark Gable, Gable lost out to Robert Donat, who won for Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), a movie I haven’t watched, thus can’t judge, but Gable’s, now famed, role of Rhett Butler, is definitely Oscar worthy; ‘Best Special Effects’, but lost out to a movie called The Rains Came (1939), am bit surprised here, though I haven’t watched The Rains Came, am aware that Gone with the Wind has some exceptional visual effects for it’s time, sans modern day CGI, especially the ‘Burning of Atlanta’, the scene in which Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escape the burning city, saving three more lives, is so realistic, that the technique used, is till date, one of the most impressive feats in film history, Gone with the Wind was actually a breakthrough in special effects, at the time, despite that, it didn’t bag the Oscar for ‘Best Special Effects’, a pity; ‘Best Original Score’, which went to Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Wizard of Oz is a brilliantly colourful children’s movie, with marvellously rhythmic music, but again, the superb background score by Max Steiner for Gone with the Wind, is unforgettable, and one can just drift off listening to the brilliant score, thus I feel Gone with the Wind, at least deserved two more wins, for ‘Best Special Effects’ and ‘Best Original Score’; ‘Best Sound Recording’, and lost out to a love story called, When Tomorrow Comes (1939), another film I haven’t seen.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Other films nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ category, included some amazing movies, after Gone with the Wind:-

  • William Wyler’s brilliant adaptation, that was Wuthering Heights (1939), which was based on one of my favourite novels, spanning three generation, that I studied in school (Grade 8) when I was 13 years old, authored by Emily Brontë. Watched this movie, over a decade ago. Love the movie, almost as much as the book, besides the fact that a whole generation is missing in the movie. The film is still brilliant on it’s own. Nominated for 7 Oscars altogether; including for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’ to Laurence Olivier, and ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Geraldine Fitzgerald; Wuthering Heights, won an Oscar for ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ to Gregg Toland.
  • Ninotchka (1939), a hilarious comedy, where Greta Garbo plays a very rigid Russian woman, (i.e. the Soviet Union back then, under Joseph Stalin), with a lack of sense of humour, who is sent to Paris, France, on official business and learns to laugh and what true happiness is. The tag line reads ‘Garbo Laughs’. She also falls in love with the city, the free spirited and romantic Parisian society (pre-World War -II), and of course a handsome Count (played by Melvyn Douglas). Besides for ‘Best Picture’, Ninotchka, was nominated for 4 Oscars, including a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Greta Garbo’s hilarious performance. Ninotchka was banned in the Soviet Union, at the time. Watched this a decade ago as well.
  • The much loved children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939), I watched when I was about 14. A little too late for me to enjoy, as I found it pretty childish at the time, but none the less I realised it was an excellent film for kids. Nominated for 13 awards, it won 2 Oscars, for ‘Best Original Score’ (as mentioned above) and ‘Best Original Song’ for the song ‘Over the Rainbow’. Then child actress, Judy Garland, won a special award, ‘Academy Juvenile Award’, for her exceptional performance as little Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.
Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940 (They married later that year) NSFS

OTHER AWARDS & FILM NOMINATIONS

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), is a movie I got to study, back 2002, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (where we analysed films of director, Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), University of Luton, Luton, UK. Only Angels Have Wings is a very good emotional drama, though not a great movie, starring Cray Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. This Hawks/Grant aviation classic, was nominated in only 2 categories, ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ and ‘Best Special Effects’, and won neither.

OSCARS 1940 The 12th Annual Academy Awards

OSCARS 1940
The 12th Annual Academy Awards (NSFS)

Thomas Mitchell won the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for Stagecoach (1939). A famous John Ford directed western (for which Ford was nominated), with John Wayne in the lead, that am yet to watch. Stagecoach also bagged the Oscar for ‘Best Musical Score’. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), another much loved classic, am yet to see, won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Story’. James Stewart was nominated for ‘Best Actor’, as well as Frank Capra, for ‘Best Director’, for this film.
American actor/screenwriter/film director/producer, Douglas Fairbanks, who died in December 1939, was given a posthumous ‘Honorary Award’, as well, for his contribution to the international development of the motion picture industry, as the very first President of the Academy. Douglas Fairbanks had hosted the very first Oscars Ceremony in 1929.
GWTW OscarThe 12th Annual Academy Awards, was held on the 29th of February, 1940, at a banquet, in the Coconut Grove, at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, USA. Hosted by Bob Hope, this was the very first Academy Award function, Hope hosted. Bob Hope altogether ended up hosting the Oscars, a total of 19 times. I haven’t seen this show (obviously again as I didn’t, nor did my parents still, exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I watched a few scenes from the show; online, on Youtube; including the celebrity guests arriving for the function, a very young Mickey Rooney presenting young Judy Garland with the special award, and Hattie McDaniel’s touching humble speech, paying credit to her ‘‘race and the motion picture industry’’, when she made history by winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Best Picture. Winner of 10 Academy Awards.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the Oscars

P.S.  Also see my previous post 50 years ago – At The Oscars.

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1965
A look back at The 37th Annual Academy Awards, held in April 1965.
Oscars 1965 aThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, is fast approaching. I doubt I’ll get to watch it though, but am definitely looking forward to finding out who wins what. From the movies I’ve seen so far, am really keen on Boyhood (2014) grabbing the Oscars for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and ‘Best Original Screenplay’ (see my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). Boyhood has already won awards, including for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’, at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies, earlier this year. Eddie Redmayne should take home the golden naked baldy, for ‘Best Actor’, for his brilliant performance, in The Theory of Everything (2014), depicting the bold life of famed, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who’s been suffering from motor neuron disease, since his early 20’s (see my post Redmayne ‘is’ Hawking, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking from earlier this month). Again Redmayne bagged the ‘Best Actor’ award at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies, this year. The Theory of Everything also won the BAFTA for ‘Outstanding British Film’. For ‘Best Actress’, Felicity Jones was superb, but was her performance Oscar win worthy. It’s hard for me to judge. The Theory of Everything should hopefully also take home the ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ Oscar. When it comes to ‘Original Musical Score’, ‘Production Design’, ‘Sound Effects’ and ‘Visual Effects’, Interstellar (2014), should definitely bag the awards for all five technical categories, that it’s been nominated for. The haunting background score, by Hans Zimmer, no doubt deserves to win for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ (also see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014).

Oscar Season 2015 Special
Thus, for this post, I decided, to go back in time, 50 years ago, to see what the Oscars were like, in the ‘Year 1965’.

My all time favourite musical, My Fair Lady (1964), took home 8 Golden statuettes.
‘Best Picture’
‘Best Director’ to George Cukor
‘Best Actor’ to Rex Harrison
‘Best Cinematography (Colour)’ to Harry Stradling
‘Best Art Direction/Set Décor (Colour)’ to Cecil Beaton, Gene Allen & George James Hopkins
‘Best Costume Design’ to Cecil Beaton
‘Best Adaptation/Treatment Musical Score’ to André Previn
‘Best Sound’ to George R. Groves (Warner Brothers Studio)
Actress Audrey Hepburn, unfortunately, wasn’t even nominated, for her dazzling performance as Eliza Doolittle, a woman who’s transformed from a mere, cockney accented, flower girl into an, eloquently speaking, Hungarian Princess, by, linguistics expert, the snobbish phonetics professor, Professor Henry Higgins (played brilliantly by Rex Harrison). One of the reasons sighted was, that Audrey Hepburn didn’t sing in the movie, and that her singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon. Which wasn’t exactly Hepburn’s fault. A pity, out of the 12 nominated categories, My Fair Lady, took home 8 Oscars, and the main actress, of this, much loved, musical, wasn’t even nominated. Must be amongst the worst Oscar snubs, in the history of the Academy Awards.

Stanley Holloway and Gladys Cooper, from My Fair Lady, were nominated for their respective supporting roles, but lost out to; British actor, of Russian (and other European) roots, plus Ethiopian Royal ancestry; Peter Ustinov and; Russian-born French actress; Lila Kedrova; for their performances in; Topkapi (1964) and Zorba the Greek (1964); respectively. Neither of which, I’ve watched yet. Alan Jay Lerner, lost out the Oscar for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to Edward Anhalt, for Becket (1964), an excellent historical drama, I watched twice as a child, during my British School days, in the mid-80’s. Watched at home, as well as, was shown at school, as we were studying about Thomas Becket, King Henry – II, the division/conflict between the King of England and the church in the 1160’s, et al. I hardly remember, I must have been around 10 or 11 years old, at the time. William Ziegler, lost out the Oscar for ‘Best Film Editing’, to Cotton Warburton, for Mary Poppins (1964). Another musical, I really enjoyed, when I watched it as a child, in the 80’s, but not so much (not to the same effect at least), as an adult, when I re-watched it, in the early noughties. But Mary Poppins is no doubt a remarkable children’s movie.
Oscars 1965 bJulie Andrews bagged the ‘Best Actress’ trophy for her performance of the flying nanny, in the Disney children’s classic, Mary Poppins (1964). There was a lot of debate, over Andrews taking home an Oscar, while Hepburn was not even nominated; and the ‘Doolittle’ role. I’ve spoken about it at length in my post Audrey Hepburn & The Musical from May 2014, which I did, for Audrey Hepburn’s 85th Birth Anniversary. Mary Poppins, altogether, won five Awards, including for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ and ‘Best Special Visual Effects’.

The Night of the Iguana (1964), another of my favourite films ever, bagged the award for ‘Best Costume Design (in a Black & White movie)’, which went to Dorothy Jeakins. The Americanization of Emily (1964), another really good, Julie Andrews film, was nominated for ‘Best Black & White Cinematography’ and ‘Best Art Direction’, but won neither. The excellent Kubrick satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), was nominated in four categories, but won none (also see my post The Essential 60’s Blogathon : Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) from September 2014). The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) was nominated for one Oscar, which went to Mary Poppins. The French musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), see my post Being mesmerised by ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from a couple of years ago, and the Japanese film, adapted from a novel be Kôbô Abe, Woman in the Dunes (1964), lost out the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ Oscar, to an Italian movie starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

None of the four Oscar awards, in the acting categories, in 1965, went to American actors. The Year 1965, also marked, the only time in Oscar history, where three films got 12 or more nominations. Becket and My Fair Lady, both had 12 nominations, and Mary Poppins, 13.
Oscars 1965 cThe 37th Annual Academy Awards, was hosted by Bob Hope in Santa Monica, California, USA. I haven’t seen this show (obviously as I didn’t exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I have seen a few sequences; where Audrey Hepburn, delightedly, announces the ‘Best Actor’ winner; Rex Harrison thanks both ‘Fair Ladies’; Sydney Poitier announces the ‘Best Actress’ award; Julie Andrews jokingly hints, that it’s ‘Ridiculous’, she won the award; Gregory Peck presents the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar; et al, online, on Youtube.

MY FAIR LADY (1964) – Best Picture. Winner of 8 Oscars.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the Oscars

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Last night, watched the 60th Annual Filmfare Awards, on Sony, which went on past midnight, till today morning. The who’s who of the glitterati world of Bollywood were present.
60th Filmfare AwardsFashionista, Sonam Kapoor, was no doubt the best dressed, in a unique Indo-western ensemble. Eternal beauty, 60 year old Rekha, looked gorgeous as ever, in her kanjeevaram sari. Ileana D’Cruz, was a class apart in, a more contemporary, Audrey Hepburnisque style, black attire, merged with a Count Dracula cape. Shraddha Kapoor, looked like a fairytale princess in her white silver embroidered dress. Varun Dhawan was, no doubt the best dressed, among the gents, in a semi-transparent, white trouser suit. Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Manish Malhotra and Shahid Kapoor, came a close second. Generally most of them were very elegantly well dressed. The worst dressed, however, was the critically acclaimed actress, Tabu, in a black sequined gown. A pity.
60th Filmfare Awards RekhaFrom the films in the competition, the only Bollywood movies I had seen were PK (2014), Gulaab Gang (2014), Highway (2014) and Gunday (2014). PK won in the technical category for ‘Best Screenplay’ & ‘Best Dialogue’, and was nominated for six more Filmfare awards (See my post on P.K. Are you DRUNK ????? from last month). Queen (2014) bagged most of the major awards, including for, ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Director’ to Vikas Bahl and ‘Best Actress’ to Kangana Ranaut, along with three other wins, out of the 13 nominations it received. While, the modern day, Bollywood, adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Haider (2014), took home the coveted ‘Black Lady’ (trophy) for, ‘Best Actor’ to Shahid Kapoor, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Tabu, ‘Best Supporting Actor’ to Kay Kay Menon, and two other awards, out of the 9 nominations it received. Three, out of the four, Critic’s awards, went to Aankhon Dekhi (2014), a.k.a. Through My Own Eyes; for ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Director’ (to Rajat Kapoor) and ‘Best Actor’ (to Sanjay Mishra). Aliya Bhatt bagged the ‘Best Actress’ (Critic’s award) for Highway. But I didn’t think there was anything that great in Bhatt’s performance for her to win the critic’s award (not that she was bad in the film, but it certainly wasn’t an award winning performance, let alone a Critic’s award). Nor did I think much of the movie. But I did love the cinematography, of Highway, which captured some breathtakingly beautiful locations, around India. Highway was nominated for the Filmfare award for ‘Best Cinematography’ as well, but lost out to Queen.

Juhi Chawla, Aliya Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor at the Pre-Awards Party (Jan 2015)

Juhi Chawla, Aliya Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor at the Pre-Awards Party (Jan 2015)

Among others, ‘Best Actor’ nominee, Aamir Khan (for PK), was famously conspicuous by his absence, as always. ‘Best Supporting Actress’ nominees, Juhi Chawla (for Gulaab Gang), Dimple Kapadia (for Finding Fanny (2014)) and Amrita Singh (for 2 States (2014)), weren’t in attendance either. Neither, were ‘Best Actress’ nominees, Priyanka Chopra (for Mary Kom (2014)) & Rani Mukherji (for Mardaani (2014)), nor was ‘Best Actress’ winner herself, Kangana Ranaut (for Queen), present at the show. Best Director nominees, Vishal Bhardwaj (for Haider) and Rajkumar Hirani (for PK), too were missing. The senior Bachchan’s were there, to present a couple of awards, but the junior Bachchan’s were a no show, at the most prestigious, and oldest, Indian Film Award ceremony. Other ‘Best Actor’ nominees, that weren’t in attendance, were Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar.
Kamini KaushalThe set décor at the awards function was impressive, and the stage lit up with some interesting performances. And some not so great. Karan Johar hosted the show brilliantly, as did Arjun Kapoor, but I can’t say the same, for Johar’s co-host, Kapil Sharma. Nor did I fancy the pre-awards, ‘Red Carpet’ segment. Aliya Bhatt gave a touching speech, when she won the critic’s award. And even more heart whelming, was the eloquent speech, in clear accented English, by 88 year old veteran Kamini Kaushal, who was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for her, almost 70 years of, contribution to Hindi cinema.

A graduate of B.A. (honours) in English literature from Kinnaird College for Women University, in Lahore, British India (now Pakistan), Kamini Kaushal, began her film career, when director Chetan Anand cast her as the lead actress, for his feature film, Neecha Nagar (1946). Neecha Nagar, went on to win the prestigious Grand Prix du Festival International du Film award (today known as the Palme d’Or a.k.a. Golden Palm) for ‘Best Film’ at the very first Cannes Film Festival, held in 1946. Kamini Kaushal has never retired, and is still working. Her most recent role was, that of playing Grandmother; to an almost 50 year old, Shah Rukh Khan, reining Bollywood heartthrob, since the 1990’s; in Chennai Express (2013).

All in all, the 60th Annual Filmfare Awards, which was held on the 31st of January, 2015, was a pretty enjoyable showcase of fun, grandeur and Bollywood glamour. Enjoyed watching the ceremony on the small screen.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Eddie Redmayne completely encompasses Hawking’s characteristics, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything (2014).
Theory Everything 3Based on the real life story of the famed, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking; the movie deals with; his success as a theoretical physicist, his struggle with the motor neuron disease, and of course his relationship with his wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, who stood by him through thick and thin, even when they fell out of love with each other. Without Jane Hawking’s strength backing him, he might have given up on life completely, and might not have achieved as much as he has today. Just as much as how great Stephen Hawking is, his first wife deserves acknowledgement too, for constantly encouraging him, and never letting him be disheartened, due to his disability. James Marsh’s directorial bio-pic, The Theory of Everything (2014), is based on the memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Wilde Hawking.

The film begins with, when Stephen Hawking (Redmayne); aged 21, a PhD student of astrophysics; first set eyes on his future bride, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), in 1963. Their subsequent courtship, Hawking excelling in mathematics and physics, his keen interest in creation of the universe, Hawking’s indecisiveness, as to what his final thesis should be on, et al. This early segment of The Theory of Everything, had me a tad bored, especially the romantic angle. I still felt it was a pretty good ‘love story’, but didn’t feel that it was that great. But then Hawking is diagnosed with the motor neuron disease, and the movie starts to ascend into being one of the best movies ever made. The Theory of Everything, is a very touching portrayal of Hawking’s struggle with this disease, throughout his life, the deterioration of his health, his rise to fame, and the support of his wife and close friends, who constantly encourage him, never letting him give up or feel dejected.

Left: The real Hawking's on their wedding day. Right: The lead actors playing the Hawking's in the movie.

Left: The real Hawking’s on their wedding day.
Right: The lead actors playing the Hawking’s in the movie.

Initially, when Hawking first hears that he’s been diagnosed with the motor neuron disease, it makes him fall into a deep depression and completely lose hope, especially since he was given only two years to live. Yet, it’s Jane, as shown in the movie, who pulls him up, telling him if he has only two years to live to ‘lets make the best of it’ (or something on those lines), and marries him, despite being aware that there might not be a future for them together. That’s true determination, especially from Jane. Instead of the initial diagnosis, of only a couple of years of married life, they end up creating three kids, Stephen Hawking achieves recognition in the field of popular science, with 50 years of ongoing success, till date, and ends up being one the most celebrated theoretical physicists, of the 20th and 21st century. Of course, their life together hasn’t been easy. As much as it has been hard for Stephen Hawking, it’s been just as much a struggle for Jane. We also see how she suffered herself, sacrificing her whole life, taking care of him, falling out of love, not being able to get her own PhD thesis done; yet she never easily backs down; i.e. until he falls for a nurse, who can take care of him, Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake). Even after the couple separate, they remain good friends, and she continued to support him through his health problems and work.

James Marsh has brought out an incredible bio-pic, spanning approximately 25 years, about a great individual, who has achieved so much, despite going through such a grave disability. Stephen Hawking truly lived, defying death, and doing something really brilliant with his brain, the only part of his system not affected by the motor neuron disease. Eddie Redmayne does an exceptional job, that he practically becomes Hawking, in fact Redmayne is Hawking. Felicity Jones brings out an exemplary performance as the strength behind Hawking’s survival. David Thewlis is a perfect fit as Hawking’s professor, Dr. Dennis W. Sciama, one of the fathers of modern cosmology. Charlie Cox is really likable as the kindly gentleman, a choirmaster, who selflessly helps the Hawking family, and meanwhile falls for Jane Hawking, but yet is decent enough not pursue it. Harry Lloyd is really good as Hawking’s roommate at Cambridge, and best friend, who proves to be a truly good buddy to Hawking, supporting him throughout. And Maxine Peake fits in perfectly as Elaine Mason, Hawking’s future second wife.

Of course the movie is also very aesthetically filmed. I especially love the scene at the spring ball, Cambridge May Ball, where Hawking explains to the love of his life, the reason why the whites of the gents shirts tend to glow in the dark. And they sure do glow. Love the cinematography capturing the beautiful locations of the historically significant architectural landscapes of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde Hawking with actors Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde Hawking with actors Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Though an excellent movie, the film does have less to do with Hawking’s accomplishments, his theory on space and time, the black holes emitting radiation, general relativity and quantum mechanics. The Theory of Everything focuses less on his theoretical predictions, and more to do with his disease and life with his wife. Though I don’t really mind that, I would like to see a movie which incorporates his theoretical assessments. Maybe a surreal film, merging reality with his scientific brainchild. That would make for a spectacular viewing. Yet, I did love this biographical drama as well.

I roughly went through Stephen Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, back in 1996, as a Freshman, in Delhi University. It was a hit back in New Delhi, India, those days. It explained Hawking’s theory on the Big Bang, Black Holes et al. Though I found it intriguing, I was a bit too young, at the time, to get in too deeply into the book. Nor did I get to complete it. I enjoyed it more, because I was aware of who Hawking’s was, rather than an actual interest in cosmology, itself.

The Theory of Everything has been nominated for five Oscars, at 87th Annual Academy Awards, to be held later this month, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Actress’. When it comes to the ‘Best Picture’, I feel Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014) should take home the trophy. Boyhood was a uniquely excellent movie, that took 12 years to make (See my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). But when it comes to ‘Best Actor’, nothing could compare to Eddie Redmayne’s powerful performance. I haven’t heard of any prosthetic makeup being used to make Eddie Redmayne look more like Stephen Hawking, yet Redmayne felt every bit the famed theoretical physicist. That how great an actor Redmayne has proved to be. Stephen Hawking provided his ‘Equalizer Computerized Voice Synthesizer’, to be used in the movie.

The Theory of Everything, is also nominated for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ to composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Though brilliant, I believe Hans Zimmer (who too is nominated), should bag this award, for his superb score, for Interstellar (2014). Also see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014.

Never Give Up: Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde Hawking in a scene from The Theory of Everything (2014)

Never Give Up: Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde Hawking in a scene from The Theory of Everything (2014)

Jane Hawking was initially apprehensive, about letting them make a movie, based on her book. After three years of convincing the ex-Mrs. Hawking, she finally gave in. Yet Jane Hawking requested that there be no love making scenes between them, shown on screen. Her request was honoured. At a screening of the film, Stephen Hawking, had a nurse wipe off a tear from his cheek.

I luckily got to watch The Theory of Everything on the Big Screen, on the 1st of February, 2015. Such movies are never really shown here, they don’t have a market for it. Luckily it was shown in a new cinema here, a rarity. Of course it was one of those luxurious film halls (luxurious by here’s standards that is), with comfortable reclining seats, with very few seats, and fewer people, even on a Sunday afternoon. The niche market for this particular movie, in this country (this cinema was the only place, in the whole country, this movie was shown, and for a limited amount of time), consisted of only five people, including me and a friend of mine. That Sunday afternoon at least.

The Theory of Everything (2014) Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense