Fantasy Academy Awards Ceremony

Okay, so this is a little indulgent.  But I can’t help but think that all this Academy Award talk in which I have been engaging can be diverting in this quest from casual movie watching to competency in film.  What I would like to do is bring back the discussion from contemporary films and set our sights backwards again, towards the vast world of cinema that encompasses over a hundred years of art and culture.  So, I’ve decided to go back and set up my own hypothetical awards ceremony, complete with honorary awards and imaginary glamor.  Imagine a red carpet with Miley Cyrus in her fishnet leggings and Audrey Hepburn in her black Givenchy dress; Jared Leto’s long hair followed by Humphrey Bogart in unbelted wool jackets.  The notion is enchanting, sure.  Those basketball or football video games that I like to play often have a “fantasy draft” setting or a pick-up game kind of setting were you can do the most absurd things: you can have LeBron James play against Oscar Robertson, or have the Detroit duo of Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer take on Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman.  Why not do something like that for movies?  I consider this “fantasy academy” a well-earned journey into the indulgent imagination of my own self.  It is time to let all those worlds, the world of John Huston, the world of Federico Fellini, the world of Robert Bresson, the world of Martin Scorsese, and the world of Christopher Nolan, all come together in the ultimate exposition of glamor, art, competition, and class.  And considering the fact that my lists of the greatest directors and movies and acting performances are buried so deep in this blog, I feel like a resurrection of these lists in some new form is not an altogether bad idea, especially considering the fact that I just posted a page which, in essence, restated all the principles and theories that this blog has laid out thus far.  As long as I’m in the “reviewing” mode, I might as well review those earlier lists by having a little fun; having my own awards ceremony in my head.

The nominees are listed in alphabetical order.  There are 10 nominees for each category.  The winners are in bold.  I have hyperlinked all but one of the nominees to clips online (most of which can be found on YouTube) for your viewing pleasure.

One Other Important Note: I love movies, and I am a film critic.  I am also, still, quite young.  Therefore, this is not meant to say that these are, absolutely, the top 10 in any given category for ever and ever.  This is just the list as I put it together in March of 2014.  Quite likely, by March of 2015, my list would be entirely different.  With that being said, a lot of the winners will likely be unchanged.

Best Picture

  1. Albert S. Ruddy—The Godfather—the crime drama about an aged mob boss and his three sons.  Amid threats of a mob war over the issue of illegal drugs, as well as constant pressure from legal advisers and political enemies, the family attempts to preserve its business while transferring its operations to one of the three sons.  While the personalities of the sons are in stark opposition, one will need to change the most in order to save his family.
  2. Alfred Hitchcock—VertigoThe ultimate example of obsession and manipulation—foreshadowed in such masterpieces as Rear Window, Rebecca, and NotoriousVertigo is the accumulation of all of Alfred Hitchcock’s themes, motives, and techniques.  An acrophobic detective on the verge of retirement is roped in to one final case involving a beautiful blond girl and the ghost that haunts her.
  3. Allan Ekelund—The Seventh SealPerturbed by the silence of the God he professes to worship, and shrouded in fear of his imminent passing, a crusader returning home from the wars in Jerusalem engages in a days-long chess game with Death himself.  Various characters cross his path in his journey, and Death is ever there, waiting in many forms: a tall tree, an angry drunkard, or the Black Plague.
  4. Arthur Freed—Singin’ in the RainThe original Hollywood musical, it stands above all other film musicals because it is made especially for film and about film.  An on-screen film duo finds their chemistry and their careers ruined by the advent of sound in 1927 Hollywood.  In an attempt to adjust to the changes around them, the help of a comic musician and a showgirl is enlisted.  Romance and intrigue ensue in hilariously comic sequences.
  5. Charles Chaplin—City Lights—a heartwarming comedy about a vagabond “Tramp” who falls in love with a blind flower girl.  At first determined to win her affection, he becomes even more determined to help her regain her sight.  In order to do so, he must confront the class discrepancies, industrialization, and recklessness of a 1930s metropolitan city, finding himself in one hilarious situation after another.
  6. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney—The SearchersA devout racist (particularly in his hatred for the Comanche Indian) is forced to team up with his biracial nephew nephew to rescue his two nieces from a tribe of Comanches who have abducted them.  Spurred by his hatred, his search spans many miles and many years.  His path to tolerance is somehow paradoxically juxtaposed with his increasing madness.
  7. Giuseppe Amato and Angelo Rizzoli—La Dolce Vitathe story of fame, glamor, and passion, and how all that fame, glamor and passion can seemingly waste into nothing.  It follows a man named Marcello—a man who is rapidly losing conscience to the bombardment of paparazzi and pretense—through a week of events that detail the debauchery of the “sweet life”, as well as all its various pleasures.  His life is seen in symbols.
  8. Orson Welles—Citizen Kanethe story of a newspaper tycoon named Charles Foster Kane, his desires, his passions, his ambitions, and his thirst to be understood.  Told in retrospect from the perspectives of various characters who were associated with him in his life, the film questions humanity’s ability to judge as well as humanity’s ability to truly succeed in life, while at the same time providing a playful and comedic atmosphere.
  9. Stanley Kubrick2001: A Space OdysseyThe epic masterpiece in three movements documenting the origin and ascension of man, this film about humankind’s evolution as well as it’s perpetual conflict with its own creation takes the viewer into a delicate and precise cosmic world, and into the ballet-like battle with cinema’s mast stoic villain, the unfaced artificial intelligence, HAL 9000.  Stands alongside Dr. Strangelove as Kubrick’s great masterpiece.
  10. Takashi Yamamoto—Tokyo StoryAn elderly couple from a Japanese village travel to the fast-growing metropolitan city of Tokyo to visit their children.  The couple’s inability to understand the evolution of life all around them disconnects them with their children, and disillusions them to the “new” youth.  However, as their lives quickly come to an end, the perseverance of human nature’s virtue endures.
  11. Notes: Why is Citizen Kane the best picture?  Stay tuned.  This blog will tell you why—in absurd detail—in short time.  And when I say absurd, I mean absurd.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  1. Alec Guinness—The Bridge on the River Kwaiin this portrayal of a British officer in a Japanese POW camp by the name of Colonel Nicholson, Guinness brilliantly manages to meld the eccentricities of British order and chivalry with the imminent madness within.
  2. Anthony Hopkins—The Silence of the Lambsthe most terrifying figure to ever grace the screen (at least in the realm of fiction), Hannibal Lecter is Hopkins’ crowning achievement.  Every line, even the shortest, sounds like a soliloquy from the devil.
  3. George C. Scott—PattonScott was one of the few winners of an Academy Award who did not personally accept the award.  His reason: the whole thing was a “damn meat parade.”  This same haughty detachment is a reflected in General Patton, along with a deftness for monologue.
  4. Klaus Kinski—Aguirre: The Wrath of GodKlaus Kinski brought a haunting prestige to the title character in Herzog’s masterpiece.  While not as terrifying as Hannibal Lecter, he was certainly as arrogant, and that arrogance was equally dangerous.
  5. Marcello Mastroianni—La Dolce VitaMastroianni’s minimalism and suave is best shown in his portrayal of a character that shares his name, Marcello.  Much like Scott in Patton, it was his own reflections of self in the role that gave the character its profound depth.
  6. Marlon Brando—On the WaterfrontThis is Brando’s most personal performance, veering away from the banality or power of his other characters and focusing on the internal conflicts of Terry Malloy, a lowly worker on the waterfront who must stand up to corruption.
  7. Marlon Brando—The GodfatherEasily the most recognized role in this pool of nominees, Brando’s second appearance on this list as the brooding and wizened Don Vito Corleone is his most interesting.  Despite all his cosmetics, Brando maintained a dignity and presence that never felt so authentic.
  8. Peter O’Toole—Lawrence of ArabiaOne of the great failures of the Academy was in not giving the Best Actor award to O’Toole in 1963 for his portrayal of the British war-hero and Arabian advocate T.E. Lawrence.  Such grace and ambition has never coupled to that degree in the history of film.
  9. Peter Sellers—Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombPlaying a Brit (Col. Mandrake), an American (President Merkin Muffley) and a German (ex-Nazi physicist Dr. Strangelove), Sellers cemented this as the greatest comedic performance in all of cinema.
  10. Robert DeNiro—Raging BullNever has anger been so romanticized (except perhaps in The Searchers) as it was in the character of Jake LaMotta.  DeNiro’s troubled, angst-ridden boxer may have been based on a real person, but the movie version is his own.
  11. Notes: Made even more amazing by his ability to overcome the language barrier, Klaus Kinski establishes himself as the winner because of his deft management of practically every convention in acting.  His physical acting compliments piercing German monologues, and his stoicism is interlaced with occasional outbursts of pathos and passion.  Most remember Herzog’s Aguirre as a monument of filmmaking for its cinematographic prowess, and by so doing overlook just how good a job Kinski did as the title character.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  1. Bibi Andersson—Persona—Among the most intriguing psychological horror stories ever filmed is this existential masterpiece from Ingmar Bergman.  The pulse of the film is set by Andersson’s portrayal of Nurse Alma, who is virtually the only person to say a word in the entire picture.
  2. Debbie Reynolds—Singin’ in the Rain—Although she is under-appreciated for her performance of Kathy Selden in this film, in is undeniable that Singin’ in the Rain was absolutely dependent on this sweet muse than it was on any given song, dance number, or character.
  3. Cate Blanchett—Blue Jasmine—Up until this last year, Diane Keaton gave the best female performance in a Woody Allen movie.  But Blanchett will be a unanimous pick for Best Actress in 2014 for her portrayal of a disillusioned and psychotically troubled widow named Jasmine.
  4. Gloria Swanson—Sunset Boulevard—At first viewing, Swanson’s Norma Desmond is over-the-top and bombastic.  But, when you get deeper into the character, you realize how disturbed and poisoned this elderly mind has come to be.  The bombastic stuff is terrifyingly intentional.
  5. Isabella Rossellini—Blue Velvet—Perhaps the boldest performance by an actress in history.  Rossellini plays Dorothy Vallens, a woman forced into sex slavery by sociopaths and crime lords.  The movie wasn’t any good.  This performance, however, cannot be ignored.
  6. Katharine Hepburn—The African Queen—Hepburn’s later roles played as a rapid succession of swan songs.  The most significant of these performances is her portrayal of Rose Sayer, a Christian servant in the deep jungles of Africa who is forced to survive after her village is ransacked.
  7. Kathy Bates—Misery—While the title of ultimate villain is shared mostly by male actors in male performances, the most significant female villain in popular film is Bates’ Annie Wilkes.  Despite her scowl and her violence, her most terrifying moments are when she grins so sweetly.
  8. Maria Falconetti–The Passion of Joan of ArcI called this performance of the monumental historical figure Joan of Arc by Falconetti the greatest acting performance of history.  Considering that the acting is all in the face, it separates itself uniquely from the rest of the field.
  9. Meryl Streep—Sophie’s Choice—Streep plays Sophie Zawistowski, a Holocaust survivor who must carry the burden of memory into the world after the war, sharing a home with her lover and another man.  This emotional performance enlists a maturity that does not seem to match someone so young.
  10. Karuna Banerjee—Aparajito—Topping her superb performance as Apu’s mother, Sarbajaya, in Pather Panchali, Karuna Banerjee is even more emotional and haunted as she watches her Apu grow up in the city.  The counterpoint is her sweet longing to have her family unified again.
  11. Notes: The exclusion of Bette Davis may seem surprising, considering how superb All About Eve was.  However, I am partial to Reynolds because I feel she has been drastically underrated as a performer.  Perhaps I feel like I need to stand up for her.  Think about how important she was to the success of that film.  Consider how well she was able to keep up with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor physically while beating them in terms of acting proficiency.  Think of the confidence she had before the camera.  Now, think of the fact that she was 19 years old when the film was made.  I don’t care if some of her singing was dubbed, the same way I don’t care that practically all of Audrey Hepburn’s singing was dubbed in My Fair Lady.  She brought a heart to the movie that none of the other characters did.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  1. Alec Guinness—Kind Hearts and Coronets—Who does Sir Guinness play in this film?  The answer: All eight members of the D’Ascoyne noble family—Ethelred, Ascoyne, Henry, Rufus, Horatio, Ascoyne II, Henry II, and Agatha.  Yes, Agatha.
  2. Christopher Walken—The Deer Hunter—Joining his friends for a wedding and a war, Nick is eventually separated from his friends in the heart of Saigon and becomes a Russian Roulette player.  His demise is told through usually-comic Walken’s dramatic portrayal.
  3. Enzo Staiola—The Bicycle ThiefEasily the best ever performance by a child actor, Staiola plays Bruno, the son of a man struggling to save his family from ruin in the Depression which rocked Italy after the end of World War II.
  4. George C. Scott—Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb—Scott plays General Turgidson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  With his mastery of facial expressions, his bumbling and aggressive performance matches Sellers’ eccentricity.
  5. Heath Ledger—The Dark Knight—Standing alongside Brando’s Vito Corleone in terms of his iconic standing, Ledger’s Joker is Batman’s ultimate rival, representing the chaos and sadism that pervades the inner sanctum of Gotham’s crime community.
  6. Lee J. Cobb—12 Angry Men—Cobb’s performance as “Juror #3” stands out above all others in 12 Angry Men, the story of 12 jurors who have been entrusted with the fate of a juvenile accused of murder.  He is by far the angriest—and most haunted—of the twelve.
  7. Michel Simon—L’Atalante—Simon’s performance as the slightly awkward and slow second mate onboard the L’Atalante named Père Jules  provides a much needed vocal counterpoint to the mostly aesthetic sequences that director Jean Vigo includes in his lauded masterpiece.
  8. Phillipe Noiret—Cinema Paradiso—Playing the endearing and friendly Alfredo, who takes in the film’s main character and guides him through his formative years, Noiret brought a new twist to the oft-repeated role of fallible sage and role model.
  9. Ralph Fiennes—Schindler’s ListWhen it comes to great villains, alongside Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, and Norman Bates is Fienne’s Amon Goethe, the commandant of a concentration camp in World War II.  His existential bouts with the concept of power are thought-provoking.
  10. Val Kilmer—Tombstone—The ultimate example of a scene-stealer, Kilmer’s performance as the interesting true-life gunslinger Doc Holliday takes an otherwise mediocre Western and turns it into one of the most riotous and compelling cowboy movies ever.
  11. Notes: One may find it controversial that I give an acting award to a performer in an Italian neo-Realist drama.  But Bicycle Thieves, and most all Italian realism for that matter, is not as “anti-acting” as, say, the French Realism of Robert Bresson.  Actually, the entire reason why de Sica drafted non-actors to play his parts was to make the roles more realistic and less aggrandized; this is in stark opposition to Bresson’s non-actors, who were cast more as props than as performers.  Both Staiola’s performance and the performance of Lamberto Maggioriani (who plays young Bruno’s father, Antonio) were absolutely compelling and heart-wrenching.
  12. Notes #2: Some would say Alec Guiness’ performance was a “leading role”.  I must respectfully disagree.  His appearances in the film were strictly contributory, providing no distinct propellent to the plot.  And he absolutely did not play the main character.  That was done by Dennis Price.  In dramatic circles, the eight Ascoynes are called “foils”: supporting characters whose role is to draw various insights into the main character through their interactions with him.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  1. Angela Lansbury—The Manchurian Candidate—Calling Lansbury’s character, Eleanor Shaw, an over-ambitious mother is an understatement.  Lansbury’s grace in playing the character compliments the corruption within, particularly in her support of her McCarthy-like husband.
  2. Anne Baxter—All About Eve—While Bette Davis’ real performance kicks in towards the end of All About Eve, Anne Baxter drives the first part of the movie.  Her deception leads to one of the greatest, if not most subtle, plot twists conceived.  Her monologue at film’s opening is brilliant.
  3. Anne Hathaway—Les Miserablés—The second-most recent of the nominees thus far, Hathaway is the reining owner of the “Supporting Actress” academy award.  She steals the show in what was otherwise a sub-par musical as Fantine, an ailing mother driven to prostitution to save her daughter.
  4. Dianne Wiest—Hannah and Her Sisters—Dianne Weist plays Holly, the most awkward of her sisters, whose love life may not be the primary element of the movie’s plot, but it is certainly the most sentimental.  Her performance reflects the character’s role in the movie perfectly.
  5. Donna Reed—From Here to Eternity—Remembered as the quintessential domestic for her role in the Donna Reed Show, Reed was also a great dramatic actress.  Her performance as Lorene Burke is so emotional that it becomes the most significant—and most overlooked—aspect of the film.
  6. Jodie FosterTaxi Driver—Under the tyrannical stewardship of her pimp, Foster’s child prostitute by the name of Iris is trapped in a world of depravity.  Her plight is one of the encouraging factors in main character Travis Bickle’s descent into violence.
  7. Josephine Hull—Harvey—Hull takes her role as Veta Louis Simmons from the stage to the silver screen.  She is the sister of main character Elwood P. Dowd, and she must cope with his eccentric (and quite public) relationship with an imaginary, 6’3.5″ rabbit.  The humor is all in the coping.
  8. Magali Noёl—Amarcord—Fellini’s muses (Claudia Cardinale in 8 1/2 and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita) are characterized by a significant lack of depth.  Noёl’s performance as Gradisca—though muse-like for the teenager whom the movie follows—is much more humorous and eccentric.
  9. Setsuko Hara—Tokyo StoryOf all the nominated performances, this one is by far the most minimalist.  Hara’s character, Noriko Hirayama, is the emotional center of the detached family in the movie, and her minimalism somehow lends itself to depth.
  10. Teresa Wright—The Best Years of Our Lives—Wright plays Peggy, the daughter of an infantry sergeant who has just returned home from World War.  She falls in love with an Army Air Forces captain.  But, he gets married.  Her story takes a backseat to others in this film, but is still important.
  11. Notes: This was the most difficult of the acting pools to determine.  Just thought I’d throw that in.
  12. Notes #2: You will notice that all four winners are from foreign films.  I didn’t do that purposely.  It just worked out that way.  I think that I tend to give preference to English-speaking performances because the language barrier is so problematic when it comes to acting criticism.  On the other hand, however, I think the language barrier often romanticizes and improves the acting performance.  It also turns to other facets of the performance: facial expressions, body language, pace, reaction times, and tone of voice.  With this in mind, it is not surprising that most of my nominees are from English-speaking films while all of my winners are from foreign-language films.


  1. Alfred Hitchcock—Vertigo—Hitchcock’s culminating work as an auteur, his own self-reflections in the character of Scottie, as well as his own obsessions as manifest in many of the movie’s motifs, work in perfect harmony to produce his best psychological thriller.
  2. Andrei Tarkovsky—Mirror—Tarkovsky’s themes are profound and obvious in this picture, where his own infatuation with the cinema’s ability to manipulate time is symbolically represented in sequences where time is, in essence, the main character.
  3. Dziga Vertov—Man With a Movie Camera—Convinced that the camera could be an improvement of the human eye, Vertov’s semi-documentary is the best example of how cinema can provide a reality outside of reality as it is seen with humanity’s limited perceptive abilities.
  4. Federico Fellini—La Dolce Vita—Alongside 8 1/2, this film is the best example of Fellini as auteur.  Dealing with motifs and thematic elements that give continuity to seemingly unrelated events, Fellini sends a message about the pangs and troubles of the sweet life.
  5. Ingmar Bergman—The Seventh Seal—Bergman’s mastery is in his ability to direct painstakingly thorough dialogues with surprising concision, all the while amid a backdrop of some of the most iconic and memorable images ever framed.
  6. Orson Welles—Citizen KaneThe ultimate example of auteurism in film, Welles took complete control of this picture.  Filled with visual tricks, superb montages, and innovative recording techniques, this movie is Welles’ creative masterpiece.
  7. Robert Bresson—A Man Escaped, or: The Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth—Bresson introduced minimalism in its greatest degree in this film.  While his other pictures use minimalism to represent asceticism, this particular picture is surprisingly exciting.
  8. Sergei Eisenstein—Battleship Potemkin—Perhaps the greatest film theorist to ever make a movie, Eisenstein utilized all of his film philosophies to create this movie. The significance is not only propagandist, but also immortal in cinematic circles for its deft use of montage.
  9. Stanley Kubrick—2001: A Space Odyssey—Kubrick’s examination of time and “space” is slow and thorough, yet plays out like a technological ballet of science fiction.  The mystery is born from iconic sequences; and few movies film divinity in such a way.
  10. Yasujirô Ozu—Tokyo Story—Ozu said his films were like tofu, all variations of the same thing.  What makes this movie so great was that it was the most basic of all those variations of tofu, yet the frames and the faces that the still camera recorded are the most poignant.
  11. Notes: I didn’t want to just give the nominees for Best Directing to those who were nominated for Best Picture.  The Academy does that all the time.  But, often, the “Best Picture” candidates are nominated for their acting ensembles or their themes.  These movies in this poll are about nothing more than the director and his own mastery of his own film, as well as his own uniqueness and innovation in his approach.

Animated Feature Film

  1. Darla K. Anderson—Toy Story 3—The third installment in the series is the best, and that is very rare.  Toys Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie the Cowgirl, Mr. Potato Head and others must come to grips with the maturity of their long-time best friend, Andy, who is now college-age and has outgrown them.
  2. Don Hahn—Beauty and the BeastThis is a brave picture, integrating computer animation with the precise lines that define the traditional animation of 1990’s Disney.  It is also brave because this story of a prince cursed to be a monster until he finds true love was the fifth version of the classic fairytale to be made.  (There now are eight).
  3. Don Hahn—The Lion King—Disney’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet lives up in many ways to the original source material.  Simba, the rightful heir of a pride of lions in the African Safari at a fortress called Pride Rock must face his past and defeat his corrupt uncle Scar.
  4. Jim Moriss—WALL-E—Disney/Pixar’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, this movie is deceptively old-fashioned.  Perhaps this deception is born from its savvy CGI-animation, but the movie plays like an old silent film with the grace of Kubrick’s science-fiction epic.
  5. Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold—Toy Story—The first entry in the Toy Story series marks the first entry in the greatest animated trilogy ever; it very probably could be one of the best series ever, period.  It follows the adventures of Andy’s toys as they try to help a new toy, Buzz Lightyear, come to grips with his identity.
  6. Toshio Suzuki—Spirited AwayThis anime fantasy picture is the most magical to come out of the signature animation style of Japan.  It followsa girl named Chihiro Ogino, who must work in a witch’s bathhouse to save her parents from that witch’s curse, as well as return to the human world from the spirit world.
  7. Walt Disney—Cinderella—This animated version of the classic fairy tale is the favorite of girls everywhere.  The dress, the helpful mice, the sibling rivalry, and the rags-to-riches fantasy, and the beautiful music seem to be the reason why.  But at the same time, boys can like it, too.
  8. Walt Disney—Fantasia—No picture (save 2001) has so graciously introduced a new generation to the classical pieces of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and others.  Shown in “Fantasound,” it was the first instance of stereophonic sound in the history of cinema.  It also saved the Mickey Mouse character from a decline in popularity
  9. Walt Disney—PinocchioThe second animated feature from Disney, this coming-of-age classic about a marionette who desires to be a real boy is an allegory of the rites of passage through which all young men must pass.  With the help of the Blue Fairy, a wish upon a star, and a cricket named Jiminy, Pinocchio tries to fulfill his destiny.
  10. Walt Disney—Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—The first-ever animated feature film.  It is also one of the most important movies of all time.  Another of Disney’s interpretations of classic fairy tales, it tells the story of a wicked queen who attempts to annihilate her biggest competition for being the “fairest of them all”.
  11. Notes: this is difficult, as it comes down ultimately to Snow White and Beauty and the Beast.  My original first pick was Beast, but after re-watching Snow White, I recognize that not only is it historically significant, but it is actually incredibly engaging: Walt’s own animated handiwork works to bring to life the seven dwarfs, who are perhaps the most intriguing secondary characters in Disney history.  The climax of the film is far better than I remembered, too.


  1. Andrew Lesnie—The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring—such beautiful shots as those found in the first of the three Lord of the Rings films (and this nomination is, in some ways, for all three of the movies) include the incredible natural landscapes of New Zealand and the intricate man-made sets.
  2. Boris Kaufman—L’Atalantefor the most part, the cinematography in this film is simple, focusing on the boat as it travels down the river through France, but certain shots stand out, in particular the now-famous underwater shot, that to this day remains as gorgeous as ever.
  3. Edmond Séchan—The Red Balloon—the ultimate example of why montage theory has its limitations, this movie demonstrates perfect usage of the moving camera (usually used to show large and grandiose scenes) to make simplicity absolutely beautiful.
  4. F.A Young—Lawrence of Arabia—this movie is perhaps the most visually stunning movie ever when one considers the vast ratio shots of the Arabian desert at all season and at all times of day.  The large, panning images perfectly contribute to the epic nature of the film.
  5. Geoffrey Unsworth and John Alcott—2001: A Space Odyssey—this movie is perhaps the most visually stunning movie ever when one considers its innovative use of an unknown future.  Such long, slow shots absorb the viewer, sending him or her into the space-world that the movie creates.
  6. Georgi Rerberg—Mirror—Using various coloration filters, or photographic print toning, from sepia to black and white to radiant color,  Rerberg’s contribution to Tarkovsky’s epic demonstrates the mercurial nature of space and time and human perception.
  7. Gregg Toland—Citizen KaneWhen it comes to innovation that actually stuck, there is no better example of camera work than that of Citizen Kane.  The movie plays with deep focus and depth perception of the 2-D photograph, as well as innovative use of the moving camera through barriers and indicative lighting.
  8. Vadim Yusov—Solaris—This is the second Tarkovsky movie in this particular pool.  Its camera takes are significantly longer than those in Mirror, but they are quite different, and therefore give a freshness rather than a boredom.  Shots of Russian freeways and a fictive spaceship are all quite significant.
  9. Vittorio Stiraro—Apocalypse Now—Very few sequences in film history are as well filmed with a still-camera than that image of the Vietnamese jungle going up in a flame of napalm.  Couple those sorts of image with well-documented war footage, and you have a superb cinematographic experience.
  10. Winton Hoch—The Searchers—This is the most visually-pleasing Western as the journeys of John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards are shown throughout many seasons and terrains.  The images are not unlike those seen in Lawrence of Arabia, save they are not quite so exotic.
  11. Notes: being able to differentiate between the direction and the cinematography is perhaps the most difficult thing to do in this nomination process.  However, I have chosen to focus solely on the camera work, and not so much on the choice of image and its framing, which is more the director’s job (or the screenwriter’s job in some instances).

Costume Design

  1. Cecil Beaton—My Fair Lady The horse-track scene alone is enough reason to give this film a nod in the Costume Design category.  But, throw in the variety of outfits from the most debonair ball to that most unsophisticated London back alley flower market.
  2. Edith Head, Ralph Jester, John Jensen, Dorothy Jeakins, Arnold Friberg—The Ten Commandments—Escaping the generic dress-up-in-blankets-and-towels approach to the Christian roadshow-type Bible movie, the costumes in this may not be authentic, but they’re pleasingly believable.
  3. Edith Head—Sabrina—The second Edith Head nomination (she is the fifth-most nominated person in the history of the Academy Awards with 35 nominations) is full of true, unadulterated style.  It won its nomination not because of innovation, but because of true chicness.
  4. John Mollo—Star Wars—The Darth Vader costume is reason enough to get nominated, but the other costume designs—ranging from droids to Stormtroopers and rebel soldiers—are all as timely as they are iconic.
  5. Marik Vos—Fanny and Alexander—Period pieces like this are risky, because the slightest variation from historical accuracy becomes a negative.  But, with Ingmar Bergman’s stylistic grace on hand, Fanny and Alexander is a beautiful palette of color.
  6. Milena Canonero and Ulla-Britt Soderlund—Barry Lyndon—Much like Fanny and Alexander, Barry Lyndon escapes the boundaries of a period piece as it glides on stylistically.  Unlike Fanny and Alexander, however, it is far less colorful, the drabness of cream and grey dominate the palette.
  7. Orry-Kelly, Walter Plunkett, and Irene Sharaff—An American in Paris—Few costume schemes are as enjoyable as Orry-Kelly, Plunkett, and Sharaff’s work in this musical.  The contrast is bold, and the costumes match the choreography very well.
  8. Piero Gherardi—La Dolce Vita—Like Sabrina, work in this film is dependent on style, particularly considering the absence of color.  While Anita Ekberg’s voluptuous dress is the most recognized of the costumes, it is not alone in a film full of extravagance.
  9. Christian Bérard, Antonio Castillo, and Marcel Escofier—Beauty and the Beast—these three French gentlemen are forever remembered for this work in what might be the most magical film in the history of French cinema, if not, the entire world.
  10. Theodore Pistek—Amadeus—Of all the period pieces in this poll, none of them are quite as stylistically apparent as those in this beautiful comedy-drama.  They make the film even more interesting than it already is.
  11. Notes: I have to go with My Fair Lady here.  It’s not easy, considering the fact that I can’t help but be drawn to La Dolce Vita and Amadeus.  Also, you can’t ignore Star Wars.  As a matter of fact, Star Wars seems to have aged the best.  But, costumes in My Fair Lady and Sabrina were made with their actors in mind, you can tell.  And My Fair Lady wins out.

Documentary Picture

  1. Ali Rezzah Zarin—Close-Up—A docufiction about a man posing as a famous filmmaker to con a family into thinking he was making them movie stars.
  2. Argos Films—Sans Soleil—a faux-documentary which meditates on and examines the effects of human memory on cultural perception.
  3. Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie, France 3, Gaumont, La Sept, Télévision Suisse Romande, and Vega Films—Historie(s) du cinéma—a renowned filmmaker’s examination of the history of the film.
  4. Leni Riefenstahl—Olympia—The first ever documentary about the Olympics, this shows the famous 1938 Olympic games in Berlin with Jesse Owens.
  5. Marcel Ophüls—The Sorrow and the Pitydocuments the collaboration between the Vichy government and Nazi Germany during World War II.
  6. New Yorker Films and Claude Lanzmann—Shoah—A ten-hour masterwork about the Holocaust in Poland.
  7. Robert J. Faherty—Nanook of the North—The first ever example of “salvage ethnography” follows Nanook as he tries to feed his family in the Arctic.
  8. Thor Heyerdahl—Kon-Tiki—Documenting the construction, launching, and expedition of a Norwegian boat and its small crew.
  9. Steve James, Peter Gilbert, Frederick Marx—Hoop Dreams—following two black youth over five years in their aspirations to one day be in the NBA.
  10. VUFKU Studios—Man With a Movie CameraExperimental documentary where the film (not the filmed) is the primary subject.
  11. Notes: Perhaps the recent Sight and Sound poll informed my decision here, but looking at this list it seems like nothing had a chance against Man With a Movie Camera.  Sans Soleil, which is not a real documentary, but it still borrows from the notion of documentary pictures, deserved a place more, I feel, than several of the “honorable mentions.”  These include: 2002’s To Be and To Have, 1978’s Gates of Heaven, 2008’s Man on Wire, and 2013’s The Act of Killing.
  12. Notes #2: Finding nominees for some of these documentaries were very difficult.  This makes sense, since most documentaries are independently made and released later by a company for mass consumption.  For this purpose, I will quickly inform the curious mind as to who directed each of these documentaries.  If you don’t care to know, skip ahead.  Sans Soleil was made by Chris Marker.  Historie(s) du cinéma was made by Jean-Luc Godard.  Hoop Dreams was actually produced by PBS, but the three listed names are the primary producers in charge.  VUFKU studios (Vsye-ukrainskoye fotokino-upravleniye, or All-Ukrainian Photo and Cinema Directorate) produced most of the great propagandist films of the Ukrainian SSR.  The main people in charge were director Dziga Vertov, editor Elizaveta Svilova, and cinematographer Mikhail Kaufman.

Documentary Short Subject

  1. Anatole Dauman—Night and Fogon the Nazi death camps and the depravity of the Final Solution.
  2. Ian Dalrymple—Listen to Britain—a famous propagandist piece out of Great Britain during World War II.
  3. Jean Rouch—Les maîtres fous—the first “enthnofiction” film, about the Hauka movement in Niger.
  4. Kenneth Anger—Scorpio Rising—a non-speaking experimental documentary about 1950s-60s America.
  5. Louis and Auguste Lumière—Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de la Ciotatthe ultimate “actualité” of a train.
  6. Louis and Auguste Lumière—La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon—the first Lumière film at the Grand Café.
  7. Granada Television—Seven Up!—1st entry in a longitudinal documentary series spanning 49 years in the lives of 14 British children.
  8. Nathaniel Kahn and Susan Rose Behr—Two Hands: The Leon Fleisher Story—the story of a pianist.
  9. Ramón Acín and Luis Buñuel—Land Without Bread—a Surrealist approach to an ethnography in Las Hurdes.
  10. Stanley Kubrick and Jay Bonafield—Day of the Fight—Kubrick’s black and white film about a boxing match.
  11. Notes: I really wanted to give the award to Arrivée d’un Train, but there is a difference between what the Lumière brothers called an “actuality film”, or an “actualité”, and these longer documentary pieces.  These movies are all very good, and are much more pointed to a particular goal than mere invention and recording.  Dauman’s Night and Fog takes the cake.

Film Editing

  1. Dziga Vertov and Elizaveta Svilova—Man With a Movie Camera—Utilizing such new concepts as fast-and slow-motion, Dutch shots, reverse footage, reflection, and double exposure, this movie is the manifestation of Vertov’s own montage theory: that the camera can provide a new look at life by uncovering unseen patterns.
  2. D.W. Griffith, James Smith, and Rose Smith—Intolerance—An epic of time, Griffith utilizes a coloration technique called photographic print toning—later used in such works as Mirror—to show a history of intolerance spanning 2500 years, while maintaining a personality that makes the viewing experience intimate.
  3. Fritz Lang, Karl Freund, Günther Rittau, and Walter Ruttmann—Metropolis—A revolutionary film uses mirrors, special effects, and fast cuts, as well as fading techniques to make things (or people) “transform”.  Perhaps most significant is Lang’s inclusion of his patented “insert images”.
  4. George Tomasini—Psycho—With some of the most complex montage sequences ever attempted, Hitchcock’s editors utilized the symbolic significance of cut-and-splice to represent all the cutting (and attempted-reparations) that haunts the picture.
  5. Harold D. Schuster—Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans—Demonstrates great tact and pacing, Sunrise creates a special world—an island, a lake, and a metropolis—for the viewer not so much by grandiose sets, but by long-shots followed by sequences of soft cuts to close-ups.
  6. Hugh S. Fowler—Stagecoach—The montage sequences in Stagecoach are brilliant representations of the ability of good editing to overcome the constraints of time and space.  Particularly in the Indian attack scene, space is manipulated as stage directions are tossed aside.
  7. Robert Wise—Citizen Kane—Utilizing every type of montage theory and technique technologically available, as well as adding a few techniques of its own, this film plays on the concepts of time much the same way Stagecoach did with space, as the entire film plays anachronistically, yet maintains a basic progression.
  8. Sergei Eisenstein and Eduard Tisse—Battleship Potemkinacting as Eisenstein’s singular attempt to utilize all concepts of montage theory that he had laid out in his writings on cinematic theory in general, Potemkin acts with concepts of meter, rhythm, tonality,  and intellectual conclusions born of juxtaposition.
  9. Sergei Eisenstein, Eduard Tisse, and Grigori Aleksandrov—October—Eisenstien’s most complex editing sequences are found in October, a film documenting the October Revolution in Russia.  Eisenstein’s montage theory in all his films operated as a counterpoint to the more abstract ideas of Dziga Vertov.
  10. Tom Rolf and Melvin Shapiro—Taxi Driver–The most recent film in this pool that is mostly dedicated to silent films, the editing in Taxi Driver is mesmerizing in its slow, soft pacing and cuts, while it is also can provide moments of profound intensity and darkness.
  11. Notes: reading my two-page examination of montage theory in film will help one to understand why so many films in this pool are either silent films or films made before 1961.  (Taxi Driver is the only one made in the last fifty years, and it was made 38 years ago.)  For those unfamiliar with what I have written on montage theory, I suggest that you read it as it is one of the more enlightening contributions I have made to this blog.  In essence, people often associate great film editing with complexity: the quick jumps in a car chase scene or the rapidity of a battle sequence.  I agree that this editing is often very good.  However, I find the best (not just the good) forms of editing to be the artistic appeals to montage theory and the various deviations that directors make from theory to provide their own artistic vision.  These ten movies are the best of the best in that regard.  The reason why they tend to be older is because they couldn’t rely so much on sound, effects, or advanced technologies, and instead had to use montage (the French word for editing) to accomplish their ends.

Foreign Language Film

  1. Alain Poiré and Jean Thuillier—A Man Escaped, or: The Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth—“deceptively minimalist” considering how suspenseful the film actually plays out to be, this movie about a prisoner of war trying to flee a German camp is the greatest escape film ever made.
  2. Allan Ekelund—The Seventh SealFeaturing some of the most significant dialogues about fate, death, and God, as well as that iconic image of the crusader playing a game of chess with death on the rocky shores of the Turkish Mediterranean, this movie sticks with the viewer for a very long time.
  3. Carl Theodore Dreyer–The Passion of Joan of Arc—Featuring the finest acting performance in movie history, as well as one of the most expensive sets of its time, Dreyer’s film about the trial and execution of the historical heroine of France who claimed a divine calling is a silent masterpiece.
  4. Claude Renoir—The Rules of the Game—A subtly hilarious French drama about a group of “poshlost”-ridden (look up the word) aristocrats and a weekend retreat at a mammoth country estate that ends in murder.  No other ending could be expected, as the tensions of their class build throughout a weekend of love affairs.
  5. Giuseppe Amato and Angelo Rizzoli—La Dolce Vita—This movie about the life most people want, some people already have, and some people never want to see again is a beautifully symbolic and, at times, irreverent drama-comedy that forever challenged the conventions of popular film.
  6. Jacob Blioch—Battleship Potemkin—Considered the most important film of all time in many circles (it’s number 2 on my list), Eisenstein’s masterpiece about a mutiny and the national revolution that it came to represent remains exciting and haunting to this day.
  7. Léon Carré and Robert Sussfeld—Diary of a Country Priest—Standing alongside The Passion of Joan of Arc as the finest Catholic film in cinema, Bresson’s second entry on this list is by far his most overtly-emotional and contains some of the best religious discourse one will ever hear.
  8. PDS Produzioni De Sica, Ercole Graziadei, Sergio Bernardi, and Count Cicogna—The Bicycle Thief—A movie that will “destroy your soul” as one person said to me in a discussion on Italian films, this movie about a man desperately trying to find his stolen bike so he can keep his job is simple but powerful.
  9. Sojiro Motoki—Seven Samurai—The greatest action film of all time that wasn’t made in America, this movie about seven samurai hired to protect an oppressed village has been the subject of many successful Hollywood remakes such as The Magnificent SevenThree Amigos!, and A Bug’s Life.
  10. Takeshi Yamamoto—Tokyo Story—Considered by both the directors’ and the critics’ poll at Sight and Sound magazine as the best foreign film ever (the directors put it at number one, period) Ozu’s simple, stationary camera drama is so soulful that it requires more than just “multiple” viewings.
  11. Notes: Most competent film-connoisseurs would say that Tokyo Story or The Rules of the Game should win this award, but I am most partial to The Seventh Seal.  I think that Bergman has become somewhat cliche for people as of late, which I find detestable.  How can you be cliche if you invented the cliche?  Bergman deserves credit, not disillusionment, for his imagery and dialogue.
  12. Notes #2: Robert Bresson has two movies on the list, A Man Escaped and Diary of a Country Priest.  There are four French films: the Bresson movies, The Rules of the Game and The Passion of Joan of Arc (though Passion is difficult to characterize because it feature Italian actors and a Danish director,  but was produced in France).  Italy has two films, La Dolce Vita and The Bicycle Thief, as does Japan with Seven Samurai and Tokyo Story.  The Soviet Union and Sweden each have one (Battleship Potemkin and The Seventh Seal, respectively).

Makeup and Hairsyling

  1. David Martí and Montse Ribé—Pan’s Labyrinth—terrifying faces and mystical creatures abound in this dark and violent Guillermo del Toro fantasy film.
  2. Gordon Bau and Jean Burt Reilly—My Fair Lady—particularly for hairstyling, which is exotic and chic, Bau and Reilly give Audrey Hepburn her most elegant role.
  3. Greg Cannom—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button—The makeup for Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett amazes as they progress through an entire lifetime, one in reverse, the other in the traditional way.
  4. Greg Cannom, Ve Neill, and Yolanda Toussieng—Mrs. Doubtfire—Other cross-dressing movies like Tootsie and Some Like it Hot may be better movies, but this one had the best makeup by far.
  5. Jack Dawn, Del Armstrong, Don L. Cash, Max Factor, Fred Frederick, Cecil Holland, Gustaf Norin, Josef Norin, and Edith Wilson—The Wizard of Ozwhat more can be said about all those fantastic faces of Oz?
  6. John Chambers—Planet of the Apes—This is the original, not the most recent reboot of the movie, which is subpar when it comes to makeup.  Lacking the Tim Burton-element, this one is quite revolutionary.
  7. Paul LeBlanc and Dick Smith—Amadeus—The hairpieces alone are enough reason to give the award to this indulgent period piece about Mozart and Salieri’s bitter rivalry.
  8. Peter Owen and Richard Taylor—The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring—Again, the nomination belongs to the entire trilogy (meaning Peter King’s name should be thrown in, too).  An entire world of faces.
  9. Philip Leto, Philip Rhodes and Dick Smith—The Godfather—Using a new technology called the “plumper” made Brando’s face look so real that he often went out with the makeup on to prevent people noticing him.
  10. William J. Tuttle—7 Faces of Dr. Lao—Tony Randall has perhaps the most enjoyable performance of his career in this winner of an Honorary Academy Award for innovation in Make-up and Hairstyling.
  11. Notes: When all is said and done, no movie had such important and timeless makeup and hairstyling as Wizard of Oz, no matter how fun the hair is in My Fair Lady or Amadeus and how engrossing it is in Lord of the Rings.  Consider all the Munchkins, all the multiple roles (Frank Morgan alone plays 5 of them), and those classic braids.

Original Score

  1. Bernard Herrmann–Psycho—written exclusively for string orchestra, Herrmann’s rapid staccatos in this horror masterpiece result in one of the scariest scores ever composed.
  2. Bernard Herrmann—Vertigo—love themes are integrated with haunting counterpoint; they’re deceivingly beautiful with their dramatic crescendos, and they play alongside the themes of the film perfectly.
  3. Ennio Morricone—Cinema Paradiso—The most romantic music ever composed for a movie—with its stirring legatos and subtle dynamic changes—this unique track includes a little bit of synthesizer.
  4. Howard Shore—The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King—Epic in ever meaning of the word, this soundtrack introduces even more key themes than already existed in the trilogy.
  5. John Williams—Schindler’s List—The sadness of this Holocaust film required a sadness to match it musically.  John Williams wrote that score by focusing on violin scores.
  6. John Williams–Star WarsThe most recognized movie music of all time, this film has many different themes, ranging from melodic to boisterous, each one better than the last.
  7. Maurice Jarre—Doctor Zhivago—Noted specifically for its main theme, a romantic and simple melody, this score brings an important atmosphere to the movie right from the start.
  8. Max Steiner—Gone With the Wind—Introducing the first score of a new era—the color era—this romantic war music is full of beautiful examples of choral, string, and brass virtuosity.
  9. Max Steiner—King Kong—This stirring music is, like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, one of the penultimate examples of epic cinematic scoring, and is the oldest score in this pool at 81 years.
  10. Nino Rota–The Godfather—The fourth example in this pool of a primarily romantic score, this is known particularly for two themes: the simple “Godfather Waltz” and the elegant “For Nata” love theme.
  11. Notes: nothing really to say here.  I wished that I could have included more of Ennio Moricone’s work, but I could only fit ten in the pool and I think Maurice Jarre deserved recognition for that very Slavic-style score.

Production Design

  1. Carl J. Weyl—The Adventures of Robin Hood—The ultimate medieval backdrop is perfect for fencing.
  2. Cedric Gibbons and William A. Horning—The Wizard of Oz—Oz is made glorious in color and contrast.
  3. Edwin B. Willis and Keogh Gleason—An American in Paris—Surrealism meets a beautiful Parisian backdrop.
  4. Grant Major, Dan Hennah, Allan Lee—The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingAn entire epic world.
  5. Hugh Hunt—Ben-Hur—The best in a long line of attempts to capture the magnificence of the New Testament age.
  6. John Barry, Norman Reynolds , Leslie Dilley, and Roger Christian—Star Wars—A unique space fantasy set.
  7. D.W. Griffith and Frank Wortman–Intolerance—The most involved and extravagant set of the silent movie era.
  8. Perry Ferguson, Van Nest Polglase, Al Fields, and Darrell Silvera—Citizen Kane—Experimental sets pervade.
  9. Eugène Roman—PlaytimeAn entire city block was constructed and filmed in 70mm widescreen.
  10. Alfred Junge—A Matter of Life and Death—this interpretation of heaven, or the “Other World” is artistically triumphant.
  11. Notes: I gave Wizard of Oz the award for makeup and hairstyling, ignoring the vastness of the project that was attempted in The Lord of the Rings.  I won’t ignore the sheer ambition of The Lord of the Rings this time, as no movie—no matter how old and no matter the given technology of the time—ever attempted such an arduous endeavor as it did.  And, the most important thing to realize, given all that ambition and desire, it all came together perfectly.
  12. Notes #2:  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the three record holders for most Academy Awards won by a single film are all included on this list: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Titanic, and Ben-Hur.

Original Song

  1. Alex North and Hy Zaret—“Unchained Melody” from Unchained—a beautifully melodic love song later made famous by the Righteous Brothers.
  2. Allie Wrubel and Ray Giblert—“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” from Song of the South—a Disney standard so happy that it even makes the “Happiest Place on Earth” a little cheerier.
  3. Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg—“Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Ozpossibly the best of the 20th century, this song about yearning and dreams is memorable.
  4. Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer—“Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s—One of the most romantic songs ever written, the lyrics are symbolic and vague, yet the message is clear.
  5. Irving Berlin—“White Christmas” from Holiday Inn—This beloved Christmas song was so popular that it merited a spin-off music by its name twelve years later.
  6. James Horner and Will Jennings—“My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic—The most recent song in this pool dominated the charts for months after the movie was released, and still reminds me of my childhood.
  7. Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields—“Just the Way You Look Tonight” from Swing Time—A catchy crooning masterpiece from Fred Astaire, later made even more famous by Frank Sinatra.
  8. Leigh Harline and Ned Washington—“When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio—The “Over the Rainbow” of animated musical pieces, this is the paramount Disney song.
  9. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel—“Mrs. Robinson” from The Graduate—This folk song was only partially prepared for the movie, the full version being released the following year.
  10. Stevie Wonder—“I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red—Stevie Wonder’s iconic tenor plays along a fast-paced—yet somehow tender—keyboard.
  11. Notes: quite a few of the great movie songs were not originally written for a given film and are, therefore, disqualified from competition.  Among them are “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca and “Singin’ in the Rain” from Singin’ in the Rain.  I didn’t include such favorites as “Stayin’ Alive” (Saturday Night Fever) or “The Way We Were” (They Way We Were).  

Animated Short Film

  1. Frédéric Back—Crac—following the life of a rocking chair from its time as a tree to its life with a family.
  2. Frédéric Back and Hubert Tison—The Man Who Planted Treesa tale about a special hermit.
  3. John Kars—Paperman—unique animation highlights this romance about two people and a piece of paper.
  4. Karen Dufilho—Geri’s Game—the short film about an old man playing chess that put Pixar on the map.
  5. Peter Lord and David Sproxton—The Wrong Trousers—Wallace and Gromit and a pair of high-tech pants.
  6. Walt Disney—Der Fuerher’s Face—This Academy Award-winning propoganda film is Disney’s most political.
  7. Walt Disney—Donald in Mathmagic Land—In a fantasy land, Donald Duck is taught the precepts of algebra.
  8. Walt Disney—Steamboat Willie—The most iconic Mickey Mouse moment about a steamboat.
  9. Walt Disney—Three Little Pigs—The classic tale retold with Disney’s magical animation styling.
  10. Walt Disney—Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree—a delightful musical story in the Hundred-Acre Wood.
  11. Notes: history, humor, or quality?  That’s what this one comes down to.  The Wrong Trousers is the funniest, while the Back films are the most artistic.  The Disney pictures have the most historical significance, particularly Steamboat Willie.  The Man Who Planted Trees, however, is the most beautiful and the most tasteful and is full of morals from which both adults and children can benefit.

Live Action Short Film

  1. Albert Lamorisse—The Red Balloon—a boy wanders Parisian streets with his friend, a magical red balloon.
  2. Anatole Dauman—La Jetéetold entirely in still shots, this post-apocalyptic time travel tale is haunting.
  3. Georges Méliès—A Trip to the Moon—the oldest film in this pool, the story of a fantasy journey to the moon.
  4. Jasmin Duraković—Ten Minutes—juxtaposing stories of a tourist in Rome and the violence in nearby Bosnia.
  5. Jean Vigo—Zéro de conduite—this story of rebellious school boys is one of only two narrative films from Vigo.
  6. John Jasper—The Immigrant—the “Tramp” is accused of theft while traveling by boat to America.
  7. Joseph M. Schenck—Playhouse—famous for the opening sequence, when Buster Keaton plays every role.
  8. Joseph M. Schenck and Buster Keaton—Sherlock, Jr.—a man imagines himself as a famous movie character.
  9. Luis Buñuel and Pierre Braunberger—Un Chien Andalou—surrealism does not lend to plot, but to imagery.
  10. Pierre Braunberger—Partie de campagne—A day in the country from legendary director Jean Renoir.
  11. Notes: Art or history, again.  I have to go with art, and if that’s the case, nothing tops The Red Balloon or La Jetée.   That is an especially interesting claim considering the fact that—while those are considered absolute must-sees of international cinema—they are first and foremost great movies, while Un Chien Andalou is a true “art piece,” made by the pinnacle minds of surrealism: Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel.

Sound Editing

  1. Ben Burtt—Star WarsSounds like a lightsaber’s hum and Darth Vader’s breathing make this an easy one.
  2. Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood—WALL-E—The dialogue-free conventions of a silent film meet ideal sound.
  3. Ben Burtt and Richard Anderson—Raiders of the Lost Ark—Cracking whips and more in action sequences.
  4. Frank Warner—Close Encounters of the Third Kind—Traditional sci-fi effects with a unique twist.
  5. Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns—Jurassic Park—Accomplished the task of creating a good dino-roar.
  6. Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns—Saving Private Ryan—Authentic and bold, including real gun shots.
  7. George Groves, Nathan Levinson, and William A. Meuller—The Jazz Singer—The first sound film.  Easy one.
  8. Glenn Freemantle—Gravity—Sudden silence in the vacuum of space, filled with menacing anticipation.
  9. Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van Der Ryn—The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring—Epic ambition.
  10. Tom Bellfort and Christopher Boyes—Titanic—Precisely created the menacing sounds of destruction.
  11. Notes:  Since The Jazz Singer will get its due later on in my “Honorary Award” section (spoiler alert!) this selection is quite easy.  Not only does Star Wars remain to this day the penultimate example of good sound editing, it also includes some of the most recognizable sounds ever created.  Its influence goes on as well, as Skywalker Ranch is still the most significant sound design studio in the world.

Sound Mixing

  1. Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, and Roy Charman—Raiders of the Lost Ark—The chase scenes throughout busy streets are the best testament to the variety of sounds that were dealt with.
  2. Chris Jenkins, Doug Hemphill, Mark Smith, and Simon Kaye—Jurassic Park—While the deep rumble of dinosaur footsteps counter raindrops, the sounds of various creatures are heard in the background.
  3. Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek—The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingMore sounds at once were attempted in the battle scenes than ever before.
  4. Don MacDougall, Ray West, Bob Minkler, and Derek Ball—Star Wars—Creating an all new universe with completely foreign sounds required deft mixing of both the futuristic and the practical.
  5. Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, and Ron Judkins—Saving Private Ryan—Realistically portraying the human voice amid desperate battle scenes this authentic approach is stunning.
  6. Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, and Mark Ulano—Titanic—While explosions, sparks, screams, footsteps, orchestras and the constant rush of water abound, the personal dialogues are maintained.
  7. John Cox—Lawrence of Arabia—Another instance of the need for good sound mixing to portray the act of warfare, the various sieges of this movie are tactfully done.
  8. John K. Kean—Bullitt—The most famous car chase in history is perhaps the most telling instance of great sound mixing, though the airport scene at movie’s close is also significant.
  9. Robert Hoyt, Roger Heman, Earl Madery, and John Carter—Jaws—The sound of water is white noise in a film, and the ability to master it in a vast palette of sounds like Jaws (and Titanic) does is extraordinary.
  10. Walter Murch, Mark Berger, Richard Beggs, and Nat Boxer—Apocalypse Now—The airy nature of scenes seems to portray a darkness to the sound used, often at lower registers, and mixed with precision.
  11. Notes:  In my post entitled “86th Academy Awards” wherein I selected my picks and snubs and so forth for this year’s Academy Award season, I said I knew very little about the differences between sound editing and sound mixing.  I did some research and learned the differences.  Drawing the line between a particular instance and whether or not it is an issue of mixing or editing is difficult, but the concepts are a little simpler to follow.

Visual Effects

  1. Jean Cocteau, René Clément, Robert Foucard, Raymond Letouzey, Henri Tiquet, Émile Darbon—Beauty and the BeastThe magic of Cocteau’s masterpiece comes alive due to production design, camera work, and the vision of its director.
  2. Dziga Vertov, Elizaveta Svilova, and Mikhail Kaufman—Man With a Movie Camera—Double exposure, frame-within-frames and other primitive effects.
  3. Ernst Kunstmann—Metropolis—The ability to feature such things as transformations, robots, electrical currents and others was unique for such an old film.
  4. Georges Méliès—A Trip to the Moon—The first film to realize the “magic” of movie tricks, Méliès showed a rocket landing in the eye of the man in the moon.
  5. H. R. Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder, and Dennis Ayling—Alien—Ahead of its time even in the late 70s, the Alien saga got off to a great visual start.
  6. Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook, and Alex Funke—The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King—The great visual masterpiece of the last twenty years.
  7. Joe Letteri, Brian Van’t Hul, Christian Rivers, and Richard Taylor–King Kong—Stands alongside Lord of the Rings as a contemporary visual extravaganza.
  8. Richard Alexander, John Stears, and John Dykstra—Star Warsthe most influential film in the evolution of special effects in film Gesamtkunstwerks.
  9. Stanley Kubrick—2001: A Space Odyssey—Low-key effects are not ignored in this film featuring gravity as a key cinematic motif.
  10. Vernon L. Walker and Gregg Toland—Citizen Kane—The effects in this film are cinematic, featuring movie tricks that bait and trick the eye.
  11. Notes: there are two types of nominee in this pool.  The first is the more common inclusion in visual effects mastery, which involves computer or artistic innovations.  The second represents those movies that create great visual effects with editing and cinematography.
  12. Notes #2: Seven of the ten nominees are science fiction or space fantasy.  One is more of a pure fantasy picture.  Only two—Citizen Kane and Man With a Movie Camera—do not fall into the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  1. Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor—Vertigo—based on Boileau-Narcejac’s novel D’entre les morts.
  2. Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Peter Jackson—The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King—based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Return of the King.
  3. Jean Renoir and Carl Koch—The Rules of the Game—based on Alfred de Musset’s play Les Caprices de Marianne.
  4. John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola, and Michael Herr—Apocalypse Now—based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness.
  5. Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch—Casablanca—based on Murray Bennett and Joan Allison’s play Everybody Comes to Rick’s.
  6. Michael Wilson, Frank Capra, Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Jo Swerling—It’s a Wonderful Life—based on Phillip Van Doren Stern’s short story “The Greatest Gift.”
  7. Paul Shrader and Mardik Martin—Raging Bull—based on Jake LaMotta’s memoir Raging Bull: My Story.
  8. Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson—Lawrence of Arabiabased on T.E. Lawrence’s memoir The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
  9. Robert Bresson—A Man Escaped: or, the Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth—based on André Devigny’s memoir A Man Escaped.
  10. Robert Bresson—Diary of a Country Priest—based on Georges Bernanos’ novel Diary of a Country Priest.
  11. Notes: As I stated in my blog post on the most recent Academy Awards, I give this award to the best script.  While some movies have incredible writing in regards to storyboards, visual cues and motifs, I feel like proficiency with writing dialogue is the key factor in the writing categories, and that’s how I base my votes.  Lawrence of Arabia conquered material that many would consider utterly unconquerable, and provided Peter O’Toole with fantastic opportunity to monologue, as well as many clever exchanges between him and his counterparts.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  1. Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and D. M. Marshman, Jr.—Sunset Boulevard—overt bombastic acting is combined with the monotone nature of film noir mystery movies.
  2. Budd Schulberg—On the Waterfront—With some of the most famous English monologues, as well as some of the most well-known lines, this script is deep with thematic material.
  3. Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi, and Pier Paolo Pasolini—La Dolce Vita—great comments are made, and beautiful exchanges are offered.
  4. Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, and Brunello Rondi—8 1/2—a movie about screenwriting, this comments masterfully on decauchery, but is also quite introspective.
  5. Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles—Citizen KaneWelles’ writing credit is often challenged.  The story of a newspaper baron as told from those who knew him.
  6. Ingmar Bergman—The Seventh Seal–It is completely filled to the brim with fantastically poetic discourses and meditations on God, life, death, and existentialism.
  7. Paul Schrader—Taxi Driver—The dark and brooding atmostphere is emphasized by its carefully-paced dialogue, which at times can be quick, and at other times drawn-out.
  8. Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa, and Hideo Oguni—Ikiru—meditations on the life of a man diagnosed with stomach cancer are incredibly well-constructed.
  9. Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern—Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb—fast-paced and politically savvy satire.
  10. Woody Allen—Annie Hall—Perhaps the best work from perhaps the best screenwriter in the history of cinema, this movie is full of hilarious satire, as well as great romance.
  11. Notes: it should be noted that Ikiru was inspired by previously existed source material, namely Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”.  However, being inspired by source material is not the same as being based on source material, and I therefore would not consider the script therein to be an instance of adapted writing.
  12. Notes #2:  One movie that bears mentioning though it was not nominated is Charlie Kaufman’s work with Spike Jonze called Adaptation.  One of Nicolas Cage’s best performances and a great insight into the mind of a screenwriter.

Honorary Academy Awards

  1. Adolph Zukor—for establishing a valuable production agency, Paramount Pictures.
  2. Akira Kurosawa—for introducing the West to Japanese cinema with many significant and exciting masterpieces.
  3. Alfred Hitchcock—for directing some of the greatest cinematic works over half of a century.
  4. Alfred Newman—for composing some of cinema’s most recognized scores.
  5. André Bazin—for advancing film theory and for his role as one of the most respected film critics.
  6. Bernard Herrmann—for composing some of cinema’s most recognized scores.
  7. Billy Crystal—for contributing to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as its most renowned emcee.
  8. Bob Hope—for contributing to acting as a comedian as well as his service to the United States and its film industry.
  9. Buster Keaton—for developing the slapstick genre and providing cinema with many beloved characters.
  10. Cecil B. DeMille—for contributing as a movie-maker for many decades to the industry.
  11. Cedric Gibbons—for contributing to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, particularly for his design of the Oscar statuette, as well as his contributions to the art of production and set design.
  12. Charles Chaplin—for creating one of the most beloved film characters, “The Tramp”.
  13. Darrel F. Zanuck—for producing the first ever sound film, The Jazz Singer.
  14. David O. Selznick—for producing some of the most significant films in history, as well as establishing a valuable production agency.
  15. D.W. Griffith—for producing, writing, and directing some of the most important films in cinema.
  16. Dziga Vertov—for advancing film theory.
  17. Edith Head—for designing some of the industry’s most beloved costumes, especially for her work with Audrey Hepburn.
  18. Elihu Thomson—for creating Technicolor in 1853 and setting the stage for the company’s valuable contributions to color film.
  19. Ennio Morricone—for composing some of cinema’s most recognized scores.
  20. Federico Fellini—for introducing Italian cinema to the world in a way that no one ever had before.
  21. George Lucas—for contributing to the science fiction genre and introducing the world to a new realm of special effects.
  22. Greta Garbo—-for contributing to the industry with unforgettable characters dating into the silent era.
  23. Ingmar Bergman—-for directing valuable movies in international cinema.
  24. James Cameron—for directing two of the most popular films of all time, Titanic and Avatar.
  25. James Stewart—for contributing to acting with countless beloved roles as well as his service to the United States and its film industry.
  26. Jean-Luc Godard—for directing some of the most iconic films of 1960s French cinema.
  27. Jean Renoir—for maintaining the strong tradition of French dominance in world cinema.
  28. John Williams—-for composing some of cinema’s most recognized scores.
  29. Katharine Hepburn—for contributing to acting with her various characters.
  30. Laurence Olivier—for contributing to acting in various roles and adapting some of the most beloved theatrical classics to the screen.
  31. Lillian Gish—for contributing to the industry over a long career dating deep into the silent era.
  32. Louis and Auguste Lumière—for introducing the world to a new popular art medium, the cinema.
  33. Lyle R. Wheeler—for contributions to the art of production and set design.
  34. Mack Sennett—for advancing comedic techniques and influencing comic films for the next century.
  35. Michelangelo Antonioni—for directing significant films in world cinema and his influence on visual styling.
  36. Max Steiner—for composing some of the cinema’s most recognized scores.
  37. Orson Welles—for contributing to film as an actor, director, producer and screenwriter.
  38. Pauline Kael—for making film accessible to the masses by means of her film criticism.
  39. Peter Jackson—for contributing to the fantasy genre and introducing the world to a new realm of special effects.
  40. Robert A. Flaherty—-for contributing to the documentary genre and introducing the salvage ethnography.
  41. Robert Bresson—for directing some of the finest dramas in cinema, particularly for his innovations in minimalism.
  42. Roger Ebert—for making film accessible to the masses by means of his film criticism.
  43. Sammy Cahn—for writing some of the most beloved movie songs.
  44. Sergei Eisenstein—for advancing film theory.
  45. Shirley Temple Black—for contributing to child acting with beloved performances as well as her service to the United States and its film industry.
  46. Steven Spielberg—for producing some of the most significant films in history, as well as establishing a valuable production agency.
  47. Victor Fleming—for directing two of the most important Hollywood films, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.
  48. Vittorio de Sica—for advancing a new movie genre, the Neo-Realist drama.
  49. Walt Disney—for creating one of the most beloved film characters, Mickey Mouse, and producing the first ever animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
  50. Woody Allen—for contributing to film as an actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

In conclusion, I would like to sum up the awards.  I know that this a very long post, I think it’s the longest I’ve ever written.  Perhaps this summary, then, will prove useful.  Citizen Kane took home the most awards with four (Best Picture, Directing, Cinematography, and Writing [Original Screenplay]).  Star Wars ended up with three wins (Original Score, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects).  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Wizard of Oz both won two awards (Production Design and Sound Mixing, and Makeup and Hairstyling and Original Song, respectively).  Marlon Brando, George C. Scott and Alec Guinness were all nominated for two acting awards; Brando was nominated twice for Best Actor in a Leading Role (for On the Waterfront and The Godfather) Scott was nominated in both the Leading and Supporting Role categories (for Patton and Dr. Strangelove, respectively), and Guinness was also nominated in both categories (for Bridge on the River Kwai and Kind Heart and Coronets).

Counting honorary awards, there are 56 individuals with multiple nominations, the leader being Walt Disney with 10 nominations (4 for Animated Feature Film with Cinderella, Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves; 5 for Animated Short Film with Der Fuehrer’s Face, Donald in Mathmagic Land, Steamboat Willie, Three Little Pigs, and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree; and an Honorary Award).   Stanley Kubrick is in second place with half that many (5) for a variety of awards: Best Picture (2001: A Space Odyssey), Cinematography (2001: A Space Odyssey), Live Action Short Film (Day of the Fight), Visual Effects (2001: A Space Odyssey), and Writing (Original Screenplay) (Dr. Strangelove).  Without an honorary award, Gary Rydstrom is in third place with four nominations, two for Sound Mixing (Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan) and two for Sound Editing (Saving Private Ryan and Titanic).  When taking honorary awards into account, five other contestants have four nominations: Orson Welles (Best Picture, Directing, and Writing [Original Screenplay], all for Kane, along with an honorary award), Dziga Vertov (Directing, Film Editing, and Visual Effects, all for Man With a Movie Camera, along with an honorary award), Federico Fellini (two in Writing [Original Screenplay] for 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita, Directing for La Dolce Vita, and an honorary award), Robert Bresson (two in Writing [Adapted Screenplay] for A Man Escaped and Diary of a Country Priest, Directing for A Man Escaped, and an honorary award), and Sergei Eisenstein (two in Film Editing for Battleship Potemkin and October, Directing for Battleship Potemkin, and an honorary award).

When it comes to wins—not just nominations—Orson Welles leads all candidates with four (Best Picture, Directing, and Writing [Original Screenplay], all for Kane, along with an honorary award).  Three others have two victories: Anatole Dauman (Documentary Short Subject for Night and Fog and Short Film for La Jetée), Sergei Eisenstein (Film Editing for Battleship Potemkin and an honorary award), and John Williams (Original Score for Star Wars and an honorary award).  When all is said and done and honorary awards are taken into account, there are 87 people and 1 production agency that won a Fantasy Oscar statuette.

3 thoughts on “Fantasy Academy Awards Ceremony

  1. Pingback: My Darling Clementine (1946) | A Slice of Cake

  2. Pingback: My Introduction to a Series of Essays on Citizen Kane | A Slice of Cake

  3. Pingback: The Academy Award Archives | A Slice of Cake

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