The DVD Report #460

HurricaneOf all John Ford’s great films, the one that tends to get the least amount of respect these days is 1937’s The Hurricane. Maybe it’s because the film has been out of general circulation for so long that younger generations have not seen it. Maybe it’s because of the advances in special effects that have come along in the nearly eighty years since it was made. Kino Lorber’s beautifully restored Blu-ray should put an end to that. Both sound and visual effects take your breath away.

Based on a 1936 Nordhoff-Hall novel, Ford’s film was given the green light by Sam Goldwyn after the huge success of MGM’s 1935 Oscar-winning film of Nordhoff-Hall’s Mutiny on the Bounty. Jon Hall, co-author James Norman Hall’s half-Polynesian nephew, is the Christ-like Polynesian sailor whose constant escapes from an unjust imprisonment drives much of the film’s narrative. Sarong queen Dorothy Lamour gets top billing as his wife, but is given little to do. Acting honors go to Thomas Mitchell as the Ford-like, slovenly, drunken doctor who is the film’s conscience; Raymond Massey as the island’s martinet governor; Mary Astor as the governor’s compassionate wife; and C. Aubrey Smith as the island’s beloved priest. Mitchell, who was also in Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon and Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow in 1937, received his first Oscar nomination for The Hurricane. He would win for a similar role in Ford’s Stagecoach two years later.

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Precursor: 24th Annie Awards Nominations (2015)

Once-dominant DreamWorks suffered an embarrassing defeat at the Annie Awards securing a meager 3 nominations for its sole entry this year. This may be the first time in awhile they haven’t shown up at the Oscars. Pixar is back in force with a total of 24 nominations in the feature film categories with Inside Out dominating like few of their previous films have.

The Annies have now split out independent animated features from the bigger studios, which might help them raise visibility, but when Studio Ghibli ends up at that table, but Spirit Awards nominee Anomalisa doesn’t, there’s something a tad fishy. Needless to say, the strong showing of Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur and Shaun the Sheep Movie help solidify their chances at Oscar consideration. Minions could still be a player for a nomination as are Anomalisa and The Peanuts Movie. When Marnie Was There could still sneak in, as could Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, but Home is most certainly out of the race among the major studio efforts.

Nominations Tallies

(14) Inside Out
(10) The Good Dinosaur
(7) Minions
(5) Anomalisa, The Peanuts Movie, Shaun the Sheep Movie
(3) Boy and the World, Home, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Hotel Transylvania 2, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, When Marnie Was There

The Nominations

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The Top Tens: The Wintry Mix

Every month, our contributors will be putting together a list of ten films on certain topics. Each month will be different and will feature an alphabetical list of our selections, commentary from each of us on our picks, and an itemized list showing what we each selected.

This month, instead of focusing on just Christmas films, like every other list likely to come out this month, we’re going with a more general winter theme. While there are some obvious Christmas movies on our list (It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street), the rest of our selections all have a winter or snowy setting to them even if not Christmas-themed.

As our contributors have shown every month, we have a wide array of film styles and periods on display in our list. Our earliest entry is the 1922 documentary Nanook of the North, a film that looked into the life of Inuits; and our latest is 2014’s Force Majeure, a film about rebuilding a life after tragedy. We have foreign language films, documentaries, horror films, dramas, comedies and everything in between.

Ang Lee is our most represented director with two films on the list: The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain. The Ice Storm has two mentions on the list as do Doctor Zhivago, Fargo and The Gold Rush. No film received four citations, but two received three, both of which are almost the complete opposite of one another: It’s a Wonderful Life and Snowpiercer.

Now, let’s take a look at what our contributors chose and briefly why they chose them.

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This Day in Oscar History: December 1 (2015)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.




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Poll: Now That You’ve Seen “Creed”

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Now That You’ve Seen Creed…?

Cinema Sight Asks: Now that you've seen "Creed," which "Rocky" film is best?

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Film Preview: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Page Revisions:

(November 29, 2015) Original

Release Date:

May 6, 2016


From IMDb: “Political interference in the Avenger’s activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.”

Poster Rating: B+ / B+ / B

Review: (#1) The reflection is a nice touch, which elevates the overall design to one of creative vision, not lifeless symbolism. (#2) Why something as visually simplistic as this should be so visually compelling lies solely in its decision to overlay everything with the shield’s symbolic colors except for that which sits in the center star. It’s an interesting way of conveying something visually without being obvious about it. (#3) The fight is real and of course we couldn’t get away from something like this. Compared to the other two designs, this is a bit of a let down, but standing on its own, it’s a sufficient marketing success.

Trailer Rating: B

Review: It’s not exactly light on plot. Nor is it light on action. Yet, the fascinating and compelling anti-government elements aren’t as fluid or compelling as they were in the prior solo Captain America outing. It also tries to make Iron Man seem more likable when he’s little more than a government tool, at least if you’re familiar with the comic version of events, which this trailer doesn’t highlight effectively or efficiently.

Oscar Prospects:

Until Captain American: The Winter Soldier, no Disney Marvel movie earned a Best Visual Effects nomination (or in any other category for that matter) unless it featured the Iron Man character. This film won’t test the theory that the logjam has been broken as Iron Man is here as well, which means it could be a major competitor for Best Visual Effects if nothing else.

Trailer #1

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Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 1

Now that Precursor Season has begun, I’m going to be providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (and in some cases other outside influences).

Before the Academy moved their annual awards up into February, precursor season didn’t start until the middle of December. Nowadays, the earliest nominations announcement comes in November from the Independent Spirit Awards. Typically, they are first out of the gate, but the Producers Guild pushed their documentary nominees ahead by a week, thus putting them out first. Here are the results of those contests in terms of how they might affect the conversation around the Oscar race this year.

But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:

Week 2

Tuesday, Dec. 1 – Annie Awards Nominations (Official)
Tuesday, Dec. 1 – Satellites Nominations (Official)
Tuesday, Dec. 1 – National Board of Review Awards (Official)
Wednesday, Dec. 2 – New York Critics Awards (Official)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – DC Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – Boston Online Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 6 – Boston Critics Awards (Official)
Sunday, Dec. 6 – Los Angeles Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 6 – NY Online Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 7 – Grammy Awards Nominations (Official)
Monday, Dec. 7 – Online Critics Nominations (Official)
Monday, Dec. 7 – DC Critics Awards (Official)

Big Winners

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 26-29, 2015

We had three films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.


39 years ago, an upstart boxing drama became the year’s Best Picture winner. Rocky spawned a series of successful sequels and became one of those Oscar winners that you either love or are indifferent to. Now, we have a semi-reboot of the franchise with Creed, following the life of the son of one of Rocky Balboa’s key opponents. Now that Rocky is beyond the prime age of his sport, he’s turned to coaching and becomes the tutor to Creed’s son.

Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young and Sylvester Stallone were each nominated for their performances in the original film. None of them won Oscars, but the film managed three wins out of ten nominations. While the sequels earned periodic attention, they never received the acclaim or Oscar consideration the original film did. 25 years after that first franchise ended its run and 9 years since the last attempt to reboot the franchise failed, Creed hopes to start a new franchise and, in doing so, secure several Oscar nominations to ensure that.

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The Morning After: Nov. 30, 2015

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:


John Crowley’s beautiful film paints a gorgeous portrait of a young Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) as she struggles to find her place in Brooklyn, New York far from the only home and family she’s ever known. It isn’t until she meets and falls in love with the awkward and exuberant young Italian boy (Emory Cohen) that she begins to grow and ease into her new life of passion and independence.

Ronan is astonishing in a quiet, subtle performance that effortlessly conveys Eilis’ fears, sorrows and excitement with gentle facial expressions and demeanor changes suggesting a woman growing older and wiser without growing duller. Her lustrous portrayal is a study in grace and charm, elegant without fault.

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This Day in Oscar History: November 30 (2015)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.




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Film Preview: The Humbling (2015)

Page Revisions:

(November 29, 2015) Original

Release Date:

January 23, 2015


From IMDb: “A stage actor who is slowly losing his mind engages in a relationship with a sexually confused younger woman.”

Poster Rating: D+ / F

Review: (#1) you don’t really need much to sell a film than a picture of a gruff, grizzled Al Pacino on the cover. Of course, that’s not going to sell the film either, so the unwavering simplicity is a detriment. (#2) Proof that even international poster designs can be an abysmal mess, take this lifeless, forgettable mess as an example.

Trailer Rating: C-

Review: There’s something wholly unappealing about the latter filmic career of Al Pacino. While he’s doing brilliant work on television, his theatrical output is poor and this film about a washed up actor has a certain thematic parallelism to it. That doesn’t give the film much credit, though.

Oscar Prospects:


Trailer #1

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Screener Watch: Steve Jobs

SteveJobsUniversal’s likely best shot at major Oscar nominations this year.

Steve Jobs

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Danny Boyle
Premise: From IMDb: “Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.”
Oscar Chances: Good: While the film was a box office dud, that didn’t prevent critics from heaping praise on the film, which may enable it to hold on to secure key Oscar nominations.
Campaign-Proposed Categories:

  • Best Picture (no one listed)
  • Best Director (Danny Boyle)
  • Best Actor (Michael Fassbender)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin)
  • Best Cinematography (Alwin Kuchler)
  • Best Film Editing (Elliot Graham)
  • Best Production Design (Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena)
  • Best Costume Design (Suttirat Larlarb)
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling (Ivana Primorac, Gretchen Davis, Yvette Rivas)
  • Best Sound Mixing (Lisa Pinero, Ian Tapp, Niv Adiri)
  • Best Sound Editing (Glenn Freemantle)
  • Best Visual Effects (Adam Gascoyne, Tim Caplan)
  • Best Original Score (Daniel Pemberton)

Rotten Tomatoes:
84% (206 critics; as of 11/29/15)
82 out of 100 (45 critics; as of 11/29/15)

Screener Watch: Suffragette

SuffragetteFocus Features has two major contenders they are offering this year. This is one of them.


Stars: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Natalie Press, Meryl Streep, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw
Director: Sarah Gavron
Premise: From IMDb: “The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.”
Oscar Chances: Good and Bad: The opportunities for this film were boundless, but with unspectacular reviews, the film seems to have faded from most conversations. Still, there are several categories it could compete in including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.
Campaign-Proposed Categories:

  • Best Picture (Alison Owen, Faye Ward)
  • Best Director (Sarah Gavron)
  • Best Actress (Carey Mulligan)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Natalie Press, Meryl Streep)
  • Best Original Screenplay (Abi Morgan)
  • Best Cinematography (Edu Grau)
  • Best Film Editing (Barney Pilling)
  • Best Production Design (Alice Normington, Barbara Herman-Skelding)
  • Best Costume Design (Jane Petrie)
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling (Sian Grigg)
  • Best Sound Editing (Stephen Griffiths, Andy Shelley)
  • Best Sound Mixing (Danny Hambrook, Paul Cotterell)
  • Best Visual Effects (Tim Caplan, Simon Hughes)
  • Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)

Rotten Tomatoes:
72% (135 critics; as of 11/29/15)
67 out of 100 (37 critics; as of 11/29/15)

Screener Watch: The Danish Girl

DanishGirlFocus Features has two major contenders they are offering this year. This is one of them.

The Danish Girl

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Matthias Schoenaerts
Director: Tom Hooper
Premise: From IMDb: “The remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.”
Oscar Chances: Good: The film has been a lightweight with critics, but Eddie Redmayne seems assured of a nomination and, pushed into support, Alicia Vikander also has strong chances. Add to that the film’s opportunities in Best Production Design and Best Costume Design and it could be a strong nomination recipient, even if Best Picture isn’t in the cards.
Campaign-Proposed Categories:

  • Best Picture (Gail Mutrux, Anne Harrison, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Tom Hooper)
  • Best Director (Tom Hooper)
  • Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Matthias Schoenaerts)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucinda Coxon)
  • Best Cinematography (Danny Cohen)
  • Best Film Editing (Melanie Ann Oliver)
  • Best Production Design (Eve Stewart, Michael Standish)
  • Best Costume Design (Paco Delgado)
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling (Jan Sewell)
  • Best Sound Editing (Matt Skelding)
  • Best Sound Mixing (Mike Prestwood Smith, Gilbert Lake, Martin Beresford)
  • Best Visual Effects (Richard Reed, Stuart Lashley)
  • Best Original Score (Alexandre Destplat)

Rotten Tomatoes:
73% (67 critics; as of 11/29/15)
69 out of 100 (22 critics; as of 11/29/15)

Screener Watch: James White

JamesWhiteThe Film Arcade isn’t a studio familiar to many, but they might just have an Oscar competitor on their hands.

James White

Stars: Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon
Director: Josh Mond
Premise: From IMDb: “James, a 21-year-old New Yorker, struggles to take control of his self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges.”
Oscar Chances: Uncertain: This film has come out of nowhere to enter several prognosticators’ lists for possible Oscar nominations. Cynthia Nixon seems the candidate most likely to make a play at an Oscar bid.
Campaign-Proposed Categories:

  • Best Actor (Christopher Abbott)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Cynthia Nixon)
  • Best Director (Josh Mond)
  • Best Original Screenplay (Josh Mond)
  • Best Cinematogrpahy (Matyas Erdely)
  • Best Editing (Matthew Hannam)
  • Best Original Score (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi)
  • Best Picture (Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, Melody Roscher)

Rotten Tomatoes:
93% (41 critics; as of 11/29/15)
86 out of 100 (20 critics; as of 11/29/15)

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