The Oscar Project
A film you wish you saw in theaters
Despite my desire to stray away from Star Wars films in this list, I didn’t have much of a choice when picking this category. It was a no-brainer for me to pick the original Star Wars. Not Star Wars: A New Hope, as it is now known, but just Star Wars. Unfortunately, the film was release in 1977, a few years before I was born, so I was never able to see the original version when it was in theaters. Even the version I had on VHS tape in the mid-90s was slightly different than the original 1977 version and there is plenty of changes that have been applied to the film since that time.
The first time I was able to see the film in the theater was in 1997 when Lucas released his Special Editions of the original trilogy, priming the pump with audiences for the 1999 release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. There have been entire libraries written, mainly on the internet, about the positives and (mostly) negatives of the Special Editions. Yes, they are different than what was originally shown in the late 70s and early 80s, but certain aspects I can understand updating, especially when it comes to visual effects shots that just weren’t possible until computer technology caught up with the vision.
But back to the original film. Star Wars is a classic hero’s journey story. You have a cast of characters that are immediately memorable. From the affable farm boy turned Jedi in training Luke Skywalker and his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, to the evil Darth Vader, the beautiful yet headstrong Princess Leia to the charismatic Han Solo and his alien co-pilot Chewbacca. And let’s not forget the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the story, R2-D2 and C-3PO, as well as a cast of hundreds of aliens populating bars, spaceports, scavenging vessels and warrior tribes.
And with all those characters, I haven’t even mentioned the spaceships. Between the Rebel X-Wing fighter and Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, you have two of the most iconic spaceships in movie history. Add to that the Empire’s TIE Fighters with their distinctive screeching sound and of course the Death Star itself, and you have the makings of an entire universe.
And I still haven’t gotten to the lightsabers! This film is one that just keeps on giving. Just when you think there isn’t any more cool stuff to cram into a movie, it surprises you yet again. If not for Star Wars, empty paper towel tubes would be just that. But thanks to Star Wars, they become laser swords in the imagination of just about every adolescent boy in the last 40 years.
I know there is a section of the population that doesn’t care for Star Wars, and they are allowed to be wrong. I kid, sort of. No matter what your feelings on the films that came after Star Wars, there is no denying that the original film redefined the genre, bringing it solidly into the mainstream and in the process, cementing the concept of the summer blockbuster, pioneered a few years before with Jaws. If you’ve never seen any Star Wars film, I urge you to try and find an old copy of the original film and watch it as it was originally intended to be seen. If you’re a huge Star Wars fan, use this as your excuse to go watch the original again. Even as many times as I’ve seen it in my life, I always try and find something new when I watch it.
Here’s hoping I’ll be able to catch the next groundbreaking film in the theater and as always, may the Force be with you.
Day 23 – A film made by a director that is dead | Day 25 – A film you like that is not set in the current era
Favorite film sequel
I was trying VERY hard to stay away from Star Wars films on this list and this is already my second one (after The Last Jedi last week) so I’ve already broken that goal. But there really is no other answer for this category. Not only is it my favorite film sequel, I think many people would argue that it is the best sequel ever made.
I know my post last week about The Last Jedi identified some problems with The Empire Strikes Back, but while they derail the recent film, Empire is still a near perfect film. For fans of the franchise, this outing accomplishes what many other films in the series tried (and failed) to do. It goes in a very dark direction, while expanding the story and the universe of the original. We have the same familiar cast of characters, but also get a new crop of fan favorites from the Jedi Master Yoda to his evil counterpart Emperor Palpatine. The story also takes us to new locales, completely different from what we had in the first film.
But all this pales in comparison with one of the greatest plot twists in cinematic history. I don’t need to flag this as a spoiler, but Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. So much has been made about this moment in film that took place now 40 years ago. The Simpson’s have referenced it when Homer and Marge’s went to see the film on a date and Homer ruined the surprise for fans waiting in line for the next showing. Many films have parodied the line including Tommy Boy, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Toy Story 2, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The reveal is so pervasive in popular culture that even people who have never seen a second of a Star Wars film know the line and the situation.
The film was nominated for several Oscars and won for Best Sound Mixing, the only other film in the series to win a competitive Oscar after the original 1977 release. The film has been heralded as the best Star Wars film ever made, many referring to the darker themes explored and the fact that unlike the first film, it ends with the bad guys on top, something you usually don’t see in popular cinema.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is available on Disney+.
Day 16 – A film that is personal to you | Day 18 – A film that stars your favorite actor/actress
If you've missed the last few posts about the Oscar nominated films coming to Disney+ next month, I urge you to check them out.
So far I've covered live action films, animated films, and Pixar films.
My last two posts after this one will cover Marvel films and the one Oscar nominated documentary that will be available on the service.
Since I did an updated post about movies based on books yesterday, I wanted to make sure the remakes and sequels received the same attention. With so many remakes, reboots, franchises, and sequels at the box office today, I often like to see the original film(s) before checking out a new addition to a series.
Just to remind you what we're looking at here, this is a list of the films scheduled for release in Fall 2019 that fall into one of the following categories:
Click on the titles of the films for trailers where they are available.
1. Blade Runner 2049
I waited quite some time to finally see this film, much longer than I originally wanted to since I love the original Blade Runner by Ridley Scott. I was not disappointed by this sequel and can fully understand why it won the award for Best Visual Effects.
The main thing that I noticed when watching this film was that the visual effects served to drive the story forward when they were employed and at no time did I say to myself, "that effect felt out of place." Yes, there were times when the effects were obvious, but plenty of others where it was hard to determine if the effects were digital, practical, or some combination of the two.
Overall, the visuals in this film are stunning and align extremely well with the visuals of the original. The use of light and shadow throughout the film lend an otherworldly feel to the future earth portrayed in the film. It also provides a sense of motion and unsteadiness, even when characters and camera are perfectly still.
I rate this a strong 9+/10 for the film as a whole and agree with the Academy in selecting this for Best Visual Effects of 2017.
It seems like we're seeing a pattern here with one huge film being released at the end of the month. Last month we saw Avengers: Infinity War as the lone film in wide release on April 27th. This month it's Solo: A Star Wars Story and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will follow in another four weeks near the end of June.
I will clue you in right now that I am a huge fan of the Star Wars franchise and have been for several decades. The recent additions to the franchise (The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi) have performed extremely well at the box office, but not so well with the Academy. Each of those have garnered a few nominations, but no wins when it comes to the awards ceremony.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?