The Oscar Project
After a few full months of new Oscar winners and nominees coming to Netflix, August is sort of a dud. The good news is that even with some films that may be lower down on the pecking order in terms of greatest Oscar nominees ever, we do get the fantastic film Gangs of New York later in the month. It holds a rather dubious distinction but you'll have to check out the write-up below to find out what it is.
I also decided to add something to this monthly post. With Netflix continuously bringing in new content, they have to get rid of some stuff that's been up there for a while. So I'm including a list of the Oscar nominees and winners that will be disappearing off of Netflix (at least for now) in the month of August. I'm not providing a full recap, just the nominations and wins but check that list out at the end of the post.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) - It's hard to believe that this film is 25 years old this year. I feel like it was much more recent than that and while I never saw the film when it came out (or since) I may have to add it to my list since it was an Oscar nominee.
The plot seems simple enough and entirely summed up in the five word title. The film stars Hugh Grant in his first of several collaborations with screenwriter Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, Love Actually) and follows his character and his friends through a variety of events described in the title. The film has a number of fairly large names including Kristin Scott Thomas, Andie MacDowell, and Rowan Atkinson.
Even though it was not a huge box office success, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay (Curtis) and Best Picture. Original Screenplay was awarded to Pulp Fiction while Best Picture went to Forrest Gump.
Jackie Brown (1997) - We seem to be getting the full catalog of Quentin Tarantino's films on Netflix lately, which can't be a coincidence with the arrival of Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood at the theaters this past weekend.
Starring Pam Grier in the title role, the film is an homage to Blaxpoitation films of the 1970s including Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), both of which starred Grier in the lead role. It is Tarantino's only film to be based on other material, Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel Rum Punch and is the second of many collaborations between the director and prolific actor Samuel L. Jackson. They first partnered on Pulp Fiction (1994) and have followed that with Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), Inglorious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012), and The Hateful Eight (2015)
Continuing Tarantino's tradition of his films being nominated for Academy Awards, Jackie Brown did land a nomination for Best Support Actor (Robert Forster) which ultimately went to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting (see below).
Rocky (1976) - Even if you've never actually seen any of the Rocky films, chances are you understand the basic premise of the series. Sylvester Stallone stars as Rocky Balboa, a young boxer who fights in small gyms and works on the side as a collector for a loan shark in Philadelphia. He gets tapped to fight world heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) when a scheduled opponent is unable to compete.
Along the way we meet a cast of characters, many of which will appear throughout the series of films. Rocky picks up a trainer named Mick (Burgess Meredith) along with his future wife Adrian (Talia Shire) and her brother Paulie (Burt Young).
Ultimately, Rocky doesn't manage to win the fight against Creed, but gains the respect of the champ along the way and nearly pulls off the upset. The relationship between the two boxers will carry through the remainder of the series, and set up events for the spin-off series (Creed and Creed II) that have been released in recent years.
Even though it was "just a boxing movie," Rocky landed with criticas and audiences and ultimately landed ten Oscar nominations across nine categories (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young were both nominated for Best Supporting Actor). The film won the awards for Best Film Editing (Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad), Best Director (John G. Avildsen), and Best Picture.
Rocky III (1982) - After the success of the first Rocky film, the sequels started rolling out every few years, chronicling the story of Balboa's rise to fame, eventually beating Apollo Creed in a rematch. Rocky III brought a new sort of Rocky to the screen, one that was living a posh lifestyle, succeeding in every title defense he faced and ultimately becoming a bit "soft."
In the sequel, Balboa faces off against two heavyweights of the day. Professional Wrestler Hulk Hogan appears as Thunderlips, whom Balboa fights in an exhibition charity event. Mr. T appears as James "Clubber" Lang, Rocky's main rival in the film, just before becoming a household name as B. A. Baracus in the television series The A-Team.
After a disappointing sequel in Rocky II, Rocky III jumped back into the Academy's eye with a nomination for Best Original Song for the iconic song "Eye of the Tiger" (Survivor), losing out to "Up Where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003) - It's relatively rare to see a romantic comedy receive award attention, especially from the Oscars, but when you have heavy hitters like Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in your lead roles, it's hard to ignore.
Nicholson and Keaton play older characters who have success in their lives and fall in love, despite being polar opposite personalities. The film also features Hollywood names such as Keanu Reeves (The Matrix), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and Jon Favreau (Iron Man).
Keaton received her fourth nomination for Best Actress for the film but lost out to Charlize Theron's portrayal of Aileen "Lee" Wournos in Monster.
Gangs of New York (2002) - I remember seeing this film in the theater when it was released and thinking it was fantastic. I have not had the chance to catch it in the decade and a half since, and look forward to checking it out again when it arrives on Netflix later this month.
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Hollywood elites Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cameron Diaz, Gangs of New York is an epic period piece set against the ongoing fighting between Catholics and Protestants in the 1860s. The film is dark and highlights the seedy world of the Five Points neighborhood of New York City some 150 year ago. The three names at the top of the bill were the obvious draw in terms of talent for this film, however other top names included Jim Broadbent (Iris, Harry Potter), John C. Reilly (Step Brothers, Wreck It Ralph), Liam Neeson (Taken, Schindler's List), and Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart, Troy).
Despite being lauded by critics and audiences alike, Gangs of New York failed to win an Oscar in any of the ten categories for which it was nominated. It is second only to The Turning Point (1977) and The Color Purple (1985) which both received 11 nominations without a win. Nominations came in for Best Original Song for "The Hands That Built America" (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen), Best Sound (Tom Fleischman, Eugene Gearty, and Ivan Sharrock), Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), Best Costume Design (Sandy Powell), Best Production Design (Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo), Best Cinematography (Michael Ballhauas), Best Original Screenplay (Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan), Best Actor (Day-Lewis), Best Director (Scorsese), and Best Picture.
Leaving in August
These films will be leaving Netflix for now on the dates listed below. Check them out before they're gone! One note, the links below should still work even when the films are no longer available for streaming.
Leaving August 1
Good Will Hunting (1997) - Nominated for nine Oscars including wins for Best Supporting Actor (Robin Williams) and Best Original Screenplay (Ben Affleck & Matt Damon)
Gosford Park (2001) - Nominated for seven Oscars with a win for Best Original Screenplay (Julian Fellowes)
Poltergeist (1982) - Nominated for three Oscars (Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score) but failed to win in any category.
The Fifth Element (1997) - Nominated for Best Sound Editing.
The Hurt Locker (2009) - Nominated for nine Oscars, winning in six categories including Best Actor (Jeremy Renner), Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow), and Best Picture.
The Village (2004) - Nominated for Best Original Score (James Newton Howard).
Leaving August 11
No Country for Old Men (2007) - Nominated for eight Oscars with wins for Best Adapted Screenplay (Joel & Ethan Coen), Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Best Director (Joel & Ethan Coen), and Best Picture.
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?