When Jeremy Irons won the award at the 67th Academy Awards, the general consensus was that the category had finally produced a winner that represented the dramatic performance quality that the award had been created in order to recognize. There was still some grumbling over the fact that the nominees were largely dominated by one film, but The Lion King had been so impressive that it was hard for people to complain too much about any of the individual nominees. Disney was set to release another animated film in 1995, Pocahontas, based on a time period and series of events ripe for drama, and featuring the voice of Mel Gibson, who would go on to have a huge year with Braveheart. But what no one could have predicted was Toy Story and the emergence of Pixar. Continue reading →
Babe is one of my favorite movies. And while I love all of the things that everyone else praises, the story of an “unprejudiced heart” who challenges preconceptions, the fantastic music (which will be a post of its own one day soon) and the Oscar-winning effects, my favorite part of the movie is one that is often overlooked: Arthur Hoggett. Though James Cromwell was nominated for an Oscar for the role, losing to Kevin Spacey for his deserving role in The Usual Suspects, his performance in this Best Picture nominee has been mostly ignored in the 18 years since Babe’s release. So today, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite characters/performances, who turns out to be deeper than he might seem on one viewing.
I love musicals, but I love musical climaxes even more. No, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter! I’ve always enjoyed movies that have either the climax of the story, or at least a major plot point, revolve around a musical number, particularly when it is unexpected. I don’t mean in musicals, but in movies that otherwise have no musical numbers and are not about music. In other words, not movies like Crazy Heart, Ray, or A Prairie Home Companion, all of which are in some way about music.
I also don’t mean scenes set to music, either as a montage or to set the mood for the scene, like in Rocky, The Breakfast Club or Cruel Intentions. I’m not even talking about musical climaxes that are the obvious result of the plot, like in Dirty Dancing, Sister Act, or Little Miss Sunshine. What I’m talking about are moments when characters in otherwise non-musical movies have some sort of musical performance/dance number/song that resolves their issues, expresses their feelings, or advances the plot in a way that’s unique compared to the rest of the film, and is often unexpected or completely surprising. Here are some examples of what I mean: Continue reading →