Oscar Snub – Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


This post is a part of the “Oscars Snubs Blogathon” hosted by Silver Scenes and The Midnite Drive-In

If you were going to vent about the Oscar snub that bothers you the most, there are plenty of popular options from which to choose. You might still get riled up thinking about how Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan for best picture, that Forrest Gump won out over Pulp Fiction, or that Brokeback Mountain lost to Crash. Perhaps you’re indignant that Peter O’Toole never won an Oscar, or that Leonardo DiCaprio is still waiting for his. You could have a particular category that always manages to disappoint you, like Best Original Song does for me. Or maybe you’re just baffled that films like Around the World in 80 Days or Oliver! could have been marked among the best films of all time while something as influential as Star Wars was passed over. But given 88 years of Academy Awards history, you probably would not choose to object to the victory of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, arguably the most popular film to ever with the Oscar for Best Picture. But to me, the best film of 2003 was a different long-titled film adaptation of a popular book series about men at war: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

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Contact, the Lonely Scientist, and the Loneliness within us all

The Lonely Scientist

This post is part of the Movie Scientist Blogathon, hosted by Christina Wehnerand Silver Screenings. Day 1 is all about good scientists, day 2 is for mad scientists, and day 3 covers lonely scientists. 

Scientists are often lonely creatures. Between the time they spend in labs, doing research, sorting through endless data, and working on equipment, it’s easy to see why. But while scientists in the real world often work in teams with others, movie scientists typically don’t have that luxury, making movie scientists some of the loneliest characters onscreen. In the movies, scientists are often at odds with society or those in power, often serving as the lone voice of reason in a chaotic story. Frequently they have to pursue their studies alone, whether by choice or because they’ve been ostracized from everyone else, and sometimes their passions and beliefs make it hard for them to connect to others when the opportunity arises. No matter if the movie scientist is a good one, a mad one, or even an evil one, loneliness seems like it’s typically part of the journey for these characters. And in my mind there’s no lonelier scientist on film than Ellie Arroway from Contact.

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Tony Stark the Mad Scientist – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Peace in our time 

This post is part of the Movie Scientist Blogathon, hosted by Christina Wehner and Silver Screenings. Day 1 is all about good scientists, day 2 is for mad scientists, and day 3 covers lonely scientists. 

The idea of “mad scientists” is probably as old as science, and it’s certainly been around since the beginning of cinema. There are countless iterations, from Victor Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll, and it’s easy to see why the concept makes for such compelling storytelling. They’re often tragic heroes in the classic sense, full of noble intentions but undone by their own ambition or shortsightedness. The mad scientist is of course distinct from the “evil genius”. Where an evil genius is typically the villain of a story, using their knowledge and ability for nefarious purposes, the mad scientist is typically a character with noble intentions who is subject to the tragic flaw of being unable to see the consequences of their actions until they’re too late. (Then there are good scientists who are just kind of crazy or reclusive, whom I wouldn’t typically classify as “mad.) To me, there’s no better use of the mad scientist trope than in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Jurassic Park and the Responsibility of Good Scientists

This post is part of the Movie Scientist Blogathon, hosted by Christina Wehner and Silver Screenings. Day 1 is all about good scientists, day 2 is for mad scientists, and day 3 covers lonely scientists. 

What makes a scientist “good”? Some scientists cure diseases, other scientists research new technologies that help people, while others fight to protect the planet, and we’d probably call all of these “good” scientists. But what makes a movie scientist “good”? In many films about scientists, they’re often using science to overcome impossible odds, or trying to uncover the truth when those in power would rather keep it quiet, but for me the defining “goodness” of a movie scientist is measured by their devotion to scientific ethics, to using science for the betterment of society rather than for personal gain or glory, and to understanding the consequences of science. And in my book, there’s no better example (outside of Star Trek, of course) than the scientists in Jurassic Park. And the qualities that make them good scientists are all on display in one key scene in the film.

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City Lights – “You must remember this…” Blogathon


When I stumbled upon the “You must remember this… a kiss is just a kiss” Blogathon for Valentine’s Day, I knew exactly what cinematic kiss I wanted to write about. Too bad it was past the blogathon’s cutoff year. Since I was late to the party, a lot of my favorite film kisses had been claimed, and I struggled to find a top romantic moment to write about. But I was intrigued by Second Sight Cinema‘s suggestion of a “phantom kiss,” a kiss that we the audience long for but which never happens, and I knew the perfect example of a phantom kiss is in City Lights, long considered one of the greatest romances of the silver screen but which contains not one kiss.

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France on Film Blogathon: Le Pacte des loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf)

This post is a part of the France on Film Blogathon, hosted by Serendipitous Anachronisms. Day 1 focuses on French cinema, while day 2 will cover France as a film subject.

I can probably count on my two hands the number of French films I’ve seen. I’m in no way an expert on French cinema, despite having a great appreciation for it. I’ve been to France twice, but only as a tourist. I don’t speak the language, and while I know more than the average American about French history I’m sure my knowledge pales in comparison to the average European. Basically, I have no authority to speak with any certainty on French culture, history, or cinema, with one exception: one of my all-time favorite films is French. Le Pacte des loups (in English: Brotherhood of the Wolf), is a bizarre, unique mash-up of period drama, monster movie, and martial arts action film, but it’s also intense, emotional, funny, sexy, and simply gorgeous to look at. And, above all, it feels like the sort of film that could only have been made in France.

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High Noon: Not Your Typical Western

This post is part of the “Try It, You’ll Like It!” Blogathon, hosted by Sister Celluloid and Movies Silently, where we write about “gateway films” that might bring non-classic-film lovers into the fold! For all the entries, click here!

If you were to choose a “gateway film” that you might use to introduce older films to someone who lacks an appreciation for the great classics, what film would you choose? Obviously, your choice would need to be tailored to your audience and their particular tastes in movies, but you might go with an epic along the lines of Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai, or perhaps one of the great, sweeping romances like Gone with the Wind or Casablanca. Maybe you’d chose one of the timeless comedies in the vein of Some Like it Hot, Duck Soup or Bringing Up Baby. You could give them a lesson on the history of cinema by starting them off with important but problematic movies like Birth of a Nation or The Jazz Singer, before transitioning into some of the most widely revered early examples of the power of the art form such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Citizen Kane. You could go with smaller, more artistic movies like City Lights or Key Largo maybe you want to show them films that are still relevant today, whose messages still resonate or which captured an aspect of humanity that transcends generations like West Side Story, 12 Angry Men, or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. From dramas to comedies to musicals to noir to animation, from masterful directors like Hitchcock, Ford, DeMille, and with familiar faces like Stewart, Hepburn, Cagney, Taylor, Bogart, Bacall, and Chaplin, your choices for great “gateway films” are practically endless! But one film you probably wouldn’t pick is High Noon.

To the classic film fan, the fact that High Noon is a black-and-white Western from the 1950s wouldn’t be bothersome in the slightest. But to those who aren’t accustomed to the classics, it can feel like a perfect storm of every negative stereotype about older movies. Black-and-white is an immediate turn off for those who equate a lack of color with being visually boring. Westerns are almost universally loathed in our modern age, thought of as cheesy, silly, or dull, filled with stereotypes about John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, neither of whom are even in High Noon to give it some familiarity. And the 1950s are thought of as bland compared with other decades in film history, like the gritty, dark noir of the 40s or the experimental, creative 60’s. But High Noon is the antithesis of all of that. It’s a Western without all of the familiar Western trappings: gorgeous vistas, quickdraw showdowns, cowboys, and chases. It’s visually creative and expressive, drawing you into the drama and emotion of the moment despite its lack of color, all while helping to pioneer new and creative filmmaking techniques ahead of its time. And it’s a story with a deep rooting in the politics of the era with a message still relevant today; High Noon was countercultural, protest filmmaking before the 60s made it popular. After all, how could a film that John Wayne famously called “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life” possibly be boring?

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