Thursday, August 20, 2015

BEST PICTURE SHOWCASE: "The King's Speech" (2010)

If you're going to release a film about British royalty, you're probably best behooved to have this film be written by a British screenwriter, directed by a British director, star British actors and be distributed by British distributors.  Hey, novel concept, isn't it?  Lord knows Hollywood would turn it into special effects and love triangles.  2010's The King's Speech was written by David Siedler (British), directed by Tom Hooper (British), starred Colin Firth (British) and was distributed by...well, several companies, but most were British.  For the U.S. distribution, the Weinstein Company got on board.  Good call, as they netted their first Oscar since leaving Miramax and founding their own company in 2005.  What The King's Speech did was take a story that would perhaps on the surface seem stuffy and dull, then present it in an outstanding and interesting fashion, sprinkled with some humor and sentiment, just enough of each.  The story in question is that of King George VI, who had a horrible stutter, yet was expected to rule the empire and give speeches on this new technology called radio.  Siedler discovered how the King began to work with a speech therapist and began writing a screenplay for this in the 1980's, but at the request of the Queen Mother (King George VI's widow), postponed working on this until after her death.  When she passed in 2002, Siedler eventually went back to the project.  Eventually, through excellent casting and execution, this film was somewhat-quietly released in the autumn of 2010 and wound up riding a wave of popularity all the way to the Kodak Theater on Oscar night.  Let's dive in.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Yet another boxing movie to cover here in the Best Picture Showcase, and this one turns out to probably be the most famous boxing movie of them all.  In 1976, a little film written by and starring an up-and-coming virtual unknown named Sylvester Stallone was released to the public.  Entitled Rocky, it told the story of an up-and-coming virtual unknown named Rocky Balboa.  Stallone had no problem selling the script, but producers wanted an established star to play the title role.  Stallone eventually was able to convince the studio to let him give it a try, if for no other reason than it would be a much cheaper hiring for him to play the role than someone like Redford or whoever.  The resounding success of this film led to multiple sequels, and depending on who you ask, the sequels either held up well enough on their own or got progressively worse with each release.  It can be stated clearly though, only the first Rocky got such resounding love from the Academy.  Of the five sequels, only Rocky III got any Oscar nominations, one for the "Eye of the Tiger" theme song.  Personally, I only dislike Rocky IV.  And holy shit, do I dislike it.  The one most people hate seems to be Rocky V, and I gotta tell ya, I think that film is pretty damn good.  I won't delve into why I like this and don't like that...we can do that in a future blog.  Today, it's about the first one.  Maybe the best one.  1976 Best Picture winner Rocky.  Ring the bell.