BLOG: Window Seat: The Harmony of Rear Window

rear window.jpg

by Ken Bakely 

NOTE: I run an Oscar predictions contest every year, and the winner gets to select one film for me to review. This year, Rear Window was suggested. While writing, this piece started out as a traditional review, with a star rating and all, but slowly transformed into a more specific, contextualized essay. As a result, I’ve excised many aspects of my reviews, such as a detailed plot synopsis. This piece assumes that you’ve seen the movie, or are at least familiar with it. However, there are no spoilers.

If someone was going to remake Rear Window, I could only see one “in” – one reason to approach this content and try to rebuild it. Perhaps the one angle which Alfred Hitchcock did not take, but could prove intriguing, is to go deeper into the restrictions of its setting. The film takes place entirely within the line of sight of L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart), a photographer who finds himself strung up in a wheelchair. He’s spent the past several weeks confined to his apartment, staring out the window into the courtyard, where four other buildings meet. It’s a hot summer, and everyone has their windows wide open. You can see right in. He becomes convinced that one of his neighbors has committed a murder. Soon his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) have been roped into his suspicions, and poke and prod on his behalf, as paranoid whims give way into increasingly precarious situations.

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BLOG: Fixing the Oscars: Shortened Principles

by Ken Bakely

NOTE: This will either be a stand-alone blog post or the start of a multi-part series detailing various suggestions for improving the Oscars. Whether or not there are sequels will depend on my enthusiasm for writing them and the web traffic performance of this installment.

I’ve made no bones about my distaste for the Academy Awards themselves. In that respect, I’m in good company, but I seem to be in more of a minority when it comes to my criticism for the structure of the ceremony itself. I consider myself something of a casual award show viewer, in the sense that I focus on the “major” ones: those that can be specifically named as synonymous with their industries, and don’t contain the word “choice” in the title. The Oscars seem to always stand out as the most endless of all of them. The Globes, Emmys, Tonys, and Grammys are usually pretty good at fitting into their allotted timeslots. Oscar ceremony producers seem to use the scheduled end time as a 30 minute warning.

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BLOG: Dancing in the Moonlight: Thoughts on the 89th Academy Awards

moonlight-oscar-card

A last-second correction is made at the Oscars.


by Ken Bakely

Between this and the Super Bowl, 2017 is a confusing year for people who turn off their TVs early.

The circumstances surrounding Moonlight winning Best Picture overpower the surprise that comes from the very notion of the film taking the trophy: this was, in any case, a tremendous upset. Every prognosticator, myself included, had predicted a victory for La La Land. Yet as the night went on, with the movie losing several categories seemingly tailor-made for it (sound awards and editing, etc.), a weakness emerged. But nobody could have foreseen how it all ended.

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Finals for Finalists: The 2017 Oscar Nomination Predictions

oscars statues

by Ken Bakely

Has it really been a whole year? The Academy Award nominations are upon us yet again. Before we kick things off, let me reprint my yearly awards season mantra:

“To predict the outcome of awards shows, you don’t need to have seen all of the nominees, you just need to have seen awards shows before.”

I’m going to try something a little different this year. Instead of running through an exhaustive list of all twenty-four categories, I will stick to predictions for a handful of major races, providing more in-depth commentary for each one. Each category’s predictions will be ranked in order of how likely it is that each title or individual will be nominated. Every category will also have one or two “biggest threats” – potential, less likely nominees which could still find themselves in the mix on Tuesday morning.

UPDATE (January 25): I have added a “reaction” section to each category now, detailing my accuracy score and my thoughts on what ended up getting nominated. These comments will be in blue.

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The Best of 2016

trophy

by Ken Bakely

We have arrived at the end of yet another year. As many have noticed, being able to finally close out 2016 and its seemingly endless stream of death, global turmoil, and mass uncertainty, is a satisfaction far more relishing than anyone could have anticipated. One can only hope that next year will bring better fortunes, but we’ll have to wait and see. Regardless of all that happened over the past twelve months, I still find it helpful to use this space and remember all of the great movies that I reviewed this year. Films can provide catharsis, an escape, or any other imaginable emotion. The power of art is undeniable and unsinkable. Right now, that’s an especially important thing to remember.

Note that for a film to be eligible for inclusion on this list, it needs to be a movie reviewed by me in 2016 (either here or at filmpulse.net, the other site where my writing appears.)  This means that movies released before 2016 are eligible, and if I didn’t review a particular film, even if it came out in 2016, it doesn’t count. I’ve done my due diligence this year and made sure to write reviews of all of the best movies I’ve seen in the past twelve months, so they’re all pretty much eligible.

One thing that I noticed this year is that I’ve given out far fewer three-and-a-half star ratings than I normally do. While four-star films are a rare occurrence, and there was only one this year, I usually don’t have much trouble with the classification right below it. I’m not sure if this was because I was a tougher critic than normal (which I don’t think was the case), or maybe that I just didn’t see as many movies that outright wowed me. Nevertheless, I’m still satisfied with this list, and would encourage you to check out any of the titles which catch your eye. Let’s get started.

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BLOG: Identifying the Samurai (Alain Delon at 80)

Delon 1963.jpg

Delon, c. 1963


by Ken Bakely

NOTE: The following article was originally written for the now-defunct online magazine onthisdayinfilm.com. When I first started writing for them, I received permission from the editor, Russell Farnham, to repost my contributions to the site if it ceased publication. This post was initially run in the November 2015 issue, to commemorate its subject’s eightieth birthday.

Several cosmetic modifications have been made to this text so it complies with the formatting rules of this site, otherwise it is reposted verbatim.

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BLOG: Blowing Raspberries at the Raspberries

The best <$10 honor in show business.

The best <$10 honor in show business.

by Ken Bakely

NOTE: The structure of the following text was salvaged from an unfinished post written in early 2014.

Founded in 1981 by Hollywood publicist John J.B. Wilson in his living room following a potluck dinner the night of that year’s Academy Awards, the principle of  the Golden Raspberry Awards, for those of you who do not know, is to “honor” the worst films of a given year, the anti-Oscars/Golden Globes/Critics Choice Awards/BAFTAs/the other eleven zillion awards shows that crop up each winter. Held the night before the Oscars (all the world’s press are already in L.A. by then, and may as well cover it) in a “deliberately low-end… ceremony”, the Razzies are voted on by anyone who pays membership dues.

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BLOG: A Spotlight on the 88th Academy Awards

What other picture did you think I would use for this post? (Credit: Getty Images)

What other picture did you think I would use for this post? (Credit: Getty Images)

by Ken Bakely

First off, yay Leo!

My personal prediction score was 17/24, or 71% (about par for the course). I’m happy that my bet on Spotlight winning Best Picture panned out. It’s not my favorite out of the nominees, but I’m not overly upset that it won. It was great to see Mad Max: Fury Road take home six statuettes, and even more wonderful to witness 87-year-old Ennio Morricone win his first competitive Oscar, clinching the Best Original Score award for The Hateful Eight, following an unprecedented career of more than six hundred projects over the past seventy years. Interestingly, Mark Rylance was able to capture the Best Supporting Actor trophy, after many (myself included) had long switched over into believing Sly Stallone had the Oscar in the bag. The word on the street is that Rylance hardly campaigned at all, so it was up to the studio’s PR department to rally the votes.

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BLOG: 2016 Oscar Predictions

Academy_of_Motion_Picture_Arts_and_Sciences_logooscar

by Ken Bakely

The Academy Awards are upon us yet again. In just a few days, fancy envelopes will tell us what movies old white men in Hollywood liked the most from last year. And as is tradition for this site, I will share my predictions for the big show with you, and if you really feel like taking a risk, I’ll let you use them for your own Oscar pools (that is, if you’re prepared to lose potentially large sums of money). I will be providing my predictions in all twenty-four categories, although I’ll only provide commentary for the biggest and/or most contested categories.

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Road to the Oscars: 2016 Nomination Predictions

oscars statues

by Ken B.

Before we kick things off, let me reprint my yearly awards season mantra:

“To predict the outcome of awards shows, you don’t need to have seen all of the nominees, you just need to have seen awards shows before.”

As we had last year (and I will copy-paste the same introductory statement I wrote last year), there will be a rank, from 1 – 5 (or 1 – 10 in the case of Best Picture and 1 – 3 in the case of Best Makeup/Hairstyling), and 1 Biggest Threat (or 2 for Best Picture), which, if nominated, do not count towards my final accuracy score. The lower the number, the higher the odds of a nod (in a five nominee category, #1 has what I see as a 99.9% chance of a nomination (round to 100), #2 has a 90% chance, #3 has an 80% chance, and so on).

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