Movie Blog: This Week’s Best Bets
It’s your last chance to sneak in screenings of the Oscar-nominated movies. The Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday evening and then we can all put this months-long nightmare behind us. Still, presuming you’ve already caught all of the best picture nominees (and, if you haven’t, there’s still time to knock five of them down in one shot this coming Saturday), you can still see some of the lesser-known nominees around town. There’s foreign film nominees Omar and The Great Beauty, or those short film showcases. And The Wind Rises, a deep cut nominee in the animated feature category, will finally reach the Twin Cities this weekend. I’ll post my own Oscar predictions in the blog later this week, but for now, here are some treats you might want to catch to give yourself a break from the Oscar madness … or at least check out some notable Oscar nominees from the past:
Monday, Feb. 24: 42nd Street (Heights Theater)
The ultimate “star is born” musical, Lloyd Bacon’s lavish, dizzy 42nd Street is the movie that gave the Great White Way its ultimate cliché: “You’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” With typically ornate production numbers from Busby Berkeley (whose notions of dance choreography were reliably architectural in nature), an all-spangled cast including Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers and Warner Baxter among its roster, and memorable tunes, 42nd Street is a genre-defining work. Even if it doesn’t quite match up to the loftier heights of, say, Gold Diggers of 1933 or the naughtier lows of many of the previous entries in the Heights’ pre-code musical series, its influence looms above all, much like that line of bodacious legs featured prominently on the poster.
Monday, Feb. 24 & Tuesday, Feb. 25: Carrie (Trylon Microcinema)
Speaking of instant star-making performances, Sissy Spacek came from out of nowhere (well, Terrence Malick’s 1973 Badlands, but still…) to land the title role of up-and-coming director Brian De Palma’s adaptation of up-and-coming author Stephen King’s debut novel. The movie was a smash hit, and Spacek (along with co-star Piper Laurie, playing the titular high school misfit’s psychotically religious mother) managed the near-impossible: an Oscar nomination for a performance in a horror film. Not just one of the finest moments in her career or De Palma’s, Carrie remains one of the most iconic and memorable horror movies of all time. (I’ve written more about the film here.)
Wednesday, Feb. 26: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (Trylon Microcinema)
Many were surprised when the fourth entry in what had previously been Clive Barker’s Cenobyte-populated horror franchise was nominated for 23 Academy Awards, especially since 1996 was such a big year for down-to-earth indies, and especially since so many space-set movies have been routinely disrespected by the Academy. OK, I kid. Hellraiser IV: Bloodline wasn’t even high profile enough to get nominated for the Razzies it so richly deserved, much less Oscars. For reasons that are still mystifying to me, Pinhead and his puzzle box are brought forward a few centuries into a brave new sci-fi world. It didn’t make sense then, and it makes even less now. A perfect Trash Film Debauchery selection for the eve of Gravity‘s Oscar triumph.
Thursday, Feb. 27 thru Tuesday, March 4: The Directors Series: Wes Anderson (Parkway Theater)
The series continues, as the Twin Cities prepares to receive Anderson’s latest purported masterpiece The Grand Budapest Hotel. Click the title above to see the full schedule of offerings, including one of his biggest hits (The Royal Tenenbaums) and two of his most underrated (The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou).
Friday, Feb. 28 thru Thursday, March 6: Nordic Lights Film Festival (St. Anthony Main Theater)
My co-blogger Jonathon Sharp will have a full preview article of the festival later this week. I can’t even. I’m too close to the Scandinavian experience to remain clear-eyed about this lineup.