Tag Archives: movies

100 Years of Movie Special Effects

I really like the early stuff but I have to vote for the original Star Wars. That light speed moment really gets me.

What is your favorite special effects movie?

Kay Francis, Hollywood Star

Kay Francis

The other night I put on TCM and caught the last 10 minutes of a movie called Confession. It starred Kay Francis, an actress that I know nothing about. She was once the highest paid actress in Hollywood.

Those fabulous actresses from the 1930s are all but forgotten to us today. In the few scenes I saw, she was marvelously playing out a courtroom melodrama and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

So I bought a biography called Kay Francis: I Can’t Wait To Be Forgotten. I love reading biographies of famous women, especially actresses.

Here are some timeless images of Kay Francis.

Kay FrancisKay FrancisKay Francis

Kay FrancisKay FrancisKay Francis

Kay Francis

Oscar Nominations

Oscars poster

The Academy Awards are this weekend.

I haven’t seen many of the movies this year but I still get giddy for Oscar night. I always have champagne and I don’t attend parties. I like to watch the broadcast at home with just a couple of people who I know won’t talk through the ceremonies or make fun of anyone.

This is all we’ve got in America. We don’t have royalty but we have celebrities.

So here are the nominees in the acting categories:

Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie – Away From Her
Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney – The Savages
Ellen Page – Juno

Actress in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
Ruby Dee – American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones – In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises

Actor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook – Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

Who do you want to win?

Check back on Sunday for Grace Magazine’s coverage of the red carpet fashions.

On This Day In History: Artists United

United Artists

On February 5, 1919, four of Hollywood’s biggest names bonded together to form United Artists.

Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith incorporated on this day in order to have more creative control over their pictures.

When news got out of their plans, a prominent studio executive is said to have remarked, “The inmates are taking over the asylum.”

Charlie Chaplin, as you probably know, is one of the funniest actors of all time. His best-loved character was the Little Tramp. Some of his greatest movies include The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights and Modern Times. Even when I see still photos of Chaplin, he can make me laugh out loud. But all of his films were filled with heart.

Mary Pickford was America’s Sweetheart. Her petite frame, peaches-and cream-complexion and long curls allowed her to play youthful characters for most of her career. Her roles were always that of the underdog fighting against injustice. I recommend Stella Maris (she plays two characters), Daddy-Long-Legs, Tess of the Storm Country, Sparrows and Little Lord Fauntleroy, in which she plays the male title character and his mother. She also has a lovely cocktail named after her.

Douglas Fairbanks was the original swashbuckling hero. Dashing and athletic, he melted the hearts of women worldwide but married Mary Pickford. He also performed most of his own stunts. I recommend The Mark of Zorro, The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood and The Thief of Bagdad. He was also one of the founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

D. W. Griffith was one of the most important film directors in movie history. Before Griffith, movies were basically filmed plays with the camera unmoving and keeping a distant long shot. Griffith invented film language by experimenting with techniques such as the medium shot and close up, he used flashbacks and crosscutting and had enough confidence to know the viewers would be able to still follow the story. He directed over 500 films, mostly shorts, but some of the greatest full-length features of his time. I recommend Judith of Bethulia, The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Broken Blossoms, The Idol Dancer, Way Down East and Orphans of the Storm.

Ah, they don’t make them like they used to.

Mary Pickford

My Favorite Ballet Movies

Center Stage

When I was a kid, I studied ballet at a local dance school and performed in many recitals. I loved the graceful moves, the strict rules, the French names for everything and the beautiful costumes.

Trophies lined my shelves, I had pictures of myself en pointe, and somewhere there exists home movies of my solo routines.

Even as an adult, no matter what city I live in, I always find a place to take a ballet class now and then. I long for the perfect dancer’s body. I must own every ballet workout video on the market.

There are certain movies about ballet that I enjoy watching every time they are on television.

Here are scenes from my favorite movies about ballet in hopes that they will inspire you to watch them, too.

The Turning Point
The ultimate ballet movie with the best acting and most realistic dancing. Starring Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine, and Leslie Browne with Mikhail Baryshnikov in a supporting role. Nominated for 11 Oscars.
(The music doesn’t match the footage. I recommend you mute it.)

Center Stage
A group of students study at a prestigious New York ballet academy and vie for spots in its elite company. This movie was not going to win any acting awards, but the dance sequences are fun, the cast is charming, and it’s a good behind-the-scenes look at the hard work and commitment that goes into a career in dance.

Billy Elliot
Set during the Miner’s Strike of 1980’s England, a poor, young boy wants to study dance instead of take boxing lessons. Needless to say, his hard-as-nails Dad and brother do not understand. Jamie Bell should have won as Oscar. In this sequence, Billy expresses his anger and frustration through dance. It’s pure genious.

The Company
Neve Campbell worked her butt off, quite literally, to get this movie made. Unfortunately, it was nearly ruined by director Robert Altman. There is absolutely no plot but the dance sequences are beautiful. Here is Neve Campbell performing on an outdoor stage during a storm.

What are your favorite dance movies?

Golden Globe Nominations

Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominations for the 2008 Golden Globe Awards. The film Atonement garnered the most nominations.

Best Motion Picture – Drama
American Gangster
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Keira Knightley - Atonement

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie – Away From Her
Jodie Foster – The Brave One
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley – Atonement

James McAvoy - Atonement

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy – Atonement
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington – American Gangster

Best Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy
Across The Universe
Charlie Wilson’s War
Sweeney Todd

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams – Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter – Sweeney Todd
Marion Cotillard – La Vie En Rose
Ellen Page – Juno

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks – Charlie Wilson’s War
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages
John C. Reilly – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
Julia Roberts – Charlie Wilson’s War
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Casey Affleck – The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War
John Travolta – Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

Click here to access the full list of nominations.

Shiny Hair In A Spray

Sienna Miller

In an effort to have shiny hair, I think I’ve tried every product on the market from glossing shampoos to hot oil treatments.

Nicky Clarke All A-Shimmer Finishing SprayBut all I really had to do was buy shimmering hair spray.

It’s such a simple concept. Why didn’t I think of this? It’s brilliant, in more ways than one.

Girl-of-the-moment, Sienna Miller, wore Nicky Clarke All A-Shimmer Finishing Spray, to the premiere of her latest film Stardust. The effect is subtle but attention-getting.