The French-American film Round Midnight, directed by Bertrand Tavernier and starring my late husband, Dexter Gordon, as a jazz musician in Paris in the late 1950s, premiered in New York City 30 years ago today. As I near completion of Dexter’s biography, Dexter Calling: The Life and Music of Dexter Gordon, memories of the film come flooding back. They are bittersweet, as many of the performers have since passed away, most recently Bobby Hutcherson (1941–2016), who died this past summer. Bobby plays Ace in the film and delivers one of its most memorable lines. In the hallway of the Hotel Louisiane, Ace is holding a bowl of jambalaya as Buttercup walks past. He says, about living in Paris, “It would be the best city in the world if I could just find some okra.” Dexter loved that line, and whenever he repeated it to Bobby, they would both burst out laughing.
John Cazale made only five movies in his brief, brilliant career, but man, what five movies: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, The Deer Hunter. Five movies. Five best picture nominations. Three best picture wins. Cazale’s films racked up a total of 40 Oscar nods, with 14 for his fellow actors. Yet Cazale himself was never nominated for an Academy Award. Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has won his overdue Oscar, perhaps it’s time for the Academy to correct another egregious oversight and award an honorary posthumous Oscar to the actor whose work defined 1970s cinema.
This Oscar Sunday, while you’re checking off all the best picture nominees you saw in 2015, we have five more to add to your list: the candidates for best foreign-language film.
For the second year in a row, the Oscars are drawing howls of protest over a lack of racial diversity. The nominees for major acting awards are about as monochromatic as a Donald Trump campaign rally (even more so, actually), inspiring Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith and many other prominent African Americans to boycott the 2016 ceremony. Yet the Academy is hardly new to racial and political contention.
As the lonely teen Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, Sal Mineo reminded the film’s director, Nicholas Ray, of his own son—“only prettier.” Ray’s screen test of Mineo, James Dean and Natalie Wood, his Rebel leads, pulses with sexual heat between the two male stars. Audiences in 1955 might not have realized it, but Plato was the movies’ first gay teenager.
The category for best foreign film at the 2016 Academy Awards is strong. A lot of early buzz surrounds such nominees as the Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul and the French coming-of-age tale Mustang. But in our opinion, Danish director Tobias Lindholm’s comparatively overlooked film A War deserves serious consideration.
“I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells like rich mahogany.”
“It would give us so much extra space in our room to do activities.”
“Shake ’n’ bake!”
If you can name the sources of these quotes, then you, like me, are a fan of Adam McKay, the director behind such classics as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers.