David Lindsay: Kathleen and I both enjoyed and were thrilled so by this new western, ‘News of the World’, nominated for best picture in the 2020 Academy awards, that we then watched the outtakes, and interviews, and then the next night, we watched the whole move and outtakes and interviews over again. There were plenty of precious moments in a very beautiful but ugly world in Texas in 1870.
This statement by Karl Marx admirably serves two functions: (1) It describes the difference between the two times the teaching of Darwin’s theories were put on trial in this country, in Tennessee in 1925 and in Pennsylvania in 2005; (2) Because it is from Karl Marx, it will automatically be rejected, along with the words to follow, by those who judge a statement not by its content but by its source. That is precisely the argument between Darwinism and creationism. Stanley Kramer‘s “Inherit the Wind” (1960) is a movie about a courtroom battle between those who believe the Bible is literally true and those who believe, as the Spencer Tracy character puts it, that “an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral.”
In Kramer’s film, Darrow becomes Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy), Bryan is Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March), Mencken is E.K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly), and Scopes is Bertram T. Cates (Dick York). Another major player is the gravel-voiced Harry Morgan, as the judge. So obviously were the characters based on their historical sources that the back of the DVD simply refers to them as “Bryan” and “Darrow,” as if their names had not been changed. . . . “
Kathleen and I saw the 1960 movie Inherit the Wind on Saturday night, and were enthralled and moved. I was sure that some of the vital exchanges in the courtroom probably happened, but did the good, god-fearing people of Hillsboro really march while singing about lynching Clarence Darrow and the local school teacher Scopes. Apparently, that was all made up by the propagandist, Stanley Kramer. I’m sorry he made those lies, because he didn’t need them. His inaccuracies diminish the underlying truth of his brilliant work.
Being mostly faithful to the play, the film engages in literary license with the facts and should not be relied upon as a historical document. For example, Scopes (Bertram Cates) is shown being arrested in class, thrown in jail, burned in effigy, and taunted by a fire-snorting preacher. William Jennings Bryan (Matthew Harrison Brady) is portrayed as an almost comical fanatic who dramatically dies of a “busted belly” while attempting to deliver his summation in a chaotic courtroom. The townspeople are shown as frenzied, mean-spirited, and ignorant. None of that happened in Dayton during the actual trial. This is because the story is an allegory for McCarthyism.
Because the judge ruled that scientific evidence was inadmissible, a ruling which the movie depicted, Darrow called Bryan as his only witness and attempted to humiliate him by asking Bryan to interpret Scripture. When Darrow, in his closing remarks, called upon the jury to find Scopes guilty so that he could appeal the verdict, Bryan was kept from delivering his own summation. The guilty verdict was overturned two years later. Bryan suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep five days after the trial ended.“
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ pared-down pandemic version of the Oscars on Sunday could be described as either incredibly refreshing or incredibly awkward — depending on what you thought of Glenn Close doing Da Butt, among other moments.
What did you think of Frances McDormand’s howl? The meandering format, with few clips of the nominated movies? Yuh-Jung Youn’s gentle trolling of Brad Pitt? We asked readers to share their thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards — the highlights, oddities and innovations. A selection of their responses, edited for clarity and length, follows.
Give us your take in the comments section.
Which aspects of the ceremony do you think were more — or less — effective than in previous years?
It occurred to me that this version of the Oscars was like the very first ceremonies, when it was an industry affair held in a hotel ballroom, with no thought of communicating with a mass audience. Eventually, the yearly show turned into entertainment, which this year’s was not. All in all, the worst Oscars ever, and that’s quite an accomplishment. — Glenn Lambert, Los Angeles”
David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
2020 was the worst Oscar I can remember. It had great moments, but I was repeatedly angry at the recipients: tell us about your documentary, animation, or even movie, most of us don’t know anything about it! You are talking about shows, show us clips and trailers, so we can see what the insider fuss is all about. Thirty years ago, I discovered that if a saw the Oscars, I could decide what movies to go find and seek out. I became a devoted Oscar watcher, even though I only saw a handful of movies a year, I picked them out at the Oscars. To my utter disappointment, there has been a slow slide into pathetic, uninteresting blabber, of one recipient after another thanking their team, their mothers and their third grade teachers. Every year is seems, there is less of the absolutely invaluable clips and trailers, and more of the utter boring gratefulness to teams, mentors and sex partners. This year, by my personal standard was the worst, because it had the fewest little hints and videos of the products under consideration, and an avalanche of pathetically boring speeches. There were some shining exceptions, like speeches by Chloe Zoe for best director, and Yuh Jung Youn for best actress in a supporting role. What I also remember, is not knowing what most of the shows were actually about, or what they looked like, and whether I might want to take the time to watch them. Time to quit? David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.
By Jason BaileyUpdated April 28, 2020Sign up for our Watching Newsletter to get recommendations on the best films and TV shows to stream and watch, delivered to your inbox.The sheer volume of films on Netflix — and the site’s less than ideal interface — can make finding a genuinely great movie there a difficult task. To help, we’ve plucked out the 50 best films currently streaming on the service in the United States, updated regularly as titles come and go. And as a bonus, we link to more great movies on Netflix within many of our writeups below. (Note: Streaming services sometimes remove titles or change starting dates without giving notice.)Here are our lists of the best TV shows on Netflix, the best movies on Amazon Prime Video and the best of everything on Disney Plus.
“The fact that Harriet is the first feature-length film to tell the story of one of the most famous women in American history may sound improbable, but it’s no less improbable than many of the facts of her life. The new biopic is mostly true to what we know of the real Harriet Tubman, though writer-director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) and co-writer Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans, Ali) take some considerable liberties with both the timeline of events and the creation of several characters. We consulted biographies, articles, primary sources, and a few contemporary historians so we could break down what’s historical record and what’s artistic license.
Tubman’s Early Life as Araminta “Minty” Ross
Just as in the movie, Tubman (played here by Cynthia Erivo) grew up on a farm in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she was born Araminta “Minty” Ross. Though the movie may leave the impression that she only took on the name Harriet Tubman when she reached freedom, she seems to have taken it when she was married, taking Harriet from her mother, Harriet Ross, and Tubman from her husband, a free black man named John Tubman. Despite that, her owners still called her by the name they gave her, as evidenced by the Oct. 3, 1849, advertisement for the return of “Minty” taken out by Tubman’s mistress Eliza Brodess when she eventually escaped.”
HARRIET Critics Consensus Harriet serves as a sincere tribute to a pivotal figure in American history — albeit one undermined by its frustratingly formulaic approach. 74%TOMATOMETERTotal Count: 190 97% AUDIENCE SCORE Verified Ratings: 11,593 MORE INFO
Source: Harriet (2019) – Rotten Tomatoes
We saw Harriet the other night, and we loved it. It was criticized on Rotten Tomatoes for not being very violent, and being somewhat a traditional adventure story. That’s our kind of film. The score at Rotten Tomatoes was a 74, but the audience reviews were at 97! Metacritic is similar, with a score of 66, but the New Yorker was assigned a 90.
Here is the New Yorker review:
“The intensity and the lyrical fervor of Kasi Lemmons’s direction lend this historical drama, about Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her work with the Underground Railroad, the exalted energy of secular scripture. The action begins in Maryland, in 1849, where the enslaved Araminta Ross (Cynthia Erivo) is granted permission to marry the freeman John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). When she is denied the freedom that she’d been promised, she risks her life to flee to Philadelphia. Taking her mother’s name, Harriet, she returns covertly—and armed—to guide her relatives to freedom, and is pursued by her former master and his posse. Then, after the Fugitive Slave Act is passed, in 1850, Northern cities no longer insure safety. The movie, written by Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard, presents a gripping and wide-ranging view of her activity—including her work with a daring black clergyman (Vondie Curtis-Hall) and the black abolitionist William Still (Leslie Odom, Jr.), who devotedly records the stories of the formerly enslaved—and her inner life, featuring depictions of the virtually prophetic visions that guide her in her mission.— Richard Brody”
Source: Harriet | The New Yorker
David Lindsay: I was delighted that Green Book won. Here is a very different, condescending view, suggesting it was sentimental and slick.
“Oscars 2019 verdict: lovely surprises can’t compensate for shock horrors
The Academy voters got it right with gongs for Olivia Colman and Alfonso Cuarón, but Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody have been sorely overrated
Mon 25 Feb 2019 01.31 EST Last modified on Mon 25 Feb 2019 09.43 EST
Must-see moments from the Oscars 2019: Spike Lee, Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman – video
In the end, there was enough good news – or news that made a certain sort of sense – for this not to be simply another exasperating Academy Awards pageant of mysteriously over-promoted nonsense. Olivia Colman already had the title of queen of all our hearts, and, just when it looked as if Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite was going to go home with nothing at all, Colman added the Academy Award to her bulging silverware cabinet – and of course gave a speech of great charm and grace.
Her prize acceptance game this year has been off the chart: stylish, polished and with just enough pinch-me-I’m-dreaming astonishment to rival Helen Mirren’s triumphal awards season tour of 2007, when she was winning everything for her own queenly performance. Colman (Anne), Mirren (Elizabeth II), Dench (Elizabeth I) … Brits in crowns generally do it for the Academy.
Oscars save shocks for last with big wins for Green Book and Olivia Colman
And there was justice in seeing Alfonso Cuarón picking up the best director, best cinematography and best foreign language Oscars for his magnificent artwork Roma. I have no problem with Spike Lee and his co-writers David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott picking up the award for best adapted screenplay for their fierce satire BlacKkKlansman. (Although I think I might have preferred to see Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty get it for Can You Ever Forgive Me?) The 2019 Oscar prize list was speckled with honourable wins.
Olivia Colman’s Oscars speech: ‘this is genuinely quite stressful!’ – video
But best picture for Green Book? (Best original screenplay, too, over The Favourite and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed.) The news of that win lands like a dead weight on Oscar night, increasing the inevitable disappointment and tristesse that settles on any awards ceremony in its closing minutes, as the unacknowledged frustration of the losers’ 80% silent majority seeps into the atmosphere. A friend of mine said that by the time this awards season was over, this film should have the word “REALLY?” added to its title. Green Book REALLY? becomes this year’s technical winner of the “best picture” accolade and surely now is added to the list that includes Crash, Chicago and Argo in the What Were They Thinking? categories.
Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter
The comedian-actor has been chosen to take charge of next year’s awards ceremony but a history of hateful remarks suggest he’s not the man for the job
Wed 5 Dec 2018 16.52 EST Last modified on Thu 27 Dec 2018 09.26 EST
Kevin Hart in 2015. Why, when the Academy is desperate to show a more inclusive side would Hart seem an appropriate host?
Kevin Hart in 2015. Why, when the Academy is desperate to show a more inclusive side would Hart seem an appropriate host? Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
At first glance, the Academy picking the ebullient and experienced comedian-actor Kevin Hart to host the 2019 Oscars seems like a smart pick.
The 39-year-old star of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ride Along has quipped his way to becoming one of the most dependable box office stars working today with his films totalling over $3.5bn worldwide. His social media presence has also been a major key to his success with 34 million followers on Twitter and over 65 million on Instagram and with ratings for the ceremony continuing to spiral down, the Academy clearly hopes he’ll help draw viewers back in.
After two years of straight white host Jimmy Kimmel’s rather dull shtick and after an increased push to improve the diversity of voters, choosing an African American host is also a much-needed leap forward on stage.
But there’s one small catch.
Hart has a rather vile history of documented homophobia, ranging from offensive standup clangers to dumb interview statements to puerile tweets to a whole embarrassing film filled with it. In 2010 during his Seriously Funny standup special, Hart delivered an extended joke based on a fear of his three-year-old son Hendrix turning out gay.
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One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will. Now with that being said, I don’t know if I handled my son’s first gay moment correctly. Every kid has a gay moment but when it happens, you’ve got to nip it in the bud!