Ones that got away……

If there has been one injustice this award season, it is, in my opinion, that “Never Let Me Go” has been totally overlooked in all categories. Mark Romanek’s direction was as light as silk, yet as ominous as thunder clouds on an August afternoon. Alex Galrland’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s masterpiece was one of the best adaptation’s I have seen: every bit as profoundly beautiful and heartbreaking as the original novel. The three leading performances of Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and the revelatory  Andrew Garfield paint as good a troika as I will ever see. But no one, in any of the academies, committees, or Guilds has seen fit to give any of them the time of day. Too bad!

That got me to thinking about other overlooked or under-appreciated movies. Of course this is a very subjective list, and many of the contenders would blush to be compared to Romanek’s triumph, but, in their way, these were all films that both gave me more pleasure than I anticipated and left more resonance than I imagined.

Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion.

Get Over It!

Couples’ Retreat – yes, that REALLY surprised me!

The Little Princess ( Alfonso Cuaron)

….any other suggestions?

Remember, my friends: Only Connect!

Charles Shaughnessy


105 thoughts on “Ones that got away……

  1. Speaking on ones that got away: finally got to see “Soldiers of Change” and wanted to say how great it was especially, Mr. Shaughnessy. OMG you are so great at drama! You made me cry at the end when Randy died! That don’t happen very often. lol Great movie here! Highly recommend fans to see it. And special Thanks to your facebook friends for recommending it so i could check it out .

  2. Bicentennial man is one of my most favorite Robin Williams movies! Is a great example of the human condition. I promise to watch: Never let me go. If you guys like movies about cloning try: the island and gattaca. (not sure how to spell that one) starring ethan hawk. sorry been a long time since i have seen it. good one though.

  3. My husband and I watched “Couple’s Retreat” over the weekend. Without your recommendation, I would have never watched it, so I was pleasantly surprised at the resonance it left me with also. Each one of these couples had various issues and none of their marriages were perfect. Yet, in the end they realized that their marriages didn’t have to be perfect. They were what they were and when it came down to it what mattered was that they loved each other and had made a commitment to each other. There will always be problems in marriage, but the best part about it is having someone with who to get through those problems. Of course, it takes two, and I know there are people that don’t have a partner who participates in the partnership, so certainly I am not knocking those who do decide that divorce is the answer for them. So yes it was very thought provoking, but I don’t know that I would have put it in an award category. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Just finished watching “Never Let Me Go”(it came out on video 3/1, and I had it already stored in my Netflix queue). I can see why you enjoyed it, Charlie…very beautifully done and extremely thought-provoking. I was left with so many questions….#1 being, why didn’t they just run?! The bioethics were quite mind-boggling, as were the spiritual implications of cloning for DNA, but having a unique soul and personality.
    Thank you very much for the recommendation!

    • Also “Apocalypto” was just, like wow!! Not to fond of Mel Gibson these days but i think this is one superior film. Contians some harsh parts. But is a great movie that captures the the true spirit of humanity in its most primitive form. It didn’t get away, i think it won academy awards back in O6′. Hope you guys here saw it. Who wants to see the new “cowboys and aliens.”? Looks neat. The trailer for “never let me go” looks great. Okay, i have done enough blog hogging. I will let someone else get a turn.

      • “Apocalypto”? First off, I don’t think it qualifies as one of the “Ones that got away” because it was nominated for several Academy Awards (but didn’t win any–fortunately), even though it’s essentially “Braveheart does the Mayans” or “The Passion of the Mayans.” Yes, the adventure was fun (if a bit on the gory side), but the implication is that the Mayans were destroyed in this apocalypse–which is news to the Mayans who reside on the Yucatan peninsula in the 21st century. Plus, some of what is happening to the Mayans in this film didn’t happen to the Mayans, but to the Aztecs, Toltecs, etc. Typical Hollywood view that “all Native Americans are alike”; we might as well as have them yelling war whoops and wearing headdresses.

        Sorry–I just cringe when Hollywood makes “historical” films that distort history. At least it wasn’t as bad as “Viva Zapata!”, which managed to turn an early 20th century social revolutionary into a middle class Progressive reformer (mainly because it really wasn’t a good idea to try and portray a true “overthrow the government and redistribute the land” revolutionary while actors, directors, writers, etc. were being investigated by HUAC in the early 1950s). I know that it’s not possible to have a complete recreation of the actual event–after all, the weather/climate has changed, all firsthand accounts of the event come with a personal bias, etc.–but at the same time, it shouldn’t be something that is viewed with humor–as in “let’s watch this and laugh at the historical inaccuracies.” Or cry at them, as is the case with “The Patriot.” No British officer would order the destruction of an Anglican Church building, regardless of who was inside–but it’s a scene in “The Patriot” that portrays how evil Col. Tavington is (who is modeled after British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton).

            • Thanks for the compliments, Heather and Kristen. The interpretation of history on film has become a recent interest (I have taught classes on the American Revolution on Film and American Women’s History of Film), and I’m finding that students today seem to learn as much (if not more) from film portrayals of events. Unfortunately, when the movies are historically inaccurate, it leaves them with a distorted impression of the past, one that is hard to rectify even when they read firsthand accounts that contradict what they have seen. And that’s why when I show “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” I give them an assignment in which they have to discuss historical accuracies and inaccuracies in the film. I bet you’re now rethinking the idea of having me as a teacher at your college!

                • “Gettysburg” is based on a novel: Michael Shaara’s “The Killer Angels.” As such, it does take liberties with history, but overall it’s not too bad. It embellishes the roles of some generals (especially Longstreet) and employs the typical bodies flying through the air when struck by cannon fire, but it’s a reasonably accurate adaptation of the novel. Lots of reenactment groups were involved in the filming, so you can be reasonably assured that at least the uniforms are accurate, even if the actual battle scenes themselves are not. The now-retired Civil War historian at my college was one of the extras/reenactors, and he said that he really enjoyed the experience, even if he new that it was not a fully accurate representation of what happened during the battle.

                    • My husband does battlefield reenactments too. He would probably die to do it for a movie. So far only did it for the confederate side because he is a member of the sons of the confederacy. We researched his family tree so he could join up and there was only 2 confederate soldiers and like 10 union ones. Me and my friends pick on him but we admire him for trying. We call him a transplant. lol He is originally from Chicago. I would have married him regardless so i hope he is not doing it to impress me. lol If i had wanted a redneck man, i had plenty to choose from. If he reads this i am in trouble.

                  • Thanks for letting me know. We have the movies at home and we thought (heard) that they were accurate. Gods and Generals is the part two. I love the fact that the films do not show partiality to either side. Meanwhile showing hardships of this brutal war on both sides. “The patriot” right. I believe they took some liberties to make the fight between Mel Gibson’s character and the officer more angrier and such. The burning people in the church was a bit much and i had hoped was not true.

                    • My husband and his buds will be defending Tallahassee next weekend at the battle for natural bridge. I think is just grown men having fun or an excuse to play with firearms. A guy thing i guess but is kinda fun to watch. Maybe i should kiss him before he heads off to battle. lol

              • Haha. Are you kidding me? I wish my professors would have us watch “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. I would not mind writing a paper on that. 🙂
                and you said that you taught a course on Women’s History in Film. I was just wondering if you’ve seen “Iron Jawed Angels”? It was an HBO movie a couple years ago starring Hilary Swank. It’s about the women’s suffrage movement during the 1910s. I thought it was a good film, however, it was slightly inaccurate. They added in characters, people, who didn’t actually exist. Like Patrick Dempsey’s character, which I thought was kind of ridiculous.

                • Kristen,

                  Yes, I’ve seen “Iron Jawed Angels”–and I use it in that class (coupled with “The Long Walk Home”–I try to link two films that relate to the same theme, and the theme that week is “Women and Civil Disobedience”). It is a good representation of the challenges women faced when trying to get the right to vote in the 1910s (and indeed Alice Paul did have to be force fed when she went on a hunger strike). But it’s one of those films that reflects the time in which the film is made, rather than the time in which the event occurred, if that makes any sense. Women suffragists come off as fashion plates with fancy clothes and hats, when in actuality they really weren’t that focused on their appearance. Patrick Dempsey’s character was really not necessary, but I’m guessing HBO thought they needed a positive male character in the film (in contrast to the evil Woodrow Wilson and Senator Leighton, who opposed suffrage). It is kind of interesting to watch the film and see what Wilson thought about women’s rights when we know that following his stroke his second wife Edith unofficially ran the country by controlling who could see him/meet with him. Of course, the film doesn’t even include Edith Wilson, just his first wife Ellen.

      • What i loved about the movie was the triumph of the human spirit to survive. Not really the historical or authenticity of it. I would think during warring of tribes, awful things did happen. And there was a such thing as human sacrificing. Just as we can be loving we can also be very dark. Especially back in primitive times. The ending where the Spaniard showed up, was just an added story bit most likely. I just like movies that get me to thinking about what being a human is all about. I also love history. Found this an opportunity to look at another culture. idk Not happy with passion of the christ. Not a fan of Mel as much anymore, but just feel that this is one great film. But i am no film critic, just an opinion. Maybe is not a good choice for this blog. It has some gory parts that are not easy for women to watch but feel that is has great story of that all of us would stop at nothing for our family.

    • Have you seen “This is Spinal Tap”. I have to watch it for a film class because it’s like a documentary style movie, but do you know if it’s any good, and where in the heck can I find the thing. None of the video stores have it around here I think they didn’t have enough in stock because other students must have rented it out. Anyway I have to see it before Sunday, and write a paper about it. You know a lot about movies so that’s why I’m asking. I hope it’s not boring.

      • Great movie! The lovely Fran Drescher is in that film as Bobbi Fleckman. If you like Rob Reiner, then you should like this film. It’s his first I believe. It’s more of a mockumentary about a made up rock band. You may want to check your local library. If they don’t have it, you could always request it.
        Sorry to butt in, by the way. I just got really excited at the mention of this film. 🙂

        • Hey Kristen just wanted to let you know I saw “This Is Spinal Tap” and it was great! Fran was great in it, and ya know the woman never ages she must have good genes, but she just glows inside and outside, and what personality. I liked the part where she talked about the album cover being demeaning to women, and she pretty much tells a man off! Now I get the whole Bobbi Fleckman episode. All I can say about it is WOW!

          • I’m so glad you liked it! The part that you described, the part about the album cover, is one of my favorite parts. Did you know that that film was very loosely scripted? A lot of what is being said is just the actors going with the scene.
            One of my favorite lines from that scene is ” You tell me- The White Album? What was that? There was nothing on that goddamn cover.”

            Anyways, glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

            • I love that scene too, where the guy doesn’t see anything wrong with a woman in a dog collar and leash, being forced to sniff a glove. Hello???? So glad you enjoyed it.

      • Heather…YES it’s good!! Fran Drescher steals every scene she’s in. If you’re a fan of “The Nanny”, can you picture the episode where Bobbi Fleckman comes to the house(and she looks just like Fran, so Fran pretends to be her?). Bobbi Fleckman is Fran’s character in Spinal Tap. Michael McKean(the guy who won Celebrity Jeopardy and played CC’s brother in The Nanny) is in it, as is Harry Shearer. I used to have it on an old VHS taped(taped off of the television) but can’t find it.

        • JoAnn I’m so disappointed in you (tongue-in-check)…describing Michael McKean as “the guy who won Celebrity Jeopardy and played CC’s brother on The Nanny.” We are both old enough (although Heather may not be) to know that his first billing should always be greatness of “Lenny Kosnowski”!!

          • LOL!! But I was talking to Nanny/Charlie fans here. Only Squiggy made an appearance on TN, he only referred to “his significant other Leonard” 😉 Schlemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated.

  5. I know that the blog is probably over by this time but decided to also be a semi blog hog here. Went through my home video library to compile a list of my personal faves. Not sure that anyone gives a hoot. But consider myself a pretty okay movie judge. I thought these older films were great so i went out and bought them: comedies- RV, Simpson’s movie, & Accepted. romantic comedies- the holiday, yours mine & ours (remake), wedding singer, what happened in vegas, 6 days & 7 nights, shallow hal, sweet home alabama, how to lose a guy in 10 days & just friends. Sci fi- contact, sphere, the island, war of the worlds, & eagle eye. Drama- windtalkers, we were soldiers, master & commander, the guardian, gladiator, walk the line, lord of the flies & almost famous. Hopefully & Probably most you guys have already seen them all. That would be good.

    • Actually, you are right on the money with these movies they are exceptional. My favorite would have to be “Walk the Line” and I wish it was made into a play I believe it would do well. Dolly Parton had a play on broadway “9 to 5” and it did great. I haven’t scene sphere although I should check it out. We(ETSU) are studying independant American films and I just watched “Pulp Fiction” for the first time. Oh my it was nothing like I had ever seen in my life and I will just leave it at that.

      • Thanks. I like 9 to 5 the movie, (as well as Dolly) although never seen it on broadway. And pulp fiction is awesome. You have great taste and good look with your studies. Sounds fun.

        • oh yes i’m graduating in a few months, but just now taking some electives. My two favorite classes….Film Studies, and Theatre. And yes it is fun!

  6. First, I apologize for being a semi-blog hog. Second, Another film came to mind. Being a film major, that tends to happen.
    The film Oleanna, based on the stage play of the same name. Debra Eisenstadt and William H. Macy both give fantastic performances in this film. We read the play my senior year of high school, and then watched the film. I fell in love with both. However, Macy’s performance is The whole film only has two characters (as does the stage play) and, if you are like me, you will definitely get emotionally involved. I’ve been looking for this film since I saw it last year and haven’t been able to find it anywhere, unfortunately.
    But, really, if you get a chance to watch this film or see this play, do it!

  7. Last night I called my daughter and was telling her about some of the movie suggestions on here. She reminded of a movie that we saw a few years ago that we both thought was excellent. “The Yellow Handkerchief” with William Hurt, Maria Bello and Kristen Stewart is a touching story about three strangers who wind up on a road trip together. I’ve been a fan of Hurt since “Children of a Lesser God” and I thought this was one of his finest performances.

  8. I feel so left out. I haven’t seen any of these movies. I seriously need to get away from the computer and get out a little more. At least now I have a few titles to add to my Netflix account.

  9. One other film that comes to mind is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I don’t think it went unnoticed (by audiences at least.) I read somewhere, though, that it was voted one of the best films of the decade. And I have to agree. Jim Carrey’s performance is fantastic, especially because he plays a character that is unlike most of the other characters he has played. Kate Winslet plays the more ‘Carrey’ character in this film. And Kate, as always, does a wonderful job. Not to mention Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood (whom I’m not normally fond of.). They both do wonderfully in this film. But you must pay attention to the film. It’s another one of those that everything makes sense in the end.
    But really, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. 🙂

    • Have not heard of this movie. Thanks for mentioning it Kristen. I really enjoyed: “Red” & “sorcerers apprentice” so far from this year.

    • I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at, Charlie. I don’t watch a movie for its sex scenes; I watch it for the plot. So this definitely sounds like a movie that I really wouldn’t enjoy, but then again not everyone appreciates the films that I like (which is okay; if we all had the same tastes, life would be quite dull). I’m also not big on scary movies, either; the slasher films, for instance, just never really appealed to me. I’m more a fan of comedies, light dramas, historical films (as long as they are reasonably accurate and don’t have too much of a forced love story–I cringe whenever I see “The Patriot” is on; it is so historically inaccurate it’s funny). At the same time–one of my favorites is “Strangers on a Train”…so I don’t mind Hitchock (although I will not watch “Psycho” or “The Birds”).

  10. “The Brave One” with Jodie Foster was the bomb. She becomes a vigilante killer after her boyfriend is beaten to death and she is almost beaten to death. Dark but good.

      • I finally saw “Two Brothers” it’s a wonderful movie. I’m supposed to see “The Birds” for film class, but i’m procrastinating badly. Alfred Hitchcock movies scare me, and I don’t know if it’s because they are thrillers, or that scene in “Psycho” that scarred me for life. Something else that scares me is another musical actress got hurt performing in the Broadway musical “Spiderman”, and the producers won’t cut their losses, and put an end to the madness. There’s a reason why several actors have gotten injured doing this play. There is something wrong with the safety harness or something, but they should fix this so no one has to get seriously injured for a performance. It’s more risky than pro sports. I hope they either fix the problem or shut it down.

        • I am so glad that you liked it. I thought it was a great story. Alfred is not too scary. Maybe it was just the music that scarred you for life in psycho. lol Wow that sounds like a dangerous role. Yikes! I hope they fix that.

  11. Charlie,

    I totally forgot this wonderful film, Sweet Land, which was pretty much overlooked as well. It was just a sweet sweet love story filmed in Minnesota. I found it to be one of the best.

  12. Is it okay to mention something that got a little recognition but didn’t win any major awards? If so, then definitely “Hester Street” has to be included in the discussion. Carol Kane is outstanding as Gitl, but she had the misfortune of competing against Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched that year. It’s the only film with subtitles that I’ve ever shown in class that students didn’t complain about reading while watching the movie.

    • Well, you know how I feel about THAT one! One of my top 10 favorites. Carol Kane is amazing, but yes she did get nominated for the role. I’m not sure it should get other “awards” though, because technically it is flawed and obviously very low-budget(there’s one scene when you can actually see the “boom” at the edge of the screen). But the story is wonderful and a good portrayal of the immigrant experience.

  13. I agree Charlie! Everyone definitely needs a Netflix account. It is wonderful! I’ve never been one to ever agree with the way the Awards have been given out. I personally think it is backwards at least half of the time: the terrible movies that make no sense and have absolutely NO plot whatsoever end up winning while the ones that really deserve it get “squat”. I rarely go by their recommendations. But if I had to pick two movies that really left me astounded it would have to be “Letters To God” and “Pay It Forward”. Both of these movies jolted me out of my reverie and made me really ruminate about how things in life could be so much worse than what one thinks as well as the fact that we as people need to be more productive, thoughtful, and caring toward others. They really bring home the point about how our world could be so amazing if we would only “act” as the main characters in these movies did. What profoundly touching movies! I highly recommend watching them as they are well worth your while. Just don’t forget to bring a box (or TWO) of tissues!

    • “Pay It Forward”, completely agree! Haley Joel Osment was fantastic in that film, as was Kevin Spacey, and of course Helen Hunt. Have you read the book? It’s equally as good. “Pay It Forward” is definitely one of those films that will stay with you after the first time you see it. Not to mention, the soundtrack is wonderful. And I agree, a box or two of tissues is definitely needed.

      • I agree about “Pay It Forward.” Osment, Hunt and Spacey were perfectly cast in those roles. If memory serves, I think that was the year that Spacey won the Oscar for American Beauty (it might have been the year before). Osment was in another movie the following year that flew under the radar. It won a Polish Film Festival award, but nothing in the US. In “Edges of the Lord” Osment portrayed a Jewish boy whose parents had stashed him with a Catholic peasant family in Poland to escape from the Nazis. Word to the wise, it is definitely a real tear-jerker and when you describe it to friends you won’t use the phrase “happily ever after” at any point in the conversation.

  14. Well, in film class today we talked about some of the movies we had seen this past year, and what are predictions are for the awards coming up. I predict “True Grit” will probably take the cake just because we Americans love our cowboy movies. The Coen brothers have adapted a great screenplay, and little Hailey Steinfeld was incredibly fantastic. If my son had his way it would be Toy Story 3 all the way, but that movie will get something I know. I so cried at the end of the movie when Andy went away to college. That just pulls at a mother’s heartstrings. It will also be Natalie Portman’s year even though Carey Mulligan did a much better performance, but I suspect it’s the marketing and hype that goes into some of these movies that are the driving forces that overlook incredibly great movies. It might have been an error in the way it was marketed or something of that sort as to why it was overlooked. I thought a certain funny show was overlooked sometimes when I was in high school in late 90’s. It held its own though, and showed the critics just as some overlooked movies will also shine. Sometimes I wonder what are these people thinking when they nominate a movie I hate like “The Social Network”. Boring, boring I fell asleep. “Salt” was a very well written thriller I couldn’t figure out until the end. I don’t watch much “spy” stuff, but it was pretty cool. :)Kindest Regards

  15. Never get me started, i love movies. I am very partial to: “Riding in cars with boys” because it seems so true to life and reminds me alot of what i have gone through personally in my life. Thinking is a great movie for young women to watch. “Temple Grandin” because there is a huge possibility that i have a family of people with aspergers syndrome. Takes a while to finally get diagnosed. And the movie has a profound impact on me, spending my whole life feeling odd and different. Gave me alot of hope for me and my kids. “Lonesome Dove” (sorry i am a southerner and we just love that movie) because is a great movie over all and has a great lesson about friendship. The Day the Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves, because if aliens do come to earth, pretty sure this is what would happen. And the ending is so great that love saved the day. And I would love pretty much anything starring Johnny Depp or Charles Shaughnessy. My first date with my husband (which was a blind date) was “sleepy hallow” we still laugh about that.

    • Probably one of my all time favorite movies is : Into the Blue. It just has everything i like: adventure, danger, water, good characters, & great moral lessons. Your husband will also watch for the action and Jessica Alba. lol Realizing action flicks do not win oscars. Always loved, “overboard” because the rich lady got the rare chance to see life from an alternate perspective. And after seeing it, she completely changed. Did anyone see “the notebook”? Like to see that one. Oh, and there is a good one with Leo and Kate Winslet called, “Revolutionary Road”. They are married and she dies from giving herself a home abortion. Would like for that one have won an oscar. But that is a touchy subject matter. Just discovered on IMBD that Leo was nominated for best actor in 06′ for “blood diamond”. No wonder i was blown away by his performance, obviously not the only one. And he did win best supporting for “what’s eating gilbert grape”. Just remembered, Johnny Depp was the lead in that. Too cool.

  16. I will have to check out: “Never let me go”. If an actor recommends a film for a nomination, then would think it must be worth watching. Has anyone seen: “Black Swan”? Is it good? Hope to check it out asap.

  17. I also enjoyed Couples Retreat and Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion. They were funny and also contained good moral meanings (which you don’t find in alot of movies these days). Such as be true to yourself and try and work out your marriage if you can. Have not seen: Get over it. I thought “inception” was pretty good. And is always good to remake John Wayne’s movies. lol Have not seen many of this years nominated movies. Really enjoyed the movie: “Up” and “Shutter Island” from last year or year before. Up was a great life movie and shutter island weird and with a twist. We always enjoy trying to put the pieces together of what the heck is going on.

    • Up had to be the best Disney/ Pixar movie since Toy Story. And, I’m not gonna lie, it made me cry. Disney/ Pixar are the only ones I know that can emotionally attach you to a character within the first twenty minutes of a film.
      And don’t even get me started on Shutter Island! Personally, I think Leonardo DiCaprio has been cheated out of so many Oscars, especially for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? . This film though, I found particularly intriguing. The end of this film confused me when I first say it. Then, once I finally realized what had happened, I saw the movie 2 more times in theaters, I believe. The last lines to this film make it all worth while. And I mean, Scorsese? You don’t normally go wrong there.

      • Leo is so talented. He was terrific in Gilbert Grape and “about a boy” in the early days. I have always liked him since he was a kid actor on television. Oh, and “blood diamond”. I was so blown away. Just love watching him and really cool, we are same age. Right Scorsese def one of the greats. Thanks for replying, you made my night.

  18. I do not remember when I was the last time at the cinema to see a movie. The films mentioned above are unfortunately not known to me. Perhaps these have been published in Germany under other movie, but I think they are even if they receive no prize or award at some point be successful. The viewers decide what they want to see. I always wait until the latest movies on DVD to buy there, and how the response is. Too bad the movie does not get much attention. my favorite is classic “…. …… Rebel without a Cause “with James Dean of 1955. This has also received three Oscar nominations, but none won. But in 1990 this great classic in the National Film Registry is recorded. has taken a long time, but he did it. And so many other films do it too.
    Never give up hope.
    Only Connect

    • Kerstin- I was wondering if you ever saw the movie “Das Versprechen.” It came out in 1995 and was directed by Margarthe von Trotta. It was a really beautiful and sad tale of two lovers who become seperated by the Berlin Wall. I’m not sure if it was ever released in the U.S. It’s one of my favorite foreign films (coming in second to Life Is Beautiful).

  19. By the way Charlie, I forgot to say what I’m sure others would agree with, great to see you back on your blog. We know you’ve been busy and that is a good thing, so in reality I have to say congratulations for not having time to post, but we are all glad to hear from you!

  20. So at the risk of being a blog-hog, I do have one more movie I’d like to mention. “A Perfect World” which came out in 1993, is one of my all time favorite movies. For those of you who know about my undying devotion to Kevin Costner, relax, my recommendation is based solely on the merits of the movie (although he was excellent). I think it deserved some mention for “best picture” and maybe would have received it if it had come out at a different time. 1993 nominees included Schindler’s List, In The Name of the Father and Remains of the Day–can’t really complain when that was the competition.

  21. The first thought I had when I read Charlie’s blog was “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”. I was thrilled to see others mention it here also. I believe the impact it had on me was the same as it had on others, but I wonder if I might have seen something more in it. Through the film, we were brought into this families life. We felt their emotions, their conflicts, and their pain. What happened to their son, was not supposed to happen to “them”. It was so thought provoking to me, because on a much, much smaller scale I see this happening all around us. What we will let other children endure and sometimes what we even cause them, is something we would never imagine allowing our own children to suffer. It hit me hard, with a renewed realization that all parents love their children as much as we love our own (at least they should) and yet we allow and sometimes even add to their pain and misery. Our children are no better or worthier to escape tragedy than anothers.

    The second film that came to mind, also has been mentioned–“Shadowlands”. It has been years since I’ve seen it and I don’t remember a lot of things about it, I just remember at the time I saw it that it had such an impact on me. It was the cause of me being drawn into C.S. Lewis and his writings. From my memory, it wasn’t an exciting film (in fact I think my husband fell asleep), but it was profound. I’ve wanted to watch it again, but haven’t taken the time.

    • Your’e exactly right about the deeper meaning of the “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” I actually had to write a paper on it for a “young adult literature” class, and the feelngs you described were the basis of my thesis. I bought the movie when it came out on dvd, but still haven’t gathered the courage to watch it again.

    • What struck me in “TBITSP” was the mother/wife. The “descent into hell”as the respected, well-off wife of a big-shot military officer slowly realized just what her husband did for a living and what was going on at the “farm” down the road. This movie is also a “play now” on Netflix, but I wouldn’t recommend watching it at right before bed(learned THAT the hard way). I even had trouble getting to sleep last night thinking about it, just because we are discussing it here.

  22. oh! And one film that has stayed with me for a long time is a film called ‘Secret Window’ starring Johnny Depp and John Turtorro (who is wonderful.), directed by David Koepp. He also wrote the screenplay. This film is an adaptation of Stephen Kings novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, which is equally as good. Normally, suspense- type films do not stay with me, but this one, however, did. I think part of the reason that it did, though, is that I am a film major and certain things the director does (specifically the symbolism of the mirror) I find fascinating. It’s just one of those films that you think you know what’s going on the whole time, but it turns out you were wrong. Oddly enough, most people find themselves routing for the bad guy in this film (myself included) which is really rare.
    And I must say, the ending “is very good. This one’s perfect.”

  23. I usually don’t go to the theater to see films, but need a serious 12-step program for Netflix. So many old classics hidden in there(the latest being “Nicholas and Alexandra” sigh). I haven’t seen “Never Let You Go” but just watched the trailer and added it to my queue. I love Keira Knightley, and was quite impressed with Andrew Garfield in “The Social Network”. I *will* see The King’s Speech in the theater, if it would just stop with the winter weather here so we could actually leave the house. I love history/historical fiction esp. when it’s set in WWII, and of course I’ll just have to suck it up and endure a couple of hours of Colin Firth ;).
    I was so pleased to see Laura’s mention of “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”! What a powerful film…the ending is just gut-wrenching and I did NOT see it coming. Jack Scanlon was riveting as Shmuel. I’d recommend it highly, but don’t expect to sleep well that night.
    I’ve always been surprised by the lack of Hitchcock wins back in the day…his stuff is incredible. And it always amazes me that films who are “the best” seem to have directed themselves, or that “the best” director didn’t do the best film. The politics is pretty obvious. And my favorite unrecognized classic? “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” of course!!

    • “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as an unrecognized classic? Not among my students. It’s now a requirement in my first-year seminar class (and, of course, I give them a writing assignment about it). It’s not often I can find a film that includes history, politics, foreign relations, physics, mathematics, and literature–although I am still troubled that they kill the historian in the film (then again, the film butchers medieval history).

        • Gotcha. I think sometimes the best films go unrecognized by the Academy. Too lowbrow, too popular, or just not “artsy” enough. It’s almost like if you make money (or too much money), you’re not good enough for awards. And sometimes people don’t realize how good a film really is until years later, especially when you reflect on a particular actor’s body of work instead of his/her performance in a particular film.

  24. The fact that Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion is on this list made me so happy. It was the first rated “R” film I ever saw and I enjoyed the heck out of it. But lots of people I seem to talk have never even seen the film. And Couples Retreat? Really? Hm. That is a shocker. Maybe I”ll have to watch it now.

  25. I am trusting your judgment. I have just entered these movies into my Netflix Q. As soon as I watch I will let you know my thoughts. I am not familiar with any of them so will be anxious to view them.

  26. Oy, this is an area in which I definitely show some ignorance, because I don’t get out to the movies very often (the last one I saw at the theater was “Cars,” and before that “Titanic”). I’ve heard of some of the films on your list, but I haven’t seen any of them–not my cup of tea, I guess. So–if you’re looking for films that I think were underappreciated, my list will obviously be a bit different from that supplied by others (big surprise there). Anyway, here goes (and don’t be surprised if I throw some others into the mix later).

    1) “My Fellow Americans” (1996): If Charlie can include “Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion,” I think I can include this one. James Garner and Jack Lemmon are outstanding as two rival former presidents (Garner loosely modeled after Bill Clinton, Lemmon loosely after George Bush) who are on the run after the current president (Dan Ackroyd) puts out a hit on them to cover up a scandal in his administration. John Heard is a hoot as the Dan Quayle-like Vice President. Anytime I need a laugh, I watch this film–and when Bill Clinton and George Bush got together after Katrina to go out fundraising for relief efforts, I immediately had flashbacks of watching this film. Extremely well-written and well-acted, it was totally overlooked by the Academy, as well as by the general public.

    (2) “Sweet Liberty” (1986): Alan Alda’s tour de force about the trials and tribulations of turning a history book into a movie. This was the film that I listed last year as the one film that I watched to make me laugh–and, when writing a book chapter on how Hollywood has interpreted the American Revolution on film, it served as the anchor for my argument. Michael Caine’s performance as randy actor Elliott James (who was playing British General Banastre Tarleton) was stronger than his Academy-Award winning performance in “Hannah and Her Sisters” that same year. A friend of mine is currently in the process of having one of his books on the Revolution turned into a movie–and he says he is fighting some of the same challenges that historian Michael Burgess (Alan Alda’s character) faced in trying to maintain historical accuracy in the film adaptation of his book.

    (3) “The Long Walk Home” (1990): Another film in which one of the leads won an Oscar that same year, but not for the right film. Set during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, the film focuses on the relationship between a suburban housewife (Sissy Spacek) and her maid (Whoopi Goldberg) from the point of view of an eight year old girl. Whoopi Goldberg should have won the Academy Award that year for this film, not for “Ghost”–and the movie is one of those rare Hollywood films that portrays an historical event and is reasonably accurate (of course, it is not possible to recreate the past exactly, but this film comes almost as close as possible). Stellar cast all around, but Goldberg’s Odessa Cotter steals the show. It’s also a great film in its portrayal of socioeconomic differences in the 1950s in addition to race relations during that volatile era. When I show this film to my students, there isn’t a dry eye in the room at the end of the film–even the guys are crying, it’s that powerful. Yet it didn’t even get mentioned for any awards.

  27. I have to admit I don´t know any of these films , here in Germany they could have a somewhat different title. However the “Berlinale” is on next week so some may be shown there and then many of then are shown in “Art” movie houses.
    We here only get the “big” productions in their original version, so most times it´s the productions that make money.
    However my personal opinion is that the Oscars has a become a” shareholder value “prize. Even the Golden Globes from which I expect more niveau aren´t what they used to be.
    The only film I have seen so far is “Black Swan” and I believe “The King`s Speech” is excellent, but so are most British productions!
    To be honest I´m not for most those nominted films. As the Berlinale starts next week some of these stars (Jeff Bridges for instance) will be on the red carpet to present their films here as most haven´t started here yet. Thank goodness the European Juries are more objective and seldem does one of the big productions win. Good so!

  28. Argh this is on my list of films to see…but the list keeps growing without many being ticked off.

    Every award season I feel pangs of frustration over some choice. From a picture or person being ignored, to too much talent that I want everyone to win. Or the inclusion of animated movies in the Best Picture category…oops sorry Toy Story 3…

    I’m presenting only a small list, because I can get a little carried away when movies are the topic, but here are a few films that are mostly forgotten but are on the top shelf of my collection:

    An American Tale.
    Pixar and Disney dominate the animated world now but Don Bluth’s tale of little Fievel Mousekewitz and his separation from his family breaks my heart every time.

    Directed by Richard Attenborough, this is the story of the relationship between C.S Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) and American poet Joy Gresham (Debra Winger). Forever enshrined in my Top 10 this is the one I go to when I need a good cry/uncontrollable sob.

    Galaxy Quest
    I just can’t help myself! A great cast tip the scales on this one

    To Be and To Have
    I love documentaries, and I think this is one of the best. The town of Auvergne in France is not big enough for multiple schools, so a devoted teacher cares for all the children aged 4-11 in a single classroom. A pure joy to watch.

    I need to stop before I put the other four I have written here down 🙂

    • Oh Eileen….what hast thou wrought??? Now I have to add Shadowlands to my list(big CS Lewis fan, don’t know how I missed this one) and To Be and to Have sounds delightful.

      • Shadowlands was an excellent movie. I remember seeing it with my friend whose son had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, which made it all the more moving.

      • As I told you on Facebook…I *LOVED* “To Be and to Have”! Those of you who have Netflix, it’s one of the “play now” features, so I was able to watch it yesterday afternoon. It was just enchanting. The schoolmaster is such an involved and dedicated teacher, and the children are so sweet. A little boy named Jo-Jo will steal your heart.

  29. Also….I wanted to say that its sad I have never heard of any of the films you mention. I guess I only pay attention to the ones that the media pays attention to. A movie I really enjoyed which was recognized at the Sundance Film Festival was CatFish…..left me breathless. There is suspense, unpredictable turns when you think you’ve predicted them, and a sense of mystery. You aren’t quite sure if it was a real story or not because it is so incredible. Also, while it points to the dangers of the internet, it also highlights the loneliness and despair that can lead people to create fake identities. Wonderful, you should see it.

  30. One more entry I just remembered. “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas” was probably one of the most extraordinary movies of the decade. When the movie ended, not a single person in the theater got up to leave or made a sound, we all just sat there completely astounded. I’ve never experienced anything like that. I am fairly certain it was overlooked by the awards committees (let me know if I’m wrong). I had read the book before I saw the movie. Although the movie strayed from the book, both mediums were outstanding!

  31. I think you are right about “Never Let Me Go.” It was an incredibly unique movie. Knightly and Mulligan were at the top of their game as well. When I saw the previews I thought it would be good, but it turned out to be one of my favorites this year (The Kings Speech and The Kids Are Alright up there as well).

    As far as others that didn’t get recognition: I know it was a documentary, but “Waiting For Superman” was incredible. I don’t think it even got a mention for best documentary. Everybody’s All American and Men Don’t Leave are two of my all time favorites. Like you said, they stayed with me for a long time after seeing them.

    • I want to see “the kings speech” and “the kids are all right.” “Men don’t leave” was a good one. Thanks for reminding me @rt44dvc. Also want to check out: “waiting for superman”.

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