Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Battle of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1963

Notoriously The Academy Awards tend to lean towards honoring the stodgy, prestigious dramas from year to year, and hardly ever acknowledge more comedic films. In recent years there has been inclusions in the acting categories from comedies (notably, Renee Zellwegger for her hilarious portrayal of British 30-something Bridget Jones and Alan Arkin, who won for his take on a coked out grandfather with a heart of gold in Little Miss Sunshine), but has a truly zany, over the top comedy ever taken home the Best Picture award?

In the year of Lilies Of The Field and 8 1/2, the Academy actually turned their taste towards having a laugh, and awarded Tom Jones the best picture of 1963. (No, not THIS Tom Jones. Or THIS.)

Starring Albert Finney as Tom Jones, this incredibly quick witted film, follows Tom through his life, beginning as an abandoned baby raised by a British squire. As he grows into a man, all the ladies love him, and he loves them back, which causes a ruckus out in the British country side (I have never heard the word "trollop" used more in my entire life). Due to his ways, his adopted father banishes him, and he is separated from the one woman he honestly loves, Sophie. Can Tom ever discover his birth parents, and be reconnected with his love?

All of the humor is not exactly laugh out loud, definitely bridging more on the dry wit possessed in most British films. It is also nice that the crazy humor is balanced out by including an earnest love story.

Even though I did end up finding the premise amusing and the film has a consistent vision, I still can't help but think that this has to be the strangest film to pick up four Academy Awards. From the take on a silent movie that only is used in the introduction (where frames of  the dialogue appear), to the zany, ill fitting narration, and the odd choice of transitions between every scene that look like a child who just discovered how to use Power Point (oh my! It can make the slides dissolve or even wipe across the screen! Neat!). Although, it is obvious that in 1963 they ate all of this up.

Albert Finney in the lead is quite enjoyable, especially for those, like me, who will always know him as Daddy Warbucks. No bald head here; he actually had some luscious locks in his younger years.

In one of the last films I recall Finney in (a favorite), Big Fish, I was always slightly confused by Finney playing the older version of McGregor's character. They don't look alike at all!

Now I completely see the similarities. The entire time Tom Jones was running, I was thinking, who does Finney remind me of? Then it popped into my head; Ewan McGregor! They are not identical, but  young Finney possesses the same facial features, and I could also see McGregor choosing to star in a movie with the same weird tone as Tom Jones.

Tom Jones is one peculiar film, so much so I am running out of words for "weird', but its inclusion in the list is actually quite refreshing. If I had to sit through one more war movie right now I would lose it. I keep on trying to draw a comparison to help further develop the feel of the movie, but I can't, it's truly unique.

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