Friday, January 6, 2012

Important Cinema Anniversaries Marked in 2012

* The Oscar winners noted are those that received the award in the given year, but were released the previous year

10 Years Ago (2002)

The beginning of Sam Raimi's Spider Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The film had the biggest opening weekend box office in history to that point and was the only film to gross $100 million in its opening weekend.




Another trilogy also began with Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity.

The year is also notable for seeing the last feature film appearance by Paul Newman in Road to Perdition.

Top grossing film for the year: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: The Pianist
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: A Beautiful Mind

Notable deaths: directors Billy Wilder and John Frankenheimer; actors Richard Harris and James Coburn

15 Years Ago (1997)

The great L.A. Confidential, directed by Curtis Hanson

Hollywood Golden Boys Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting which would garner them Oscars for Original Screenplay the following year.

The Star Wars Special Editions were released, ushering in an era in which George Lucas would commit serial revisionist history, continuing to tinker with and alter a beloved trilogy.

Top grossing film of the year: Titanic
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: Taste of Cherry and The Eel
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: The English Patient

film debuts: Orlando Bloom; Paul Bettany; Samantha Morton; Eric Bana
notable deaths: actors Robert Mitchum and James Stewart (one day after the other)

20 Years Ago (1992)

Two indie star directors had debut films. Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs) and Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) were part of the film geek movement in the early 90s. They became good friends and continue to collaborate to this day.

Two aging legends had great films. Robert Altman returned to the quality of his greatness in the 1970s with The Player and Clint Eastwood made what I consider to be his best film and one of the greatest westerns ever made, Unforgiven.

Top grossing film of the year: Aladdin
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: The Best Intentions
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: Silence of the Lambs

film debuts of four future Oscar winners: Penélope Cruz (Jamón Jamón); Jamie Foxx (Toys); Hilary Swank (Buffy the Vampire Slayer); Heath Ledger (Clowning Around - uncredited); plus Ralph Fiennes and Laura Linney, who maybe should have won already.

directorial debuts of David Fincher (Alien 3); Ang Lee (Pushing Hands - Berlin Film Festival); Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom)

25 Years Ago (1987)

John Huston's final film, the starkly beautiful The Dead, starring his daughter Anjelica, based on the final story in James Joyce's Dubliners.

Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, the film that may have inspired the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification.







Top grossing film of the year: Three Men and a Baby
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: Under the Sun of Satan
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: Platoon

film debuts: Sandra Bullock; Ben Stiller; Patricia Clarkson; Alec Baldwin; Courtney Cox, George Clooney, Chris Rock, Kenneth Branagh, Brad Pitt
directorial debuts: Chris Columbus (Adventures in Babysitting); Peter Jackson (Bad Taste); David Mamet (House of Games)
notable deaths: Fred Astaire; John Huston; Lee Marvin

30 Years Ago (1982)


E.T. the Extra Terrestrial made aliens cute and Reese's Pieces candies famous.

Sam Raimi, who went on to direct all three of the Spider Man movies noted above, had his feature directorial debut with The Evil Dead, also the first in a trilogy that continued with The Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

Ridley Scott's inspired, visionary and bleak Blade Runner was released.

The THX sound system was introduced to American movie theaters.


Top grossing film of the year: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: Missing and Yol
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: Chariots of Fire

notable deaths: German New Wave director Rainer Werner Fassbinder at age 37. In the span of 16 years he directed 23 feature films, 4 shorts, 2 documentaries, 14 TV movies, and 2 TV mini-series. Also John Belushi, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman and Henry Fonda.


film debuts of four future Oscar winners: Angelina Jolie (Lookin' to Get Out); Geena Davis (Tootsie); Kevin Kline (Sophie's Choice); Forest Whitaker (Tag: The Assassination Game); plus Glenn Close and Gary Oldman (who could both become Oscar winners this year); and Eddie Murphy; Hugh Grant; Antonio Banderas; Michael Keaton

directorial debuts: Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgmont High); Barry Levinson (Diner); Neil Jordan (Angel)

40 Years Ago (1972)


Deliverance made audiences fearful of Appalachia. Deep Throat changed the porn industry. Fritz the Cat was the first X-rated animated film. Divine ate dog shit in John Waters' trash film Pink Flamingoes. What a year for film.




Oh yeah, also The Godfather


Top grossing film of the year: The Godfather
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: The Working Class Goes to Heaven and The Mattei Affair
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: The French Connection

film debuts: future Oscar winners Jodie Foster (Napoleon and Samantha); Sissy Spacek (Prime Cut); future Oscar nominees Ned Beatty (Deliverance); Madeline Kahn (What's Up, Doc?); James Woods (The Visitors)
directorial debut of Wes Craven (Last House on the Left)

50 Years Ago (1962)


David Lean's desert epic Lawrence of Arabia.

The wonderful Gregory Peck in the wonderful To Kill a Mockingbird

Top grossing film of the year: Lawrence of Arabia
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner: Keeper of Promises
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: West Side Story

film debuts: Jackie Chan, Sydney Pollack (acting); Robert Duvall; John Hurt
directorial debuts: Bernardo Bertolucci (The Grim Reaper); Roman Polanski (Knife in the Water)
notable deaths: Charles Laughton and Marilyn Monroe


75 Years Ago (1937)

Jean Renoir's brilliant WWI drama Grand Illusion.

The first animated feature film, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs







Top grossing film of the year: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Academy Awards Best Picture winner*: Mutiny on the Bounty

Centennial (1912)

The first gangster film, The Musketeers of Pig Alley, was produced.

Mack Sennett forms Keystone Studios which would become famous for giving Charlie Chaplin his start and for producing the renowned Keystone Cops comedy shorts.

Lillian Gish has her film debut. Her career would span 75 years until 1987's The Whales of August.

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