After almost a month away, I am finally back in New York City... but not for long. This week, I head back to the other side of the country to perform in an improv show in Las Vegas! Yep, I'll be a bona fide Vegas performer, right there on the Strip. A rotating cast of Australian improvisers will perform in Aussie Improv Comedy Explosion at the V Theater in the Planet Hollywood Resort beginning on January 31. So, if you're planning on being near Sin City during February, come check it out.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, the Oscar nominations will be announced. As always, I have made my predictions as to which films will be recognised - and just in time, too. For anyone out there who might be interested in this sort of thing, here are my guesses.
While we wait for the Academy's picks for 2010, here's a look at their Best Picture winner of 1930/31...
Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, Nance O'Neil, William Collier, Jr., Roscoe Ates, George E. Stone, Edna May Oliver
3 wins, including Best Picture
It seems that, even way back then, the Academy's penchant for epics was strong. Cimarron is a big-budget extravaganza spanning over four decades in the lives of Yancey Cravat (Dix) and his wife Sabra (Dunne). Yancey's aversion to staying in one place for too long leads him to forsake Wichita, Kansas and stake his claim in the newly opened land in Oklahoma. The couple and their two young children settle in the town of Osage, where Yancey begins a newspaper called the Oklahoma Wigwam. But his nomadic and restless nature soon sees him gallivanting off someplace else every few years, leaving Sabra to take care of the business and the family.
As is the case with many films of this early sound era, Cimarron often feels melodramatic, a drawback that is probably only augmented by its epic quality. While the Oklahoma land rush scene is indeed spectacularly staged, it finds itself a little light on substance. (Gratuitous action scenes are not unique to modern blockbusters.) The overly theatrical deaths don't help the film's cause either. And perhaps its just a case of Hollywood still learning the ropes of how to make pictures with sound, but there are more than a few awkward silences in between lines that could have been avoided had the editor cut to the next shot a little sooner.
Oscar-nominated Richard Dix does an admirable job playing one of the most heroic characters ever written. Lawyer, pastor, pioneer and newspaper editor, Yancey inspires the masses, stands up to bullies and saves lives, all the while maintaining his impossibly great hair. He is well-liked and morally upstanding ... despite a slight case of 19th century misogyny and his habit of abandoning his family for years on end. The usually subtle and intelligent Irene Dunne (pictured), also Oscar-nominated, is a little over-the-top in this early role, but then again, so is most of the cast.