And the Oscar goes to…!

OscarThe 2016 Academy Awards show has now come and gone (but not without considerable controversy) and the Oscar for Best Picture went to “Spotlight.”  Did your favorite win?  What is your all-time favorite film and why?

As a child, my voracious reading habits created in me a deep passion for “far-away places.”  As a teenager, that fire was stoked by my preference for foreign films.  Two Oscar-winning films that I saw during that period had a profound effect on me and remain to this day my favorites:  “A Man and A Woman” by French director Claude Lelouch and “Z”, a political thriller by Greek expatriate director Costa-Gavras.  The sensual approach that the French bring to life, love, music, food and dance as portrayed by Lelouch in his film, plus the intoxicating music and lyrics of the soundtrack, thrilled me as I contemplated adulthood.  “Z”, with its superb cast and taut drama, fueled my fascination with Greece, its history, language, literature and poetry, and elevated my burgeoning political consciousness.  It is not a coincidence that I later spent 25 wonderful years in France and took over a dozen extended trips to the hauntingly beautiful Greece.  Ah, such is the power of films to entertain, enchant, educate, destabilize and mold us!   My poll of LLS students (in alphabetical order) as to why a particular film is their favorite yielded these intriguing replies (Congratulations go to Louise and Peter Lippman for having chosen this year’s Oscar winner as their favorite!):


Talented Mr. RipBarbara DePalma
– My choices narrowed down to two movies directed by Anthony Minghella: “The English Patient” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”  I have to give credit to the devilishly handsome Jude Law for tipping the scales toward “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” This movie has it all – a great script and direction, excellent acting with Matt Damon, Jude Law, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Gwyneth Paltrow, a wonderful soundtrack and beautiful cinematography depicting Italy during the 1950s. The suspense continually builds as plot twists create problems for the main character resulting in a stunning and tragic ending. This thriller portrays the making of a sociopath through the power of envy and yearning for a better life. It illustrates how actions a person takes can have consequences that will haunt him forever. Although I have watched this movie many times, I never tire of it and wish we had more like it. (5 Oscar nominations, 0 wins)


CasablancaJean Dessoffy  –  My favorite movie “Casablanca” brings back memories of my trip to Morocco, Casablanca, and Rick’s Café with the white piano.  Released in 1942, it starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Claude Rains.  The story depicts the trauma caused by the Second World War on the lives of two people who briefly cross paths in Paris and meet again in Nazi-occupied French Morocco.  After a brief encounter, they each go their own way to unknown fates.  The movie injected two phrases into the English language which are still heard today, “Play it again, Sam” and “We’ll always have Paris.” (8 Oscar nominations, 3 wins)


Louise and Peter Lippman
– We found “Spotlight” released in 2015 to be a most remarkable movie.  It provided meticulous detail concerning the 2001 public exposure of a major contemporary social embarrassment in the context of a superbly written screenplay, artful direction of a gripping drama and top-notch performances from a substantial group of well-known actors (including our old Katonah, New York friend Stanley Tucci).  Perhaps the most significant achievement of this film is its even-handed presentation of an important subject that just as easily could have been presented in a more intense black-and-white, good-versus-evil framework.  It portrays professional journalism at its best, while demonstrating the human weaknesses, inevitable in us all, that reporters and editors must and do largely overcome in the course of honoring their responsibilities. (6 Oscar nominations, 2 wins)


BridgesGene and Tom Monahan
– We recommend the movie “Bridge of Spies.” It recalls a very important period of history and the patriotism and courage of the lawyer played by Tom Hanks. It also shows the human side of the Russian spy and makes him a likable character. It is suspenseful and brings out the drama of the Cold War with the Soviet Union in a German location. Overall, a very good movie.(6 Oscar nominations, 1 win)





Paul NewtonOne of my favorite movies is the strange, anti-establishment love story “Donnie Darko”, a low budget movie that was filmed in only one month.  This unpopular teenage-centered sci-fi movie, released in 2001, barely covered its production costs.  Although the underlying plot is a bit hard to understand, the well-chosen cast beautifully portrays the story of an unpopular high school boy’s struggles growing up with many social challenges while trying to figure out life with no pause button or instruction manual.  Donnie lives this struggle for 28 days with an unusual inner demon.  Trying to make appropriate choices in such a bizarre environment leads to interesting predicaments.  The way that this movie portrays Donnie’s situation is brilliant, touching and very entertaining, especially so if you can relate to Donnie and his struggles.  This is a movie that needs to be watched more than once in order to appreciate all that is going on.  (No Oscar nominations but won numerous film awards worldwide)


DoctorFrancia Trosty It’s hard to pick only one movie as there are so many in different genres that I have enjoyed. But, if I had to pick one that encompasses all the elements of an engaging entertaining experience, it would be “Dr. Zhivago.” It has drama, a rich plot, history, romance, tragedy, handsome actors, beautiful scenes, artful direction, wonderful music and insights into another era.  (10 Oscar nominations, 5 wins)


OzLast but not least, the Oscar for youngest LLS favorite movie poll participant goes to Kiera (my adored 7-year-old niece and future LLS student in about 50 years) – My favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz” because, near the end, the Wizard tells the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion that they already have everything they need.  (6 Oscar nominations, 2 wins)



  Sandi Page





By Sandi Page, guest blogger, LLS student and volunteer, LLS Marketing Committee member


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