The Broadway Melody

Alternate Title: Bittersweet Symphony
1928 Winner

One of the first musicals to hit the screen, this movie encapsulates the spirit of modern musicals as well.

Hank (Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page) are the Mahoney sisters trying to make it big on Broadway. They move to New York to get their break. Hank is dating Eddie (Charles King), who falls in love with Queenie just as soon as he puts his eyes on her.
This is when things get 1920s-level creepy. Some of the compliments Eddie pays Queenie include calling her a “cute kid,” and saying she’s a “sweet, little girl.” Not to mention, the guy is going out with her sister. It’s totally pathetic.

Once they audition, the Mahoney sisters as a unit are paid no mind, but everyone is taken with Queenie’s natural good looks. This irks Hank since she’s obviously the more ambitious – and the more business savvy – of the two. Hank is a spitfire, making sure that there’s room for her on the stage with her sister, but Queenie soon gets swept up by a man named Jacques Warriner (Kenneth Thomson). He seems more interested in purchasing Queenie’s affection than considering whether she actually fucking likes him at all. That’s maybe one thing about show business that hasn’t changed a whole lot in nearly 100 years…

Queenie is smitten with all the attention she’s probably never had, but faces a crisis of character when she discovers that she might care about Eddie as much as he does about her.

Though the movie is old and thus plagued with shrill acoustics and blurry images at times, it’s easy to see where almost every musical since has borrowed a few ideas. It’s character-driven, but interspersed with some catchy songs. Hank Mahoney is an especially dynamic character because although she’s fierce, she is a purely unselfish individual. She’s a rare commodity on screen and just as rare in real life.
The Broadway Melody is still pitch perfect today.

Now it’s Your Turn…
The Broadway Melody won Best Picture in 1928, but did the Academy get it right?

Lady Bird

Alternate Title: I was a High School Weirdo
2017 Nominee

Fuck high school.

I think the only people who really liked it were the people torturing me and people like the title character, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan). Her real name is Christine, but you know how you made up a weird name for yourself and had everyone call you that because you were mad at your mom? A lot of people won’t admit it, but girls are mad at their moms for a pretty substantial portion of their teenage years.

Lady Bird is mad at her mom (Laurie Metcalf), but also she dates this boy who turns out to be gay. You totally don’t see it coming because he’s really good as the lead in the school musical.

Our beloved title character is simultaneously trying to go to college on the opposite coast from whichever coast Sacramento, California is on because she love/hates it and thinks New York is cool even though she’s never been there. This is why high schoolers shouldn’t be allowed to decide which institution they get to send all their parents’ money to for an education that really consists of learning how to have sex without getting pregnant and how to drink lots of alcohol without barfing.

It all boils down to a lady (bird) and her mom. I have to say, I teared up more than once. The movie is passionate and disjointed – kind of like a high school girl. There are a lot of lovely moments that make the movie feel a little like you’re flipping through a photo album, but also fighting with your mom, which makes sense because who the fuck else ever has the idea to look through a photo album?

It’s a movie that might even make you want to visit Sacramento…and  then immediately fly to New York.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Lady Bird was nominated for Best Picture in 2017, but did the Academy get it right?