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Why are comedies seldom recognized as Best Pictures?


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#21 TopBilled

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 09:40 AM

Today, comedies are so blatant and crass - for example, "American Pie".

 

The sensibilities of Frank Capra and Preston Sturges are long gone.

 

Even Billy Wilder fell into that trap - with "Kiss Me, Stupid".

 

I prefer his other comedies like "Sabrina" or "Love In The Afternoon".

 

 

SABRINA is my favorite Wilder romantic comedy. I think LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON benefits from fantastic on-location filming and Chevalier in a supporting role. But doesn't Cooper seem too long in the tooth to realistically be a suitor for Audrey Hepburn? (Coop did a similar romance in TEN NORTH FREDERICK, but that time we had his unsympathetic wife to make us cheer on his affair with the younger woman.) 

 

I consider KISS ME STUPID to be Wilder's worst film. It was his sleaziest attempt at comedy. He redeemed himself with THE FORTUNE COOKIE, which I think is a brilliant satire about greed. And I like AVANTI, an unconventional romantic comedy where Jack Lemmon meets an overweight woman (played by Juliet Mills) and falls in love. It's a little misogynistic in spots, but the performances are good and the story has an interesting message. 


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#22 rayban

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 07:49 AM

Today, comedies are so blatant and crass - for example, "American Pie".

 

The sensibilities of Frank Capra and Preston Sturges are long gone.

 

Even Billy Wilder fell into that trap - with "Kiss Me, Stupid".

 

I prefer his other comedies like "Sabrina" or "Love In The Afternoon".

 

(I'm not saying that I didn't laugh at a lot of "American Pie", but I think that it was more "the shock factor" than outright hilarity.)


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#23 TopBilled

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:54 PM

I think the war had a lot to do with the changes you mention.    Only Preston Surges kept making screwball type comedies and even his films lacked the magic of 30s \ early 40s comedies (ones he wrote the screenplays for, until he became a director).

 

Yes, I think it is no coincidence that Sturges and Capra had pretty much fallen out of favor by 1950. They had difficulty adapting. Capra attempted a few comebacks before he retired, but his later stuff didn't do too well. It was as if his and Sturges' brand of comedy/social commentary had become old-fashioned. These guys didn't even transition to television, which really says something about how their material was no longer embraced by audiences.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#24 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:16 PM

Maybe it shifted after the war. In the postwar years, the world (and Hollywood's sensibilities) had changed. There's a reason THE MORE THE MERRIER was George Stevens' last comedy. Social message dramas in the late 40s and 50s that examined the ills of society were taken more seriously by audiences and Academy voters. It's something that still continues today, even though satires can make just as many salient points about human afflictions.

 

I think the war had a lot to do with the changes you mention.    Only Preston Surges kept making screwball type comedies and even his films lacked the magic of 30s \ early 40s comedies (ones he wrote the screenplays for, until he became a director).


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#25 TopBilled

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:40 PM

Well today's Jean Arthur film line up isn't consistent with 'comedies don't win Oscars'.     Of course Capra films with Arthur were highly nominated films as well as landing two best picture Oscars and two for best direction as well as numerous others like best screenplay etc..

 

(I don't consider Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to be a comedy,  but there are comic elements).

 

Even in the 40s Arthur continued to star in highly praised comedies like The More the Merrier which won Coburn a best supporting actor Oscar,  and other nominations included Best Director, Best Picture, Best Writing, Original Story and Best Writing, Screenplay.

 

Maybe it shifted after the war. In the postwar years, the world (and Hollywood's sensibilities) had changed. There's a reason THE MORE THE MERRIER was George Stevens' last comedy. Social message dramas in the late 40s and 50s that examined the ills of society were taken more seriously by audiences and Academy voters. It's something that still continues today, even though satires can make just as many salient points about human afflictions.


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#26 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:09 PM

And I would say it's much harder for comedies to stand the test of time. This is because humor changes considerably from one generation to the next. 

 

Well today's Jean Arthur film line up isn't consistent with 'comedies don't win Oscars'.     Of course Capra films with Arthur were highly nominated films as well as landing two best picture Oscars and two for best direction as well as numerous others like best screenplay etc..

 

(I don't consider Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to be a comedy,  but there are comic elements).

 

Even in the 40s Arthur continued to star in highly praised comedies like The More the Merrier which won Coburn a best supporting actor Oscar,  and other nominations included Best Director, Best Picture, Best Writing, Original Story and Best Writing, Screenplay.



#27 TopBilled

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 07:59 PM

You ask a good question! This has frustrated me for some time. I remember talking about film in a different forum (not TCM or film related actually) and many of the posters claimed that comedy was the lowest form of film making. In my opinion, comedy is the hardest form of film making.

Comedy has layers just like any other film. You still have to have well thought out characters and an engaging story line, even the most ridiculous. Performance of the actors is vital. I don't care how "funny" the joke may actually be, if the actor doesn't execute the joke with the correct timing and delivery then...crickets. In other genres of film, a bad performance may not hurt the film as other aspects of it can surpass that. But in comedy, if the jokes don't go over with an audience, the film will fall flat.

Comedy is incredibly subjective.To be consistent and seamless in capturing laughs from a wide audience is impressive and the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and in front of the camera should be rewarded. 

 

And I would say it's much harder for comedies to stand the test of time. This is because humor changes considerably from one generation to the next. 


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#28 CourtneyMania

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 06:29 PM

You ask a good question! This has frustrated me for some time. I remember talking about film in a different forum (not TCM or film related actually) and many of the posters claimed that comedy was the lowest form of film making. In my opinion, comedy is the hardest form of film making.

Comedy has layers just like any other film. You still have to have well thought out characters and an engaging story line, even the most ridiculous. Performance of the actors is vital. I don't care how "funny" the joke may actually be, if the actor doesn't execute the joke with the correct timing and delivery then...crickets. In other genres of film, a bad performance may not hurt the film as other aspects of it can surpass that. But in comedy, if the jokes don't go over with an audience, the film will fall flat.

Comedy is incredibly subjective.To be consistent and seamless in capturing laughs from a wide audience is impressive and the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and in front of the camera should be rewarded. 


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#29 LancasterHestonFan

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Posted 02 August 2016 - 10:03 PM

It is much harder to laugh than to cry, yet this seems lost on the Oscars. 


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#30 TopBilled

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 05:40 PM

I think there is a widespread misconception that comedies are somehow easier to make than dramas.

 

A well-made comedy like "The Shop Around The Corner" is actually a cinematic marvel, in my humble opinion.

 

It is just as difficult to achieve as a well-made drama.

Most definitely. I think some comedy performances are actually harder to pull off than the more dramatic ones. If you watch Norman Wisdom in his films, you will see that like Chaplin, he brings a lot of athleticism to the stunts he does to make the audience laugh. That flexibility (literally) plus a remarkable sense of timing takes considerable skill. I'm sure Jerry Lewis would agree.


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#31 rayban

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Posted 25 February 2016 - 11:51 PM

I think there is a widespread misconception that comedies are somehow easier to make than dramas.

 

A well-made comedy like "The Shop Around The Corner" is actually a cinematic marvel, in my humble opinion.

 

It is just as difficult to achieve as a well-made drama.

 

I do wish that there was a lot more recognition of comedies and the actors and actresses who often make them memorable.


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#32 TopBilled

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 03:15 PM

I think precisely because they are not serious films. No deep story, not usually lending themselves to innovative direction and not usually one for intense acting. Good thing that we like them.

Do you really believe comedies do not lend themselves to innovative direction? I have a feeling the Charlie Chaplins and Buster Keatons of the cinema world would disagree!

 

Why does serious content have to be a requirement for an Oscar?


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#33 movieman1957

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 09:12 PM

I think precisely because they are not serious films. No deep story, not usually lending themselves to innovative direction and not usually one for intense acting. Good thing that we like them.


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. 

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#34 TopBilled

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 06:44 PM

Of course, there are some comedy-dramas that get recognized. Among them-- HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL.


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#35 TopBilled

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Posted 24 May 2015 - 04:14 PM

I thought this would be the perfect place to ask this question. Comedies are often the underdogs when it comes to handing out Oscars for Best Picture.

 

Any theories about why this is often the case...?  


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