In celebration of the film industry’s highest honor—the Academy Awards®–HDNET MOVIES rolls out the red carpet for its third annual movie event And The Oscar® Goes To… with film critic Richard Roeper returning to lend his movie industry and pop culture expertise to a slate of over 50 Oscar®-winning films, airing non-stop from Feb. 1 to the night of the 91st Academy Awards®, Feb. 24.
This year, Roeper will be on-site at the home of the inaugural 1929 Oscars® ceremony, The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, as he guides viewers on a cinematic odyssey that puts the spotlight on some of the most important and influential films of all time.
Editor’s Note: And this is where we catch up with one Richard Roeper as he gives us an insight on what he looks for when he critiques movies. He talks about the wonderful year in movies, a year that was historic for many reasons, and for fun, he also runs through several Oscar predictions with Madness To Creation. Here is where we pick up the interview:
Madness To Creation: Richard, what is going on today? Thanks for taking the time!
Richard: You know it’s going good, seeing movies and living the life!
Madness To Creation: Any great movies that you caught lately?
Richard: Throughout the year, it’s usually hit or miss, but there is a great movie out that came out called “Serenity” with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. I will say this about it, I was pleasantly surprised, but I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s really well crated and it’s really well written, it almost reminded me of some of the great 80’s thrillers like “Body Heat” and “Jagged Edge”, films hearkening back to that, it was really cool.
Madness To Creation: You’re hosting on HDNET Movies “And The Oscar Goes To”, throughout the month of February, what can fans expect from it?
Richard: It’s really cool because it’s films that people will know like “No Country for Old Men” to older films, and the cool thing is that every single one of these is an Academy Award winner, not all necessarily “Best Picture” winners, but maybe it won for “Best Screenplay” or for “Best Cinematography”, for example, we are going to show “The Untouchables” where Sean Connery won for “Best Supporting Actor”, we’re going to show “City Slickers”, which is a comedy and it’s a lot of fun, we have a lot of comedies in there. Jack Palance won for “Best Supporting Actor”, so in each case I get to introduce the movies, then I wrote up scripts for a little behind the scenes about the films if I had a personal relationship with or if I knew somebody from the movie, and I’ll talk about it, or just some context.
I think the cool thing is that it will be introducing it to a whole new audience. I don’t know if today’s moviegoers would know that much about “In The Heat Of The Night” or even “Reversal of Fortune” where Jeremy Irons won “Best Actor”, it’s these great films with new audience.
Madness To Creation: As an esteemed movie critic, what is something that you look for when you offer critiques on a movie?
Richard: I’ll tell you one thing, I try to watch a movie like a fan, I try to just really absorb it, some critics have their own methods and I would never tell somebody how to do their job, but I see people writing so many notes during the movie just scribbling away, and I’m thinking, “you’re missing the movie while you’re writing notes, you got to watch it instead of always writing notes”. I just try to absorb the film like a regular moviegoer. I’m obviously looking for certain things, it always begins and ends with a story. If the writing isn’t there, if the plot isn’t there, it doesn’t matter how good the actor is or how great the director is, they will tell you that “it’s the script”, that’s why they get attracted to a product more than anything else. They look at scripts, they might get handed a script and say, “this is not okay”.
I just mentioned “Serenity” to you, and something that stood out to me was the originality to the storytelling, which is really hard to do.
Madness To Creation: Are there any actors or actresses that just blow you away every time they’re on screen?
Richard: There’s so many, and that’s a great question because I probably see ten movies per week, and from what I hear from the various studios and publicists, and I’m sitting at my screening schedule and I see that Denzel Washington is in a movie, in the vast majority of cases, I know he’s going to be a great performer and not just a great film. I feel the same way about Jessica Chastain, she’s one of my favorites, she always does something interesting, Ryan Gosling is another one and so is Sean Penn. Actors that I’ve talked to really try to do material that is just really solid and not just popcorn movies. There’s tons of actors where I get just as excited as any other fan, Meryl Streep has another movie coming out, and that’s going to be really cool.
Madness To Creation: I would like to go through a few Oscar predictions with you.
Madness To Creation: For “Best Actor”, we have Bradley Cooper for “A Star Is Born”, Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Christian Bale for “Vice”, Willem Dafoe for “At Eternity’s Gate” and Viggo Mortensen for “Green Book”. Who do you got?
Richard: That’s an interesting category because Christian Bale transforms himself in “Vice”, but there’s a polarizing feeling on whether or not that’s a good film, but I liked it. I think right now, it’s not my personal preference, but if we’re predicting I go with Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody”. He won the Golden Globe and there’s just a lot of momentum for the performance, I think he’s got a real shot. My favorite in that group would be Christian Bale, he’s one of those actors that’s always doing something interesting.
Madness To Creation: What was your favorite part in “Bohemian Rhapsody”?
Richard: I did like the studio sequences even though they’re probably compressed and probably fictionalized, it was fun to watch them create the music, when Freddie Mercury was telling his bandmates that they’ve got to sing even higher in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, or when he was working with Brian May on “We Will Rock You”, it’s cool to watch these re-creations of these pop songs from 30 to 40 years ago, I like the creation scenes in there the best.
Madness To Creation: For Best Actress, we have Yalitza Aparicio for “Roma”, Glenn Close for “The Wife”, Olivia Colman for “The Favourite”, Lady Gaga for “A Star Is Born”, and Melissa McCarthy for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”. Who do you got for that one?
Richard: I think Glenn Close is going to win that for a combination of things. First of all, she’s really good in “The Wife”, but also she’s been nominated a ton of times but has never won, so sometimes you have that case in the Academy, it’s rewarding not just the performance, but the body of work, so I think it’s her year.
Madness To Creation: For “Best Picture”, we have “Black Panther”, “BlacKkKlansman”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “The Favourite”, “A Star Is Born”, “Roma”, “Green Book”, and “Vice”. Who do you got for that one?
Richard: It’s tough when you have that many nominees because you can almost say that any of them has a chance. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that “Roma” is going to win, it’s unusual because it’s a foreign language film and it’s in black and white, it’s unusual but a lot of these Academy members have to catch up on these movies between now and February 24th, but I think when they watch it, I think that they will be so impressed by the beauty of the storytelling, the great acting and everything about it, so I think “Roma” wins.
Madness To Creation: Could you give me your favorite story or memory with Roger Ebert?
Richard: I don’t know if I can just give you one favorite memory or story, but I’ll tell you that as much as we had taping the show for many, many years and seeing more than a thousand movies together, it was just really hanging out and hearing stories from him because obviously Roger went back another generation, so he had all kinds of great stories about seeing “Bonnie & Clyde” for the first time or spending the week with old time movie stars, it was probably just hanging out with him and hearing his stories, so that’s my favorite memory.
Madness To Creation: If you could only see one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Richard: I’m tempted to say “Groundhog Day” because it would feel like Groundhog Day, but for me it would have to be “The Godfather”, if I could only see one, it would be “The Godfather”.
Madness To Creation: Anything else you would like to add in regards to the HDNet Movie special that is coming up in February?
Richard: I just hope that people check it out, especially if it’s a movie that you haven’t seen before, if they haven’t seen something like “The Godfather”, I’m kind of envious because they get to have that experience for the first time, I urge viewers to take chance. If you don’t know a movie, take a chance on a film that you’ve never seen before.
Madness To Creation: Thank you so much for your time, for being so classy and gracious, this was a lot of fun.
Richard: Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it!
And there you have it! Check out some of Tinseltown’s most famous movies on HDNet movies for the month of February. Here are a few of the movies that will be on tap hosted by Richard Roeper as he brings his expertise from the Chicago Sun Times and his days on ReelzChannel.
- Oliver Stone’s Platoon
- The Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men
- Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List
- Ben Kingsley’s Gandhi
- Martin Scorsese’s Woodstock
- Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima
- Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables
For a complete listing of “And The Oscar Goes To” and for other happenings, go to www.hdnetmovies.com