Ask Bond-watchers of a certain age about the six actors who have slipped into Bond's Savile Row suits in the Broccoli franchise, and they might say it's really Connery and five other guys - since he, being first and being Sean, stamped the role with his sulfurous masculinity.
In his musicals with Garland, Rooney was the sparkplug for prodigious entrepreneurship - that era's predecessor of the garage band, but with Gershwin tunes and an all-star cast.
In the movies, every crazy old fart needs a cool old car. Jack Nicholson drove a spiffy yellow 1970 Dodge Challenger two-door in 'The Bucket List.' In 'Gran Torino,' the cranky pensioner played by Clint Eastwood not only owned a 1972 GT Sport, he also used to build cars like that at the Ford plant.
The big gamble in 'Focus' - it's a Will Smith movie that dares to be small.
Although the Academy prefers their Best Pictures grounded in realism, not fantasy, Lee's 'Life of Pi' win proved that the voters understand and appreciate the qualities a visionary director needs to create an otherworldly adventure.
Almost any football play, even an off-tackle slant by a running back, offers the balletic beauty of athletic skill and the punishing drama of physical collision.
After two terms as California's Governator, Schwarzenegger slipped comfortably back into pictures with 'The Last Stand,' a modern Western, then crammed into the wide screen, as if it were a service elevator, with fellow '80s muscle car Sylvester Stallone in 'Escape Plan.'
Before sequels became the most reliable way to make a buck, Bond set the standard for lavish serial adventures. Before Hollywood found gold in multimillion-dollar adaptations of comic-book characters - in the Superman, Batman and Spider-Man blockbusters - Bond was the movies' first big-budget franchise superhero.
Hollywood was born schizophrenic. For 75 years it has been both a town and a state of mind, an industry and an art form.
'Under the Skin' is handsome, in a dour way, but inert - a cunning experiment that died in the shooting or on the editing table. You'll want to get the DVD, though, and not just for its study of Scarlett. Odds are that the Making-Of documentary will be far stranger and more fascinating than the movie that was made.
Like 'God's Not Dead,' the fundamentalist Christian movie that has become a popular hit, 'Transcendence' is essentially a dramatized debate. And as 'God's Not Dead' stacks the rhetorical cards for the Deity's existence, the Pfister film eventually hangs back with the Luddites.
Viewers who invest two hours in a superhero movie often leave feeling entertained but somehow dumber.
The people who run Hollywood are supposed to be masters at creating drama, suspense, thrills - at putting on a great show. If we knew not only who the winners were but also by how much they won, the Oscar show could actually be the Super Bowl of movies.
Soviet moviegoers gazed enviously on the jalopy that took the Joads from Oklahoma to California. The message Russians took from 'The Grapes of Wrath': even the poorest capitalists have cars!
Ambitious of vision and swooping of camera, 'I, Frankenstein' is no 'I, Robot,' let alone 'I, Claudius,' but it's definitely watchable on a cold Jan. evening or, a few months from now, on your I, Pad.
Musical chairs or Russian roulette? Sometimes there's as much tense drama in the casting of a Hollywood movie as there is in the finished product.
Nixon's shifty eyes and perpetual 5 o'clock shadow made him a natural fit for caricatured villainy.
The movie truism is that stars play themselves, while actors play other people - troubled or toxic, and memorably strange. By that definition, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who disappeared into the rabbit hole of his characters' souls, was our generation's anti-star and the chameleonic film actor of his age.
One of the occupational hazards of reviewing year-end biopics with Oscar ambitions is pointing out discrepancies between the real subjects and their on-screen avatars.
The exact meaning of irony is so narrow that the word is hardly worth using; in its broad, current definition, it's a euphemism for sarcasm. 'I'm not being sarcastic; I'm being ironic.' No, you're not. You're evading the responsibility for being sarcastic.
'Blade Runner' was one of several dystopian science-fiction films to tank in the early and middle '80s. 'Tron,' 'The Dark Crystal,' 'The Keep,' 'Labyrinth': none found a large audience.
Every artist undresses his subject, whether human or still life. It is his business to find essences in surfaces, and what more attractive and challenging surface than the skin around a soul?
To transport picturegoers to a unique place in the glare of the earth, in the darkness of the heart - this, you realize with a gasp of joy, is what movies can do.
Famous for his 'Maverick' Western series in the 1950s and 'The Rockford Files' in the '70s, and in movies like 'The Great Escape' and 'Grand Prix' in between, James Garner played amiable, independent characters for more than a half-century and never lost his comforting, enduring appeal.
At heart, 'Chef' is a daddy-daycare fable about an overextended man who teaches his 10-year-old son the family business and learns to love him.
Though not really a comedy, 'Rosewater' is a demonstration of the creed behind 'The Daily Show': belief in the crucial need for impious wit against entrenched power. The freedom of the press is also the freedom to depress - and to inspire. That's a message that can outlive any Oscar season.
Obamacare notwithstanding, the current president's progressive instincts have been neutered by the rise of the Tea Party and Luddite conservatism.
World War II was a historical event, but also a movie genre, and 'Fury' occasionally prints the legend. The rest of it is plenty grim and grisly. Audience members may feel like prisoners of war forced to watch a training-torture film.
Starring Russell Crowe as the Patron of the First Ark, 'Noah' had affronted some Christian literalists with its giant rock men, its weird visions, and the occasionally dark motives of its protagonist. But the film corralled enough religious leaders, including Pope Francis (with whom Crowe snagged an audience), to salve canonical objections.
'Chef' is a dish of arroz con pollo served with a smile but not much style. The critic in the film would give it a low grade, for agreeability without ambition.
'Divergent,' directed by Neil Burger, displayed an admirable seriousness and some grim verve in laying out the boundaries of novelist Veronica Roth's dystopia - six segregated but ostensibly harmonious regions defined by their inhabitants' skills.
In 'Se7en' and 'Fight Club,' Fincher proved his suave mastery of film violence; in Zodiac, his way of clarifying the many clues in a murder thriller. As he showed in 'The Social Network,' the director also knows that no wound is more toxic than a friend's betrayal.
Jolie's exotic mixture of brains and glamour makes her the one reliable international star, and one of the few of either gender to make people in every country pay to see her.
I first visited the Toronto fest in 1979, its fourth edition, when it was known as the Festival of Festivals and had an audience of about 40,000. I happily returned to the 10-day skein nearly every year thereafter, as attendance swelled to 400,000 and it grew into the most influential film festival in North America, perhaps the world.
Africa is the continent that the rest of the world prefers not to think about.
We all recall what is or was important to us and are astonished when it slips other people's minds. Perhaps we dismiss as irrelevant matters of crucial concern to those we love. That's life as most of us experience it, and which few movies document with such understated acuity as 'Boyhood' does.
We lived a lovely, middle-class, suburban life in Philadelphia. And I really thought that the TV programs of the '50s, like 'Father Knows Best' and 'The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet' Nelson were documentaries filmed with hidden cameras in our neighborhood.
In some ways, 'The Little Mermaid' was old-fashioned. Rendered in the hand-drawn style, it was the last Disney animated feature to use cels and Xeroxing. Pixar and its CGI imitators soon made that rigorous process obsolete.
'Birdman' is basically 'All About Eve' - the 1950 comedy about rehearsal rivalries in a Broadway show, and another Best Picture laureate - reimagined as a Batman suicide mission. The movie couldn't be actor-ier.
From her first superheroine role in 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider' - which earned $275 million globally in 2001, back when that was real money - Jolie has been the one actress who can stand up to any male star and stare him down.
The 1930s birthed two great agrarian novels: 'Gone with the Wind' from the viewpoint of the ruling class, 'The Grapes of Wrath' for the underclass. And both were turned into movies that dared to be true to the books' controversial themes.
'Tammy,' the new movie starring, produced, and co-written by Melissa McCarthy, could be an artifact from some alternate universe: the creatures there resemble Earthlings but have an entirely different and debased idea of what's funny.
Hollywood has always seen Sondheim as a caviar brand unsuitable for a popcorn industry.
You know it's Oscar season when you see a slew of new movies based on true stories whose resolutions you can find in three seconds on Wikipedia.
In my experience, copy editors, like the stalwart staff I've worked with and learned from in my 34 years at 'TIME,' are linguistic conservatives - the keepers of the flame ignited by the Strunk-White 'Elements of Style,' published in full in 1957 and chosen by 'TIME' as one of the 100 most influential nonfiction books of the past century.
You may debate whether the Disney heroines fit the feminist standard, but they don't live in a democracy. Remember, they're princesses.
Throughout the movies' golden age, the Western enriched Hollywood financially and artistically. But in the 1970s, the genre lost its audience appeal to fantasy films of the 'Star Wars' stripe, which told more or less the same story - elemental animosities leading to an armed showdown - but at a faster tempo, and in outer space.
Icy and earthy, Helen Mirren is a rare, regal presence in a movie age that values the plebeian over the patrician and mass over class. Lauded with an Oscar and an Emmy for playing both Queen Elizabeths, Mirren has matched her cool aristocracy with a boldness of performance and display.