CINE104-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

The Oscar for Best Picture: The Envelope Please!

15 points
16 Jul 2018 - 18 Nov 2018

Description

This course will trace the trajectory of the Academy Awards: from 1930s screwball comedies and backstage musicals to celebrated wartime classics; from 1950s Minnelli musicals to 1980s post-Vietnam war films. It will provide a concentrated, thumbnail history of American Cinema, which challenges students to consider and question the formal criteria (cinematography, acting, sound, editing) upon which critical judgement is based. It will introduce students to the canonical classics of American Cinema, inviting them to explore diverse film genres and even the occasional Academy extravaganza.

We will first look at the origins of the Academy and examine its early role in shaping American film and popular culture. We will examine Best Pictures from the Depression-era, considering the impact of new sound technologies on the Hollywood studio style and the subsequent enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, a set of moral guidelines that were enforced from the mid-1930s to the 1960s. In our next section, we will move on to wartime cinema and the consolidation of star culture and the Classical Hollywood Style, considering the way in which celebrated Best Pictures such as Casablanca reflected underlying tensions in cultural and national identity. Turning to the 1950s, we will address McCarthyism, blacklisting, and the advent of television as the perfect storm that effectively swept grand dramatic spectacle into its place of prominence in the Academy Awards ceremonies.

In the third section, we will examine the cultural revolution of the 1960s and the return of socially conscious cinema with the Academy’s acknowledgement of those films that focused on social and racial tensions. We will then move to the New Hollywood of the 1970s and the heyday of the American film school auteur. The final section will be devoted to subsequent decades and those genre films dedicated to social concerns, such as the historical drama Twelve Years a Slave (BP 2013), the first film directed by a Black filmmaker to have been awarded an Oscar for Best Picture. Finally, we close with the allegorical fantasy The Shape of Water (BP 2017), a film whose surrealistic ambiance pays tribute to early Hollywood horror films.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and skills:

  • Basic knowledge of critical and technical vocabulary of discipline
  • Basic knowledge of a range of film history, ranging from early cinema to the present
  • Basic knowledge of the various issues associated with the production, distribution, and exhibition of films
  • Recognition that different film forms impact on the meaning and effects of film texts
  • Basic knowledge of the major theoretical debates and discourses in film studies
  • Basic knowledge of the relationships between selected films and their social, cultural and historical context
  • Basic ability to conduct close analysis of scenes and images from films
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.

Timetable 2018

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
1 Thursday 11:00 - 12:00 A4 Lecture Theatre 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct
Film Screening A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
1 Monday 12:00 - 15:00 A4 Lecture Theatre 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
1 Monday 15:00 - 16:00 A4 Lecture Theatre 23 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct

Course Coordinator

Mary Wiles

Assessment

Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 1 40% 2000 words
Final Examination 40% 1500 words
Five 300-word Online Learn Assignments 10% 1500 words
Participation and engagement 10%

Textbooks

The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History. 2nd edition. Jim Piazza and Gail Kinn. New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2014.
Readings to be provided on LEARN

(Image: Oscar Academy Awards 3D" by Emilio Gallo, licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0.)

Notes

Film List:

Week One: Best of 1929: The Musical
The Broadway Melody (Beaumont, 1929)

Week Two: Best of 1932: The Star System/Grand Spectacle
Grand Hotel (Goulding, 1932)

Week Three: Best of 1943: Classical Hollywood
Casablanca (Curtiz, 1941)

Week Four: Best of 1959: Sand and Sandals
Ben-Hur (Wyler, 1959)

Week Five: Best of 1960: Comedy-Drama
The Apartment (Wilder, 1960)

Week Six: Best of 1969: Western Reinvented
Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger, 1969)

Week Seven: Best of 1972: Gangster Film Reinvented
The Godfather (Coppola, US 1972)    

Week Eight: Best of 1983: Melodrama
Terms of Endearment (Brooks, 1983)

Week Nine: Best of 1991: Horror  
Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991)    

Week Ten: Best of 2007: Neo-Western/Neo-Noir
No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007)

Week Eleven: Best of 2013: Historical Drama
12 Years A Slave (McQueen, 2013)

Week Twelve: Best of 2017: Fantasy Film
The Shape of Water (Del Toro, 2017)

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $746.00

International fee $3,038.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 40 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts.

All CINE104 Occurrences

  • CINE104-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018