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Whidbey's favorite fil?ms, predictions and picks

Blake Willeford, owner of the Clyde Theater in Langley, sees hundreds of films every year — good, bad and indifferent. - David Welton / The Record
Blake Willeford, owner of the Clyde Theater in Langley, sees hundreds of films every year — good, bad and indifferent.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

Sunday night, all will be revealed.

Oscar turns 80 this year and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate by awarding their gold-plated statues to Hollywood’s best and brightest.

Typically, Hollywood rolls out its major Oscar-contenders late in the year and many moviegoers haven’t had a chance to see the nominated films, especially since there are no monster crowd-pleasers like “Titanic” or “Lord of the Rings.”

Just one film, the independent sleeper hit “Juno” has grossed over $100 million at the box office.

Of the five up for best picture, only the legal thriller Michael Clayton is available for home viewing on DVD.

Locally at the Clyde Theater, three of the films have been shown — “Michael Clayton,” “Juno” and “No Country for Old Men.”

“’Atonement’ will be here on Feb. 26 and ‘There Will Be Blood’ shows up March 18,” said theater owner Blake Willeford. “And we’re bringing back ‘Juno’ on March 14.”

There’s a special reason to watch this year’s show — Langley resident Francis Kirk has been nominated for sound mixing for his work on “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Sound editors and mixers integrate a motion picture’s total sound content, from music and dialogue to a wide range of sound effects.

Unfortunately, Kirk was on location and unavailable for comment, but he’s already won a BAFTA from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the film, so his chances are good.

To add perspective to the Academy Awards, The Record spoke with South Enders who have the inside track due to their association with the business of making, showing or just loving movies.

Hollywood studios and the Academy have done all they can to get members to see all the films nominated in all categories. Unlike the average film fan, each of the roughly 5,600 Academy voters receives

70 to 90 DVDs each year marked “For Your Consideration.”

Several Academy members call South Whidbey home.

Langley’s Lewis Carlino is a screenwriter and director who has had two of his films nominated over the years; “The Great Santini” and “Resurrection.”

As an Academy member, he’s reluctant to reveal who he voted for this year.

“They don’t want us to tell our preferences to help maintain the efficacy of the award ceremony,” Carlino said.

But he clearly remembers the first film he saw in a theater as a child, “Bambi,” and wasn’t hesitant naming his favorite of all time.

“The ‘Godfather, Parts I and II’ were great films as well as being serious historical documents of American film and history,” Carlino said.

Artie Kane spent 37 years in Los Angeles as, progressively, a keyboard player, composer and conductor of scores for film and television.

Last year, Kane picked the eventual winner for best picture, “The Departed.”

“I really liked ‘Michael Clayton’ starring George Clooney and I hope both win,” he said. “I know Daniel Day Lewis is favored, but he really chewed the scenery in ‘There Will Be Blood.’ Way over the top.”

Kane said the real moviemaking process comes down to two or three engineers sitting at a panel adding sound effects, dubbing and music — all the levels needed to create the finished product.

“’The Bourne Ultimatum’ is a perfect example of the editing process,” he said.

If there are doubters, Kane recommended watching the action scenes with the sound off.

Growing up, Kane remembered being entranced by the Western movies of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. His favorite films include “Bad Day at Black Rock” and

“A Few Good Men.”

“I worked on that one,” Kane recalled.

Blake agreed with Kane.

“My favorite at this point is ‘Michael Clayton’ but Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in “The Valley of Elah’ was very moving,” he said. “It caught the military culture perfectly.”

Blake also thinks Julie Christie — as a woman dealing with Alzheimer’s disease in “Away from Her” — has a good chance for best actress.

Though he was blown away by recent films “Crash” and “Momento,” his all-time choice is “The Godfather.”

Lifelong film fanatic though he is, Blake isn’t immune to the emotional hazards found by sitting in the dark before the big screen.

“When I was in the first grade, I saw a reissue of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and remember being terrified by the witch and those flying monkeys,” he said. “Terrified.”

Bobby Riggs isn’t an Academy member either, but he works in the film world as a special effects coordinator. He has worked on such films as “Rush Hour 3” and “Next.”

“I’m involved with the mechanical and practical aspects such as wind, rain, snow and pyrotechnics,” he said. “Both ‘Snow White’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ affected me as a boy and that may be why I ended up in the business.”

He loves going to the Clyde Theater but usually catches flicks on DVD.

“My favorite films have stood the test of time, like John Ford’s ‘The Searchers’ and Huston’s ‘Maltese Falcon,’” Riggs said.

At the Red Apple in Bayview, Belinda Locke is an expert in picking out films to recommend.

“I’m getting great feedback on ‘Michael Clayton,’” she said.

Locke has fond memories of seeing “E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial” at the Clyde when she was 3.

“I was afraid of him in the first half, and scared for him in the second,” she recalled.

Her favorite is an old John Wayne classic, “The Quiet Man.”

“Wayne and Maureen O’Hara were fantastic together; it was definitely not a politically correct relationship.”

Before he opened his Freeland restaurant Gerry’s Kitchen, Gerry Woolery ran an animation studio for 30 years, focusing on TV commercials and film titles for movies like “Grease” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

He is an Academy member, though willing to go on the record with this year’s faves.

“I had a couple of favorites this year,” he said. “’Juno,’ ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ and “No Country for Old Men’ caught my attention.”

He thought Day Lewis gave an extraordinary performance. “For the women, Ellen Page carried the story of the pregnant teen beautifully in ‘Juno,’” Woolery said.

Though he lived in Los Angeles and came from a movie family — father Adrian did animation work on “Snow White” — Woolery said H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic “War of the Worlds” was the film that made the biggest impact on him. “I was scared to death in that dark theater.”

“That’s why we go to the movies,” he added.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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