Honor roll: History films

Each of these History films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson

A sprawling epic of family, faith, power and oil, There Will Be Blood is set on the incendiary frontier of California’s turn-of-the-century petroleum boom. The story chronicles the life and times of one Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who transforms himself from a down-and-out silver miner raising a son on his own into a self-made oil tycoon.

When Plainview gets a mysterious tip-off that there’s a little town out West where an ocean of oil is oozing out of the ground, he heads with his son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), to take their chances in dust-worn Little Boston. In this hardscrabble town, where the main excitement centers around the holy roller church of charismatic preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), Plainview and H.W. make their lucky strike. But even as the well raises all of their fortunes, nothing will remain the same as conflicts escalate and every human value—love, hope, community, belief, ambition and even the bond between father and son—is imperiled by corruption, deception and the flow of oil.

Film:Frost/Nixon

Frost/Nixon

Ron Howard

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard brings to the screen writer Peter Morgan’s (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland) electrifying battle between Richard Nixon, the disgraced president with a legacy to save, and David Frost, a jet-setting television personality with a name to make, in the untold story of the historic encounter that changed both: Frost/Nixon. Reprising their roles from Morgan’s stageplay are Frank Langella, who won a Tony for his portrayal of Nixon, and Michael Sheen, who fully inhabited the part of Frost onstage in London and New York.

For three years after being forced from office, Nixon remained silent. But in summer 1977, the steely, cunning former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Nixon surprised everyone in selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox…[more]

Film:Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck

George Clooney

“Good Night, And, Good Luck.” takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950’s America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow, and his dedicated staff—headed by his producer Fred Friendly and Joe Wershba in the CBS newsroom—defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist ‘witch-hunts’. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental.

Film:Letters from Iwo Jima

Letters from Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood

Sixty-one years ago, US and Japanese armies met on Iwo Jima. Decades later, several hundred letters are unearthed from that stark island’s soil. The letters give faces and voices to the men who fought there, as well as the extraordinary general who led them.

The Japanese soldiers are sent to Iwo Jima knowing that in all probability they will not come back. Among them are Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a baker who wants only to live to see the face of his newborn daughter; Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihara), an Olympic equestrian champion known around the world for his skill and his honor; Shimizu (Ryo Kase), a young former military policeman whose idealism has not yet been tested by war; and Lieutenant Ito (Shidou Nakamura), a strict military man who would rather accept suicide than surrender. …[more]

Film:The Weather Underground

The Weather Underground: The Explosive Story of America's Most Notorious Revolutionaries

Bill Siegel, Sam Green

The key players in the radical movement known as the Weather Underground are skillfully brought to life in this Oscar-nominated documentary. The Weathermen were born of sixties protest, but took their scheme to overthrow the U.S. government to especially violent extremes. Never a well-populated movement, the Underground petered out as its leaders aged during the seventies; by decade’s end, weary of hiding, most of them had turned themselves over to the authorities. That journey, by which a fire-breathing revolutionary such as Bernadine Dohrn became a (still…

Film:Daughter from Danang

Daughter from Danang

Vicente Franco, Gail Dolgin

A mix of epic history and intimate family portrait, Daughter from Danang follows the reunion of a Tennessee woman, Heidi, with her Vietnamese mother and siblings after 22 years. Shipped to the U.S. in the waning days of the Vietnam war, Heidi—formerly Mai Thi Hiep—was the daughter of a white American soldier and a Danang woman abandoned by her Viet Cong husband. Fearing reprisals against Amerasian children, Hiep’s mother, despite unbearable pain, gave Hiep to an adoption agency. Raised by an abusive woman in Pulaski (birthplace of the KKK), Hiep/Heidi kept…

Film:Buena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club

Wim Wenders

In 1996, composer, producer, and guitar legend Ry Cooder entered Egrem Studios in Havana with the forgotten greats of Cuban music, many of them in their 60s and 70s, some of them long since retired. The resulting album, Buena Vista Social Club, became a Grammy-winning international bestseller. When Cooder returned to Havana in 1998 to record a solo album by 72-year-old vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, filmmaker Wim Wenders was on hand to document the occasion. Wenders splits the film between portraits of the performers, who tell their stories directly to the…

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