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The Oscars are about more than office pools, fashion, and celebrities. It’s also a chance to learn more about that most collaborative of art forms, the movies. It took more than 3000 people to make “Avatar,” and only a couple of dozen were on screen. Slate has an excellent explanation of one of the more obscure awards, sound editing. Take a look and pick your favorite to win the award on Sunday night.

Check out Slate’s pieces on art direction and editing, too.

I am thrilled to have the honor of sharing one of the best movies of 2009, The Princess and the Frog with five very lucky readers. It will be released in a combo DVD/Blu-Ray pack on March 16. Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with Princess and the Frog in the subject line and tell me your favorite part of the movie. And root for “Princess and the Frog” to win best animated film and best song at the Oscars!
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US residents only. The DVDs are being provided by Disney, but all opinions expressed are my own.
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Thanks very much to the Chicago Tribune for asking me which Oscar-winning classics I’d recommend to families.

“It’s never too early to teach children what is possible in terms of quality of performance, writing, direction and cinematography,” says Nell Minow, author of the Movie Mom blog at beliefnet.com.

Tim Burton’s 3D “Alice in Wonderland” extravaganza comes out this week, so it’s a good time to take a look at Alice’s many cinematic trips to Wonderland and of course Through the Looking Glass as Well. Burton’s film combines elements of both.

Alice in Wonderland began with a real Alice. Her name was Alice Liddell, the daughter of a clergyman. Oxford mathematics professor Charles Dodgson told Alice and her sisters a story to entertain them on an outing. It was published in 1865 as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. As a mathematician, there are many puzzles in the book, which is structured around a deck of cards, and in its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, structured around a chess board. The books also have a number of word puzzles and references to people Dodgson and the Liddell family knew and to the culture of the time, like the parodies of popular poems. It has remained one of the most popular and influential books for children and their families ever since. And as soon as the movies began, versions of Alice’s story began to appear on screen, starting in 1903 and including Disney’s popular animated musical version in 1951. It is certain that Burton’s version will not be the last.

A new DVD called “Alice in Wonderland: Classic Film Collection” includes several Alice movies including a silent live-action film from 1915 and two of Walt Disney’s earliest films, an ambitious combination of live-action (four-year-old Virginia Davis as Alice) and animation (just about everything else) called Alice’s Adventures in Cartoonland, produced in 1935. It also has “Alice of Wonderland in Paris,” an animated film featuring the voice of Carl Reiner, and the terrific 1972 British live-action theatrical release starring future Phantom Michael Crawford, Peter Sellers, and Dudley Moore.

I have one copy to give away to the first person who sends me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Alice” in the subject line and tell me your favorite wonderland character!

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