Piano themed movies have done incredibly well over the years---especially come Oscar time. Every actor in the following four movies took home a best actor statuette for his/her performance. So to those actors who are feeling neglected by Oscar, perhaps they should brush up on the old ivories and see if the Academy will smile upon them. One other thing- along with the really fine acting performances, all four actors did their own playing, and there are some pretty impressive performances.
The Pianist 2002- with Adrien Brody playing real life Polish Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, struggling to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. At the age of 29 Brody became the youngest Best Actor recipient. Best director went to Roman Polanski.
The Piano-1993 with Holly Hunter, Sam Neill, Anna Pacquin and Harvey Keitel. Best actress to Hunter and best supporting to 11 year old Paquin (you'll recognize her if you are an X-Men or True Blood fan). And no, she is not the youngest to ever receive an Oscar. That title is still held by Tatum O'Neil for her wonderful performance in Paper Moon. The Piano is a strange and oddly compelling movie.
Shine- with Geoffrey Rush pre Captain Barbossa fame (as in Pirates of the Caribbean, where the 4th installment of the incredibly popular series currently is in production ). Rush plays real life pianist David Helfgott, who struggles to come back after suffering a complete breakdown.
Amadeus 1984- with Tom Hulce taking on the role of Mozart and F Murray Abraham as his nemesis Salieri. Both actors were nominated for best actor and the win went to Abraham, so perhaps my opening statement breaks down a little here. The exceptional playing is done by Hulce, not Abraham. Regardless, this is an excellent film, also winning best movie and best director for Milos Foreman. What ever happened to Tom Hulce? Last thing I remember him in is Parenthood from 1989.
Now although not Oscar winners these next are worthy of a mention;
Great Balls of Fire-The story of Jerry Lee Lewis, arguably one of the wildest musicians of the 1950s. With Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee.
We have many performances by piano players just being themselves including four from Elton John. Check out Elton John: The Red piano concert. or the always popular Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Or how about virtuoso Arthur Rubenstien or a Chopin Celebration. Or sit down yourself and teach your children how to play with Easy Piano for Children.
In the mood for some good laughs? Try any of the three years of the Victor Borge show. For those of you unacquianted with Borge you are in for a real treat. The shows are charming, funny, suitable for the whole family and also feature some brilliant playing. Need a little more flamboyance in your life---try the Legendary Liberace.
So there you are- movies with pianos and players as a common thread---maybe next time I'll do wind instruments.