Friday, February 10, 2006

Oscar Thoughts

Since the Oscar nominees came out a couple weeks ago, here are some related thoughts and judgments. First, this will be the first year that I will have seen all of the movies nominated for best picture. I haven't seen Brokeback yet, but I think I'll go this weekend since I'm on my own. (Brianne's heading to Cincy to pick up her dress and the bridesmaids' dresses.)

Of the four that I have seen, I can say that all of them are very good movies. Typically, when I see the nominees, there is at least one, sometimes two, movies nominated that just don't quite seem as good as they should be. Master & Commander, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, Jerry Maguire. Those are a few off the top of my head that were good movies, but they just did not really seem like great movies. I think this year's pick for that distinction would be Good Night and Good Luck. Yes, it's very good and thought-provoking, but it's just not on par with the others. While Strathairn's performance was excellent, there wasn't much for the supporting cast to work with.

You can't say the same thing about Capote. Yes, it's a bit unbalanced because of Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal (I give him a 99% chance of winning, and deservedly so), but the supporting roles were also done very well. Catherine Keener was very good, though I think I'm pulling for Rachel Weisz in supporting actress.

Crash was probably the most well-balanced of the movies nominated. The acting all around was good (though no contenders stuck out). I've always thought that Sandra Bullock was a better actress than the roles she typically plays. I'm not saying she's Helena Bonham Carter or Frances McDormand, but rather that she's capable of better roles than Speed and While You Were Sleeping.

Munich, which I saw recently but didn't talk about here, was excellent. Of the four that I've seen, I think I would pick Munich as being the best. It was surprisingly apolitical. Yes, it made political points (terrorists do bad things, governments do bad things, that whole cycle of violence thing), but it never really picked a side. It did not try to justify the Olympic murders or the revenge killings. I think what I particularly liked was how human the Israeli assassins were, especially the role portrayed by Eric Bana (very good, very underrated actor). They are not Ethan Hunt or James Bond. They are real people with wives and children that get hired by their government to go on an assination mission.

After I see Brokeback (if it lives up to the hype), I'll see how my picks change.

On a related note, I really like the Oscar database. It's very easy to use and a quick way to get information about past winners and nominees. Whenever I look back there, I find several movies that were highly acclaimed at the time and have been all but forgotten (Billy Elliot, Babe, Mr. Holland's Opus), some that I never saw but feel I should (Bullets Over Broadway, Good Fellas, Hannah and Her Sisters, Gods and Monsters, Saving Private Ryan, Adaptation, Maria Full of Grace), underrated, great movies I am glad I saw (Hotel Rwanda, In America, City of God, Shine), some WTF nominations (Beauty and the Beast for best picture, Tom Cruise for Jerry Maguire, Joan Cuasck for In & Out, Julia Roberts for Pretty Woman, Gloria "Old Rose" Stuart for Titanic), and some how-the-hell-did-that-beat-the-other victories (Gump over Shawshank, Gwyneth Paltrow over Cate Blanchett in 1998, Julia Roberts over Ellen Burstyn in 2000, A Beautiful Mind over Fellowship of the Ring for directing or picture, Sean Penn over Johnny Depp and Bill Murray in 2003, Tim Robbins over Djimon Hounsou in 2003). Oh, and no best picture nomination for Glory?!? Wow.

My top five favorite Oscar winners:

  • Frances McDormand (actress, Fargo)

  • Al Pacino (actor, Scent of a Woman)

  • Anthony Hopkins/Silence of the Lambs (actor and best picture)

  • Marissa Tomei (supporting actress, My Cousin Vinny)

  • Denzel Washington (supporting actor, Glory)

Honorable mentions: Halle Berry (actress, Monster's Ball) and Marcia Gay Harden (supporting actress, Pollock)


At 2:14 PM, Blogger the fiddlin' fool said...

Heh... Oscars? What are those?

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Christina said...

Welcome back to blogging! Unfortunately, I don't think we've seen any of the nominees for best picture, although we want to. We just don't go to the movie theater much any more. Also don't know think I'll see the Oscars this year...I'll be in CA that close yet so far!

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Michael said...

You've seen none of them? Well, if you get the chance, I very strongly recommend going to see Munich and Brokeback Mountain. They are both excellent, two of the best movies I've seen in a long time. If you have time to see a third, pick Capote for Hoffman's performance. It really is a master work. Crash and GNaGL... See them if you have time, but see the others first.


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