Author Topic: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon  (Read 26243 times)

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2009, 06:35:12 AM »
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Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2009, 02:56:32 PM »
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That's exactly the bit I meant, Dragonfire. And it might have still worked had it not been after most of the film had been told in flashback from the bench. It was such a neat plot device; they should have got him off the bench earlier or made the final section much shorter. Similar films normally have just a small scene to finish off the story after a long flashback like that.

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Najemikon

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Braveheart (1995) *****
« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2009, 08:12:40 PM »
1995
Braveheart
5 out of 5




William Wallace (Mel Gibson) avenges his wife’s death and in doing so starts a war with the English. A war for freedom.

This is a magnificent film, a throwback to the old-fashioned epics. In the Battle of Stirling, it contains one of the very best battle scenes ever staged. Surely an influence on Gladiator, we desperately need more of its kind. Mel Gibson took a lot of criticism but he’s perfect as William Wallace, channelling past roles like Mad Max and Martin Riggs into the passionate hero who isn’t afraid to lop a few limbs off here and there. His accent falters a couple of times, but no-one else was trying to make this film and it’s an important story.

It’s a well written tale, very character based, with plenty of humour in the early stages at least. A great villain in the late Patrick McGoohan as Edward I and both key women are fantastic (Catherine McCormack and Sophie Marceau). The film feels muddy and grimy, while the landscapes are wonderful, just right for a story about a band of scrappers who gave the English a bloody nose. The final scenes of torture are gruesome without showing much, which is commendable considering Gibson must have a fetish about such things! Just look at his work since and even Lethal Weapon. It’s always there! The music is pretty good, stirring stuff one second, poetic the next, but James Horner does have a habit of ripping off his earlier work and over-using synthesisers.

Because it’s such fantastic, passionate entertainment, because Gibson was the only one willing to put everything into the film and most importantly, because I hadn’t heard of Wallace (blame my schooling. :bag: ), I can forgive the huge problem with the film and still give it full marks. But its attempt for historical accuracy is a joke!
 
This issue often comes up and I usually side with the films (except for U571), because it’s important to tell these stories in any form and through drama, you can evoke more feeling than a super accurate documentary and understand the ‘why’ as much as the ‘how’. Most historical stories can’t just become screenplays; there has to be concessions for pacing and emotions. Just as long as the viewer is impressed enough to find out more, it’s ok.

Braveheart really pushes that though! Its one thing to simplify a character to remove murky politics and morals that may alienate a viewer (Robert the Bruce), but it’s quite another to use characters who were not there (Isabelle didn’t arrive for three years) and kill off others that had a long way to go yet.

I would like to see a film about Edward II. Braveheart depicts him correctly as a wimp and he made a fair mess of things after taking over from his father and Isabelle would plot against (I can understand why they wanted such an enigmatic character here). But even Gibson might back off from showing how he was finished off!
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« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 08:16:13 PM by Jon »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Braveheart (1995) *****
« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2009, 04:49:44 AM »
Most historical stories can’t just become screenplays; there has to be concessions for pacing and emotions. Just as long as the viewer is impressed enough to find out more, it’s ok.
This is what happen when I've watched Michael Collins the first time. I've wrote one of my better works at the university because of him in a 20th century European history class ;D

My best one was my final project about the chance of success of a secessionism movement.

northbloke

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Re: Braveheart (1995) *****
« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2009, 02:04:06 PM »
I would like to see a film about Edward II.
I can't vouch for it's historical accuracy as it's based on Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan play, but one of Derek Jarman's last films was Edward II, and does include poor Edward's "ending".  :devil:

Offline goodguy

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2009, 02:35:43 PM »
I know we differ immediately on Spielberg's talents, but with this story any director would have been the same if so committed and passionate. Most aren't. I have seen other work, including Night and Fog, the acclaimed documentary by Alain Renais. Is it better? Does it matter?  Much as I respect Claude Lanzmann's opinions, ask the average guy on the street who he is and they'll have no idea. Ask them if they've seen Schindler's List, more than likely. Let's be honest, that same average guy would never get anything from Night and Fog.

Of course it is better, and of course it matters. In Night & Fog, the problematic nature of recalling these events is part of the film itself. The same is true for Lanzmann's Shoah, which goes even further and completely refuses the depiction of terror, setting hours of verbal testimony against the contemporary locations of these events. Spielberg purposefully eliminates these differences.

As for the average guy (and sorry Jon, you don't qualify): what is gained by given him a false sense of comprehension and closure by trivialising the terror within a conventional and manipulative narrative? I wouldn't be offended by the movie so much if it only tried to be a character study about Schindler. But Spielberg wanted to make a movie about the Holocaust and the general public perceived it as such. That makes it probably worse than last year's "The Reader" (which I haven't seen yet).
Matthias

richierich

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2009, 03:29:58 PM »
Many millions of people will have viewed Schindlers List, will have purchased it on dvd, and at least have been made slightly more aware of the atrocities committed, in addition as has rightly been said entertained as well.
Very few would have watched Shoah, and even fewer will own it.

The only realistic way of better educating 'the average guy' would be through an in-depth documentary, but 'the average guy' wants to be entertained as well and will not watch such a documented piece.

I never felt the subject matter was trivialised in Schindlers List,  but accept it was adapted for entertainment purposes

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2009, 07:42:13 PM »
Exactly, Rich. And I believe the film is often used in school curriculums as a springboard to a wider discussion. Thanks for saying I'm not average, Matthias,  ;) but when I saw it for the first time, I was very ignorant of what had happened. You mention the word closure, but do you honestly believe that's what people get from the film? I didn't and no-one I ever spoken to about it has ever said that. Schindler comes across like a pebble in a stream and it's where the stream starts and ends that people rightly discuss. Munich is similar in that it offers little opinion or judgement on either side, just a depiction of what happened so the viewer can consider the reaction and what it meant.

Spielberg is an entertaining technician, like Hitchcock was in many respects and Kubrick could be to a fault. He doesn't do internal dramas or subtexts; it is what it is, so I can understand other work being more incisive and powerful, but it's all for nothing if no-one sees them. For real change of any kind, you have to educate crowds and that's what he does best.




Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2009, 11:32:30 PM »
Oh dear, I've missed the boat...  ;) I did actually want to see Titanic as I haven't watched it for a long time. I will still have a quick slagging off session though. :devil:

1997 is the year the Academy screwed up. Perhaps not with Best Picture, you'll be surprised to hear me say, as Titanic is far from a bad film and evokes the glitzy old fashioned Hollywood. Such optimistic, love will overcome nostalgia was bound to win. L.A. Confidential is the much better film, but it's a throwback to film noir, a genre long neglected by Oscar. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen Good Will Hunting win, but at least it got a very much deserved screenplay award along with Robin Williams for Supporting Actor. Now Helen Hunt is a decent actress, but come on! I'd have actually accepted Kate Winslet snagging that one instead, but the real winner should have been Judi Dench for Mrs Brown.

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2009, 12:20:08 AM »
Oh dear, I've missed the boat...  ;) I did actually want to see Titanic as I haven't watched it for a long time. I will still have a quick slagging off session though. :devil:

1997 is the year the Academy screwed up. Perhaps not with Best Picture, you'll be surprised to hear me say, as Titanic is far from a bad film and evokes the glitzy old fashioned Hollywood. Such optimistic, love will overcome nostalgia was bound to win. L.A. Confidential is the much better film, but it's a throwback to film noir, a genre long neglected by Oscar. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen Good Will Hunting win, but at least it got a very much deserved screenplay award along with Robin Williams for Supporting Actor. Now Helen Hunt is a decent actress, but come on! I'd have actually accepted Kate Winslet snagging that one instead, but the real winner should have been Judi Dench for Mrs Brown.

At the time, I thought Titanic should have won...now I'm not so sure.  I'm thinking that L.A. Confidential should have gotten it instead.  I did like Bassinger and Williams deserved to win for supporting actress and actor. 
I never thought that Helen Hunt should have won.  I don't care for her that much and think she is very over rated, especially since she won the Oscar.  I know a lot of people don't agree, but I thought As Good As it Gets was very over rated too.  I didn't really care for it, and I wasn't that fond of Nicholson in it either.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon
« Reply #40 on: February 21, 2009, 12:45:52 AM »
Nicholson's always worth a look, but that film was just kind of, nothing. :shrug: Compare it with romantic comedy dramas like The Apartment and it falls way short.

The Academy would always choose Titanic. I think some of them still remember the days of the Hays Office and the studio system. Titanic is similar to Casablanca in story (huge disaster dooms the perfect love affair), and it's the perfect balance for the ideal Academy film. That it is a bloated sugary mess doesn't matter unfortunately. I hasten to add that Casablanca is one of the greatest films ever made and Titanic isn't fit to even think about being in the same league, it's just that basic formula is similar... :-[

Najemikon

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American Beauty (1999) *****
« Reply #41 on: February 22, 2009, 03:01:50 AM »
1999
American Beauty
5 out of 5




Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is married to Carolyn (Annette Bening) and they have a daughter, Jane (Thora). This seemingly typical family are like any other in suburbia, except their marriage is loveless, Jane is obsessed with her body and Lester is obsessed with Jane’s friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). All will unravel with the arrival of their new neighbours, the Fitts. They have a few problems of their own. Perhaps they’re all more typical than they think?

American Beauty has a similar idea to Fight Club, about escaping the trap that society creates, although this has more scope and subtleties than David Fincher’s film, which is more concerned with masculinity, and it is also easier to identify with the characters. Not only is it possible that you know people like these, you might be people like these. Therefore I hope I don’t insult anyone with my next statement!

I have an inherent issue with both this and Fight Club; they’re about people with no real problems so they have to look for things to be annoyed about. Affluent and successful, they can choose to be unfulfilled and spend “20 years in a coma”. Teenagers like Jane are one thing as they’re supposed to be emotional wrecks, but the adults have no excuse. If you do see yourself in its mirror, wake up and sort yourself out! If you don’t, join me on my high horse while we have a good laugh at everyone else. ;)

Of course, this is actually the point. Watching Lester pull himself together by blackmailing his boss and buying his dream car is wonderful. His journey from slightly pervy to enlightenment is quite brilliantly put together. It is possibly closest aesthetically to The Apartment in that it is an emotional drama, yet also frequently hilarious and razor sharp. In between it has moments of real darkness.

Because it is more a drama than anything else, in another directors hands it could be a high class soap opera and nothing more, but Sam Mendes’ visual flair means it never loses vibrancy. He perfectly balances the elements that can swing from real to surreal, via farce. He’s helped in no short measures by Conrad Hall’s gorgeous award winning photography and Thomas Newman’s elegant score. It can be whimsical for the dream sequences and, like Shawshank, achingly moving (he lost to The Red Violin, which I haven’t seen, but must be superb). There are some sequences that truly earn the title phrase and justify Ricky’s (Wes Bentley) dreamy philosophies.

The final piece of the puzzle is the cast and they are all excellent, especially the haunting performance of before mentioned weirdo Wes Bentley, observing everything and giving the viewer an important outsiders perspective. He is the most normal character, and ironically the one with a history of drug abuse and hospitals! But this is Kevin Spacey’s film. I’ve always liked him, even when he’s on auto-pilot. Here he injects every moment with energy. A real tour de force, his obsession with Angela is painfully funny. Mena Suvari has never been better than this and I hope she finds similar work eventually. Whether they raise their game to match Spacey, or Spacey raises his to match them, the rest of the supporting cast are fantastic. Chris Cooper excels in a role that could have been so easily misread. Bening is especially good, and so help me, I knew someone just like her. And just like Carolyn, she would nip home at lunch times to clean and strip to underwear while she did it… erm. So she told me… Allegedly…  :-[

All the promises the film makes are sealed in the confident ending, albeit one Lester tells us about in the opening scene. It’s possible up to this point you may have found the film too distant, but attention is rewarded by a truly moving end that packs a punch. That said, I’m not sure about the message:

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Confidently ironic to the end, you’ll come back to American Beauty time and time again. Look closer indeed. Everything, including what may be my perceived "problems" with the film, has two sides in this watertight screenplay.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 06:50:21 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Gladiator (2000) *****
« Reply #42 on: February 22, 2009, 06:49:24 PM »
2000
Gladiator
5 out of 5




At the end of a long brutal campaign Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) wishes for peace and to restore the “idea of Rome”. To that end he offers General Maximus (Russell Crowe) the chance to be heir. Reluctant, he would prefer to return home to his family and treasured farm, but both are destroyed following the murder of Marcus by his jealous hot head of a son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), and Maximus is taken into slavery. Soon he will be a Gladiator, and with it a chance to face the new Emperor.

Gladiator is the first Best Picture of the millennium and possibly still stands as the most deserving since. It is a grand old Hollywood story, told in huge operatic brush strokes, brought to life through Ridley Scott’s huge vision of Rome and Hans Zimmer’s Wagnerian score.

It owes a debt to Braveheart whose huge success made epics viable again and shares several motifs with that story, but has the advantage that the story is largely fictional though some names are true, and it shares other similarities with the story that inspired Spartacus. That and Ben Hur are the real heart of Gladiator, a throwback to the old Hollywood that has been far too quiet. Sadly, despite several attempts to keep the momentum going, including Scott’s own Kingdom of Heaven, none have the passion especially in the face of the Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Rome has always been a rich mine for Hollywood and without pesky historical accuracy or shoe-horned in religion, probably a requirement in the 50s, it really cuts loose producing an extravagant and opulent piece of pure entertainment. It doesn’t have the humour of Braveheart, but that’s a mere observation because there’s no room in the wonderfully, rich dialogue full of quotable growling one-liners. “Are you not entertained?”, yells Maximus. Yes. Honest, please don’t hurt us. He hurts everything else, taking on multiple armoured foes or even bloody tigers! The early battle scenes don’t match Braveheart’s recent benchmark, but the real war is in the arena. A wonderful device that allows only the imagination to set limits.

It is a monumental performance by Crowe, who I’ve often though a little overrated, but he commands the screen here and demonstrates his dependable range in the brief scenes with the boy, Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark) and his mum (Connie Nielsen). It’s nice to see support from the very sadly missed Richard Harris and Oliver Reed. The latter is especially great fun as the grizzled Proximo. Joaquin Phoenix got a deserved nomination for Best Supporting, though he had little chance against Benicio Del Toro’s wonderful turn in Traffic. That film also snagged Best Director, which I think was fair, despite Ridley Scott doing a marvellous job here. He can be inconsistent, so a great Scott(!) ;) movie should always be celebrated. They could never have got away with the surreal moments in the original epics and I thought he might overstretch himself, considering the mess that was Legend, but he took the opportunity to be a bit weird and added to the fantasy that is Roman legend.

There’s a lot of CGI used and it’s pretty seamless. I suppose you could mean and say it needed more random crowd shots which they couldn’t do because there was no crowd. And probably no seats even! But that really is picky, because this is CGI used at its best creating some wonderful vistas. Nine years later, you can see some joins, but it holds up well and should always.

With tools like that and a cast to match, Gladiator proves Hollywood should keep visiting that mine and seeing what they come up with. We’ll have to suffer more Troy’s and Alexandar’s, but sooner or later it has to work and there is little more that is gloriously entertaining than ancient world battles.

Offline goodguy

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Re: American Beauty (1999) *****
« Reply #43 on: February 23, 2009, 03:12:57 PM »
American Beauty
5 out of 5

...
He’s helped in no short measures by Conrad Hall’s gorgeous award winning photography and Thomas Newman’s elegant score. It can be whimsical for the dream sequences and, like Shawshank, achingly moving (he lost to The Red Violin, which I haven’t seen, but must be superb).

Thomas Newman must be the most Oscar-nominated composer who never actually got one. I really like his work and I have bought some movies just because he did the score.

There are some sequences that truly earn the title phrase and justify Ricky’s (Wes Bentley) dreamy philosophies.

I agree. And those are the parts that still hold up well on repeat viewing, whereas I get more and annoyed with the exaggerated farce, especially the Bening character.
Matthias

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: American Beauty (1999) *****
« Reply #44 on: February 23, 2009, 04:52:17 PM »
Thomas Newman must be the most Oscar-nominated composer who never actually got one.
8 times.

The cinematographer Roger Deakins was also nominated 8 times and also never got one.
Karsten

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