Friday, March 03, 2006

Countdown to the Oscars - 1- Best Picture and Best Director

Best motion picture of the year

Brokeback Mountain” (Focus Features) A River Road Entertainment Production Diana Ossana and James Schamus, Producers
Capote” (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) An A-Line Pictures/Cooper’s Town/ Infinity Media ProductionCaroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven, Producers
Crash” (Lions Gate) A Bob Yari/DEJ/Blackfriar’s Bridge/ Harris Company/ApolloProscreen GmbH & Co./Bull’s Eye Entertainment ProductionPaul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, Producers
Good Night, and Good Luck.” (Warner Independent Pictures) A Good Night Good Luck LLC Production Grant Heslov, Producer
Munich” (Universal and DreamWorks)A Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures ProductionKathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Barry Mendel, Producers

Achievement in directing

Brokeback Mountain” (Focus Features) Ang Lee
Capote” (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) Bennett Miller
Crash” (Lions Gate) Paul Haggis
Good Night, and Good Luck.” (Warner Independent Pictures) George Clooney
Munich” (Universal and DreamWorks)Steven Spielberg

Some people think that these two categories must go hand in hand, that whoever wins one should automatically win the other, but I don’t necessarily think so. A movie could be wonderfully directed but still might not be the Best Film of the year. Usually it is, but not always.

This however, is not one of those years. I know, the Brokeback Bandwagon has come and gone and the backlash for Brokeback has begun but it still was By Far the Best Movie of 2005, and definitely the Best movie in this list of 5 nominees.

Crash may crash the party but let’s hope not. It was a good film, but not a great one. It wasn’t directed particularly well as it felt like an overly long miniseries (strange since it was only a 2 hour movie) and while it had some great lines, I didn’t think it had the best script/story, with all its convoluted storylines all coincidentally converging and yet STILL not really? You know? It wasn’t like an Altman film or even like a J.J. Abrams show where the coincidences seem somewhat credible (and that’s saying a LOT after watching Lost, Alias or Felicity), but, at least Crash didn’t have raining Frogs as its ending. What Crash had best was getting great actors in roles they were not usually characterized for, and throwing in deep political and social issues into the mix. Too bad they banged us over the head with it. Yes. I get it. LA is a racist place. Get over it. We know that. Can we find a solution instead now and not reiterate the obvious?

Maybe the same can be said for Brokeback, but since it has really actually become such a socially divided item, the quiet and simple movie about denied love seems all the more powerful, without needing to resort to fancy editing and crisscrossing storylines. All it has, is Heath, Jake, some Mountains, and a whole lot of lovin’ and grunting, then Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway, and the brittleness that becomes them due from their husbands’ secrets. Ang Lee, always so brilliant (and who should have won for The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), takes his time in recreating what it must have felt in that time, in that situation. Every shot is important in giving some kind of detail perspective of life in Wyoming for Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist.

Capote, Good Night, and Munich will just have to settle for the nominations, but the fact that Capote and Good Night, two tiny indie films, got nominated either shows the Academy’s growing acceptance of smaller films, or how the bigger budgets are producing schlock (debatable since I thought Harry Potter, Charlie and a few others were pretty good).

Munich had some great moments and was a much faster paced thriller than I thought the political movie would, but still, it gets bogged down by its own ambiguity. I actually thought it wasn’t ambiguous enough and too slanted to actually become anything worth discussing politically, but too bad since I thought Eric Bana did a great job in the lead.

Capote was a great script but I thought it was only a pretty good movie. The best thing about this movie was Clifton Collins Jr. as the killer Capote befriends while writing his article, but alas, he was shut out of the Oscars.

Good Night, and Good Luck. had good intentions and makes for interesting conversation, and while directed beautifully with an incredible roster of actors, I still felt the best moments were in the historical clips they showed.

So alas. I still think Brokeback Mountain will win Best Picture and deservedly so.

Here’s my list of what I thought were the best movies of 2005:

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
5. Junebug
6. A History of Violence
7. Transamerica
8. The Constant Gardener
9. Match Point
10. The 40-Year Old Virgin
11. Pride & Prejudice
12. King Kong
13. War of the Worlds
14. Capote
15. Munich
16. Good Night and Good Luck
17. Batman Begins
18. Crash
19. North Country
20. Hustle and Flow
21. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
22. The Family Stone
23. Walk the Line
24. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
25. Mrs. Henderson Presents
26. Red Eye
27. Cinderella Man
28. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
29. Mad Hot Ballroom
30. C.R.A.Z.Y.

Comments? (NOTE. LIST was changed March 4th to add Pride & Prejudice)


Anonymous said...

I have no idea if you're Canadian or not, but just the fact that you named C.R.A.Z.Y. in your list of best films makes me love you! Haha. I'm sad it wasn't in the foreign films category. I'm sure it would've been able to touch so many people.

Alas, Crash won...I can understand why it did. Brokeback got a lot of recignition this year, but Crash didn't get enough.

Vance said...

Yeah, I heard there were so many ineligible films or controversy over who made the cut that hopefully it will reform the rules to the Foreign Films category (much like the documentary movies did before, which is why we finally get movies that people have actually heard of and seen). I heard Cache and a few others were great, but all ineligible this year, and yeah. somehow CRAZY and Kung Fu Hustle missed out.

Anonymous said...

sorry i'm writing on this so late. I saw an interview with Paul Haggis recently and pleasantly discovered that he's a moronic ignorant upper class white male douchebag. social commentary my ass. your review said it right. also, i can name 50 other movies about racism that are actually enlightening and were true cinematic pieces, versus some lame after school special. I know, I know, people are racist, so what else is new? Paul Haggis, you're such an auteur. Bah!

Vance said...

Thank you... and now I'm worried because he's getting all these deals and the ONLY director of the 5 nominated that has ANY future projects in place.