Sunday, June 10, 2007

Best Picture?

Over the weekend I rented the movie Babel. I kept hearing it was a great movie and I thought it got great reviews and was nominated for best picture. Well, I was horribly let down and did not like Babel at all. To me it was nothing more than an international version of Crash starring Brad Pitt, but more boring. I seriously could have cut about 45 minutes out of this 2 hour 22 minute snooze fest. I won't give too much away, but I figured out everything about 50 minutes in (that was with three long sections without dialog).

The main point is I've noticed a trend with Academy Award nominated movies... most are crap. I feel that most of the nominations do not go to the "best" movies, but movies that are artsie or controversial. Let me give you a few examples.

Last year the nominees were The Departed (winner), Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen. Personally I only have seen three of these movies (in bold) and only like The Departed, I know people who liked Little Miss Sunshine, but I wasn't into it. So with that how did they do at the box office(domestic only)?

The Departed $133 million
The Queen $56 million
Little Miss Sunshine $54 Million
Babel $34 million
Letters From Iwo Jima $14 million

If you took those numbers and put them into one year like I don't know 2006 where would they be in the money list:

12. Mission Impossible III
13. The Departed
14. Borat
53 Eragon
54 The Queen
55 The Guardian
56 Little Miss Sunshine
57 The Omen
92 Take the Lead
93 Babel
94 Snakes on a Plane
578 One Last Thing
579 Letters Too Iwo Jima
580 I Trust You to Kill Me

I know that most of the movies in the top ten are aimed to make money and do not deserve an Oscar, but Babel barely beat out Snakes on a Plane! Here are a few movies that people actually saw that I though could have made better choices.

Casino Royale
The Pursuit of Happyness
Inside Man

I have seen two of the three and heard good things about The Pursuit of Happyness and since Blockbuster sent it to me, I'm probably going to watch it this week. Inside Man had a great twist and was well thought out, the only thing I can thing of... It's a Spike Lee film. Casino Royale is a Bond movie, but it revived the series and was well done. Maybe not Oscar winner worthy, but at least 23 million tickets were sold for it.

Maybe I'm getting older and I'm not as hip as I use to be and that is why I don't like most Oscar movies. Lets look at just a few pictures from the 90s

90 Dances With Wolves (Lots of people still like it)
91 Silence of the Lambs (Classic!)
92 Unforgiven (Good movie)
93 Schindler's List (Great movie!)
94 Forrest Gump (How can you not like this film?)
95 Braveheart (Show at least once a week on some movie channel.)
96 The English Patient (eh)
97 Titanic (The Wife loves it and I get to see a naked Kate Winslot)
98 Shakespeare in Love (eh)
99 American Beauty (Controversial, but not bad)

Honorable Losers
A Few Good Men (You wanted the truth)
Scent of a Woman (Good movie)
In the Name of the Father (Highly under rated movie)
Pulp Fiction (Classic of the 90s)
Apollo 13 (Big money movie that was actually good)
Good Will Hunting (Great movie that brought us Matt Damon. crap... it did bring us Ben Afflack)
LA Confidential (Great old school crime movie)
Saving Private Ryan (Personal favorite)
Sixth Sense (I see a great movie)
The Green Mile (Tom Hanks at his prime)
The Insider (Not great, but good movie about a real event.)

That's a pretty good list and you can probably give me two or three that I did not use that you love and can will be upset why I did not include them. Out of all 50 movies nominated I have seen 26 of the movies and actually shocked that have have not watched 6 of the nominees.

Percentage wise I have actually watched more of the nominees in the 2000s (23 with three years to go), but I have hated a lot more of them. The other trend has been a movie I feel is better gets shut out for the more artsie film. The two biggest years are 2002 when Chicago beat Lord of the Rings: Two Towers and then in 2004 when Million Dollar Baby beat out Finding Neverland. I would have put 2001 with the first Lord of the Rings, but you can't complain when Beautiful Mind gets the win, but Chicago was nothing but a musical with a lot of sharp camera angles. Even if you didn't think a movie with an elf should have won you still had The Pianist. I know Roman Polaski directed it but that was a great movie about the Holocaust and was much better than Chicago. Just a miss all the way around.

Then in 2004, I think Finding Neverland was a great movie and never got the love it deserved. Million Dollar Baby was a sports film with an agenda attacked. It was a good movie, till the end. I'm not even talking about how it ended, I'm talking about the pace. I have never watched a movie drop off so fast. I actually stopped watching and started to search the web as The Wife finished watching. She really liked it and we even had a discussion on euthanasia and how we both don't want to be stuck on a respirator. Still, she will even say she liked Finding Neverland more than Million Dollar Baby. It's well crafted movie that also deals with death, but I actually almost cried at the end. A powerful movie that no one saw and did not bring up an issue so it never had a chance.

Maybe with age I have become more mainstream and just want a good movie, if I learn something then that's a bonus. I guess I just have to not really care about the trailers pimping me that this is an "Oscar" movie and just worry about if I actually want to watch it.


AaronG said...

Babel was a fantastic movie. But I see why you and many, many others I've talked to didn't like it. The acting was suberb and so was the directing. It's just tough to enjoy a movie that deals with themes driving the action, rather than a real plot. I'd say it wasn't about how they were connected (it had to have some plot) but why they were and how the characters reacted and played out in their situations.

As for the rest, well, Chicago was highly overrated. Million $$ Baby wasn't that bad. Like a Spike Lee joint, you can't go wrong with an Eastwood film (or Robert Redford).

But I agree, much of what passes for Academy Award nominees is, in some sense, a reaction against public consensus. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not good either.

Best movie not nominated over the past ten years: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A movie with everything, action, sci-fi, romance, comedy, intelligence, special effects.

J Dog said...

I did enjoy Spotless and I thought Kate Winslott did a great job.