Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hearts and Minds

Just wondering what the feeling is out there on this Aviator Vs. Million Dollar Baby thing. Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere seems to think The Aviator can't win because people only respect it but don't love it. (Plus he's biased against it). But I don't really think this is the case personally. How did the film do better over at Geninn.net's compilation of top ten lists if people don't love The Aviator? Are all of these critics who put it in their top ten lists, merely wishing for Marty to have his Oscar? 500+ people are voting on sympathy? The PGA is voting on sympathy? The Globes?

I'm not sure I buy that people don't love The Aviator. Partially because I almost did and definitely prefer it to Million Dollar Baby, which is quite affecting but also sort of facile. It has the Finding Neverland problem of having very easy emotional hooks that any lesser filmmaker could also make effective. (Although MDB is miles better executed than Neverland)

And people do sometimes vote with their minds over their hearts. Maybe I'm remembering poorly but didn't The Last Emperor sweep? That, like the Aviator, was largely somewhat cold but technically marvelous spectacle. And people really loved Moonstruck that year. But they didn't vote with their hearts for that Cher-fest romantic comedy...

6 comments:

John T. said...

Even if the Academy doesn't love the film, they still could give it the top prize (I also find it difficult to believe that there isn't a lot of love for the movie, but assuming there isn't). A Beautiful Mind a film that couldn't possibly equal the amount of critical support and emphatic fans of Moulin Rouge! and The Fellowship of the Ring also won this trophy (unfortunately, if you ask me, as the other two films are ten times better). Gladiator wasn't as fan-driven as Crouching Tiger or Traffic, Braveheart not as much as The Postman, etc.

Anonymous said...

Yes. The Aviator will probably win. but I'd give it a B/B+, no more. There are so many more deserving, challenging, heartfelt films.

Bu it doesn't have to be great or loved to join the company of Gladiator, Braveheart and Return of the King (B pictures all). Like them The Aviator has enough spectacle and story to amuse the masses and no great amount of thinking or feeling is required (which is a plus for most movie-goers, just look at the box office top ten week after week).

Ebert ended his 4-star review with the faint praise "...166 minutes, and it races past." That sums up why The Aviator will win. There are no speed bumps.

Nick Davis said...

MDB could happen, but I still think The Aviator will be hard to beat, too. Especially with support in so many branches, and the long history of voting for so-so movies that at least have that across-the-board appeal (Braveheart, Gladiator, Out of Africa, Gandhi...). Then again, Chariots of Fire beat Reds.

I do want to put a quash on comparisons between M$B and Neverland, though. Even though I realize Nathaniel didn't imply they were equivalent, M$B is so incomparably better in its editing, its risky lighting, its evocation of milieu, etc. It's certainly my favorite of the nominees, at an A-/B+ level; Aviator I gave a B-, but I'm curious to see both again.

NATHANIEL R said...

I agree that The Aviator is a B+ type of film rather than an A range film. But I do think, excluding Sideways (the only correlation with top 5), that it's the best of the nominees. I normally get very bored quickly with biopics and I also know my predisposition to dislike longer films (I feel in general that films are too padded with extraneous story elements, rehashing of points I already got, etc...) but I had not one moment in The Aviator wherein I desperately wanted it to be over. Which, I think, has to say something about its energy.

At the very least it's far livelier than your traditional biopic. So, I hate to see it lumped in with the whole generic bunch of them. Ray is a great comparison point. It has lots of similarly lovely things about it in terms of technical qualities, production glossiness, etc... but it just sits there nonetheless.

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