Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Capra Corn and Math Porn

Nathaniel: If you're just joining us, "Best Picture From the Outside In" is a series wherein we screen and compare two best pictures from either end of Oscar's 80 year timeline until eventually we meet in the middle in the 1960s several months from now. This, the 7th episode of 40 (whew), brings us two famous screen romances.

The first, directed by the beloved Frank Capra, features the hugely influential pairing of Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable in the screwball classic It Happened One Night (1934). Not only did Claudette's leg baring hitchhiking routine inspire endless subsequent film gags but Clark's undressing demonstration sent sales of men's undershirts plummeting: He wasn't wearing one. Together they laid down definitive romantic comedy beats that would be copied with varying degrees of success for four decades until Annie Hall (1977) arrived to reshape the genre and inspire its own innumerable and less rewarding imitations (though that's a story for a later episode). The second celluloid couple, directed by Ron Howard, is composed of Russell Crowe as mathematician John Nash and Jennifer Connelly as his longsuffering student then wife. A Beautiful Mind proved no trendsetter but it's representative of Oscar's undiscerning fascination with its entire genre: the biopic.

This wasn't an easy week for me. I fall madly in love with Colbert & Gable's sass and fire every time -- I'm eager to throw rice at that wedding. But when it comes to Crowe & Connelly's weepy mannerisms, I just want a quickie divorce. I don't understand the appeal of either half of this romance. Connelly has mostly one note: wet eyed put upon woman and Crowe delivers his worst performance. He's unbearable mannered with an arsenal including so many facial twitches, hand gestures, and vocal tics that I swear I caught whiff of mental retardation Oscar-baiting rather than an honest examinations of social awkwardness or schizophrenia. I wanted to retitle the movie Forrest Gump Goes to Princeton... or maybe I Am Nash --ditch Connelly's sainted wife and bring in Dakota Fanning as an eternally patient daughter. The movie won't change that much.


I wanted to give this movie a second chance... I really did. The Million Dollar Baby week reminded me that Oscar backlash sometimes gets in the way of seeing a movie's true worth -- but I just don't like this movie. Nash, on his rooftop with his imaginary friend (Paul Bettany) claims that a teacher once described him uncharitably as having "two helpings of brains but only half a helping of heart" From where I'm sitting that's a really generous take. A Beautiful Mind is closer to 'half a brain with several scoops of gooey heart.'

Nick: The huge crisis in A Beautiful Mind is one of direction. I know I don't have to spell out the whole "Ron Howard somehow beat Altman, Jackson, Lynch, and Scott" trope since everyone reading this is already remembering that inglorious moment. But even aside from that balloting outrage, the direction in A Beautiful Mind is just so obtuse and bashful. Sadly, this was NOT inevitable: there are moments in Apollo 13 and in Ransom where Howard makes the dismay or even the terror of his characters feel really palpable without violating his whole calculating, middlebrow aesthetic. But he just can't do it with A Beautiful Mind. The film never goes nearly as dark or as high-stakes as the script demands, and Howard steers his actors well clear of the most painful but revealing elements of the material. That scene where Connelly's character admits to Adam Goldberg that she survives her marriage with Crowe by fooling herself that he's still the man she initially thought he was? Heartbreaking and shocking, and a HUGE keyhole into this baffling character that demands a whole new slant for the movie... except Howard and Connelly just push right through it like it's nothing.

I'll give A Beautiful Mind credit for having one extraordinarily smart idea: that paranoid schizophrenia is hard to diagnose, and is maybe even rewarded, in a Cold War environment that thrives on paranoid schizophrenia without admitting it. But there's just so much glop obscuring and diluting that idea. The handsomeness of the film is as boring in this context as the handsomeness of Connelly and Crowe--Roger Deakins does not earn any bragging rights for this one--and the charged moments (Connelly discovers The Shed) are usually undercut by cheap ones (he's going to drown the baby!!).

Errant obsessive newspaper clippings can only mean one thing: your child is in danger!

Goatdog: I came out of the theater after seeing A Beautiful Mind back in '01 saying "Well, that wasn't a huge ball of shit," which isn't exactly high praise, but it's still the highest praise I can give. I hold individual parts in higher esteem--once Nash starts to go a little gray, Crowe's performance blossoms into something that goes beyond the tics and mannerisms that Nathaniel mentioned, and I only wish he had been this good earlier in the film. (And really--how could they do such a great job on his oldster makeup and yet manage to make Connelly look like Mrs. Doubtfire?) But in general there's so much wasted potential here--in the blend of Cold War paranoia and savior complex that gives rise to Nash's delusions, or in the examination of how Nash's genius and madness function, or even in the "my husband is a nutjob but I have to keep the family together" domesticity late in the film (hello, completely forgotten and potentially more interesting plot direction)--and I'll join the chorus and blame most of it on Ron Howard's insipid tastefulness and possible lack of a beating heart.

I'd much rather talk about It Happened One Night, which gets better every time I see it, although I seem to notice a new bad cut every time --maybe that's why it wasn't up for Editing? But still, we get to see Clark Gable start to take his pants off twice, which is nothing to complain about. As we all know, this was the first of three Big Five winners*, and unlike the other two (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Silence of the Lambs), I wouldn't reassign a single one of those awards, because Gable and Colbert and Capra and Riskin were all so supernaturally great that their competitors weren't even close.

Nick: ...which I guess is where I have to admit that, quite surprisingly, I enjoyed It Happened One Night a little less this time through. Though only marginally less: it's a terrific character piece for Colbert, especially, and I love that the tone is actually a bit inscrutable, even though it's usually pegged as a major progenitor of screwball comedy. My favorite thing Capra and Colbert do in this movie - even though I also found it a bit enervating this time around - is that they keep Ellie Andrews kind of hanging around in hotel rooms and depots and ship cabins and bedrooms. She paces a lot, her huge and thoughtful eyes rolling around pensively in her head, often earning pride of place over Gable in Joseph Walker's shots, as though she and the film are constantly wondering: what does Ellie really want? Who is she actually? She isn't a Dizzy Heiress™ or a Headstrong Heiress™ as in many 30s comedies, and this is one road film that really does capture the introspective sense of journeying. All while keeping quick, funny, zippy, and incident-filled.

our thumbs go way way up for both Gable and Colbert in It Happened One Night

But: is the upshot enough for you guys? I appreciate that Gable's performance gets sharper and tougher as the film goes on, as he realizes that he really wants Ellie (and is full-on spiteful when he thinks she's chucked him). And the possibility of rapprochement between Ellie and her dad, well-played and smartly shot and directed, pushes the piece in rich, unexpected directions. But It Happened One Night felt a little bit to me like it needed a bolder point of view on Ellie by the end, and a little less of a rushed conclusion. Am I nuts?

I've got lots more to gush about, but I feel compelled for some reason to ask this upfront.

Goatdog: I don't agree that the ending is rushed--if anything, I felt like it could have been rushed, but then it smartly slowed down for those wonderful scenes between Walter Connolly and both Colbert and Gable. It shows the film's interest in even its relatively minor characters to have him emerge in the last act as such a complicated character. And I think the film is in part about the fact that we don't know who Ellie is or what she wants, and neither does she. On the road with Gable, she starts to figure it out in the first rebellion against her upbringing that isn't simply about escaping and causing mischief, and when she thinks Gable abandons her she crumples completely, beyond her earlier shapeless rebellion and into a scary ennui. I know every time that it's a romantic comedy and things have to work out, but the moments before she runs off still make me anxious, because Colbert sells that loss of spirit so well.

Nathaniel: Her Oscar win sure did arrive at the right time. The performance is great and 1934 was also a huge year for her what with Cleopatra, Imitation of Life, and this beloved comedy all hitting theaters.

I can't agree, Nick, that we need a clearer view of Ellie since, as Mike says, she doesn't necessarily have a clear view of herself. And more importantly, Colbert totally understands her malleability. She telegraphs all of this early on. Her quicksilver shifts in temperament, especially when it comes to Peter, are so easily connected back to her impulsive marriage to King Westley, the disaster that sets the plot in motion. I didn't notice this on previous viewings but I also love the subtle mirroring of her thorny romance with Peter and her hot and cold filial relationship. She complains that her father is too domineering but isn't Peter too, once you really start looking at their push and pull rapport...which is mostly push and push? Yet for all of the controlling both men do, they're crazy in love with her.

Can we talk for a minute about the 'Walls of Jericho'... that sheet that Peter and Ellie hang between them when they share hotel rooms. So many romantic films struggle to create elaborate or ridiculous obstacles to keep their lovers apart for the sake of drama (or comedy). It Happened One Night achieves more than most with a simple wire and modest thread count. It's effortless and sexy. The romance between the Nashes in A Beautiful Mind tries all sorts of tricks to sell its romance: they star gaze together, their courtship is underlined with a soggy score, there's horrid sentimental dialogue (go ahead you know you want to share your "favorites") and the requisite beautifying closeups too. For all the sweating effort, the romance still falls flat or at least feels abstract. I can't imagine Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly having sex outside the narrative. With Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert it's practically all I can think about.

Nick: Maybe all I'm missing is a scene where we actually see Peter and Ellie reunited, because for all the reasons you guys have mentioned, there is so much complexity and ambiguity built into Ellie and about this strange, insinuating courtship that leaving us with the tut-tutting innkeepers and the fallen Wall - despite being delicious, and despite ending a movie that's given us plenty of imaginative space to play around in and speculate from - feels like just this side of not enough.

Or maybe the curiosity is just killing me, because she has been so fascinating and shifty throughout, to see whether Colbert would play such a scene with ambivalence intact or with total lustful abandon. And to see what Peter's like when he's actually got what he (thinks he) wants. And to see how Joseph Walker would light it, or not.

More praise, though. Since Nathaniel was so dead-on about It Happened One Night handling romantic obstacle so deftly and simply, especially compared to modern imitators, I'll add that one of the other pleasures of this film is how evocatively the film incorporates the depressed social climate of 1934, even as it lightens the mood so extraordinarily. There's the conspicuous stuff, like Colbert's looong walk through the Hooverville to get to the showers, but also the more tacit stuff, like the fact that it's almost always pouring during those bus-driving scenes. The shots of the bus are actually pretty foreboding, especially given how many of them are filmed at low angles in the middle of the night. Capra isn't yet pushing his State of the Union stuff onto center stage as he'd soon begin to, but he's extending a gift for texture and atmosphere that's in a lot of his early-30s work like The Miracle Woman and The Bitter Tea of General Yen (scooped you, Mike!).

And, as in those last two films, he's just not afraid of sex. When Claudette is wanting it, she is SO WANTING IT. Gable too, even if he's more satisfied with himself as an object of desire.

Claudette Colbert in a Frank Capra joint She's Gotta Have It! (1934)

Goatdog: Since Nathaniel is forcing us to talk about A Beautiful Mind again, I agree that I can't picture the Nashes having sex outside the narrative. Or doing much of anything, for that matter. Did you notice how we never see them interacting domestically until after he's certifiable? Up to then, it's all high-gloss scenes next to fountains or in ballrooms. Honestly, what could these people talk about? Aside from God's original career before he took up Creation, of course.

But all this talk about sex reminds me of something that's been building in this series, even though I don't think we've ever mentioned it because it didn't have such a big effect on the kind of prestige films that win the big awards: the Production Code was just over the horizon when It Happened One Night was released. This is the first and last "pre-Code" style film we'll be dealing with--The Broadway Melody (previous discussion) was pretty tame for a backstage musical, and the historical epics don't delve as far into subversiveness and openness about sex as this film did. Capra makes a nice case study in how the Code changed things: his career up to this point contained films that demonstrate his later political obsessions (American Madness) but also films like this one, Forbidden (a "fallen woman" soap), and Platinum Blonde, which was basically a dry run for this one, being the story of a fast-talking newspaperman who falls for a society lady. And, of course, a certain film that Nick mentioned. (grumble grumble backstabber). These films show a guy willing and able to explore class and sex with a good deal of skill, often in the same film. But I think Capra got a lot less interesting after July 1934, when he and Hollywood tried to forget that sex even existed. We'll see whether the films did as well.

Nick: ...and though that last bit has the ring of a great Final Thought, I can't help emphasizing: It Happened One Night is completely unlike anything that had won up till that point. The movies it most resembles--the pre-Code films Mike touches on, but also two-hander character pieces and all romantic comedies and unpretentious snapshots of American social milieux--hadn't even had much luck getting nominated since 1928, much less winning. And It Happened One Night was a February release, so it hardly won because it was the new hot thing at voting time. This is a truly surprising win in terms of Oscar trends (not to mention, we're starting to worry, in terms of quality!). I wish it had exerted an even stronger influence on the kinds of films the Academy would consider in ensuing years, but nevertheless, it almost single-handedly saves the Oscars from turning completely into a Time-Life series of Great Books That Are Good For You.


Oddly, A Beautiful Mind doesn't much resemble the other winners of its time period, either. Nor the other movies that made upwards of $150 million that year at the box office. No subsequent winner that we've already covered has gone anywhere near this kind of buttery, high-gloss, feel-good studio filmmaking, and without jumping ahead of ourselves, neither did any winner in the previous decade except Gump, which made twice as much money, covered a lot more history, gave the techie types more to savor, and starred Hollywood's favorite walking flagpole. Looking now at A Beautiful Mind, it's even harder to suss how it caught such a lightning bolt of zeitgeist in its modest little bottle. If Nash stared hard enough, and fluttered his eyelashes, and emitted a vaguely Appalachian diphthong to prove that he is Thinking, would he break this code?

Nathaniel: In Nash's absence, he died shortly after receiving a bunch of pens or something (details are foggy and I've only just revisited the movie), that leaves it up to you, the reader, to break the code: How did A Beautiful Mind get away with it, stealing the trophy from four richly deserving movies with both heart and brains? And did you want to run away with Peter & Ellie at the end of It Happened One Night as badly as we did?

further reading @ Goatdog and Nick's Flick Picks

statistics
It Happened One Night (1934) was nominated for and won 5 Oscars --the *Big Five* which refers to the categories of Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay (Adapted in this case). A Beautiful Mind (2001) was nominated for 8 Oscars and took home 4: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly.


the series so far episode 1 No Country For Old Men (07) and Wings (27/28) episode 2 The Departed (06) and Broadway Melody (28/29) episode 3 Crash (05) and All Quiet on the Western Front (29/30) episode 4 Million Dollar Baby (04) and Cimarron (30/31) episode 5 LotR: The Return of the King (03) and Grand Hotel (31/32) episode 6 Chicago (02) and Cavalcade (32/33)
*

25 comments:

MRRIPLEY said...

hi nat,nich etc

some questions about a beautiful mind

a - did crowe desreve a nom
b - did bettany deserve a nom
c - did connolly desreve her nom
d - why did connolly win and why do u feel she did not warrant it.
e - should denzel have won BE HONEST!!!

Runs Like A Gay said...

I think the worst crime of Beautiful mind is the failure to grasp either of Nash's 2 story arcs.

The way it handles schizophrenia is glib and it fails to show any understanding of Game theory.

Incredible.

The Jack said...

Bettany was great though wasn't he?

John T said...

In this, the first of the series where I've seen both films, I have to say that I was completely taken with the brilliance of Colbert & Gable. For me, though, I think it's possible there was an even better pairing that year-Powell & Loy. For me, I ever so slightly preferred the alcholic dizzy of The Thin Man to the snap and crackle of It Happened One Night. Maybe it's my complete love of Loy.

As for how Beautiful Mind pulled it off-it was a case of 2004's Best Actress. The other competitors were too complicated to win the thing outright, and they split the critical vote. If you think about it, genre (and things to come) throws out LOTR, Moulin Rouge! was far too divisive and abstract, In the Bedroom too small, and Altman's films never could pull him over the finish line. The truly greatest travesty that this caused was that directing trophy-any of the other four in contention were turning in some real movie magic, and they were snubbed for a Hallmark card.

As for Connelly, I think she gets more berated for her competition than her actual performance (which was servicable enough-worse have won). The other four actresses are all doing their stock-and-trade roles with a new sort of flare.

kent said...

It Happened One Night is one of the best comedies ever. Colbert was really at the peak of her career. I'm glad you three praised her performance because the film really belongs to her. She gets my vote of the nominees, but as best, it would go to Bette Davis in Of Human Bondage. What do you think?

I think A Beautiful Mind's popularity was due to Ron Howard and Russell Crowe's momentum. Crowe had won the previous year and was established as a great actor. The public is familiar with Howard, and he had support of his colleagues.

Robert said...

It was really an Aristotilian sequence of events that sent A Beautiful Mind over the finish line first.

Mostly it was the Ron Howard makeup award. He may not be a great director but Hollywood loves Ron Howard and he loves them (honestly more than they love Altman who they've always been snarked by).

Plus Gosford Park wasn't comparable to Altman's best (though oddly A Beautiful Mind was to Howards since Howard is an inferior director). Moulin Rouge and In the Bedroom probably made the cut thanks to a few passionate fans and not widespread support. They were too strange/hectic/indie for the big crowd.

And if AMPAS had known Return of the King was going to be the weakest of the LOTR, they'd have given it to Fellowship, but no one knew that.

Honestly I probably consider 2001 to be the weakest movie year of the decade.

Deborah said...

I'm surprised no one mentioned the gay Nash controversy. I read the book after seeing the movie, which puts Nash's tics in a whole different light.

The book was very dry, very factual, heavily footnoted, and UTTERLY DIFFERENT from the film.

Nash was running 3 parallel lives, 2 different women and a gay life. He was arrested for soliciting in a public bathroom.

But I'm not surprised they cut it out. It was very confusing, all those parallel lives, and a no-win situation in terms of GLBT community response; there was anger that the storyline was cut out, but it was so repressed, so tawdry, and so negative that had it been included there would also have been anger, and I think it was not a bad idea to reduce his love life to just the public one.

Much more problematic was the shifting of Nash's paranoid fantasies from one-world pacifist anti-Americanism to Cold War conservative patriotism. It was a clean switch for no reason except it made Nash more sympathetic.

I liked the game theory stuff and Paul Bettany, Ed Harris, and Judd Hirsch all had stellar supporting roles. I think it was enormously popular because people love twists beyond all reason (and that could be its own post), because it was creepy yet sentimental, and because it got treacly at the end. Mostly the twist.

mrripley said...

err let me get this right marisa tomei's role is her stock and trade helen mirrens too i suppose one of thses 2 should've won or winslet v fine but maybe not showy emough and a little too close to past perf's,smith her line readings alone make it nom worthy but there is a despeation to her perf in certain scenes,i rather liked diaz in vanilla sky and felt her more nom worthy,i have no probs with jennifer c's nom or her win but she has been better since in house of sand and fog and the in 2000 requiem for a dream..

Ariella said...

"It Happened One Night" is one of my favorite films, so I've really been looking forward to this post.

I always say that the two best romantic comedies of all time are "It Happened One Night" and "Annie Hall" and I always compare all the new (sucky) romcoms to them.

Anonymous said...

This is the type of film you should only watch once even if you do like it. If you don't well then your not gonna want to watch this again.

Sean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean said...

My Ranking

2001
1. In the Bedroom - A+
2. Gosford Park - B+
3. The Fellowship of the Ring - C+
4. Moulin Rouge! - C-
5. A Beautiful Mind - D-

1934
1. It Happened One Night - A+
2. Imitation of Life - B+
3. Viva Villa! - B+
4. Here Comes the Navy - B+
5. The Gay Divorcee - B
6. Flirtation Walk - B
7. The Barretts of Wimpole Street - B-
8. The House of Rothschild - B-
9. Cleopatra - C+
10. The Thin Man - C-
11. One Night of Love - D+
12. The White Parade - the most recent BP nominee I haven't seen.

NATHANIEL R said...

mrripley --a) no. b) no. c) no. d) i'll never figure that out and e) i'm always honest about my feelings about the Oscars. I think Wilkinson was the best among the nominees but I was totally happy with Washington's win cuz I love the performance

runs incredible is the right word. Incredible that it managed to dominate the race when it's the least among them by a large margin.

john t i love the powell/loy chemistry too but to me the thin man is an inferior film to IHON so even if the chemistry rivals gable and colbert's it can't hold up. Great fun that movie though.

kent, john, and robert good theories all but it's still so maddening. argh.

ariella clearly we think alike since i gave ANNIE HALL the shout out too.

Hayden said...

This is a really fantastic thing you're doing. I'm sort of gaining an appreciation for the ambitious blog series because I'm doing a weekly profile counting down my 50 favorite films of all time. Now I've got two down and 48 to go, with the third (The Age of Innocence--you should check it out) dropping tomorrow.

Intense stuff, and I could read you guys for hours. I actually have. Haha.

NATHANIEL R said...

Deborah --you may be on to something with the "twists" but i don't really get it. I didn't like ABM much at the time but it's even worse now. I could barely look at the screen. B-O-R-I-N-G and dully imagined and everything else that makes certain movies a chore.

robert 2001 as the worst year? I think it's the best year of the Aughts so far

LOTR: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
MOULIN ROUGE
IN THE BEDROOM
THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS
TOGETHER (sweden)
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (hong kong)
MULHOLLAND DR
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
GOSFORD PARK

and the list goes on...

NicksFlickPicks said...

@All Y'all: These theories about ABM's Oscar win are the familiar ones, but you're right, they're also so true. I guess what surprises/irks me is that one could have made the same case for Apollo 13 (Babe too weird & kiddie, Braveheart too bloody and not a hit, Il Postino too not-in-English, S&S too girly), and Hanks was way more popular in Hollywood in '95 than Crowe was in '01. Granted, Howard's well-publicized disappointment at missing the Apollo nod probably contributed to the "make it up to him" attitude re: ABM. But I'm just surprised that ABM looks so average, especially in retrospect, that one wonders how it even became the inevitable 5th nominee that beat down the four eccentric competitors. It looks a lot more like a Horse Whisperer or (almost) an All the King's Men '06 that is trying desperately for that middlebrow spot but just fails to convince anyone.

@John T: I'm going to split the difference with you. I love all four performances and both movies. I gotta stick with Colbert over Loy, even though it's a very close match (and I think she should have been nominated plenty of times), but I'd definitely go for the nominated William Powell over Clark Gable. Gable's performance, to me, gets clearer and stronger through It Happened One Night, but Powell's starts out perfect and stays there.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Oops: @Mr Ripley: a) probably not, b) under no circumstances, c) no, d) one part requiem, two parts everyone wanted her to be the next big think because she's pretty and smart and had some now-blown indie cred, but as I think we covered, she misses all the screaming opportunities to deepen or even to "get" this role.... and e) YES, I certainly would have voted for him, though it gets trickier if McGregor, Thornton, or Mitchell had been in the mix, as they deserved to be.

Kamikaze Camel said...

"And It Happened One Night was a February release, so it hardly won because it was the new hot thing at voting time."

Interesting then that so did Silence of the Lambs. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, however, was a November release.

In regards to mind's Oscars, well, obviously I don't think it deserved any of them. But I don't think Denzel should've won over Crowe. I don't think either of them should have won.

2001 is my favourite year of the decade so far too followed by 2000, 2004, 2003, 2007, 2005, 2006 and 2002.

JoFo said...

Even though I don't think A Beautiful Mind deserve any oscars, apart for its score (James Horner, marry me now), I seem to be a minority who really like the movie. Even though it is piffly (?) for lack of an actual word, I fell for the piffle (?) hook line and sinker.

But in a year so strong, it shouldnt have got its little fingers anywhere near those handsome gold men.

Flower said...

I saw A Beautiful Mind at a test screening in September '01. My friend and I (both juniors in college) were the youngest people in the theater by about twenty years. We both thought the movie was pretty mediocre. Neither of us for a second thought it was an "oscar" movie (ah, so naive). We were selected for the "focus group" afterwards. I knew there was trouble brewing when the guy running the focus group said, "Ok, so who here would say this was a GREAT movie?" and all but me and my friend raised their hands. The ring leader guy then looked at us and said, "You don't think it's a GREAT movie?" My friend said, "No." A woman in her sixties sitting behind us clucked disapprovingly. "Why not?" intoned the ring leader. "It was pretty corny," said my friend, and the woman sitting behind us hooted in outrage. "It was NOT corny!" she screamed.

It was a weird experience.

Deborah said...

I love romantic comedies, even lame ones, but I'd agree that IHON and Annie Hall are two of the best, if not THE two best.

NATHANIEL R said...

it's kind of strange that Oscar doesn't like comedies or romantic comedies much at all but when it comes time to actually rarely handing one The big award ... they do have pretty good taste.

it's hard to fault either choice... and the other romantic comedy winner Shakespeare in Love is a pretty good flick, too. (did i forget any or are those the only three?)

AR said...

Awesome conversation.

I recall liking A Beautiful Mind when I first saw it, but now I think it was more the *idea* of it that I was drawn to. Even then, I wasn't much fond of the cliche uplifting ending. Bleh.
I agree that Crowe's performance is all tics at the beginning but then calms down into something more developed. Honestly Connelly was just sort of wasted.

I agree with all the comments regarding It Happened One Night. Now there's a movie with some spark and crackle. One of those rare romantic comedy wins and mostly deserving.

tim r said...

I'm fairly late to this party but you guys all still rule and A Beautiful Mind most certainly does NOT. What an utter crock of moony Oscar-hungry drivel that was. And beating the best of the Rings trilogy too. I think the whole business haunts me even more than the Crash thing.

I've never fallen totally for It Happened One Night, but you make me feel I'm probably wrong and should just shut up and watch it again. It's certainly quite lovely.

Looking forward to next week's orgy of a swashbuckling/tiger-wrestling/sweaty macho extravaganza. In case you didn't guess.

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