Friday, January 28, 2005

Three Readers

David points out that last year at this time when writing about my most anticipated movies of 2004, I said:

"HERO by Zhang Yimou is not on this list because I don't believe Miramax will ever release it in theaters. SPIDER-MAN 2 is not on this list because I don't see how it could measure up to the magic of the first film. HARRY POTTER is not on the list because I hated the first two and, really, how much difference can a director make on this series? In all of these cases: I'm not THAT gullible."

At first I laughed with some embarassment rereading that -Boy was I wrong. But then I felt really good. Here's hoping the cinema happenings of 2005 surprise me as well.

Björn points out that there are weird similarities brewing between the 1996 & 2004 Oscars, besides the much discussed lack of box office power. Among them...
DIR. The favorite film (English Patient/The Aviator) lost the Director trophy at the Golden Globes.
ACTOR. The star of the most nominated movie (Fiennes/DiCaprio) is up against a legend (Cruise/Eastwood) but both lose to a newer lesser-known talent playing a musician (Rush/Foxx)
SUPPORTING ACTOR. African American actor (Gooding/Freeman) beats the critical comedic darling (Macy/Church) and a fresh talent who wins the Globe (Norton/Owen)
Hmmm... to make these comparisons even scarier Björn reveals his trump card ... Both years features Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals in the running for technical awards!

And finally Joshua asks why the technical nods didn't follow the traditional "we're going to nominate the five movies that got the Best Picture nods" format this year. And goes on to say:
On this last point, I wrote to you this past fall about The Village - which, I believe, I was the only person in the US that actually liked the movie.  I particularly liked Bryce Dallas Howard's turn and its fantastic score - a score which actually supported the film, wasn't overly showy or distracting, and set a great mood for the picture.  Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when it actually got an Oscar nod.  I read somewhere that this may have only happened because the Academy's music branch is too close-knit a group, and is only interested in nominating the same people over and over again . . . but on this point, I prefer to live in my little fantasy-world where a well-written score was actually honored for its merits

As far as the technical guilds not following the Best Picture format ...Well, even though many in the individual branches threw me for a loop you can always count on the editors for a lack of imagination (they're nearly always 4/5 or 5/5 and they were again this year, avoiding obviously worthy stuff like The Bourne Supremacy and Eternal Sunshine because, hey, they aren't best picture nominees!) Gone are the days when they have their own opinion... There were once years here and there that didn't line up well at all. As far as the Best Score goes... you go on living that fantasy! I wish I could join you. But if it were really about a well-written score (I'm not saying The Village isn't) than Birth would have been in hands down. Because every score nominated is lesser than. The egregious snub of the never nominated Alexandre Desplat is now onto its second year. He did Girl with the Pearl Earring last year as well --He's proof positive that these composers believe in the "keep it in the family" style of nominating above all else. I love the Harry Potter John Williams music far more than I've liked anything by him in years but when you have someone who gets nominated nearly every year??? Incredibly, he's on his 42nd nomination since 1968... in the past 36 years he has only been absent from the list in 9 separate years and in 3 of those he wasn't even eligible. They have a problem in their voting pool. They just don't want to welcome the new composers. It must be a back slapping society.


f. said...

Let me add two facts to this whole "1996 x 2004" thing: both epics (The English Patient and The Aviator) were produced by Miramax; and both Best Actress races began with an actress from a Mike Leigh's film as the frontrunner (Brenda Blethyn and Imelda Stauton).

Anonymous said...

In 1996 the Best Actress winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) starred in The English Patient's main rival. In 2004 Hillary Swank stars in Million Dollar Baby the main rival for The Aviator.

In 1996 Roger Ebert was on the McDormand, Fargo bandwagon. In 2004 it's Swank and Million Dollar Baby.

Fargo: 7 nominations.Two wins.
Million Dollar Baby: 7 nominations. ?? wins.

This all means nothing, but it's fun anyway.

adam k. said...

Well, in another sense, Fargo could be the Sideways of '96. Though Fargo lost the comedy globe, it was the underdog critical favorite comedy (and I believe that had Phantom been better and Sideways not been a total critical steamroller, which Fargo wasn't, really, Phantom would have won the globe just like Evita, but would still have likely been snubbed in picture and actress oscar races... another parallel). But I had long believed that Bening was the McDormand of this year (fire-cracker redhead in a comedy) who beats british older Mike-Leigh-directed nominee Staunton (Blethyn). But then Swank came long. But Aviator is definitely english-patient-esque... would have had the same # of noms if the score hadn't been disqualified... both won picture/score globes (Aviator would have lost actor too if Foxx had been in the drama category where he belonged), Aviator will likely win Pic/Director and will likely sweep technical categories but lose title roled-actor, and also lose screenplay to a film with only one or two other nods (come on, Kaufman! ...or Leigh) like Patient, and will likely win supporting actress in the final stretch after losing the globe (like Patient).

adam k. said...

Also, on the Ebert thing, he really must have some pull on getting wins for actresses... especially the ones who ugly up. I think he knows it, too. Notice how he was also on the Berry bandwagon and how he STARTED the Theron bandwagon. I've long maintained that Ebert gets off on beautiful actresses who go out of their way to look as ugly as he does. He must feel such a service deserves an oscar-sized reward. OK, that was mean, but you can't deny that it seems to have some merit. See also his enjoyment of Tomb Raider.

Anonymous said...


Here we go again with the Ebert bashing. OMG, HE'S FAT!!! OMG, HE LIKES CERTAIN MOVIES OTHER PEOPLE DON'T!!! whoa... if that's not cause for eternal damnation then I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS!

Seriously, Ebert bashing is old and lame.

If you bothered to look at the correlation between Ebert's favourite female performances of the last few years and his favourite film you'd notice they are the same.

Monster's Ball/Halle Berry
Monster/Charlize Theron
Million Dollar Baby/Hilary Swank

And in his review of Monster he states he didn't even know it WAS Theron, let alone a pretty actress uglifying herself. So maybe he actually just liked the performances of his favourite films' leading lady. It sure does sound logical. But, whatever, some people will never get over their bizarre hatred of Ebert, when there's plenty of other truly horrible critics out there.


More bizarre correlations between 96/04

Both years had people recieve 3 nominations. Joel/Ethan Coen in 96, and Clint in 04.

Both years had a fresh faced African-British woman in supporting actress (Marianne Jean-Baptiste/Sophie Okenedo)

In the Best Cinematography catagory in both years they had a Caleb Deschenel film (Fly Away Home/Passion) AND an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (Evita/Phantom) AND an epic Miramax film (English Patient/Aviator)

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical missed out in Costume Design in both years.

Both years had an original Andrew lloyd Webber song competing (Granted "You Must Love Me" was a million times better than "Learn to be Lonely")

Best Editing ran 4/5 in both years

Both years had a nominated documentary focusing on a famous african-american (M. Ali/Tupac)

...and that's all I can figure at the moment

adam k. said...

OK, so the Ebert comment was kind of lame. It started as just something about how Ebert's favorites always seem to win, and then it escalated and got ugly. I was just trying to be entertaining.
I don't HATE Ebert (for the record, as famous broadcast critics go, I think Leonard Maltin is much worse... and I actually used to like Ebert a lot back in the day). I'm just annoyed that Ebert is so well-known and popularly revered when he's really no better and does no more than most other critics out there. He's wildly overrated is all. And I partially blame him for the way-past-welcome trend of pretty actresses going ugly/trashy since he always supports them, and then they win. I think Ebert is overrated the same way actors like Halle and Charlize are... they're not bad, they're just annoyingly overrated.
But my main problem with Ebert's critical faculties is that he alwasy seems to respond primarily to story and "themes" with little regard to how well-made a movie actually is. Monster's Ball was okay... it was "important" and had weighty themes, but also was sort of heavy-handed and had clear flaws. Best of the year? Really? Monster was also "important" and humanistic and empathetic or what-have-you, but it just wasn't a very good movie, however you slice it. It was clunky and amateurish to a degree that Theron's performance just couldn't hide. And from what I hear, M$B is also "important" but just not "great" as a movie. I guess that's just my opinion, but it seems like everything Ebert touches turns to gold, just because he's "L'Ebert"... and I blame him for many "good" movies being perceived as "great".

Anonymous said...

(I wrote the reply to Ebert)

God, yes! Leonard Maltin is much worse than Ebert!

And while I will be the last person to defend Monster's Ball or Halle Berry's Oscar win, I can easily see how someone (or more specifically, a critic) could respond to it. I did not. I DID respond to Monster and to Charlize so i WILL defend that one. But if he just happens to like a movie, or a performance (to be honest, neither Ball, or Monster actually got anywhere outside of actress (well, Ball got a screenplay nod, but other than that...) so I'd hardly say that his touch turns to gold. Same can be said for Minority Report (his number 1 from 2002, i believe) that got 1 or 2 mesely tech nods.

But if Ebert responds to "themes" then good for him. There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.

And, no offense to Nathaniel, but it seems like you got your M$B opinion ("important" but not "great") from him. Because a lot of critics seem to think it IS great. I didn't think it was Best of the Year worthy, but I definitely thought it was good. Really good. Solid B+.

It's just annoying when people bash a critic because of how they review a movie (ie; what they think makes a good movie) or what they consider the best of the year. If he considered something like A Cinderella Story the worst, then feel free to malign. But until then, it seems silly. I used to go to the forums (I have since left for good - too much negative energy) and everyone just hates him for no apparent reason other than he's a successful movie critic and they never never will be.

But, still, anything is better than Leonard Maltin. We can agree on THAT much.

adam k. said...

Though there are others who weren't blown away by Baby, I'm assuming I'll feel roughly the same as Nathaniel because I always tend to agree with his opinions. I guess I don't really believe these things SO strongly, it's just fun to broadcast opinions. Perhaps Ebert annoys me because I used to be one of those sheepish fans who sort of took his word as god, and now I feel stupid because of it. Though now I generally take Nathaniel's word as god (haha... I do allow myself to disagree with him, but always see his thoughts beforehand and then while I'm watching the movie they always seem to make sense... and I guess we share the same sensibility). But I didn't hate Finding Neverland the way he did.
So I'll end with, "no, Ebert's really not that bad." And yes, anything's better than Leonard Maltin. What a hack that one is.

Gustavo H.R. said...

THE VILLAGE pretty much deserved its surprise nomination.

Anonymous said...

I agree! In my own personal awards (like Nathaniel's) called The Uma's (no doubt) it has a joint nomination with Collateral for score, both by Newton Howard.

I will complain about Troy's bizarre nomination however.