And the Oscar Goes to…

THE AVIATOR. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict THE AVIATOR wins Best Picture, Martin Scorsese wins Best Director, and Cate Blanchett wins Best Supporting Actress. It’s time to kick off awards season with rampant speculation and heated debate. I’m willing to get the ball rolling.

I’m not saying THE AVIATOR is the best picture of the year, I’m just saying it’ll win. I thought it was pretty impressive, but I haven’t seen SIDEWAYS, or MILLION DOLLAR BABY, or FINDING NEVERLAND, or any other of the films getting a lot of buzz and critical praise, but something tells me THE AVIATOR’s got it sewn up. It has all the elements that the Academy has proven it loves year after year. It’s epic in scale. It’s a period piece. It’s about Hollywood. It’s frickin’ long. (Although cleverly paced). They won’t be able to resist it.

Plus, it’s a safe, uncontroversial choice and the Academy isn’t known for its edgy tastes.

More importantly, it’s Scorsese’s most accessible film ever, arguably his best since GOODFELLAS, and has none of the extreme violence that has hurt his chances in the past. I think this is the time the Academy will see fit to award him for a career of great work. He’s been nominated four times already and always lost. In 1980 Scorsese was nominated for RAGING BULL and passed over in favor of Robert Redford. ORDINARY PEOPLE is a good movie, but nevertheless this was wrong. In 1990 Kevin Costner beat out Scorcese’s GOODFELLAS with DANCES WITH WOLVES. That was an even greater travesty. (The majority of the Academy members are actors and they consistently award their own for directing a half decent film). Most recently Scorsese was beat out by Roman Polanski for directing THE PIANIST. That at least makes sense. However, I believe this is the year Scorsese finally brings home the gold.

I also see Cate Blanchett ending up with a statue in her hand. Her performance as Katherine Hepburn steals the show. Am I right? Am I wrong? Has anyone seen any other films/performances that they think’ll win any major awards?

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30 thoughts on “And the Oscar Goes to…

  1. WOW, that’s a heckuva bold statement, BG. I need to catch up on my movies so that I can participate fully in this discussion, but I think you have definitely thrown down the critic’s gauntlet.

  2. I hope the Incredibles wins something … because it was a great show. But I don’t know much about how these awards work or even the categories.

  3. You’re probably right. I think it’s sad that the Oscars are rarely about the film but rather about the people making it.

    Best Oscar moment ever: When Roberto Benigni won for Life is Beautiful and jumped up on his seat.

  4. Susan,

    For my favorite moment, I have to go with Elliott Smith on stage in a white suit holding hands with Celine Dion and Trisha Yearwood. Unforgettable.

    I only saw a few movies this year, but my favorite was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And let me say that Garden State was waaaay overrated.

  5. OK, well, I rarely watch the Oscars. 🙂 The amount of awards the entertainment industry likes to give itself is mind boggling.

    Life is Beautiful is one of my all-time favorite films.

  6. Incredibles will in all likelihood win for best animated feature length film, Dan. (Don’t know if that’s the right name for the award).

    Agree that Cate Blanchett gave a very nice preformance. Not that I know much about Katherine Hepburn, but Cate’s performance put Hepburn in context that many fans probably felt uncomfortable seeing. I like feeling discomfort when it comes to pop icons like her.
    I couldn’t get past Leo’s moustache in that movie.

    I’d like to hear comments on Sideways. Best foreign film: Probably one of Zhang Yimou’s two releases this year – Hero (’03?) or House of Flying Daggers.

  7. It’s actually spelled Katharine Hepburn, and if you think this is unimportant, think again. Hepburn herself answered all fan letters, but if one was addressed to KathErine, it was reposted with her neat handwriting, “addressee unknown.”

    If The Aviator wins Best Picture, then it certainly has been a sorry year for movies. Yes, indeed.

  8. My fave Oscar Moment: When Cuba Gooding Junior got so excited he told everyone he loved them over nad over again.
    I suppose since the Oscar’s are supposed to have “class” and all, we can’t count on Anna Nicole Smith showing up all drunk. Shucks.

  9. Although I agree that The Aviator will win a whole slew of awards (Scorcese is way overdue), I have serious issues with that movie. For one, am I alone here, or was it the BORINGEST movie of the year?

    Oh, and Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn… Leaving aside that she (Cate) doesn’t look all that much like her (Katharine), Blanchett played the role of Katharine Hepburn acting more so than Katharine Hepburn in real life. In other words, her performance was based on Hepburn’s performances, not really on Hepburn herself. If you’re gonna play someone’s life, don’t play it based on the epitome of that person’s roles in movies, play it on that person. I’ve seen a dozen or so movies with Hepburn and have seen her interviewed some times, not the same.

  10. Hi, Bob! Haven’t seen you around these parts in a while. (because I’ve been absent too)

    It’s spelled ScorSeSe. And I agree, as I said, that if it wins the AA, it will be for one of Scorsese’s more boring works. Cate’s work does seem to be almost a deconstruction, eh? Still, it’s the best thing in the movie.

  11. Thanks, D.! I guessed on the spelling; but I knew you’d know. Yes, I definitely agree that there is some irony in Cate’s work being the best thing in the movie…

  12. Bryce I wrote, “No animated feature will ever win Best Picture now that there’s an award dedicated to them.” I agree, and for the most part, I think that’s a good thing. When a film like “Spirited Away” wins a major Oscar, more people see it, and some of them presumably like it, and as a lover of animation, I think that’s wonderful.

    That said, I have to admit that this year, I wish “The Incredibles” had a better chance of making it into the Best Picture category, because I do think it was absolutely one of the best films of 2004 (notwithstanding the emerging theories that it’s a work of objectivist propaganda. sigh).

    Onward — I really liked “The Aviator”. It took awhile, but I got the rhythm of the movie about halfway through. And I thought Cate Blanchett was wonderful as Katharine Hepburn — she really made the role her *own*. Many of Martin Scorsese’s films (especially “Taxi Driver”) have been genuine tragedies in the sense that they suggested the lost potential for better lives, bigger revelations, and real, grown-up happiness. There were many dark moments in “The Aviator”, but there was also a direct, open optimism that I didn’t sense in any of Scorsese’s other work (except maybe “Kundun”, in a very different way). Scorsese really is a wondrous figure in contemporary American cinema — aside from his feature films, his two film history docs, “A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies” and “My Voyage to Italy” (both available on DVD) are two of the greatest works of serious film criticism ever produced.

    I don’t think “The Aviator” will win Best Picture, Brian, as much as I love your prediction. I think “Sideways” has got it — so much acclaim from critics and audiences alike. I thought it was an ugly, sometimes pointlessly cruel film, as did my boyfriend and about three other people on Earth. My hope is that “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, a wonderful, heartbreaking film, beats “Sideways”. It won the Washington, D.C. Film Critics’ “Best Picture” designation. “Sideways”, as far as I know, won best picture among all of the other city film critics’ circles.

    Oh — I also loved Zhang Yimou’s “House of Flying Daggers”! AND Zhang Yimou’s “Hero” despite protests that it was overly pro-China jingoistic. Did those who protest not see Zhang’s “To Live”, which treats the rise of Communism in 20th century China as an unforgivable betrayal of Chinese citizens? Do they not know that the Chinese government has banned that film and several other films by Zhang? He’s the kind of rebel that liberals (like me) ought to rally around. again, sigh. Here’s hoping that “House of Flying Daggers” wins Best Foreign Film, at least.

    Amazing that 2003 was such a great year for movies, and 2004 was so lukewarm. What would we predict for the Oscars if “Lost in Translation” had come out in 2004 (a year without “Return of the King”)? … Or “In America”? … Or “The House of Sand and Fog”? (Ben Kingsley puts the “mere” in my mortal.)

  13. Melissa said:
    “Amazing that 2003 was such a great year for movies, and 2004 was so lukewarm.”

    Maybe the Best Picture nominees are lukewarm (and I wouldn’t know, not having seen any likely contenders myself), but 2004 was one of the better years for Hollywood filmmaking as a whole. Not only did we get genre-busters like Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ, which quality aside definitely shook things up, we got real quality out of the summer blockbusters as well, even the sequels. Spiderman 2, The Bourne Supremacy, Harry Potter III and Shrek 2 were all worthy sequels, in some cases surpassing the first installment. For your average uncritical movie-goer, 2004 was a banner year.

  14. For a great non-review of House of Flying Daggers which recaps the whole of Zhang’s career, and one reading of his politics as expressed in his movies, see here.

  15. “For your average uncritical movie-goer, 2004 was a banner year.”

    I really wish I could get excited about and enjoy movies again. I saw two of the sequels you listed and thought they both stank. Besides Napoleon Dynamite, Hero and the Passion, I can’t think of any movies I saw this year that I’d consider great. I’m probably forgetting some though.

    These days I mostly only enjoy pure light-hearted fluff movies, like 13 Going on 30 (was that ’03 or ’04?). Although I finally saw Dodgeball, and didn’t think it was as great as my husband did.

    I feel like I have this horrible attitude towards movies and want it to go away. But it doesn’t. Did anyone see the Terminal? I just rented it and I was disappointed in Tom Hanks. Besides the distraction of how realistic it would be for him to learn the language so easily (they never really showed how much time was going by), I thought his protrayal of the character was so blah. He can be so charming, and that character and movie should’ve been really charming, and it just wasn’t.

    I have little interest in seeing any of the films nominated for best picture. Neverland looks like it could be good, but I’m wondering if I’ll even make it all the way through it (definitely a renter for me).

  16. Susan —

    Which two?

    I actually haven’t seen Shrek 2 yet. Just going by the tomatometer on that one.

  17. Bryce, Shrek 2 is tolerable but it’s no Pixar movie. It’s worth a rental for the kids (though the content can be a bit risque at times), but not much more than that.

    My bid for best U.S. animated feature of the last 15 years, BTW: The Iron Giant.

  18. Bourne Supremacy and Shrek 2. Thought the first was stupid and the camera work annoying. The second I thought was ok but the whole making-fun-of-commercialism bugs me. Because it just ends up being commercial. It makes a little more sense to me after moving to southern Cali, but that only made it a little more annoying–just makes LA seem so ego-centric.

  19. I liked the camera work on Bourne Supremacy. It moved around and was very immediate, but didn’t have the “cameraman had too much coffee” look of NYPD Blue. The story was good enough, and I can’t imagine a single review of that movie that didn’t have the words “stylish” or “slick” in it.

  20. Wow. Look at that. Instant discussion of film. THE AVIATOR‘s not boring, it’s just two movies in one. The first half centers on his relationship with Hepburn and the second half concentrates on his battles with PanAm. The second half is the weaker of the two, I’ll admit, so the movie does wear thin as it progresses. Nevertheless, boring has never been in impediment to Oscar glory. Look at OUT OF AFRICA, now, that was mind-numbing and somehow managed to win.

    Bob,
    I’ve seen Katharine Hepburn in interviews too, but she was always much older than the Katharine that Cate Blanchett was asked to play. Perhaps there are interviews from the forties I’m unaware of, but regardless I don’t believe filmed interviews are much more indicative of a person’s true personality than filmed performances.

    Like others I lament the fact that there’s a separate animation category, because THE INCREDIBLES was one of this year’s best. The category helped SPIRITED AWAY get attention, but as the years pass I think we’ll see Pixar and DreamWorks dominate this category and foreign animation will be nearly always pushed aside. The year SPIRITED AWAY won it was up against ICE AGE and LILO & STITCH, not a tough field.

    Melissa,
    SIDEWAYS may win, I haven’t seen it yet, but I doubt it, if only because I buy into a theory floating around out there that so many critics love it primarily because they relate so much to the main character—a disgruntled writer that feels he hasn’t lived up to his potential and hides behind bitter cynicism. Hmmm…now why would film critics relate to a character like that?

    And let me make one further prediction about a film we both love, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. It will win Best Original Screenplay, which to me has always been more indicative of what the best picture of the year is than the Best Picture award itself.

    And about your last paragraph, Melissa, are you saying that if LOST IN TRANSLATION had come out this year it would win Best Picture? Because although I found myself in agreement with much of what you said I think that particular film is one of the most completely over-rated movies in recent memory.

  21. BG, you are WAY off about Lost in Translation. That’s a fantastic movie, IMHO; great but understated direction, cinematography that’s out of this world…. awesome.

    WAY off. Did I say WAY?

  22. I’d watch Bill Murray in a car commercial – and enjoy it. I second Steve’s endorsement of Lost in Translation. That’s what Japan feels like too. I like all the vertical lines in that movie.

  23. Brian G. said:

    Like others I lament the fact that there’s a separate animation category, because THE INCREDIBLES was one of this year’s best. The category helped SPIRITED AWAY get attention, but as the years pass I think we’ll see Pixar and DreamWorks dominate this category and foreign animation will be nearly always pushed aside.

    Not so fast. Now that Disney and Pixar are on the outs, Disney’s got to find another outside studio that it can distribute in order to shore up its ailing animation division. They’ve got the rights to the US distribution for Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, which produced Spirited Away, and which has Howl’s Moving Castle lined up next — it has already broken box office records in Japan. Whether Disney will try for a wide release with this film, which is based on a work of fiction written by English author Dianna Wynne Jones, remains to be seen, but one imagines that the subject matter may help the film be more accessible to American audiences.

    At any rate, there are plenty of studios making interesting animated features other than Dreamworks and Pixar. Look at The Triplets of Belleville or Satoshi Kon’s Millenium Actresss, for example. They may not rake in the bucks in the US, but they may steal some hardware from the big boys yet.

  24. “Melissa, are you saying that if LOST IN TRANSLATION had come out this year it would win Best Picture? Because although I found myself in agreement with much of what you said I think that particular film is one of the most completely over-rated movies in recent memory.”

    I do think “Lost in Translation” would have a decent chance at the big prize if it had come out in 2004. I have many friends who also thought it was overrated, Brian, and I can definitely understand why. While I did think the central relationship was wonderfully written and performed, it’s a pretty slow-moving film, and ultimately I think loving it (or not) has a lot to do with loving (or not) the atmosphere it generates.

    “And let me make one further prediction about a film we both love, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. It will win Best Original Screenplay, which to me has always been more indicative of what the best picture of the year is than the Best Picture award itself.”

    I do hope “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” wins something, because it was so wonderful, even if it was perhaps the most heartbreaking, painful romance I’ve ever seen. Best Screenplay for Charlie Kaufman would be great, but I have also loved the work of director Michel Gondry for years, ever since I first saw those strange videos he directed for Bjork. They were like something out of the silent era (when even mainstream movies were often MUCH weirder than most of what we see now). (Brief aside: at the very first Academy Awards, TWO best picture prizes were given: one for “Outstanding Picture” and one for “Unique and Artistic Picture”. I like that idea…)

    I agree that the screenplay is a huge — and ridiculously under-recognized — part of a movie’s quality. A few years ago, Steve Martin launched a campaign on behalf of screenwriters everywhere against the credit “A Film By [Director’s Name Here]”, except in cases where the director was also the writer of the film. A legitimate complaint, I think. (Another aside: there are currently *two* Steve-Martin-penned films scheduled for release in 2005: “Shopgirl” from his novel (which I haven’t read) and “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” from his wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful, and yet again wonderful play of the same name. “LA Story”, which was written by him, is one of my favorite movies of all time.)

  25. “At any rate, there are plenty of studios making interesting animated features other than Dreamworks and Pixar. Look at The Triplets of Belleville or Satoshi Kon’s Millenium Actresss, for example. They may not rake in the bucks in the US, but they may steal some hardware from the big boys yet.”

    That’s a good point, Bryce. I had forgotten until just now that “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” came out in 2004. I haven’t seen it, but I recently heard a glowing recommendation from a friend. Maybe it will be one of the animated feature nominees…

    I went into “Triplets of Belleville” all ready to like it, but I just. didn’t. get it. What was it about? Why did anything that happened happen? And, even in a movie where the dialogue (in French) is minimal, what kind of obstinate crank refuses to subtitle it for an English-speaking audience? I felt headachy and slightly drugged by the end of that movie.

    On the other hand, I thought “Millennium Actress” was terrific. I actually felt sort of drugged at the end of that one too, but in a good, exhilirated way.

    I am looking forward to the upcoming animated feature “Astro Boy”, based on a popular Japanese comic and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of the Cartoon Network shows “Dexter’s Laboratory”, “The Clone Wars” and the spectacular “Samurai Jack”.

  26. Bryce, about Bourne Supremacy–I have enough worries about my eyesight (I’m diabetic) to not need to see a movie that makes me question what I’m seeing on the screen–who just got punched there? who was doing what to who there? 🙂

    The thing I thought was stupid about it was the fact that the CIA could somehow create an ultimate killing machine, the perfect assassin–yet they just assume when they find his fingerprint at a crime scene that he slipped up and made such an obvious error. They should have at least considered that maybe he left it there intentionally.

    I know people who love the books, but I’ve never read them. I only made it about 10 minutes into the first movie when we rented it. I think I just have a bad attitude about movies…I was hoping I’d like it when my brother- and sister-in-law wanted us to go with them. They loved it.

  27. I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Rock on the Oscars. Normally I don’t watch the Oscars, at least not the whole thing (and I’m not even a straight black man). But Chris Rock should make it interesting. Good article here:

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2113952/

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