December 31, 2001
2:08 PM   Subscribe

This year's Oscar race is shaping up to be populated entirely by dark horses. In the absence of any clear shoo-in nominees, the disputes among Oscar voters (as well as the marketing campaigns mounted by the studios) are growing increasingly heated.
posted by jjg (26 comments total)
Nice post. It's good to see authority baffled. It means that there were plenty of movies out there that not only varied widely in theme, but broke new ground.

I'm no film major, but I'd have to say that 2001 was a pretty good year for good movies. It's no 1999, but I think that as we look back on 2001, we're going to remember a lot of movies as being quality.
posted by taumeson at 2:19 PM on December 31, 2001

Metacritic's awards roundup page provides a good way to get a sense of which way the wind is blowing. My guess is that the Best Picture nominees will be:

- "A Beautiful Mind"
- "The Lord of the Rings"
- "Moulin Rouge"
- "Memento"
- either "Black Hawk Down" or "In the Bedroom"

Definitely an unusual mix.
posted by jjg at 2:29 PM on December 31, 2001

I think Sean Penn may squeak by with a nomination for I Am Sam, but it's my hunch that Will Smith will win for Ali, although Crowe may slip in there.

I haven't seen anything that really strikes me as a lock for Best Picture, but Shrek is almost a guarantee for Best Animated Feature.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:03 PM on December 31, 2001

Mulholland Drive was incredible. Memento was incredible. People might not agree, but Lord of the Rings was incredible too. Oh, and the Royal Tenenbaums....2001 really was a good year for film.
posted by eraserhed at 3:03 PM on December 31, 2001

My favorites were just in the past couple months, Mulholland Drive, Waking Life, The Man Who Wasn't There, and The Royal Tenenbaums. There should be at least one directing/writing/acting nod per film.
posted by mathowie at 3:09 PM on December 31, 2001

Though I doubt it has the political connections required for the win, I remain hopeful for a tremendous showing for Memento.

In the purest of terms, Memento is worthy of best picture: It is a synthesis of absolute skill at every strata of cinema. The film goes far beyond the simple temporal "gimmick" that some have accused it of. The writing is sharp and even jarring at times; the major characters are complex, tortured contradictions who blur "good" and "bad" more than we're willing to admit. Think about it -- who's good, who's bad in this movie? But the minor characters too stick in your mind, from the laughing man at the bar to the silent but disquietingly permanent love of his wife. This all enough would be justification for a nomination.

But there's more.

The score -- shaking and stirring, scary and hopeful, memorable but not overblown(Harry Potter), it is impossible to imagine the movie without it, and it's impossible to imagine any *other* movie with it.

The scene -- anytime, anyplace. Some bar, some motel, some car, some corruption. There's a history here, there's a future there, but what is it? There seem to be pages missing, but then that's the point isn't it.

Ironic that a movie so obsessed with broken memories might get forgotten.

More ironic that people complain about formulaic garbage, then whine that they can't understand the alternative.

Yours Truly,

Dan Kaminsky
DoxPara Research
posted by effugas at 3:10 PM on December 31, 2001

Don't trust effugas's lies.
posted by Ptrin at 3:20 PM on December 31, 2001

I also have to agree that 2001 was a pretty good year in film as well. Any year that brings out movies like Memento and Lord of the Rings is up there in my list.

I absolutely loved Memento, and if anything I will never forgive myself for never having gone to see it in the theatres while I could. Lord of the Rings is a movie I enjoyed immensely, and its only a matter of time before I find myself once again in a darkened room, prepared to spend another 3 hours in front of the big canvas.

As far as the other ones, well in all honesty 2001 has probably been the year in which I have gone to the theatre the least...and yes, it mostly has to do with money.
posted by oneiros at 3:21 PM on December 31, 2001

It's probably not an Oscar-winning type of spectacle, but I liked "Ghost World". Hopefully it'll get a screenplay nod. It could do with the publicity more than some of the others, I reckon.
posted by liam at 3:24 PM on December 31, 2001

liam, I am so with you on Ghost World. a beautiful film. Memento, however, I could have done without. I just didn't get into it like my friends did. I thought it was just silly. Lord of The Rings, in my opinion, was one of the year's best.
posted by bradth27 at 3:27 PM on December 31, 2001

Here's a shameless self-link to my top ten list. I thought it was an excellent year for movies. Major disappointment: The Royal Tenenbaums. Major delight: LOTR. Best film you probably missed: Together.
posted by muckster at 3:39 PM on December 31, 2001

As for the Oscars -- who cares?
posted by muckster at 3:40 PM on December 31, 2001

I'm watching Memento for the second time tonight. I hope to see LOTR for the second time very soon. And the third. And the forth. Etc. etc. ad infinitum.
posted by Ptrin at 3:52 PM on December 31, 2001

The five that mattered: Mulholland Drive, Amelie, The Man Who Wasn't There, Ghost World and Waking Life.

Honorable mention: Amore Perros, Bandits, Fellowship of the Ring, Gosford Park, No Man's Land, Sexy Beast.

Overrated: The Royal Tennenbaums, Memento, Vanilla Sky.

Worst Movies of the Year: Kiss of the Dragon, The One, American Pie 2, Planet of the Apes, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, K-Pax.

I haven't seen "In the Bedroom," "Donnie Darko," "With A Friend Like Harry" or "Black Hawk Down" yet. But I've seen just about everything else.

All other films released this year were either worthy of being seen once or, in most cases, not at all. The problem with movies this year was that there were a lot of bad movies for the first six months, a solid helping of good movies over the past three months, but only a handful of great ones throughout the duration of the year.

I suspect that the Oscars will probably opt for "A Beautiful Mind," "Fellowship of the Ring" and possibly a nod to the ensemble cast in "Kate & Leopold." Sad to say,"Mulholland Drive" and "Ghost World" don't stand much of a chance.
posted by ed at 4:07 PM on December 31, 2001

Argh..AMORRES Perro.
posted by ed at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2001

I actually thought 2001 was a pretty thin year for movies until the serious movies started showing up in late fall. Memento, Shrek, and Donnie Darko are the only really good movies I remember seeing before November.

ed: I don't think you could say that Vanilla Sky was overrated, considering the generally mediocre reviews.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:54 PM on December 31, 2001

My top three are Amelie (a shoo-in for Best Foreign Language Film), Mulholland Drive, and Ghost World. All three of these were better than anything I'd seen in years.

I loved Memento the first two times I saw it, but further analysis revealed too many plot holes. Amelie and Ghost World both have several minor continuity mistakes, but Mulholland Drive is, for me, just damn perfect (once you figure out the key to it, after the first confusing time you watch it).

Haven't seen Monster's Ball, Royal Tenenbaums, Black Hawk Down, In the Bedroom yet.

'Nuff Said.
posted by Ben Grimm at 5:31 PM on December 31, 2001

Oops, haven't seen Gosford Park yet either... I have a feeling this could creep up to one of my top spots... I'm an Anglophile and Altman fan already as it is... this movie is getting almost unanimous great reviews.
posted by Ben Grimm at 5:33 PM on December 31, 2001

On a side note, Harry Knowles just released his list of best films. 'Battle Royale' kicks major ass.
posted by bobo123 at 5:44 PM on December 31, 2001

While Mulholland Drive impressed me when I first saw it, as time has passed I've realized it left me with very little as a film. It's standard Lynch bizarre, which is more interesting than most Hollywood crapola - but the only award nod I can think of for it is for Naomi Watts, who so far of what I've seen I would pick as Best Actress.

Having just returned from a second viewing of Lord of the Rings I can't help but shout the praises of Ian McKellan as Gandalf and Sean Bean as Boromir. I really, really hope Bean doesn't get overlooked - he's outstanding in this.

And I don't think I've seen it mentioned yet, but I do happen to think Moulin Rouge was a damn fine film, and also deserves a Best Picture nomination. (Go ahead, toss your Raisinets at me. I liked it, so there.)
posted by dnash at 5:48 PM on December 31, 2001

Excellent point about Sean Bean, dnash -- his Boromir is one of the few recent movie characters I can think of who have obvious dark sides but still do things like play silly sword games with the kiddies (the hobbits) in a completely guileless way. With most conflicted characters, the conflict is always present, often with some weird glint in the eye. Not with Mr. Bean. It'd be great to see him get a Supporting Actor nomination.

Oh, and Nicole Kidman was pretty dang good in "The Others," too.
posted by diddlegnome at 6:02 PM on December 31, 2001

Here's my top five of 2001...

1. Mullholland Drive - Beautiful, and I walked away questioning everything.

2. Amores Perro - Hollywood tried to suck us in with some bizzare interpertation of a title which was touted "Life's a bitch" (and in actuality means Dog Love) The movie was violently exquisite and original.

3. Amelie - It was fun and interesting. The cinematography was great, despite the French controversy.

4. Waking Life - Incredible visually.... even though I felt I was in Pschy 101. Despite no continuity, it is deffinately worth a watch.

5. A Beautiful Mind - Nice play on a familiar topic of supposed insanity. I was not thrilled with the wrapped up ending, but the premise was great.

There were so many others. These are my favorites.
posted by Benway at 6:29 PM on December 31, 2001

Any other year this thread would have been nasty, unfruitful, I couldn't give a shit etc. For the first year in a long time I think there can be some real debate between about 10 films that should get into the best film category and debate over who should win will be really worthwhile.
I get into the couldn't care less about the oscars mood most years but when you get the occasional triumph like Cuckoo's Nest/Silence of the Lambs they do become important again. I think the good decisions at the oscars (eg Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull) make all the bs just fade away.
posted by Zootoon at 7:22 PM on December 31, 2001

mr_crash_davis - As much as I'd like to see Sean Penn go home with a (long overdue) statue, it probably won't happen for another 20 or 30 years. He'll show up in some mediocre roll and someone will decide that its time to toss him a bone and declare him a "Hollywood Institution" fit for the museum.

Of course, I'm still bitter that he didn't even get even nominated in '98, for either HurlyBurly or Thin Red Line. The former, especially ... it is his finest performance, and one of the greatest performances by any actor during the 90's, perhaps even longer.
posted by hipstertrash at 9:40 PM on December 31, 2001

...but what about John Cameron Mitchell (Best Actor, Director, Screenplay) and Steven Trask (Best Song, Soundtrack) for Hedwig and the Angry Inch? Funny, moving, and it just plain rocked.

Oh, and Memento wasn't only formulaic, it just failed to assume any intelligence on the part of its characters. If, for instance, you stole a ton of drug money, would you hang around in town? Wouldn't you at least set up "Mr. No-memory" as a patsy? And, as a former cop, why would you ever revisit the scene of the crime? In the end, all that holds this movie together is a hackneyed, used premise, which makes this movie somewhat more interesting than it otherwise would have been.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:57 PM on January 1, 2002

The Oscars have very little to do with quality and everything to do with your connections and your P.R. campaign.

It's in your favor if you're promoting a stuffy, British, period drama or a angst-ridden hamfest that has a lot of crying scenes.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 8:38 PM on January 1, 2002

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