I'd like to spank the Academy

75th-annual-academy-awardsThe 2002 best picture nominees are really a mixed bag. We’ve got a musical about murderesses, a drama about women reading a classic novel, a fantasy flick about short heroes, a Holocaust picture, and a non-musical West Side Story. It was all over the map. But they did have one thing in common: they were all based on/inspired by other works. Nothing was very original. Gangs of New York, being inspired by a nonfiction book about gangs in New York, did have to make up a story to tie all the things about gangs together, but still. I found it interesting that a bunch of not-so-fabulous movies were all based on something else. Is that why they were all not-so-fabulous? People were trying to tell other people’s stories instead of their own?

As I have looked at past winners and nominees, I have noticed a couple of trends. The Academy likes World War II/Holocaust movies (Schindler’s List, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, Casablanca) and movies about show business (All About Eve, The Artist, even this year’s winner Birdman). In 2002, they had to make a choice between a show business movie and a Holocaust movie, and apparently, the Academy prefers show business over the Holocaust. It’s not terribly surprising, I suppose, because everyone likes movies they can relate to. People also like to feel like their lives are important enough to make movies about, so show business movies make show business people feel validated, I suppose. But really, how did Chicago win, considering its lack of meaning? I think there is a song from that musical that explains it:

Give ’em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle ’em
Show ’em the first rate sorcerer you are
Long as you keep ’em way off balance
How can they spot you’ve got no talents?
Razzle dazzle ’em
And they’ll make you a star!

Chicago was a dazzling movie. It was big and loud and fun and there were lots of flashy costumes and it had Richard Gere tap dancing. Richard Gere! It made people excited, and they didn’t notice what was lacking. The Pianist, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly flashy, and it definitely wasn’t fun. It was heartbreaking and hard to watch. But I think it was the better movie. Roman Polanski knew what he wanted to say with his story, while Rob Marshall presented a beautiful package filled with nothing.

How do I rank the nominees?

5.Gangs of New York
4.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2.The Hours
1.The Pianist

Join me next week for a bunch of movies that are always overshadowed by Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz!

Comments on: "The 75th Academy Awards: My Verdict" (1)

  1. I went back and watched Chicago again today. I think I’ve figured out why I’m kind of okay with it winning–it’s tremendously entertaining, even if it’s emotionally hollow and meaningless (which, as you mentioned, is kind of the point of the whole movie anyway–who cares about justice or truth as long as you’re having fun, right? Sure, “The Piano” was probably better, but not very *sparkly*.)(I’m being a little facetious, but still.)

    Also, I do want to give them major props (haha, theater pun) for so perfectly transferring something written for the stage to the big screen. I can’t think of many (recent) movie musicals that have managed that–Les Mis and Moulin Rouge may have done well at the box office, but they were pretty ‘meh,’ and Hairspray was plenty peppy but not as fun as the staged version. (Haven’t seen Into the Woods yet, since there aren’t any movie theaters in this country.)(I’m not exaggerating, btw. There are literally no movie theaters here.)

    Also, I mean, *Richard Gere tap-dancing*. That’s gotta distract any jury, whether murder trial or The Academy. 😉

    It shouldn’t have won best costume design, though. LOTR deserved that one.


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