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