And the Oscar for "Best Picture" Goes to ...
- Monday, February 23, 2004
It’s that time of year, when all of Hollywood awards itself with the little golden idol known as the Oscar. What’s up for grabs at this year's 76th Annual Academy Awards? Will the most deserving films actually win the coveted Oscar? And does it matter in the greater scheme of life? The world may never know, but for what it’s worth, here’s my take on the nominees for "Best Picture" in 2003.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Summary: Two lonely people meet and decide to be lonely together in a cultural caricature of a country called Japan. Very funny – especially if you’ve ever lived abroad, visited Asia or tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak a word of English. The message of the film, however – that marriage is empty and unfulfilling – is sad with strong nihilistic overtones.
Chances of winning: Next to nothing. I don’t predict an Oscar for Sofia Coppola (Best Director nominee) or star Bill Murray (Best Actor nominee) either.
In my humble opinion: This small-budget film certainly merited a nomination for its excellent acting, cinematography and direction – and it would win if the Oscar were awarded for Funniest Film. But, with its limited audience appeal, “Lost in Translation” is the least likely contender for Best Picture.
Summary: The little horse – with a little jockey, a little trainer and a little owner – that could. Lots of adrenaline, hurt and loneliness but a strong message of forgiveness, redemption and second chances offered through the grace and love of a father. Sadly, with its language, drinking, gambling and overt sexuality, “Seabiscuit” missed a chance to become both a classic and a family film.
Chances of winning: Despite its star power (Jeff Bridges and Tobey Maguire star) and historical tale (always an Oscar favorite), "Seabiscuit" just doesn’t have the feel of a “big” film. In the top five was a good call – but not the winner, even by a long shot.
In my humble opinion: A good film that could have been better. Certainly not the best of the year.
Summary: “Crime Scene SVU” meets Greek tragedy when long-buried secrets return to the scene of a present-day tragedy. What does it mean to deny the past, then take justice into our own hands? A searing indictment of vigilante justice and the denial of those who refuse to repent for their wrongs – for adults only.
Chances of winning: Good. Director Clint Eastwood has made an excellent film in every way and Hollywood likes him. Far more deserving, however, is Sean Penn for Best Actor.
In my humble opinion: With its important message about truth, brokenness and not letting the past determine our future, “Mystic River” deserves this nomination. It does not deserve the Oscar, however – mostly because it’s the sort of drama we see every week on television, stepped up a notch.
MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD
Summary: Major testosterone on the high seas. Will the British Navy outwit a French mercenary ship? An homage to male friendship, leadership and a Christian worldview, during a time when this was still politically correct.
Chances of winning: Very good. Witty dialogue, excellent acting, inspired direction and a creative plot combine with phenomenal cinematography to make this a worthy contender.
In my humble opinion: While the film is fantastic, you don’t leave the theatre feeling as if you’ve been enlightened or changed – always my bottom line. It’s probably the second-best film of the year, however.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
Summary: The battle between good and evil continues to rage until finally, the ring is destroyed. Can’t figure out who’s who? Go read the book – it’s worth the effort. But here’s a clue: things aren’t always as they seem, and evil can look very beautiful at times. Go, Tolkien!
Chances of winning: Excellent. Big themes, big stars, big cinematography, big direction and big box office – all based on a literary masterpiece. The chances could not be better. I predict Oscars in other categories as well for this film, including Best Director for Peter Jackson.
In my humble opinion: No question about it – this is the winner. Neither the first nor the second film in the trilogy have taken home the Oscar, despite multiple nominations, so it’s high time.
The 76th Annual Academy Awards air on ABC this Sunday night, February 29, 2004 at 8e/5p.
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