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The Oscar Quest: Best Picture & Best Director – 2001

I say 2001 was a bad year for film, and it’s hard to disagree with that fact. Sure, there were some good movies, but not many Oscar movies. We got our first Harry Potter, we got Monsters, Inc., we got Shrek. But none of these will ever get (well, now…) nominated for Best Picture.

But, here are the good pictures from 2001 that did not get Best Picture nominations (some you may feel aren’t worthy, but, when you look at them, you can see why they would, could or should — rhymes — be in contention):

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Ali, Amélie, Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive, Pearl Har…uhh…never mind, and Training Day.

I actually thought there would be more. That kind of made my argument for me. Sure, this doesn’t absolve the Academy for not nominating some of these, mostly — well, really just Amélie and Mulholland Drive, but we knew Lynch was too much of a mad genius for the Academy. The lack of Amélie love really surprises me because they nominated a foreign film just the year before this.

Also, the reason there’s such a problem with what won is because the film that probably should have won had a caveat to it. (The whole, ‘There are two more of them coming out, and we’d probably be better off just giving them the awards at the end of it as an accomplishment deal instead of giving it to the first one.”)

BEST PICTURE – 2001

And the nominees were…

A Beautiful Mind (Universal, DreamWorks)

Gosford Park (USA Films)

In the Bedroom (Miramax)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinema)

Moulin Rouge! (20th Century Fox)

A Beautiful Mind. I did like this movie. However, that like is coming from seeing it for the first time nine years after it won and watching it in a completely objective manner. Had I watched it knowing it won Best Picture, and thinking about it, I’d be like, “Are you fucking serious? Was HUAC involved again?”

This, as I’ve said on the last two Oscar entries, is Russell Crowe as schizophrenic mathematician — a staple of the Hollywood cinema, from King Kong to Citizen Kane — all schizophrenic mathematicians — and he goes crazy and shit. That’s really it. He thinks he’s helping the CIA even though he’s really just going off into the woods and coming up with conspiracy theories and shit. You know how it goes. We’ve all been there.

It’s a nice film. It’s just — too much Oscar bait, Russell Crowe plays this dude in college, which is about as big a stretch as Cher’s face, and it’s about him overcoming the schizophrenia, which just rings false. Shouldn’t they be focusing on the disease, rather than having it be like, “He had this, but look — look how he got electrocuted and had speech problems and relapses and almost killed his child, but then managed to still teach children and get lots of pens because of it!” That rings false to me. It’s a hell of a performance piece and all, but a Best Picture this is not.

Gosford Park. No. Sorry Altman, I just can’t get behind most of your stuff. This is the one about the servants and rich people on a British estate. It’s kind of like Clue: The Class Warfare Version. Who killed Dumbledore, in the study, with the poison? (Psst: It was Helen Mirren. That’s why she got nominated for Supporting Actress.) Everyone shows up, he dies, and they deal. And they all talk over each other and nothing really happens — it’s a Robert Altman movie. I’m sure people will swear by this. But I can’t. So, no.

In the Bedroom. Loved this movie. Loved may be strong. I liked it a lot. Solid 4 stars. Not more. Because it did fall into indie movie and Oscar bait traps — not including the lobster traps that give the film its title. Essentially, about parents, son college age, dating single mother who is a recent divorcée. Her husband comes around and the kid gets shot and killed. And small town secrets and shit, and everyone deals in their own way. Good movie. Won’t vote for it. See it though. It’s nice. Marisa Tomei is great in it.

Fellowship of the Ring. Clearly your best picture of the year right here. Hands down. Nothing on this list even comes close. But, there are two more to come. Oscar strayed from it because they figured they’d have to reward it again once the last one came out. It’s like, “Well, I wanted the Rings, but I guess I’ll have to vote for this piece of shit instead.” We all know this movie was the best. Not of the year, of this list. But I can even make a case for of the year. Of the three films, this is probably my second favorite (just because that Helm’s Deep battle is fucking awesome).  This one has the least CGI and most character development, so I like that. Actually, this is like Star Wars. The first one is probably the best stand alone, and everyone still likes the second one better.

Moulin Rouge. I liked this movie, but it really shouldn’t be considered a front-runner on this list by any stretch. I’m even cool with it being on here. Though if it were between this and Amélie you best believe this shit would be off in a heartbeat. But, it’s not the worst offender on this list. It’s a solid musical. Let’s not get caught up with the crazy amount of love for it though. It’s not that good. People seem to have some inordinate amount of love for this movie like it’s the greatest musical ever made. False. Is this a very entertaining movie? Absolutely.

Oh, about a poet who shows up at the big windmill and it’s a huge nightclub where they sing songs that won’t be written for 200 years, and he falls in love with a hooker who has TB and she dies and shit. Very larger than life. That said, John Leguizamo was awesome as Toulousse-Lautrec. Also, check John Huston’s original Moulin Rouge to see a biopic about Toulousse, starring José Ferrer. It’s a fascinating movie.

My thoughts: Fellowship is the best film. They wouldn’t vote for it. So, we ended up with Beautiful Mind instead. Not a Beautiful Choice.

Rankings:

  1. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  2. A Beautiful Mind
  3. Moulin Rouge (Just because it’s fast and not as slow and depressing as Bedroom)
  4. In the Bedroom
  5. Gosford Park

BEST DIRECTOR – 2001

And the nominees were…

Robert Altman, Gosford Park

Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind

Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

David Lynch, Mulholland Drive

Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down

Robert Altman. I never got the love for him as a director. Thank god neither did the Academy. All he did here was put mics on the actors and let them wander around, and essentially layered the dialogue so everyone talks at the same time, then just shot stuff and made a story out of it. I don’t get it.

Ron Howard. Good job directing, but let’s not pretend this isn’t Ron Howard taking a populist sensibility into something that should have an auteur sensibility. Definitely an undeserved Oscar in terms of directorial achievement, but one that’s okay because he’s Ron Howard and he’s awesome.

Peter Jackson. I might even say I don’t know if I’d vote for Jackson. The final two nominees did fucking astounding jobs with their material. Jackson did a great job, and he deserved one for the trilogy, but I’m actually okay with not voting for him here. Francis Coppola didn’t get one for the first Godfather, and that was a bigger error than this is. So, I have zero problem with it.

David Lynch. Holy fuck, this man is a crazed genius. I started watching Mulholland Drive, going, “This is going to be surreal and boring, isn’t it?” Then by the middle I was like, “Oh my God, I’m actually going along with this,” and by the end I was almost in a trance, like, “Holy shit, this is beautiful.” The man is a crazy genius. He’s like the mad doctor in the lab just mixing potions and shit. No one can do what he does and he has his own wavelength he operates on. It’s insane. That said, I still can’t vote for him (barely), purely because of one reason…

Ridley Scott. So he doesn’t win for Gladiator last year, and you still won’t give it to him for Black Hawk? This is like passing on someone when they give you just about the perfect thing possible in order to embrace them, and then they come back with something even better, and you still ignore them. That’s cold, Academy. The movie wasn’t great, but Ridley directed the shit out of it. I say the Gladiator effort was better overall, but this was more than enough to give him a statue. I mean, really? I can see why you didn’t want to give it to him for going Tony Scott with it, but still, the man deserves a statue. Do you really like Ron Howard that much?

My Thoughts: Ridley is the vote, even though Lynch was my favorite directorial effort. So was Jackson. So, Ridley gets my vote, even though he’s third in the rankings.

Rankings:

  1. Lynch
  2. Jackson
  3. Scott
  4. Howard
  5. Altman
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