The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1997
1997. Titanic. I think that about covers it.
Sure it’s not a perfect film, but, this isn’t Best Picture. This is Best Director. I don’t think many people would argue that Cameron didn’t direct the hell out of the movie. The only real issue with Cameron is his weak and/or contrived scripts. But he wasn’t nominated for that, was he?
Also in 1997, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Best Actor and Best Actress for As Good As It Gets, Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting, and Kim Basinger won Best Supporting Actress for L.A. Confidential. All around good films there. And yet, Titanic. It sucks when such good films are up against a film that can’t lose. (Gee, how many times has that happened?)
BEST DIRECTOR – 1997
And the nominees were…
James Cameron, Titanic
Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty
Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter
Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential
Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting
Cameron — It’s Titanic. I need to say nothing. Big movie, sweeping epic — the fucking boat goes down. Most of it was shot using a real boat. No one in their right mind could say Cameron didn’t deserve this.
Cattaneo — The Full Monty is a great movie. I was always hesitant to see it, because, I knew the premise and was like, “…and?” Sometimes that’s all you need. This is a movie that’s charming as hell. It’s about a bunch of dudes, one in particular, who get laid off from their jobs at a factory. And they all cope differently. One dude pretends like he’s still working and lies to his wife. One works at some other menial job. All that. And for some reason, every once in a while in this town, some show comes into town that features naked men dancing. All their wives go to it. And the main guy decides, “Fuck it, why don’t we do that? We’re not as good looking as those other guys but everyone will come because it’s us.” And what they do is then spend all their time practicing to do it. And that’s the movie, pretty much. They recruit people, and they prepare to do it. The movie is surprisingly a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s definitely a movie worth checking out.
Now, as for the direction — no. Not gonna vote for it. I mean, come on. But, hey, it got nominated, and that’s awesome. More recognition for a film that could have just come out in the UK and came and went unnoticed. So, that’s great. But, as for voting, nope.
Egoyan — Here’s a movie I heard a lot about before I’d even seen it. Once I got into the whole movie thing, this one just kept popping up on lists like — “We really think you’re gonna like this one.” Like, all the people who liked all the movies that I like, also really liked this movie. And for some reason I never got around to actually watching it. I guess I somehow knew all along.
I didn’t much care for this movie. It was fine and all, but, not something I’m gonna watch ever again. Unless somehow I find out there’s some enlightening factor that I’ve somehow missed regarding this film. But, it was okay. Just not as great as the other people lead me to believe. It’s about a bus accident in a small Canadian town. Pretty much everyone in town was involved. Some people were killed or harmed for life. And Ian Holm is a lawyer — and he’s got some daughter issues, she’s run away and is off doing drugs and shit, but he’s still treating her like a perfect daughter — and he comes to the town to sue the bus company for a big settlement. And he coaches the town on what to say, and bends the story to make it seem like the bus was faulty. And he interviews people and everything, and eventually one girl, who sees that he’s not sincere, and just wants to exploit the tragedy for money, lies to make sure the lawsuit doesn’t go through.
I’m not really sure why everyone loves this movie so much, but, hey, if they like it, great. It’s just not for me. The direction was fine though, but I can never vote for it. I just don’t see what’s so great about it that it must be voted for.
Hanson — This movie is fucking amazing. Probably the best movie of 1997. At least when you factor in the great and classy ratio that films need to have. (Note: I love The Fifth Element, but, the classy ratio isn’t high enough to call it “the best” of 1997. Favorite — yes. Best — not really. You understand.)
The movie’s about a police precinct, three of its cops specifically — Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce, one loose cannon good cop, one celebrity cop and one by-the-book supercop — dealing with a specific incident. There’s a bunch of murders that took place at a diner and that provides the main case of the film. But, as they go on doing other shit, that’s the main interest of the film. And that’s also how we end up solving the big case. And there’s corruption and all that shit. If you’ve seen it, you know there’s a lot more to it than that. If you haven’t seen it, just watch it and stop listening to me talk about it.
This film, to me, is perfect. But, direction-wise — yeah, Cameron’s got him.
Van Sant — Everyone’s seen Good Will Hunting, right? So I don’t need to talk about it. Janitor, actually a genius, found out by a professor, sends him to a shrink, works through his problems, starts using his potential. And some other shit happens too. That’s basically the movie. It’s great. Everyone should see it. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie, you don’t want me to tell you more because you should be embarrassed. If you have seen it, you already know.
As for the direction, it’s really good, but, Gus Van Sant isn’t a very flashy director, and up against James Cameron, I’m gonna need to love a film or its direction to vote for it over that. And this, I love, but not as much as I love L.A. Confidential, and I don’t love the direction enough to vote for it over Cameron. So, no vote. But, as a movie — fucking great.
My Thoughts: It’s Cameron. Come on, now.
My Vote: Cameron
Should Have Won: Cameron.
Is the result acceptable?: Yes. Dude directed the hell out of the movie.
Ones I suggest you see: I think everyone needs to see Titanic once in their lives. Most of us probably have seen it in theaters. But for those of you who haven’t, or refused to, it’s where it should be seen. Still, watch it. It’s worth the watch. It’s a great effort in direction, even if the story is cliched as all hell. And L.A. Confidential speaks for itself. That’s a fucking great movie. A must-see if I were the one deciding. Otherwise it’s a must-see if you want to be someone who fancies themselves a film buff. And Good Will Hunting is great. Always worth a watch. And The Full Monty is a lot of fun. Definitely worth checking out.
3) Van Sant