Love me some 1997. This is a year where I was old enough to start seeing some of these films on my own for the first time, rather than seeing them as I got older. For some reason I don’t consider this that strong a year, but look at the movies that are here… it’s really strong. The late 90s was a pretty great time to be making movies. Good stuff happened here.
This year has some of my all-time favorite movies, and some others that are embedded into my personality forever. I have so many reference points from this list.
This year also has the added notoriety of having had, for a time, the biggest movie ever made, which kind of dwarfs everything else. I guess some of that is really 1998, since the movie came out in late December and was huge all through the first part of 1998. But man, does anyone else miss walking into literally any public place and hearing “My Heart Will Go On” playing on the speakers? I mean, I don’t, but someone might. (more…)
Sometimes the Academy is the Academy, and there’s really no other way things can turn out. This is one of those times. When a film like Titanic comes along — no other film has a chance. Big, epic, romantic, makes the cry — it has it all. The quintessential Oscar film. It also having broken every box office record also helps.
Outside of the relative sweep for the film (it won 11/14 Oscars, losing Actress, Supporting Actress and Makeup), which included Best Director for James Cameron (talked about here), Best Actor and Best Actress went to Jack Nicholson (talked about here) and Helen Hunt (talked about here) for As Good as It Gets. These are both generally regarded as weak decisions, given the nature of the film, but I’m okay with them. Titanic was gonna overshadow everything else anyway, and seeing as how Nicholson’s main competition was Robert Duvall (I don’t buy the Fonda thing at all), and Nicholson was gonna win one anyway, I think this was acceptable (unless of course we don’t want Adrien Brody winning in 2002). And Helen Hunt — the category was terrible. I know Judi Dench, but I hate voting for on-the-nose performances (meaning: costume dramas) in this era. Then Best Supporting Actor went to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting (talked about here), which he was overdue for and makes sense, and Best Supporting Actress went to Kim Basinger for L.A. Confidential (talked about here), which really wasn’t a great performance, but at least the film got recognized. The performance that should have won (Joan Cusack), at least, to me, anyway, was never going to win. So that’s an acceptable substitute, I guess.
I guess I’ll use this space to say, even though Titanic was always going to win, L.A. Confidential is such a great film. Even though we’d all have preferred for it to have won, it’s better that it worked out this way. Sometimes it’s better to think positively about the “what if” than live with the reality of it happening.
BEST PICTURE – 1997
And the nominees were…
As Good As It Gets (TriStar)
The Full Monty (Fox Searchlight)
Good Will Hunting (Miramax)
L.A. Confidential (Warner Bros.)
Titanic (Paramount, 20th Century Fox) (more…)
1997 is like having a stupid relative. You can’t do anything about it no matter how much you want to. Because there’s no way Titanic wasn’t winning Best Picture this year. Or Best Director for James Cameron (talked about here). It was inevitable. No matter how much we all think L.A. Confidential should have won instead.
Then Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting, talked about here, and Kim Basinger won Best Supporting Actress for L.A. Confidential, talked about here. I didn’t vote for either decision, but I am okay with both of them. Read the articles to find out why.
Then Best Actress was Helen Hunt for As Good as It Gets (talked about here). I mention her last because there’s an interesting piece of trivia in regards to that. Every time Jack Nicholson has won an Oscar — three times. First for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, second for Terms of Endearment in 1983 (Supporting), and then here — his leading lady in the film won Best Actress for the film. Not Supporting — Best Actress. That’s crazy, right? Here’s a dude that not only delivers the goods, but helps you deliver the goods.
BEST ACTOR – 1997
And the nominees were…
Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting
Robert Duvall, The Apostle
Peter Fonda, Ulee’s Gold
Dustin Hoffman, Wag the Dog
Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets (more…)
1997 is so simple to recap. Titanic. ‘Nuff said. Whether you agree with the decision or not, you can understand why it won. And why James Cameron won Best Director for it (talked about here). Then Jack Nicholson winning Best Actor for As Good as It Gets, makes sense based on his category. Plus, he was so goddamn enjoyable in the role. Then Best Supporting Actor (talked about here) was Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting, and Best Supporting Actress (talked about here) was Kim Basinger for L.A. Confidential. In all, a solid (and diverse) set of choices.
As for this category, it’s one of those ones that is looked at negatively, after the fact. Not that Helen Hunt wasn’t charming and all, it’s just — she beat Judi Dench. Other people would say Helena Bonham Carter, but most people say Judi. It’s a tough call, the category’s not that strong, and there isn’t really a #1 performance. Although, the current result does help perpetuate a nice bit of trivia, which is — all three times Jack Nicholson has won an Oscar (1975, 1983 and here), his female co-star in the film also won Best Actress for the film. And that coincidence might be worth the result. Maybe. I don’t know. I consider this mostly a blank. Does it really matter so much what happened here?
BEST ACTRESS – 1997
And the nominees were…
Helena Bonham Carter, The Wings of the Dove
Julie Christie, Afterglow
Judi Dench, Mrs. Brown
Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets
Kate Winslet, Titanic (more…)
We just talked about 1997 a week ago. Titanic. Remember? Yeah, nuff said. Fortunately, though, Titanic doesn’t factor into this category, so we really get to have some fun here. This was a great year for Supporting Actor. All five are really good movies, and three of them didn’t get enough love past this category, so it’s nice to be able to talk about them.
Just to recap, Best Actor and Best Actress this year were Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt for As Good As It Gets (and just because it’s a great piece of trivia, I’ll point it out each time this comes up — all three times Jack Nicholson has won an Oscar (twice for lead once for supporting), the lady he was playing opposite won Best Actress for the same film. How incredible is that?), Best Supporting Actress was Kim Basinger for L.A. Confidential, and Best Director was James Cameron for Titanic. You know, despite the sweep this year, they did spread the wealth surprisingly well, considering. Sweep films so rarely get acting nominations.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1997
And the nominees were…
Robert Forster, Jackie Brown
Anthony Hopkins, Amistad
Greg Kinnear, As Good As It Gets
Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights
Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting (more…)
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 (more…)
I did one of each of the other acting categories so far. Might as well round it out with a Best Supporting Actress. I’m saving Best Director because I have a lot of those done, and I think I’m going to do them all in a row. Also, I’ve been doing older categories, so I also thought I’d do a more recent one. My guess is most people have seen all or most of these movies.
1997 was one of those pass over years. The ones where you see what won, go, “Well, yeah, it’s (whatever),” and move on. Titanic, Ben-Hur, Schindler’s List — films that are so big and huge that you just gloss over the rest of the films because, “What’s gonna beat them?” These are the years I try to look more closely at, just because, while you can’t completely say something else should have won (Watch me.), you can still discover good films that generally fall by the wayside more than films in other years. (Note: This is not a concrete theory. I just assume the casual person is less likely to look in a year with a definitive winner than one where, “Chariots of Fire — what the fuck did that beat?”). So, I’m gonna try my best to turn you onto films that you may not have seen. (But, if you’re around my age and haven’t seen them, what the hell have you seen?)
Before I do that, let’s cover what else won this year. Best Picture went to Titanic, and Cameron won Best Director in one of the least surprising races of all time. Best Actor and Best Actress went to Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt for As Good As It Gets. Best Supporting Actor went to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting. Those were all the winners. Now let’s get into this category, which is a surprisingly — I don’t really have a problem with the nominees, but I’m not ecstatic about them either. This year seemed to be one of those films years where the films were good, but not many acting performances were standout. Some years you get great performances but shit films, other years you get both — this one seemed to produce films that felt like ensemble pieces, where you couldn’t really be like, “that performance is the one.” So the result is a decent, but mostly unmemorable category. (more…)