January 31, 2006

The Oscar nominees.

Here. Comments?

UPDATE: The nominated films are unusually dark and dreary this year, aren't they? Of the films with major nominations, I've only seen "Capote" and "A History of Violence," both of which I thought were reasonably good, but not that good. Seeing these nominations scarcely makes me any more likely to go to the movies than I was before. And I'm much less likely than usual to watch the awards show. There's nothing awardsy about these films, nothing big and glamorous. And where are the women? Mostly, it looks like a parade of trudging, depressing men. The only note of feminine charm is "Pride and Prejudice."

MORE: Seeing the nominations did cause me to buy a DVD: "Crash." I think it may have the momentum. I'll try to develop an opinion about whether it deserves it. And I watched a new DVD yesterday -- it's like I'm on a film-watching spree -- "The Aristocrats." A pretty good documentary about what it means to tell a joke.

92 comments:

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Paul Giamatti [who will always be known to me as "Pig Vomit"] deserves to win this time around.

TWM said...

Yawn. Lots of surprises there, huh?

So many great movies for the average American to enjoy we just can't make up our minds. That is why box office receipts are the lowest in ages -- we just can't decide on one so we stay home.

Oh wait, we did decide -- we saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But that wasn't nominated. Things that make you go, "hmmmm?"

This will be the lowest rated Oscars in history. Or not.

Either way I won't be watching.

downtownlad said...

Oh wait, we did decide -- we saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But that wasn't nominated. Things that make you go, "hmmmm?"

Thank god the Oscars have good taste. It would be pathetic if it turned into a popularity contest, where the best picture award was between King Kong, Narnia, Batman Begins and Wedding Crashers. That's exactly what has happened to the Grammy awards, which is why nobody who knows anything about music actually pays attention to them.

I've only seen one of these movies, but I have lots of friends who are film buffs and it seems like they made the right choices (more or less). Everyone I know who has seen Narnia has said it was good popcorn fun, but nothing mind shattering.

C. Schweitzer said...

I get the feeling this year is going to have the most obnoxious, smug, and self-gratulatory Oscars ever--and that's saying something since the Oscars are, by definition, obnoxious, smug, and self-gratulatory.

With Jon Stewart hosting and several of the major films ("Brokeback Mountain," "Transamerica," "Good Night and Good Luck," "Syriana," and "Munich") having major agendas, how many times will red-state America be given figural or even literal middle fingers?

Agonizing.

Good luck to Paul Giamatti and Matt Dillon--both of whom put in extraordinary performances this year. As for the rest, meh . . .

downtownlad said...

C. Schweitzer - Agendas???? And you've seen how many of those movies to actually give an expert opinion?

I feel sorry for people who have to censor the movies that they see, because they're so afraid they might actually encounter something that might cause them to actually stop and think.

Narnia is obviously a "red-state" film. So? I still want to go and see it. I'm certainly not going to boycott it because it has an "agenda".

C. Schweitzer said...

RE: "Pig Vomit." See, for me, Paul Giamatti will always be "Veal Chop."

DC Cab Rider said...

So glad to see Crash getting some recognition. Was definately my favorite movie of the year. And no surprise with Judi Dench. Do you think she would read the phone book and be nominated? I think they just wait to see if she's in a movie and toss her name in.

I was surprised by some of the supporting actress awards, and by so many for Constant Gardener, which I hadn't seen yet. I'd thought Harry Potter might get more than it did, but maybe people are tired of giving it awards. And would have given a few more to History of Violence. If you haven't seen it yet, William Hurt's very very small part is very very showy, so I can see how he got nominated.

bill said...

Sadly ignored: I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.

mrbungle2103 said...

I must be the only person alive who thought that a) Walk The Line was akin to a film about Elvis impersonators, and b) that Reese Witherspoon's impression of june Carter Cash seemed an awful lot like Reese Witherspoon. Biographical movies that involve music drive me nuts. Yes Joaquin Phoenix sang a bit like Johnny Cash. No I don't think that is more impressive than an American Idol performance. Yet one is considered culturally relevant while the other is considered fluff. Call me cynical. Why is an Elvis impersonator thought to be any less impressive than Jamie Fox's awful portrayal of Ray Charles?

I'm with Jerry Seinfeld on acting awards - wow he pretended to be a fireman! He wasn't actually a fireman, but he did hold that hose really convincingly.

Wade_Garrett said...

C. Schweitzer - What do you mean? Exactly how is "Munich's" nomination going to be spun into a figurative middle finger towards red-state America? Munich is about setting aside doubts that what you're doing might be wrong in order to serve your country. Maybe I'm just a blue-state elitist, but wouldn't that message resonate with middle America? Brokeback Mountain, about two men drapped in relationships that aren't working for them when they'd rather be doing something else, and staying in the closet on account of overwhelming social conformity - that doesn't resonate with mainstream America?

What bothers me is that most of the time when conservatives attack hollywood movies, they either haven't seen the movies, or else they have seen them, but somehow saw a totally different movie than what I saw. I guess if you are that prejudiced towards the blue states, it doesn't really matter what they produce, since you're not going to give yourself a chance to like it anyway.

Wade_Garrett said...

I really enjoyed Good Night and Good Luck, but I thought it was a little too short, efficient, and to the point to warrant serious oscar nomination -- those usually go to overlong epics, and this movie is anything but. Hopefully, its nomination will revive its fortunes at the box office - an excellent movie all around.

Munich really blew me away; I haven't left a theater so impressed since at least L.A. Confidential. I hope it wins some awards, though I don't have as much interest in awards shows as a lot of other people seem to.

reader_iam said...

Slightly OT, but back when Ann was first posting about Brokeback Mountain, there was a comment somewhere made that it wouldn't be released in Iowa and that there wouldn't be any interest in it.

It's playing here now.

vbspurs said...

I'm sure you've been waiting with baited breath to hear my Oscar Nomination comments right? ;)

So here they are:

Oscar Nominations 2006

Obviously, in my opinion piece below the nominations, I make an increasingly pat reference to the disconnect Hollywood has to greater America -- which is beginning to take the form of a thumbing-of-nose.

"We can't win politically, we are losing socially, but we will win in news and entertainment -- or at least die trying"

For those of who with a deep, deep regard for Hollywood's past, this is so sad, I cannot begin to explain.

This past month, when my father was in England on holiday, my mother and I decided to revisit some classics, and for her, to watch some she had never had to date (she's not a big film fan, which I get from my father's side).

Mildred Pierce.

Gaslight (Charles Boyer/Ingrid Bergman version).

Double Indemnity.

Rebecca.

Twelve Angry Men.

Strangers in the Train.

The Women.

The Thin Man.

Sure, these are some of the best films Hollywood ever produced, and when you cherry-pick to find only the best, you get a skewed vision in relation to today's crop of nominations.

But one still has to ask:

Where did these kinds of movies go?

Low-budget, all.

But you know, EXCELLENT movies. Great, great dialogue. Fantastic acting. Buttery directing.

They had it all, and the thing is, these years' films share much of that in common.

But the subject matters are not aimed for just folks anymore.

I'm sure I will live-blog the Oscars in March.

I will whinge, and whine, and point to liberal this-or-that.

As I say in my blogpost, it's not Hollywood that needs to worry about people like me. I'm hooked for life. So are many others.

It's the 90% of Americans that they have to worry about.

Jon Stewart. Brokeback Mountain, and Syriana accolades alongside a million zingers on Dubya?

No thanks.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

"Too short"?

Finally, a comment about a film that makes me more likely to see it.

tcd said...

terry,
You sure are making a lot of assumptions. What's your point? That all red-state men are really closeted homos who can't stand their wives and are too chicken-shit to come out of the closet unlike brave, progressive, blue-state queens like yourself? Oh, am I assuming too much?

downtownlad said...

TCD - how many bigoted slurs against gay people can you fit into one sentence? "homo", "queen", etc.

Unfortunately, the only people you're slandering are those who live in Red State America. Since there are plenty of them who treat gay people as human beings, although you'd never know with statements like yours.

downtownlad said...

Ann - You are right about the depressing movies. I'm still shocked, SHOCKED! that Cheaper by the Dozen 2 was not nominated!!!

;)

Matt said...

"Good Night and Good Luck" is a masterwork of efficiency, though, ironically, I think it could have been even better at 15 minutes shorter (with the spurious Clarkson/Downey "secret affair" subplot cut out).

And both "Crash" and "Munich" are movies with deeply ambiguous tones, which do more to ask questions than preach answers. They're certainly not "to hell with you, dumb people who voted for Bush!" in their message, as some folks seem to think.

PatCA said...

"Sadly ignored: I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar." So true. Serenity was a delight! But Oscars are not about delight, they are about seriousness! And ironic detachment (Jon Stewart?).

I actually do want to see Munich. A conservative website wrote a good review and makes it sound interesting. I don't mind an agenda as long as there's a good story, too.
http://www.libertyfilmfestival.com/libertas/index.php?p=1226

Matt Dillon should get the award for Crash. I wanted the whole (flawed) movie to be about his character.

Edmund said...

Two films that got missed in visual effects: Serenity and Sin City. Neither was likely to be nominated, though. Serenity didn't make a lot of money and so no campaign was mounted. Sin City was unlikely to be nominated because it was made outside the "Hollywood" system, it was funded by Miramax before the Weinstein bros. left (so the current regime there won't want them to get any glory), it was released early in the year, the director quit the director's guild in a dispute over citing Frank Miller as a co-director, and was too violent. (Note: a family member of mine worked on Sin City.)

tcd said...

downtownlad,
I count 2 in that sentence. Why don't you dial down the condescension in your post before you criticize my post. "Thank god the Oscars have good taste. It would be pathetic if it turned into a popularity contest, where the best picture award was between King Kong, Narnia, Batman Begins and Wedding Crashers." Yes, we all know that homosexuals have far superior taste than heterosexuals. Whatever.

downtownlad said...

tcd - If you're trying to make the point that red staters aren't bigoted gay-bashers, you're not doing a very good job of it . . .

vbspurs said...

UPDATE: The nominated films are unusually dark and dreary this year, aren't they?

But good. That's the thing -- they are not bad pictures, although Crash is woefully overrated, IMHO.

Of the films with major nominations, I've only seen "Capote" and "A History of Violence," both of which I thought were reasonably good, but not that good.

I've yet to see History of Violence (it might be the only film nominated in the post I mention above, which I haven't seen -- apart from the Foreigns).

Capote I was expecting to have more pace, and more insight into Truman's personal life.

You know, I always thought that Jamie Foxx (who I love for his zany sweetness) did an impersonation of Ray Charles, and not much else.

Philip Seymour Hoffman IS Capote.

I'm too young to have remembered the real Capote live, but I've read and seen footage enough (Dick Cavett show, alas) about him, to know a great embodiment when I see it.

Seeing these nominations scarcely makes me any more likely to go to the movies than I was before. And I'm much less likely than usual to watch the awards show.

Yes, that was precisely my point in my blogpiece.

And please note that Ann here is hardly the imagined, suburban Mr. & Mrs. America I mention.

If a tenured law professor, and noted blogger (who is a centrist politically in many ways) has that feeling, what do you think your average American feels about the Oscars?

There's nothing awardsy about these films, nothing big and glamorous. And where are the women? Mostly, it looks like a parade of trudging, depressing men. The only note of feminine charm is "Pride and Prejudice."

In fairness, though, Hollywood goes through periods.

The 30's, 50's and 80's were great times for actresses.

The 60's, 90's were not, and so far, the 2000's are so-so.

We're starting to see a pattern, ever since the 70's, where Hollywood goes for sombre, dramatic nominations one year, followed by less substantive, but glitzier box office darling movies, the next.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Alito Confirmed!!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I recommend the documentary "One Day in September" before you see "Munich". It is substantial as backstory and it was an Oscar winner.

mango said...

The dumb thing about the Oscars is that the nominations and prizes always go to the most serious, dramatic, dour films and actors, because that seems the most respectable or artistic or something. That's too bad, because it's a good deal harder to write a good comedy than it is to write a good drama, and the acting choices made by comic actors are often far riskier (see: Johnny Depp, all roles) than by their dramatic counterparts. It's a pity to me that the funny men (and women) never really get recognized, even though they're the ones who are really out there connecting with their audiences and doing the heavy lifting of keeping us entertained and happy. Sure, that's why they have the "Musical/Comedy" catagory of the Golden Globes, but as long as they keep putting dramatic biopics in there, the voters are going to keep going for the most serious option possible, and the comics are going to keep getting the shaft. They make us laugh. That's just as noble work as, say, gaining weight, wearing a prosthetic nose, and getting your usually spotless movie-star face dirty.
The Academy ought to remember that, just like the loyalties of the author of a memoir should be to the reader, as you were discussing the other day, the loyalties of a movie should be to the poor suckers who are giving up $12 and 3 hours to see it. Pander? No. But just because people enjoyed themselves while they were in the theatre does not immediately render it's value null and void.

downtownlad said...

For those of you who don't like the Oscars because they pick movies that are too liberal, I don't know why you're getting upset. There are other awards shows out there that meet your tastes.

The People's Choice Awards and the MTV Movie Awards being two obvious examples . . .

vbspurs said...

The dumb thing about the Oscars is that the nominations and prizes always go to the most serious, dramatic, dour films and actors, because that seems the most respectable or artistic or something.

I'm not sure what kind of point you're making, because this sounds like it's written by one of those Jaywalking victims on the Jay Leno show. You know the kind -- the ones who think Switzerland is the capital of France.

That "or something" at the end kills, every time.

That's too bad, because it's a good deal harder to write a good comedy than it is to write a good drama,

I don't disagree with that, but comedy is not rewarded as much as dramatic pieces because acting is just more than about yucks.

It's about transformation, embodiment, and if done right, transcendence.

And by and large, comedy is about comedy. Tootsie be damn'd!

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

My God! I just realised...

No 40 Year-Old Virgin Oscar nods.

Hollywood, you SUCK.

Cheers,
Victoria

Robert R. said...

I'm not really surprised by the nominations. The lead actor nod for Terence Howard in Hustle and Flow was the only big surprise to me. I think they got the right three films for the animation category. And the documentary category is very strong and interesting. I'm also happy that Walk The Line didn't get a best picture nomination, I enjoyed the movie for the acting and music, but it wasn't anything more than a standard biopic.

I was disappointed that The 40 Year Old Virgin didn't pick up an original screenplay nomination. That's the one category where comedies are recognized consistently.

Other than that, I'm not really disappointed. Star Wars was the big popular success of the year, but it's hardly deserving of major awards. Same with Batman Begins, Wedding Crashers, War of the Worlds, Narnia, and King Kong. Sin City probably did deserve some awards in the visual fields, especially since it does stand out as a different type of visual film, but it's release time worked against it.

So, you're basically limited to the fall releases. Nobody fell for Memoirs of a Geisha and Walk the Line was liked but not that great. That basically left the serious, drabber films. That said, based on what I saw, I don't have any problem with them.

Do they tilt left? Yeah, but they were still the better movies of the year. I don't have to agree with a film's politics if it's good in other ways to enjoy it. Some of my favorite authors are much to the left or right of me, and the fact that they don't hide their beliefs appeals to me as honesty.

Ann Althouse said...

Downtownlad: I consider these serioso Oscar-bait films as uninteresting as the popular films you seem to think are their opposites. They aren't.

C. Schweitzer said...

I like science-fiction writer Ursula Le Guin's take on the image of art as necessarily being dark, dreary, and joyless: that it is artistic masturbation.

Or Bertolt Brecht who said comedy is much more revolutionary than hegemonic drama.

I'm tired of Hollywood thinking they can tell me all the secrets of the human condition through plastic, ideologically singular melodramas.

But what do I know? We conservatives are stoopid and ignorent folk. Just give me Dukes of Hazard.

PS. I loved "Kissing Jessica Stein," that's so unhomophobic of me. I will burn my copy of it, forthwith.

downtownlad said...

Ann - Which movie was better then?

Batman Begins and Star Wars were rather predictable. Wedding Crashers was funny, but I forgot it about 60 minutes later. I haven't seen King Kong, but I heard it was very good. I don't think it would have been a shocker had that movie been nominated.

Brokeback Mountain had me thinking about it for several weeks. I'm sure that's because the subject matter hit home a lot more for me. But at least in my eyes, that made it a much more powerful movie, and one that is in my top 10 all time list. Will straight people like it? Some will. Some won't. But at the end of a day, it's always going to be a personal decision. Did the movie hit home for you or not? The Oscars are just the collective opinion of a certain segment of society.

Like I said - if you don't agree with that segment of society, you can always pay attention to another awards show that you agree with. People's choice maybe, perhaps the Screen Actors Guild, perhaps some Christian Film organization. I don't care - to each his own.

Personally - I think the Oscars come pretty close, but I don't always agree with the Oscar picks. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was the best film last year if you ask me. But most of what Hollywood puts out is mind-numbing crap. I have no problem with popular films, as long as they are well-made. Goodfellas being an excellent example.

But another car chase . . . no thanks - I'll pass.

mrbungle2103 said...

Something has puzzled me for the last 5 years or so. Who has been awarding Oscars to very pretty women who've long been considered not very good at acting. Halle Berry has an Oscar? Yes monster's Ball is a good film, but Berry's role was so minimal, and could have been filled by anyone. Charlize Theron is diabolical North Country, and whilst surprising in Monster isn't exactly phenomenal. She seemed to get the award for not randomly dropping her knickers. Berry and Theron have proven my suspicions right since their wins.

Now this year Reese Witherspoon - that acting giant - is likely to get an Oscar.

Wade_Garrett said...

I'm hesitant to dismiss an entire genre of firms -- here, the biopic -- because a few of them received more gold statues than they ought to have. However, Ann is right - Hollywood has hit upon a money-making formula that it can apply to any number of famous people and rake in awards. Impersonating a recently deceased celerity has become a sure-fire way to be nominated for an Oscar, the way that playing a person with mental illness was for a period of about ten years (Rain Main, Prince of Tides, I Am Sam, The Fischer King, you name it,) or playing a fat/unattractive person was for a time. I saw Walk the Line and liked the performances, but I don't think it deserved any other major nominations. It ended up getting two other nominations, for sound mixing and costume design, which I can't say are undeserved - there's no reason not to nominate it for having good costumes simply becaue its a biopic.

I would have liked to have seen Sin City get some art direction/visual effects-type awards, it really changed my idea of what was possible to put on a movie screen; I think it will be shown to film students for a long time to come!

Elizabeth said...

Tilda Swinton's gowns deserved a costume nomination. I enjoyed the movie, but they were the most awesome thing in "Lion, Witch, Wardrobe."

Red state America seems awfully oversensitive, itchin' for a fight. So Blue state shoots you the bird once in awhile. It's not like you don't shoot it back, or even launch preemptive finger strikes. I sometimes think conservatives won't stop with the victim whining until everything, everyone, everyplace calls itself conservative. Bleh.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Didn't "Cinderella Man" have a lot of Oscar buzz? Wasn't that a quite good film, too?

You must forgive me for being out of the [film] loop. A movie is $100 for us these days [sitter, admission, etc.] and we just don't always see the ones we want to see. Then *boop* they're gone.

Elizabeth said...

I wasn't kidding about Swinton's costumes. It's been a long time since a character really, truly frightened me, and The White Witch did. I read somewhere that she hasn't let her own child see the movie, and she's quite right not to. The gowns are key to the character.

And on second glance I see that not only is L,W,W not nominated for costumes, but Walk the Line is. What? You get an award for making a black shirt and a flowery dress? Travesty.

Cat said...

The people who think Transamerica, Brokeback, et al are "anti" "red" America, I think it's bigoted to suggest that those movies would not be appreciated by people there.

Anywho, as for the "movies that make you think," comment, if you need a movie to do that, YOU have problems. I read the newspapers - lots of them - every day. I don't need to pay $12 Hollywood's version of the news or "the truth."

Like Victoria, lately I have been watching the oldies with well ritten GOOD STORIES like Ninotchka, The Apartment; North by Northwest. Entertaining "lost in a story" fun because they are well made. For all of the supposed "THINKING" that are nominated stories are poorly told (Syriana) or average (Walk the Line). I mean, forget the movies, there's nothing worth RENTING!!

You KNOW that George Clooney was nominated for having the "guts" to make his political statement movies. If he wins he'll make a speech about McCarthyism and how it's back (thanks for letting me know George!) and thanks to brave souls like his...zzzzzzzz.

The only recent rental I've enjoyed? Batman begins. I thought that was a well-done story.

Cat said...

Ack - I deleted my w in written.

mrbungle2103 said...

Let me just say this - if the Oscar committee can look through a year of movies and still think it's ok to put Keira Knightly in the best actress category for that pish then they have no idea about movies. If Knightly looked like she lived near Chernobyl she'd never be on that list.

downtownlad said...

Anywho, as for the "movies that make you think," comment, if you need a movie to do that, YOU have problems. I read the newspapers - lots of them - every day. I don't need to pay $12 Hollywood's version of the news or "the truth."

I have problems, because Brokeback Mountain caused me to think??? And sorry, but Brokeback Mountain is not Hollywood's version of "the truth". It's a work of fiction. A work of fiction by a straight, female author that so accurate captured the lonliness and oppression of the closet. As someone who experienced that nightmare for several decades, it'd be shocking if I wasn't moved by that picture.

Sorry - I don't read books or watch movies to go numb and shut my mind. Perhaps you do. But I have a brain and I intend to exercise it. Whether it's at work, in conversation, reading fiction, or enjoying art. I fail to see why I should see that as a "problem" if it causes me to think.

Simon Kenton said...

This reminds me of being accused of suppressing the free speech rights of the Dixie Chicks. Country western, despite some contrarian fondness for the cover of "Lover's Return" that Ronstadt and Harris did, has never been a favorite. I'd never have bought the Dixie Chick material, despite their bold anti-Chimp stance. Or their bold pro-Chimp stance, if they had one. Same with Brokeback Mountain. Anyone who has professional acquaintance with sheep, those brainless snuffling deatheating mountain maggots, well, there's NO WAY he's going to see a movie about sheep. Or even with sheep in it. It's not that I'm trying to inaugurate either the Third Reich or the Chiliasm, I just don't have life and enthusiasm enough left to piss it away on such things.

I thought the most interesting movie of the year was Grizzly Man.

downtownlad said...

Simon, as a gay man, I don't care if you see Brokeback or not. If I were straight, I probably wouldn't either. And I have yet to meet one gay person who would call you a homophobe if you're not interested in the movie.

However, there are those straight people who are obsessed with gay people. That's all they can ever talk about. Yet - they refuse to see this movie. Now that I find very odd . . .

I heard Grizzly man is great. I do want to see that.

Aspasia M. said...

I agree Grizzly Man was interesting. My favorite part was when a character muses that the bears thought Treadwell was retarded.

Loved Narnia, hated Crash. (Argh - the structural problems with Crash...)

Short Crash:

LA is filled with 12 unpleasant people who carry guns and don't know how to drive.

TWM said...

dowtownlad:

"Thank god the Oscars have good taste."

Sorry, taste is an individual thing and what you find good I might not -- and vice versa.

The Oscars are about what interests Hollywood, not what interests the overwhelming number of Americans.

Box office receipts don't lie.

Coco said...

I enjoyed Crash but never considered it as "Best Picture of the Year" quality at all...not that the idea is laughable (there have been plenty of worse movies that have been nominated).

downtownlad said...

Sure taste is an individual thing - but there is still such a thing as good taste and bad taste.

Red-state America wears polyesther pants. Enough said.

Elizabeth said...

Box office receipts don't lie.

as a statement of fact is complicated by

A movie is $100 for us these days [sitter, admission, etc.] and we just don't always see the ones we want to see.

as a statement of reality.

State of the Union: Stuff costs too much.

Cat said...

downtown lad - I wasn't referring to brokeback mountain - actually, neither did you in your initial post. I also wasn't picking on you, but just the idea that every movie has to be intellectually deep or needs to teach me something.

Bottom line, if I'm not interested in a movie, particularly ones like Munich or Syriana (both fiction - Munich is not a documentary - a documentary would interest me, actually) does not mean I am "afraid" to think or that I prefer to be "numb." These are your conclusions based on your assumptions of people with a different opinion than yours. Not mine.

Edmund said...

Terry wrote: I would have liked to have seen Sin City get some art direction/visual effects-type awards, it really changed my idea of what was possible to put on a movie screen; I think it will be shown to film students for a long time to come!

On behalf of my brother that would have been nominated, thanks! He would have had bragging rights over our brother that has an Emmy.....

downtownlad said...

Cat - I was just responding to your comment where you said "Anywho, as for the 'movies that make you think,' comment, if you need a movie to do that, YOU have problems."

I don't care if people like to go to the movies for mindless entertainment. That's fine. But if I go to a movie for art's sake, I resent the implication that this means I have a "problem".

lindsey said...

Hollywood spending tens of millions of dollars to make movies that "make you think" is a little like Hollywood spending millions to serve people brussel sprouts. Maybe they've forgotten the point of movies is to make you laugh and cry, to involve the emotions. There is nothing wrong with this. Maybe Hollywood's problem is that the really talented artists now want to serve brussel sprouts instead of serving up The Wizard of Oz or Vertigo or any of those other films on vbspurs list, so there's a dichotomy between popular and good. A dichotomy that didn't exist previously. Maybe next time Hollywood should tell Ang Lee to make a movie that more than a self-selected elite want to see, a movie like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and they won't be going broke at the box office.

TWM said...

downtownlad:

I could make many stereotypical remarks about Blue State America and the films they seem to enjoy, but it's just too damn easy so I will pass. Besides from the box office it doesn't look like much of Blue State America likes those Oscar choices either.

Hey, Hollywood can make movies about whatever they want. And they can honor the ones they like. But they are deluding themselves if they think that it is some Red State fear of broadening ones mind that is keeping them away from those movies. And that delusion is soon going to result in movies going straight to DVD because more and more Americans aren't willing to pony up the money just for the chance to be lectured to by elitists with agendas.

And I never owned any polyesther.

TWM said...

elizabeth:

I can take my family of five to a movie on a Saturday afternoon, with candy and sodas for about $50. Not cheap but cheaper than many things a family can do these days. Heck, if I sneak in the candy and sodas I can do it for 30 bucks.

Point is, a movie has to be worth seeing to spend that much money (or even more), and the movies they are showing these days are for the most part not worth it. Not when I can catch em on DVD or even HBO if I wait.

Course that's just my opinion. I could be wrong - Dennis Miller

Elizabeth said...

TWM--

You're overlooking Ruth Anne's statement, that because of cost, she and her family "don't always see the films [they] want to see." She attributes it to cost, not quality. So take that up with her. I noted the difference in your two takes on the situation. I agree there's not as many films that appeal to me now as there were only a few years ago. But I'm with Ruth Anne; I want to see more than I do, but I can't afford to.

TWM said...

elizabeth:

Hmm, I missed that - sorry.

But I guess I am different from you two gals. I see the movies I want to see although I do space them out a bit so I don't have to take out a loan to see them.

The others -- Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, and Munich -- I will wait for until they pop up on HBO. That way I get to see the good ones without spending a bundle and can flip thru the bad ones without losing anything.

I found Troy that way and enjoyed it. And I can flip thru Alexander and laugh at it too.

And watch the box office decline all the time.

tjl said...

It's puzzling how so many commenters who haven't seen "Brokeback" think it's some leftish political statement. It could easily have been made into one, if it had fallen into the wrong directorial hands. A director with Barbra Streisand views of the world could have turned this story into some lifeless PC rant. Fortunately, Ang Lee simply tells the story of very human characters with the usual human assortment of virtues and faults. The tragic outcome is shown to flow naturally from who the characters are. That is why the movie is so affecting, andf why it can't be pigeonholed on a left/right scale.

Aspasia M. said...

Shakespeare plays used to be part of the popular culture in late 18th and 19th century America. Of course, his language can be quite, er, ribald.

In New York people from the Bowery would regularly go to the theatre for some Shakespeare. (And often drinking was allowed and sometimes sold on the third tier. Of course, prostitutes were also available on the 3rd tier.) We actually had a riot over Shakespeare - The Astor House Riot. Imagine people caring that much about Shakespeare!

Anyway, movies can, in theory, combine the popular with artistic "goodness".

Robert R. said...

Maybe next time Hollywood should tell Ang Lee to make a movie that more than a self-selected elite want to see, a movie like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and they won't be going broke at the box office.

The problem with this statement is that Brokeback Mountain is already a substantial financial success. $14 million budget vs. $50 million plus and still going boxoffice is quite the rate of return. Ang Lee tried Hulk and it did decent but disappointing business and he decided to return to his drama niche of films like "The Ice Storm" and "Sense and Sensibility".

Really, other than "Munich" all of the best picture nominees are small budgeted but successful movies financially. "Capote" cost something like $5 million as did "Good Night, and Good Luck." And "Crash" couldn't have been too expensive.

And, this weeping for Hollywood is overrated. People are still seeing the movies, they're just renting them on DVD or on Pay Per View and watching them on their big screen tvs in surround sound. If classic movies were in that demand, Turner Classic Movies would cost the same as HBO.

downtownlad said...

And I never owned any polyesther.

But I bet you wear Levi's and white sneakers . . .

Craig Ranapia said...

dc cab rider wrote:
So glad to see Crash getting some recognition. Was definately my favorite movie of the year. And no surprise with Judi Dench. Do you think she would read the phone book and be nominated?

I reply:
Fair enough, but I just thought it was well-intentioned (who is going to argue with the thesis that racism is a terrible thing that degrades everything it touches) but over-rated. Otherwise, I was midly shocked that the only nominee I didn't pick in the top tier was... Judi Dench.

And yes, she could read the phone book and win awards. It's called talent, my dear. :) It's what you require to thoroughly steal a movie like 'Shakespeare in Love' in eight minutes, and win an Oscar for your cheek. Oh, and Dame Judi also managed to accept her Oscar without peeing herself. Sadly, Gwynneth Paltrow learned nothing from her co-star.

Anyway, the only catergory I'm even mildly enthusiastic about is the best animated feature, because there are three strong films and no obvious winner I can see. If Professor Althouse wants an antidote to the glums she should try a triple bill of Howl's Moving Castle (yes, it's Japanese - get over it), Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (yes, it's British - get over it) and Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride (much more fun than the over-produced and way creepy in the worse way 'Willy Wonka').

I'd go as far as to say the first two were very high on my Best Films of '05 List.

lindsey said...

"$14 million budget vs. $50 million plus and still going boxoffice is quite the rate of return."

You haven't factored in the undoubtedly more expensive than the movie marketing campaign as well as distribution costs. Also, iirc, the theatres usually get about half the money taken in at the box office. The studio is far from a profit. It, like most movies, won't make one until dvd. What Hollywood needs to do is find a way to make movies that make $200 million at the box office but cost 10 or 20 million to make. Westerns used to be their bread and butter. I've never understood why they stopped making them.

lindsey said...

Also, I don't think Lee should make movies like Hulk. Hulk was crap! And evidence that even the best artists can screw up. Of course, I didn't name Hulk. I named Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was great, got a wide audience, made for cheap and hauled in 100 million at the box office. All that and in Chinese!

downtownlad said...

Westerns used to be their bread and butter. I've never understood why they stopped making them.

Earth to Lindsey. Brokeback is a Western.

You're wrong about the costs. It's already made a huge profit. The marketing costs for this movie are very small. It's on its way to earn about $100 million at the box office according to projections. And that's not even counting foreign earnings (it's #1 in England, France, etc.) or DVD sales.

The most optimistic scenarios for this movie were that it would reach 800 screens. MAX. It's already showing on twice that many screens.

Craig Ranapia said...

Lindsey wrote:
Maybe next time Hollywood should tell Ang Lee to make a movie that more than a self-selected elite want to see, a movie like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and they won't be going broke at the box office.

I reply:
I really had to laugh at that, because Columbia/Sony did a classic 'arthouse' release - it actually earned less per-screen on opening weekend than Brokeback Mountain on its opening weekend. Around $663K off 16 screens. (BM: $575K/5 screens.) There were limited openings in New York & LA, slow expansion to college town and Asian communities in the hope the very "self-selecting elites" you sneered at would get a buzz going.

After all, Sony and Columbia reasoned, the rubes in flyover country wouldn't be pay to see see a subtitled martial arts movie, with a downbeat ending, directed by that arthouse guy and starring Asians who were superstars in Hong Kong and nobodies in Smallville. Well, I bet they were surprised CTHD ended up grossing an enitrely respectable $128 million in the US, when it was expected they'd only recoup in the Asian market. But let's not pretend anyone expected it to be a smash hit in the US. (And in current blockbuster terms $128M isn't even break even.)

Robert R. said...

"Brokeback Mountain" is engaged in the most cost efficient marketing campaign imaginable. They've got people debating it all over the internet for free and it gets a lot of free publicity from the awards process. How many commercials has anyone actually seen for the movie? Frankly I half suspect that the "controversy" around the movie is puffed up to get people talking about it instead of the controversy actually existing.

"Munich" will probably have a tough time making back its cost, but noone can accuse Spielberg of not knowing what America wants to see. He's got the box office receipts to back him up.

Hollywood's "problem", which might not be a problem since DVD sales are strong, is that they can throw $100 million plus at a movie or practically nothing at a movie, but can't find a middle ground. You end up with the spectacle films, some of which are good, like Harry Potter, mixed in with a bunch of films like "Stealth", "The Island", and "XXX", and a bunch of intimate little pictures, like "Brokeback Mountain", "Capote", and "Good Night, and Good Luck." and not much in between. As a result, teenagers have taken over the multiplex and adults have retreated to home video and arthouse theaters.

And, whatever happened to the western? People stopped seeing them unless Clint Eastwood was in them. "Open Range" did decent business, but for the most part, the market isn't there.

lindsey said...

Actually, dvd sales have been slowing, so it is a problem.

Brokeback isn't really a western. I haven't heard about the movie having any shootouts between outlaws or train heists. It sounds more like a relationship melodrama set in the modern west. I'm not sure you can have a western set in modern times and have it be a real western. Western-influenced, yes, but not a western.

I honestly don't believe there is no market. They just stopped making them like they used to. You can't tell me there's no market for westerns when teenage boys have taken over the multiplex. I've witnessed a bunch of teenage boys yelling and screaming and playing video games stop on a dime and get really really quiet the minute they realize "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is on. It's like the room becomes hypnotized. There's certainly a dearth of believable male actors to star in real westerns. There's maybe Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

lindsey said...

craig, so what? Prior to Jaws and Star Wars, most films were rolled out that way. It's the sane way to roll out your film if it doesn't have a happy meal to advertise alongside it. That still doesn't take away from that film being an excellent example of what lots of people want to see.

Robert R. said...

I tend to agree that there's really no such thing as a modern Western. A classical Western typically has a sense of frontier and seperation from civilization. Even something more up to date like "The Wild Bunch" had a theme that the frontier was closing.

Maybe "Brokeback Mountain" has that theme, maybe not, but I think that's one trait that seperates a Western from a movie that's merely set in the West. "Serenity" is close to a Western in that regard. Other traits would be a sense of self reliance and individual justice, along with the horse, open spaces, etc.

Craig Ranapia said...

Lidsey:

The point is that your original comment wasn't exactly backed up by reality. 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' wasn't being released in 1970 (where it probably would have ended up on the grindhouse circuit with all the other chopy-socky trash), but 2000. If Columbia Tristar and Sony really thought it was a film "that more than a self-selected elite want to see" it wouldn't have opened on 1,600 screens not 16.

And I still don't really get what you mean by "self-selected elite" - are people marched to the movies at gun point in you neck of the woods? As I've said, I'm not that impressed with the Oscar headliners I've seen apart from the impressive animated feature slate. Then again, I don't think the box office receipts exactly proved the wisdom of the crowds - have a look at http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2005&p=.htm
and tell me how far you had to go down the list to find a film you'd pay to see?

I got all the way down to 26, and hope 'March of the Penguins' wins the best documentary feature and finally erases the taint of Michael Moore's despicable win.

Sorry to tell the truth here, but the people are just as willing to reward the banal and mindless as those 'elites'.

lindsey said...

"If Columbia Tristar and Sony really thought it was a film "that more than a self-selected elite want to see" it wouldn't have opened on 1,600 screens not 16."

If they didn't think it was a film more than a few people wanted to see, I can't see why they would have bothered to release it. By "self-selected elite" I mean those people who think they're special and better than everyone else for going to see a movie in French or a movie about transsexuals regardless of the quality of the film. It doesn't matter if the movie's awful. They went to see a movie in a foreign language whereas you saw the one with the talking animals. The kind of people who believe seeing non-mainstream films or listening to non-ms music means they're morally superior to other people. I used to be one of these wretched people.

As for the box office mojo link you should give Narnia and Walk the Line more of a chance. Narnia's good, not great. Weird though, I thought March of the Penguins made it to 100million.

ender22 said...

Am I the only person who loathed Crash? I thought it was a manipulative piece of crap with delusions of grandeur. (Or delusions of Magnolia, anyway.)

I was disappointed, though not surprised, that Match Point and The New World didn't get the recognition they deserve. I was pleasantly surprised that the much-maligned Munich nabbed a Best Pic nom, although I may be one of the few people who thought it succeeded DESPITE it's politics, which are execrable.

With this crop of films, the only thing that can save the show, ratings-wise, is the presence of Jon Stewart. (This is not a knock against the films, it's just that none of them has done huge BO.) The Oscars traditionally don't do well with the young male demographic, and Stewart should help with that.

And I agree with several other commentors in thinking that this year's telecast is gonna be one huge liberal circle jerk. But that's Hollywood: the industry that screams, "it's just a movie," when people say that some films set a bad example, but then can't wait to pat itself on the back for its "bravery" in making "important films."

As a side note, could there be anything LESS brave then making a movie in Hollywood that has a liberal POV???

Aspasia M. said...

lindsey,

Not everyone who enjoys non-mainstream movies is a snob. I loved Narnia, and I also enjoy good small alt-movies. (Not Crash, though - too, too annoying. I just had to reiterate my opinion about Crash.)

One of my all-time-favorite small movies is a German movie, The Nasty Girl.

I also thought Lonestar was a good "non-traditional" Western.

Aspasia M. said...

ender22,

I agree with you about _Crash_. Yuck. Annoying people with guns who can't drive.

But I'm a liberal, so perhaps we part ways there. I can't agree with the liberal conspiracy stuff. And I almost always disagree with the Oscar choices. Remember when the Titanic won everything? Ugh.

amba said...

As a retired member of the Screen Actors Guild, my husband gets mailings from producers promoting their movies and TV shows for the S.A.G. Awards -- invitations to free screenings and the like. The producers of "Crash" sent him a free DVD of the movie!! How cool is that? Especially since he's ill and disabled and we don't get out to movies. I'm looking forward to watching it, too.

lindsey said...

"Not everyone who enjoys non-mainstream movies is a snob."

Of course, and I didn't say that.

Craig Ranapia said...

I saw 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' because it was my patriotic duty as a New Zealander, and I was pleasantly surprised. As you said, not great but much better than I expected and certainly a better film than the truly awful, self-indulgent mess that was 'King Kong'. Oy and vey... I just haven't seen many films this year that make me say, "stuff the overdraft I've got to have the DVD."

'Walk The Line' is due out here next month, and I'm really looking forward to it. Not because I'm that big on Johnny Cash or the two leads, but because I've found director James Mangold's work consistently interesting. He's a good solid B-list director - never brilliant but never junky either.

TWM said...

downtownlad:

Nope, Izod jeans and Merrells. Better quality than Levis and Merrells are the most comfortable shoes around.

JodyTresidder said...

Lindsey,
Why don't you just curl up with a stash of classic John Waynes ("True Grit", "Rio Bravo" should do the trick)until the over-hyped abomination you judge "Brokeback Mountain" to be - sight unseen, naturally - just goes away?

There's no convincing you, clearly, but Ang Lee HAS actually saddled up the old western genre for a new audience.

It's about many things, including - and this may amaze you - outlaws, breaking new frontiers, old timers "handling" one outlaw in the time-honored violent fashion, plucky women on the sideline, codes of loyalty, rugged landscapes mirroring internal struggles etc.

I'd like to suggest that John Wayne would have loved it. But that's probably needlessly provocative!

jult52 said...

I just saw "Crash" and thought it was honestly very bad. The theme -- the vicious circle of racism and crime -- is a worthy one but the screenplay was just awful. It didn't even remotely deserve to be nominated. I'll make more in-depth comments when Ann devotes a post to the film.

tjl said...

Jody:

You've included all the classic Western tropes in your list except the most iconic of them all, the Loner who can't settle down. That's Ennis Del Mar.
All this proves your point that "BBM" is just a different slant on the classic Western.

JodyTresidder said...

tjl,
Yup. A daft one to miss! Thanks...

I found the following incredibly funny - when I had reached the point of thinking there was nothing new to say about BBM.
(Obviously, I loved the movie, one's sense of humor is personal, but I don't think this is TOO risky to endorse. Hope you smile at least...)
http://www.travisandjonathan.com/redstateupdate6.html

Revenant said...

I think this is the first time I have neither seen any of the nomineees, nor even *desired* to see any of the nominees, for any of the major awards.

Kat Coble said...

It's puzzling how so many commenters who haven't seen "Brokeback" think it's some leftish political statement.

Really? You find it puzzling?

Here's the thing. I haven't seen the film. I have, many years ago, read the source material upon which the film was based. I thought the source material was a well-written tragedy about the nature of unrequited love developing into possessive obsession and, subsequently, loss. It was incidentally about two bowlegged rough-hewn hayseed guys.

Then this film comes out, with two spit-and-polish buff Hollywood guys and countless articles, cover stories and opinion pieces about "The New Homosexuality", "The New Cinema", "The New Gay Cinema", "Hollywood's Brave Stand". Each piece would more rightly have been called "Hollywood Pats Itself On The Back For A Stand That Would Have Been Brave In 1991, But Is Passe 14 Years Later."

It's the Hollywood-affiliated media machine shooting itself in the foot, frankly. Those of us who haven't seen the film still shop in supermarkets where headlines trump their own triumph at us. All we've heard about this movie from the press--right and left wing--is how this "daring" movie is going to play dingdongditch with the sensibilities of Middle America and ain't it shockin' boyos!!!

I was sick of this movie before it even made its way to Nashville simply because of all of the lauditory and self-congratulating stories about it coming from Hollywood itself.

Well, that and the fact that once again a story about ordinary people was turned into a vehicle for the Beautiful People.

tjl said...

Mycropht:

Annie Proulx has admitted in a number of interviews that the scruffy characters that she imagined hardly looked like Ledger and Gyllenhaal. However, once she saw their performances, she felt that they had made Ennis and Jack come alive for her.
Any movie that has generated this much buzz will have a lot of nonsense written about it in the media. It's unfair to project all this into the film.

lindsey said...

"It's about many things, including - and this may amaze you - outlaws, breaking new frontiers, old timers "handling" one outlaw in the time-honored violent fashion, plucky women on the sideline, codes of loyalty, rugged landscapes mirroring internal struggles etc."

So's Star Wars, buddy. No one would argue that's a western. Wrong time and place obviously.

"Why don't you just curl up with a stash of classic John Waynes ("True Grit", "Rio Bravo" should do the trick)until the over-hyped abomination you judge "Brokeback Mountain" to be - sight unseen, naturally - just goes away?"

I can't stand John Wayne. Any movie with John Wayne in it that I actually like is in spite of John Wayne. The only westerns I really like are by Sergio Leone and one or two John Fords. You have a lot of cheek thinking you know fuckall about me.

JodyTresidder said...

Well, Lindsey, old buddy.

You don't exactly give out consistent clues about your tastes, do you?

I gather you do like Vertigo, and The Wizard of Oz (but not, I suspect, in a "Friends of Dorothy" sort of way!)and you get all itchy and bothered about folk who enjoy French cinema.

And you clearly can't do film math - because you think BBM is a box office bomb.

Oh yes, and brussels sprouts are clearly not a favorite dish 'chez Lindsey'!

It wasn't much to go on really.

Amyway, pardonnez-moi for the John Wayne idea.

Kat Coble said...

Any movie that has generated this much buzz will have a lot of nonsense written about it in the media. It's unfair to project all this into the film.

Unfair it may be, but human nature it is nonetheless.

You claim to find reactions puzzling, yet I maintain that when the lead actors of a film publicly denegrade the film's detractors with swiping generalizations and truthiness and Newsweek Magazine hails said film as 'a cultural watershed' that may be 'too much for middle America' there have been planted the seeds for self-fulfilling prophecy.

Headlines such as Newsweek's are ghastly not only for their arrogance in implying that this mythical land of Middleamerica is not capable of digesting hard truths, but also in the naked assumption that those who dislike this film for any reason are somehow less worthy of having an opinion. It appears to me as an open dare, much like a boyfriend who sneaks too much hot pepper into a dish and challenges you to not flinch as you choke it down.

Please be honest. If they wanted this movie to be simply a reinvention of the Western, that's how they would have sold it, treating the homosexuality as an incidental. This movie was wrapped, beribboned and presented in precisely the way it has been received--a cayenne-laden dare.

lindsey said...

"you get all itchy and bothered about folk who enjoy French cinema."

Erm, no, I don't. You need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

Also, apparently a movie oddly similar to BBM was released 42 years ago. Odd, that.

"I'm thinking of a film about two men in love with each other, but one of them loving a bit less. They have sexual hunger for women and children are sired, but nothing approaches their feelings for each other. They're pried apart by social-political con- cerns and they never quite mesh, but the man who loves a bit more can never quit his feelings. He doesn't know how, and he hurts badly as a result.

And then one of them is killed by a group of violent men who despise what their victim stands for, and finally the longish movie (lasting over two hours) ends with the survivor lamenting his dear friend's passing and talking quietly to his ghost.

The men with unquenchable feelings for each other are played by movie stars in their prime, the movie is funded by a major studio, and come January it is honored with a slew of high-prestige Oscar nominations -- Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and so on. Everybody admires or at least respects it, and the reviews are almost 100% ecstatic.

The movie, of course, is Peter Glenville's Becket, which came out just shy of 42 years ago."

JodyTresidder said...

Lindsey wrote: "Also, apparently a movie oddly similar to BBM was released 42 years ago".

Gee, Lindsey. If only they'd stuck cowboy hats on Burton and O'Toole, taken the unrequited love thing a bit further and jazzed up the marketing campaign, they could have had a coast-to-coast popular smash with that one too?

Cute link. Thanks!

tjl said...

Mycropht:

Middle America is capable of digesting a far more savory diet than you give it credit for.
I live in Houston, Texas, the reddest of all the Red States. The weekend BBM opened, the line to get into the theater stretched around the block and all showings were sold out.