January 10, 2009

The Oscar recall voting.

Entertainment Weekly set up recall votes for 30 Oscar contests — the 6 major categories from 5 past years at 5 year intervals (2003, 1998, 1993, 1988, and 1983). I'm sure the voting — by Hollywood insiders — was strongly influenced by the fact of the past win, so I'm not surprised that only 7 old winners lost the recall vote. One Best Picture Oscar was revoked: "Shakespeare in Love" lost to "Saving Private Ryan." The actor losers are James Coburn (to Geoffrey Rush), Tommy Lee Jones (to Ralph Fiennes), Geena Davis (to Frances McDormand), Gwyneth Paltrow (to Cate Blanchett) Renee Zellweger (to Shohreh Aghdashloo), and, naturally, Roberto Benigni (to Edward Norton).

By the way, I was a big Shohreh Aghdashloo supporter for the 2003 Oscar. Her movie, "The House of Sand and Fog," was the first movie I ever blogged, on the second day in the life of this blog, and I remember feeling that I was inventing a way to blog a movie — which is decidedly not the same as reviewing a movie — first here:
... The movie we'd come to see, though, was "House of Sand and Fog," which had a good script, the kind of story that works so well in a movie, where some little thing happens in the beginning, then one thing leads to another, with all sorts of extravagant consequences. At some point you have to just let go of the thought "Jennifer Connelly should have opened her mail" and follow the characters.
... and then, the next day, in a post about candy:
“House of Sand and Fog” introduces a character by having him take a bite out of a Snickers bar and then subtract its cost in his account book. That movie may be the melodrama equivalent of “The Odd Couple”: One keeps account of a candy bar, the other never opens the mail. Both are trying to live in the same place. Hijinks/tragedy ensues.
Sorry to go off on a wave of nostalgia about the early days of this blog, but next Wednesday is its 5th anniversary. It will be 5 years straight — not one day missed. But back to the present: The Golden Globes are handed out tomorrow. And I mean to live-blog the big show.

33 comments:

Mark O said...

Does this mean Ann has been straight for five years?

Ron said...

I've always thought that "Ryan" was way overrated; I was happy that it lost to "Shakespeare," but that's not popular these days.

Original George said...

Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth and Predator: Separated at Birth?

I think the only people allowed to vote on all the top Oscar categories should be children between the ages of 7 and 14.
They love movies more than any of the rest of us.

Mark my words....Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp.

If you have daughters, you already knew that.

Tibore said...

I find myself surprised to say this, especially given that I own Saving Private Ryan and have rewatched it many more times than Shakespeare In Love, and especially how I value the message in it over the sheer movie enjoyment I get out of Shakespeare. But: I'm not sure I agree with the "revocation". Strictly speaking, as a movie, taking into account the acting, the dialogue, and just a few other elements, I don't think Ryan deserves the Oscar. I think it's socially the more important film, but the Oscar is (or rather, IMO should only be) about moviemaking, not social significance or historial highlighting. And to be frank, the dialogue and acting in Shakespeare was better. The characterizations in Ryan were more static archetypes than anything else, although the characters in Shakespeare were only marginally less so. The dialogue was definitely more playful, unique, and clever, although it's a fair argument to say that Ryan was a movie that simply could not lend itself to such dialogue due to the story's inherent gravitas. But any way you cut it, simply in terms of movie enjoyment, Ryan isn't the superior film.

Now, if the earth were to end tomorrow, and there was only space for one of those movies in the "lifeboat", which one would I keep? I'd keep the one that says more about history and America. Ryan is more important in those terms. But it's not the better crafted, better written, better acted film.

Man, I never thought about either film in those terms... I'm somewhat astonished at myself.

-----

Just one more note: As long as Thin Red Line didn't rise, I'm satisfied. That film is more empty of viewing calories than Cheetos.

Mark O said...

I hate Sean Penn, but he was far and away the best actor in any movie this year.

Trooper York said...

I hate Jack Klugman but he is the only Oscar we have left so we can't recall him now can we?

Ron said...

Tibore, how do you feel about The Big Red One, The Longest Day, and A Bridge Too Far all of which I like better as movies and as historical documents far more than Ryan. To continue the analogy; Speilberg is like the George McClellan of directors; great at all the organizational bits, but let someone else command! Too many times in Ryan I felt the work was hackneyed, and this undercut it a lot.

Ron said...

Trooper, we still have Ernie Borgnine!

Original George said...

In real life, wouldn't Hanks' character have smacked that idiot Ryan upside his head? And dragged him back behind the lines. Kid must have been psycho.

Re: Jewish characters in the movies, the Jewish soldier under Hanks was one unlikeable guy. Of course, the Southerner was a religious nut. Kissing a crucifix. Sure. And the scumbag writer lives. What a movie.

Anyway, on that cheerful note, I noticed that Jane Alexander was nominated for her 1983 performance in "Testament." Got 2 percent of the vote. The whole movie is up on Youtube. Especially eerie in the light of 9/11. Poor William Devane.

campy said...

I hate Jack Klugman but he is the only Oscar we have left so we can't recall him now can we?

We still have Oscar the Grouch.

Tibore said...

Ron said...
Tibore, how do you feel about The Big Red One, The Longest Day, and A Bridge Too Far all of which I like better as movies and as historical documents far more than Ryan. To continue the analogy; Speilberg is like the George McClellan of directors; great at all the organizational bits, but let someone else command! Too many times in Ryan I felt the work was hackneyed, and this undercut it a lot


In regards to Big Red One, The Longest Day, and A Bridge Too Far: Thought it was okay, fell asleep during it (*blush*), need to actually see the entire movie to judge (*blush again*). So I can't really judge the last two.

If you ask me, Battle of the Bulge is the best movie out of all the ones made before Ryan, keeping in mind that I have to actually be awake for Longest Day and see the entirety of Bridge. I may end up changing my mind if I ever see those.

Regardless of anything else, though, I'd argue that Ryan still belongs on any spaceship lifeboat that launches because the special effects and social sensibilities when it was made allow it a greater degree of verisimilitude than the other films. So viewers get a better, less idealized sense of what a soldier went through if they watched that one. But still, I completely accept and agree with your analysis of the Spielberg otherwise. Recall, I was more judging Ryan's worth against Shakespeare's when I wrote the above post.

If you ask me, if there could only be one WWII film put on this hypothetical lifeboat, I think Band of Brothers would have to be it.

Cedarford said...

think the only people allowed to vote on all the top Oscar categories should be children between the ages of 7 and 14.
They love movies more than any of the rest of us.


Listen to the children! Heed the wisdom of the children, for they know best!

*******************
I think Zellweger sucked in Cold Mountain, doing a bad caricature. But the common sentiment was that the Academy had snubbed her 4 times before - no nominations for Nurse Betty or Jerry McGuire. Nominated but not getting it for Chicago or Bridget Jones - when she was arguably much better than either winners Halle Berry or Nicole Kidman (in "The Hours" chic flick, at least).

So maybe Cold Mountain was a "make-up" Oscar....

Zachary Paul Sire said...

I really hope the Academy does the right thing and gives Kate Winslet the Oscar for Revolutionary Road and not The Reader. Both would be fine, of course, but not The Reader over Rev Road.

Actresses who have been robbed repeatedly: Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Laura Linney, and of course Kate.

Tibore said...

New noodling: Ed Norton over Robert Benigni? I'm not sure how to analyze that one. On the one hand, I do believe that Norton's character was indeed the better acted one. He (the character) went through a far more complex arc, had to experience and display a far greater range of emotions, and had greater depth. That's what I thought back then, and that's what I think now.

Problem is:
1. It may not be fair to compare character dynamics. Benigni's "Guido" was somewhat shaped as a memory from his son's eyes (not entirely, I admit; the movie was not a recall from the son's point of view. But the characterization of Guido was still shaped by what the son thought of his father), and the setting lent itself not to a range of emotions and experiences, but rather profoundness of experience in one single situation. So it's going to come off flatter than an in-depth examination of a character no matter what.

2. How much of the perception of Norton's character is due to the acting, and how much is due to the perception that American History X is a much more dramatic film? Yes, it's more dramatic than the Holocaust film; I did indeed say that. The whole point of La Vita รจ bella was that the son was being sheltered from the horrors by the father's heroic, unceasing humor. The beauty of Benigni's characterization was that he managed to elevate silly, whimsical behavior into an intensely profound, courageous act. But it comes off as the shallower one because it wasn't the more dynamic, more minutely studied character between the two.

I'm genuinely torn here. I do stand by my judgement from back then that Norton's was the superior acting job. But I don't want to remove an earned reward from what Benigni did. As weird as this sounds, I fear that this re-analysis (re-vote, whatever) diminishes the subliminal characterization that Benigni achieved, and actually accomplishes the odd act of making the film more underrated and underappreciated as time goes by. Which is the exact opposite of what normally happens.

fivewheels said...

This is on just a sub-topic of the post, but... Ann, I've been reading here for years (not all five, though), and while it's nice to be able to count on you -- unlike at other blogs I read where sometimes I am disappointed in "dark" days -- I really think it would be OK if you took a day off here and there.

I do remember reading a post where you articulated your belief that part of the point of blogging was the daily nature of it. I'm not sure I really understand or agree.

I do understand that you appear to enjoy it in any case, and I'm not trying to violate the "don't tell me what to blog or not blog" rule by telling you to not blog anything sometimes. I'm just saying, don't drag yourself over here every day on our account. I doubt any of us would hold it against you.

fivewheels said...

And I had forgotten what a messed-up Oscar year 2003 was. I thought "Return of the King" was third out of the three Rings movies as a single film unto itself, yet because of previous snubs, they had to crown it then or else. I'm as big an Eastwood fan as there is, but I thought Mystic River had plot holes in it on the scale of a Schwarzenegger movie, and Penn and Robbins both were overrated in it. The alternative nominees weren't great, though.

Original George said...

Two best performances in a World War II movie:

George C. Scott in "Patton"

and

Bruno Ganz in "Downfall"

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm just saying, don't drag yourself over here every day on our account."

I swear, that's not what I do. It's all for love.

Ron said...

They need to make a WWII film out of that crazy English bastards, Archibald Wavell's, life! Half-Patton, Half-Python!

Plus, don't forget, next August, Tarantinos Inglorous Bastards (Pulp Fiction meets Dirty Dozen!)!

knox said...

It will be 5 years straight — not one day missed.

Quite an accomplishment! Congrats.

SteveR said...

As someone who tends to like war movies, I thought "Ryan" was pretty good, especially the opening scene in the theater. I didn't care for Matt Damon's performance though. I'm a "Patton" guy.

The title, "Shakespeare in Love" was enough to keep me away, something I've never for a second regretted.

Been here since the days of "How Kerry Lost Me" and comments were off. I come by most everday and I appreciate it very much. Thanks!

chuck b. said...

"The House of Sand and Fog,"


Oooaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhuuuugeeeeeeaah!

Never in my life did I want to hurl a book out the window so bad. Not hurl it out the window, no. I wanted to pass the book through my shredder, put the shreddings in a box, fill the box with cement, and toss the resulting block off the Golden Gate Bridge.

And I guess it wasn't the book that was so bad, it was everyone in it. Which I guess that means the book was good.

I hated the book so much watching the movie was is unthinkable. It's unthinkable still.

No.

chuck b. said...

The Kill Bills are the best movies, ever.

I have to go make rice now for the jambalaya in the slow cooker.


Good blogging today! Love you. Kisses.

traditionalguy said...

In honor of Saving Private Ryan let me mis-quote Gen Marshal's line," If that movie is still alive , we are going to get it the hell out of theah". Thank you for the kind movie Mr Spielberg. It is a nice thought that someone wanted to save this historical blockbuster from Hollywood's attempt to ignore it.

blake said...

IS THAT MY DAUGHTER IN THERE?
IS THAT MY DAUGHTER IN THERE?
IS THAT MY DAUGHTER IN THERE?
IS THAT MY DAUGHTER IN THERE?

Oh, yeah, that deserved an Oscar.

The big sins of 1998 include not nominating The Big Lebowski for anything, including overlooking Jeff Bridges for Best Actor and John Goodman for Best Supporting (but comedy gets no respect).

Somehow overlooked also were Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser for Gods and Monsters.

Run Lola Run got nary a nod. A Simple Plan got no notice for its cinematography. Rushmore, nothin'.

But then I probably would've given La Vita E Bella best picture for that year.

John said...

As a veteran there are certain things about Saving Private Ryan that bug me. First, is the stupid ending scene where Ryan doesn't want to go back. BS. Soldiers don't think that way. Yes, they want to do their duty and no one wants to be a coward, but no one passes on an honorable way home. If all your brothers had been killed and the Chief of Staff of the Army said for you to go home, every soldier who ever lived would say "yes sir" and all of his buddies would congratulate him on getting to go home, no questions asked. That part really bugged me.


While Private Ryan is overrated in many ways, it is at least watchable. Shakespere in Love is unwatchable. It is the only movie I have ever walked out on. How many times can you make some cheesey dialog reference to a line out of Shakespere play and get the audience to laugh? If it is that movie apparently a lot. It is just Shakespere for stupid people. If it wasn't for Driving Miss Daisy, Shakespere in Love would be the worst movie to win an Oscar in my life time. Considering I have lived to see films like Ordinary People and Rainman win Oscars that is saying something

AllenS said...

Well, John, I'm a veteran also. When I was about to be discharged from a military hospital in Japan in 1968, I had an option to be sent to Korea. I asked for, and was granted to return to my unit in Viet Nam. That solidarity, if you know any paratroopers from WWII was even more evident.

John said...

Allan S.

Good for you to go back to Vietnam. Certainly, soldiers always try to go back to their units. Part of that is that no one ever wants to be the new guy. You are always better off with the unit you know. But, there is such a thing as a million dollar wound for a reason. My experience is that no one wants to be a hero much less a dead one. You want to do your duty and not let your friends or your service down, but you also want to go home honorably at the first opportunity this was especially true of draftees in wars like Korea and WWII where the casualties were horrendous. I always thought the Matt Damon, stay here with my brother scenes were pure cheese. No one would talk like that even if they thought like that. That and the Hanks' character's idiotic decision to charge a machine gun over open ground in broad daylight, took what was supposed to be a "realistic war movie" and made it into Hollywood camp.

AllenS said...

Again, John, you don't know any paratroopers from WWII.

John said...

Again Allen I do. I would point you to Ambrose's book about the 101st. In there he talks about people being happy to have the "million dollar wound" and never feeling guilty about leaving their buddies. I also spend months with the 173rd ARB Brigrade in Iraq as a part of 4th ID. I never met one paratrooper who talking anything like Damon did in that movie. It is just Hollywood BS.

AllenS said...

You're a leg.

knox said...

Never in my life did I want to hurl a book out the window so bad. Not hurl it out the window, no. I wanted to pass the book through my shredder, put the shreddings in a box, fill the box with cement, and toss the resulting block off the Golden Gate Bridge.

chuck b. me too, re: house of sand and fog. Horrible.

Lily-Rose Riddle said...

Although I liked Tommy Lee Jones in "The Fugitive", I think Ralph Fiennes was robbed in that Oscar's edition. He deserved that Oscar for his Amon Goeth role, which was clearly superior.