The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

BEST PICTURE

This is one of those rare years where I've seen nearly all of the Best Picture nominated movies before the Oscars. In this case, it's 4 out of 5. Sorry about that, Mister Depp.

(Actually, if there was any justice I'd have seen all five, that is, if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had received a nomination. If it had been released in December...)

Let's take a look at the movies in paragraph form, shall we?

Finding Neverland. Didn't see it. However the same cannot be said for the other four...

The Aviator. If I were less charitable I'd say it's a real-life version of A Burns for All Seasons. It's a "big" movie, and about as obviously "big" as a movie gets (as befitting its subject matter I suppose). Bright colors, thick lipstick, fast jets, fat jets, Commander Data, No Doubt (yes, ridiculous cameos galore), and oodles upon oodles of broken flashbulbs. Who knew photography was ever that messy? That said, an Oscar for Cate Blanchett.

Million Dollar Baby. The Aviator's polar opposite, with a cinematographer whose lighting concept seems to be the cover of With the Beatles. Hillary Swank takes a break from playing women dressing up as men . . . to play a boxer. Ellis "Red" Redding, freshly paroled from Shawshank Prison, gets a job at a grungy old boxing gym in LA, and does what he does best: Narrates. "Every man has his breakin' point" . . . "Boxing is an unnatural act" . . . It's all the same, isn't it? This movie is far superior to Rocky in that every once in a while a punch is actually blocked.

Ray. My favorite thing about the movie: They show Ray having extramarital affairs with two women, producing a child each, and then at the tail end of the ending credits, it says "Ray is survived by . . . 12 children". Hmm, now there's a movie! Hopefully, when ol' Jamie walks to the Oscar stage to collect his statue, he's escorted by 8-10 nice-looking women with silly hairdos. The way "Hit the Road Jack" is conjured out of thin air and a breakup with a mistress makes me wonder whether Mr Charles worked with Fleetwood Mac in the Rumors sessions. Note to the makers of this movie: When you say a song ("Mess Around") is in the key of G, please don't play it in E-flat. That really annoys those of us who can detect this disparity (me, for example).

Sideways. Hmm, as long as they're showing us all those lovely landmarks in Santa Barbara County, where was the large Arco station in Buellton? After all, that's the only portion of the town seen by most students on the way between UCSB and the Bay Area (that was me for four years). Also, I thought the expression was "drunk dial" instead of "drink and dial". This movie was good enough to forgive Sandrah Oh for all those unentertaining years of Arli$$. It's also nice to know that grown men across the country probably scribble "fucking" on restaurant wine lists next to "Merlot". And if I had to guess, drinking wine while driving is probably less dangerous than doing the New York Times crosssword puzzle while driving; yes, there's nothing like trying to remember the Exodus guy's last name while changing lanes on The 405. It's the yuppie Rocky Horror.

By the way, in case you get the wrong idea, I enjoyed all of these movies.

TFM Projected Winner: The Aviator

TFM's Desired Winner: Million Dollar Baby (but wouldn't mind if Sideways took it home)

TFM's Alternate Universe Winner: Eternal Sunshine

Actor: Foxx
Actress: Swank
Supp Actor: Haden Church
Supp Actress: Blanchett

TFM's Worst 5 Movies He Saw In 2004:

5. Ocean's Twelve. Not explicitly bad, just the fifth worst movie I saw. And the Julia Roberts meta-humor didn't work for me.
4. The Incredibles. Sorry. Really really sorry. It just wasn't as sharp as some people seem to think.
3. Anchorman. Hey, I laughed a lot (mostly at Steve Carrell), but let's face it, as a movie it's crap.
2. The Dreamers. Bertolucci's lost it a bit. Two hours of pretentious claptrap. At least it was all-nude pretentious claptrap.

And the worst movie I saw in 2004 was...

1. Dodgeball. Sorry to make another Simpsons reference, but this was Man Getting Hit By Football expanded to 90 minutes. First of all, it's a Vince Vaughn vehicle, and that doesn't help. Second, the cameos are clunky. Third, it's boooorrring, and watching wrenches and the like hitting people in the groin works for about 10 seconds. The concept of "The Ocho" is funny, and the commentary guy had a decent line or two, but really, that's it.

(political blogging to resume shortly)

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