Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Best Pictures from the Outside In: '29/'06

(The Broadway Melody + The Departed = Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd)

Today marks the second installment of the new Best Pictures from the Outside In feature that Nathaniel and Goatdog and I decided to inaugurate this summer—born largely out of a phone conversation Nathaniel and I had about our awe (mixed with jealousy) that Goatdog has so few Best Pic nominees left to see, and our collective urge to revisit winners that we each saw way, way back in our proto-Oscargeek childhoods. Plus, none of us could wait to see The Life of Émile Zola again, and this project seemed to furnish the right alibi.

Goatdog and Nathaniel both rang in the feature last week, when we jabbered about the earliest victor, Wings, and the most recent, No Country for Old Men. I missed my chance at joining in the full, six-pompom salute to our new endeavor, but suffice it to say: if you had told me in 8th grade, when I was still renewing Inside Oscar every two weeks at the public library but had only seen ten or twelve of the movies in the book, that I would one day have two friends who wanted to make this same tiptoe through the AMPAS tulips with me, and obsess over all the same talking points and triumphs and injustices, I would have been pulling my jaw off the floor and my head out of the clouds. And not just because I would have had no idea what the "internet" was.

This week's conversation, hosted by Goatdog, covers our varying levels of agitation about 1929's The Broadway Melody and our universal enthusiasm for 2006's The Departed, even if we all want to recast Jack Nicholson. After you're done reading the discussion, hopefully dropping us a comment, and pitying my predicament of never making a single graphic to rival Goatdog's or Nathaniel's, head back to my main site, where I'm archiving our march through Oscartime. I've got links to all of our discussions, and to my own grades and reviews of the winners, riders at the top of those reviews that commemorate each year's race (including deserving winners and non-nominees), and the required bouquet of gratuitous lists.

Enjoy! And visit this space next week, when we revisit the winners from 1930 and 2005 and inevitably rehash one of the great, tear-inducing miscarriages in Oscar's entire back-catalog. By which I mean, of course, the soul-sickening nomination of the gruesomely stodgy 1929 biopic Disraeli. Thank God it lost. (Hey, what did you think I was talking about?)

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Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

i just had a brilliant idea. promote ray winstone from his henchman role into jack's frank costello part ~ bingo! although that leaves his part open.

8:34 AM, June 26, 2008  
Blogger Catherine said...

I'm muchly impressed by your special archive section, but got a little shock while glancing at your list of unseens - you haven't watched "12 Angry Men"? My own list of unseens is enormous, but that film was one of those ones that my dad made me watch when I was 9 or so. A "Watch this, or nevermore be daughter of mine" kinda deal.

9:02 AM, June 26, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Nathaniel: No smudge on your evident brilliance, but as I was mulling this over, I decided I kind of didn't want to see Ray Winstone in this kind of role, just because he's getting a little familiar... on which grounds, I'd also rule out Brian Cox and especially Brendan Gleeson, who might have made boringly obvious choices if Jack weren't available to schmact his way through this. And I praise God that through the whole film, we were somehow spared Danny Huston, my sworn enemy but a ubiquitously cast actor and an Irishman by blood to boot.

My own pet choice: Peter Mullan. Woulda been great, and coulda used the fame boost (and maybe the paycheck would have helped toward another film as good as The Magdalene Sisters). Second choice, his near-homonym, Peter MacNeill. Third choice, if we have to dip into that ever-ready rogues gallery of British heavies, Ian McShane. (I admit that my first thought after Mullan had been Ray McAnally, who I loved as the Dad in My Left Foot, but... it turns out he's been dead for almost 20 years.

@Catherine: It's always amazing that the more you watch and the more you read (and the more you do anything, probably) the "holes" seem to get bigger instead of smaller. I'm more aware than ever of all the stuff I haven't seen. Considering a post about it. In the case of 12 Angry Men, I've consciously held it aside so that I have a few certified gems coming my way as I tackle this list—I don't want to get stuck with a bunch of Cleopatras and Story of Louis Pasteurs—but it's true that I feel like my American citizenship papers, or at least my high school diploma, are in some way endangered by my never having seen this movie (or the play, or any version thereof).

11:02 AM, June 26, 2008  

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