Sh*t Happened One Night
Click here for Episode 7 of Best Pictures from the Outside In.
You like us, you really like us! Nathaniel's full transcript for Episode 7 of Best Pictures from the Outside In just went on-line, and we already have seven comments, many of them commiserating with what to me is the unforgivable victory of Ron Howard's scared and very safe A Beautiful Mind over Robert Altman's saucily observant Gosford Park, Peter Jackson's majestic Fellowship of the Ring (my full review here), and Baz Luhrmann's inventively exuberant Moulin Rouge! (my full review here). I can't get on board with the idea that Mind's success was an all-out travesty, since I still think that Todd Field's In the Bedroom is as self-fetishizing and frustrating a middlebrow arthouse film as A Beautiful Mind is a burnished crowd-pleaser. But Oscar Night '01 remains, nonetheless, a major miscarriage of justice, not because A Beautiful Mind is worse than other Best Picture winnersas we've seen recently and will again, it's notbut because Oscar came so close, and yet so far, from doing the right thing with its top prize.
Since I didn't get a chance to say so during our conversation, I'll add that I do think A Beautiful Mind has one bracing little moment of writing, directing, and performance, when Jennifer Connelly asks an on-the-mend Russell Crowe to take out the trash just for a change of scenery, and she overhears him talking to people who aren't there, only to be corrected. It's a very rare scene for letting you identify heartily with both points of view, and for ending with a tone that isn't what you expect. Both actors successfully project characters who feel like whole people, and Nash's dementia seems like a three-dimensional dramatic situation. Would that we'd seen more of this.
Thankfully, sometimes Oscar does do the right thing with its top prize, and even more thankfully, some films are brimming with beautifully played and directed scenes, and with three-dimensional dramatic situations. I'm the only one of the three of us who was left wanting just a bit more from It Happened One Night this time 'round, but that doesn't change that the film remains one of my all-time favorite winners. I still rejoice that, in a rarity for his early youth, Oscar had the grace and merriment to reward a comedic love story and a character piece that isn't about a legendary scientist or a famous leader. As Mike points out, there is so much more to say about this rich, delicate, ambitious, and entertaining movie than we were able, so keep the conversation flowing in the comments!
For reasons of available time, which have also hampered my recent viewing, I haven't seen all of the 1934 nominees yet and can't deliver my own rankings as has been my recent custom. In fact, '34 is sort of a weak year for me overall, so as you wait for my updates (once I've seen Cleopatra, Flirtation Walk, and a couple of others), please let me know your own favorites from that year. I love taking direction, and with any luck at all, yours will be better than Ron Howard's.
This Week: Nathaniel's transcript and Goatdog's tie-in entry
Previously: ep.1: Wings & No Country; ep.2: Broadway Melody & Departed; ep.3: All Quiet & Crash; ep.4: Cimarron & Million Dollar Baby; ep.5: Grand Hotel & LOTR:ROTK; ep.6: Cavalcade & Chicago