Brokeback Mountain. The Constant Gardener. Capote. Good Night, and Good Luck. Just a few films that are deserving of official kudos in this artificial yearly segment we call “Awards Season.” Fall is the time for the studios, mini-majors and indies to trot out their most notable of notables for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood Foreign Press, Independent Spirit Awards, various guilds and unions, the public and of course for the critics. The New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association as well as groups from cities all over the world have awards announcements and dinners, while publications correlate the information in charts, graphs and columns in the vain attempt to look smarter than the other guy.
The thing is, does anyone remember what Premiere said about likely Oscar® winners last year? Nah, me neither, but I bet their big awards issues sold a buttocks load of copies! Am I being critical, here? Hell no! I want me some of that filthy lucre so I am going to do the same thing, sort of. Starting right now, I am going to keep a running chart or list or something of who’s won awards, who’s been nominated, who I think might win and more importantly, who I think deserves to win! Why? Because as a film critic I am by nature an arrogant fuck who thinks my opinion is better than yours. No, not really. I just like to hear myself talk, is all.
I think I am going to start this post out as a loose listing of thoughts on some films and what awards they might and ought to win and over time, as I update it and see more films, a structure should evolve from the chaos. As John Hillerman as Howard Johnson in Blazing Saddles said, quoting Nietzsche “Out of chaos comes order.” But then again, David Huddleston as Olsen Johnson replied with “Blow it out your ass, Howard.” I guess one man’s philosophy is another man’s flatulence.
Without further bullshit, on with the, uh, bullshit!
My pics for best picture nominees start with the following four films: Ang Lee‘s Brokeback Mountain, Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener, Bennett Miller‘s Capote and George Clooney‘s Good Night, and Good Luck. What a surprise! Four mini-majors. Focus Features (Brokeback & Gardener), Sony Pictures Classics (Capote) and Warner Independent Pictures (Good Night) are all poised to get more end-of-year kudos than their parent companies, which isn’t really a surprise, if you think about it.
I’ve reviewed Capote and Good Night and will review Brokeback closer to its release, but I would like to take this time to write a bit about why Meirelles’ film deserves serious attention, not only as a potential award-winner but as a film that anyone who gives a shit about anything ought to go and see. A provocative, politically astute and raw hybrid of mystery, political thriller and heart-breaking posthumous love story doesn’t come along very often…well, ever.
No feel good popcorn movie this, but instead a well-crafted and extremely moving story of love & loss, right & wrong, black & white and yes, good vs. evil. If you walk out of this film and you aren’t crying I suggest therapy. We all need a good cry from time to time, but this is no Terms of Endearment kind of a cry. This is a cry of anger. Of outrage against the big money pharmaceutical industry that murders thousands of people every year in every country in the world and, at the risk of being accused of stealing from Iggy Pop, a cry for love.
You want to get an inkling of the absolute and total EVIL that is “Big Pharma,” see this movie and then realize that the truth is, far worse. As John Le Carré, author of the source novel writes at the tail of the end credits crawl regarding his story, while the book is not specifically based on any one person’s life, “as my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard.” More chilling words are rarely written.
But I digress…
What awards or nominations does this film deserve?
Best Picture, Best Director-Fernando Meirelles, Best Actor-Ralph Fiennes, Best Actress-Rachel Weisz, Supporting Actor-Bill Nighy, Best Cinematography-César Charlone and Best Screenplay-Jeffrey Caine.
Fiennes is a study in the subtle simmer of a man searching for answers and in the process engages in a struggle that he never knew existed. A beautiful portrait of a man who starts out as a proper and fragile diplomat and in the course of investigating the death of his wife Tessa (Weisz) discovers a side of him that he didn’t acknowledge but that we suspect Tessa always knew.
Weisz, long toiling under the radar as a fantastic actor, gets to truly shine as a committed activist and wife, doing her best to shield her loving and idealist husband from the danger and terrors of her work. Her story is told in flashback, as the film begins with her murder.
Nighy, completely unrecognizable from his most recognizable role (in the US at least) as Billy Mack in Love Actually is brilliantly Machiavellian in his small but pivotal role as Sir Bernard Pellegrin (if there ever was a name you wanted to smack across the mouth, that’s it) a British government official who is (gasp!) not quite what he professes to be.
I just might see it a second time this week. Anyone wanna come with?
Ok, long winded that, but they won’t all be. The list of nominees and winners, as well as my picks, will grow and change over the next couple of months and among the films that may enter into my own particular consciousness are: Steven Spielberg‘s Munich, Sam Mendes‘ Jarhead, James Mangold‘s Walk the Line with super advance buzz for leads Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, Stephen Gaghan‘s Syriana, Gore Verbinski‘s The Weather Man, Lawrence Dunmore’s The Libertine, Peter Jackson‘s King Kong, Susan Stroman‘s The Producers, and of course, Cheaper By The Dozen 2. Kidding.
Photos: Top-Ang Lee directing Brokeback Mountain © Focus Features
Bottom-George Clooney as Fred Friendly and David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck © 2005 Good Night Good Luck LLC