Nicola, who’s runs Uncultured Critic, has written a special guest feature for Cinema Fanatic about “the disconnect between public opinion, critical acclaim, and The Academy.” I hope you enjoy it! And while you’re at it, y’all should follower her on Twitter, too!
The Economist recently released an article with the following title:
A World of Hits: Ever-increasing choice was supposed to mean the end of the blockbuster. It has had the opposite effect
Ever-increasing choice? Not anymore! Since the advent of the latest 3D boom (-and-hopefully-bust), choices have dwindled considerably.
We often hear about an actor’s range and praise them for working in a variety of genres, etc. Rarely, however, do we hear the same praise for directors. Sam Mendes is one of those directors who never does the same thing twice. His debut film, 1999’s American Beauty was a slice of life family drama. It went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. His second film, 2002’s Road To Perdition was a period crime drama. In 2005 he made the dark comedy/war drama Jarhead. Three years later was the 2008 literary adaptation/period drama Revolutionary Road, which he followed up less than six months later with the indie dramedy Away We Go. Each of these films is so different from the other, but what they all have in common is Mendes’ strong direction, resulting in a plethora of amazing, complicated, compelling performances.
I first saw this film on an airplane on my way back from London in 2000 and I loved it immediately. I didn’t see it again for a few years, but when I finally did watch it again I still loved it as much as I did then. At the time of its release it was up for seven Oscars – Best Score, Best Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Director, Best Picture and won two: Best Adapted Screenplay John Irving and Best Supporting Actor Michael Caine. Best Picture-wise it was up against The Insider, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense and winner American Beauty.
I know there is at least one book on this subject and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but thanks to TCM showing several movies from that year, I have to agree completely. What I mean by Cinema, is Hollywood and American Cinema, because a lot of how it changed was based on things French New Wave directors had already been doing for almost ten years.
One way to see this change is by looking at the five films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars that year. Four of the films are harbingers of the new Hollywood. One is old guard and because of that in addition I want to talk about another film that, although nominated for four Oscars, was not up for Best Picture.
The five films up for Best Picture were Bonnie & Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In The Heat of the Night. The film sixth film I’m going to discuss is In Cold Blood.
This film is one of the all-time great ensembles out there. It features stellar performances from so many great actors. It also is so wonderfully stylized, from the costumes to the sets to Jerry Goldsmith’s phenomenal score. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards in 1997. Although it lost Best Picture to Titanic, Kim Basinger walked away with the Best Supporting Actress award as did the Adapted Screenplay by Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson.