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March 23, 1998 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-23

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 23, 1998

Picture this! Five nominees face off

The following are arguments as to
why each of the five nominees for the
Best Picture Oscar are not only worthy
of their nomination but also worthy of a
little gold man to place on the mantle.
As Good as It Gets
As a genre, romantic comedies are
among the most contrived, derivative
works that the movie industry has to
offer. A handsome, likeable man and a
pretty, charming woman have an obvious
attraction toward one another.
Circumstances keep them apart, but after
internally and externally obsessing over
their state of affairs, true love wins out
and everyone lives happily ever after.
But James L. Brooks' "As Good As It
Gets" introduces us to a romantic comedy
world that we have never seen before. The
leading man (played by Jack Nicholson)
is easily the meanest sobsessive-compul-
sive person in New York City.
Nicholson straddles the line between
poor taste and downright offensiveness.
Yet his lack of tact and oblivious selfish-
ness are tempered by his eccentricity and
his growth as an individual. Nicholson's
character succeeds in getting the audience
to love him and hate him simultaneously
as he begins a slow metamorphosis.
The two helping hands that pull
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Courtesy of ThStar
Nominee Helen Hunt, hopes Oscar thinks
her film is "As Good as It Gets."
Nicholson toward humanity are played
by Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear (both
of whom, like Nicholson, received act-
ing nominations). Hunt is particularly
exceptional, as a struggling mother who
becomes the object of the main charac-
ter's affections. Most striking is her
ability to remain graceful even under
the most adverse conditions.
Yet, through all of their troubles, the
characters of"As Good As It Gets" never
lose their dignity or their sense of humor.
This helps tremendously in dealing with
their problems, and more importantly,
assists in forging connections with other
characters that accentuate the wonder of
the human experience.
Of the five nominees for the Best
Picture Oscar, "As Good As It Gets"
clearly stands out as the most creative
and innovative work. The film has an
emotional sincerity that is lacking in
any of the other contenders. Ultimately,
it is this ability to so completely satisfy
the viewer intellectually and emotional-
ly that makes "As Good As It Gets" a
truly rewarding movie and the best
choice for the Academy Award.
- Prashant Tamaskar
The Full Monty
Perhaps the darkest horse in the
Oscar race this year is "The Full
Monty" -- and precisely for this rea-
son, this British flick has a chance to
walk away tonight a winner.
While all of Hollywood is talking
about "Titanic" as the film on which to
compare all others, "The Full Monty"
stands tall and proud, slowly, but surely,

making a name for itself with audiences. Sant's skewed, intimate style packs as
The comedy about six men who much of a wallup in silent subway cars as
"dare to go all the way" makes light of in purifying confrontations in Sean's
the embarrassments that Jane and Joe office. While, the seamless musical col-
Moviegoer have about their own lives laboration between Danny Elfman and
and personal appearances. The film is Elliott Smith provides the film with alter-
so hysterical merely because it plays off nately sweeping violins and plaintive gui-
the taboos of human nature. tar, fitting the film's shifting moods.
With any luck, perhaps Oscar will Whatever mood it's in, "Good Will
choose to go all the way. For one night Hunting" deserves an Oscar - if not
only, Hollywood should shed its obsession for Best Picture, then definitely for its
with over-priced glamour and superficial phenomenal screenplay. Whether it's
beauty, stick with the low-budget, low- Will's lambasting of over-educated
income flick, and go "The Full Monty." Harvard snobs or Chuckie's poignant
-Kristin Long hope for Will's future or Skylar's pil-
low-talk argument on why she should
Good Will Hunting play in the NBA, Affleck and Damon
"It's not your fault." have created a classic that is a true
"It's not your fault," South Boston Hollywood rarity - literate, funny,
therapist Sean Maguire (Robi if"inspiring, cleansing.
Williams) repeats to troubled genii< Matt and Ben - if "Good Will
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) in thedno- fUfting" doesn't win Best Picture, it's
tional climax of "Good Will Hunifig not your fault.
With that single line, Will's yd {of -- Bryan Lark
abuse, arrest and arrogance come cr2hh
down in one great cathartic rush, one* L.A. Confidential
time-coming moment of vulnerability Style or substance? Not an easy ques-
one damn moving movie experience. . Do you go for tasty fluff like cotton
This soul-purging scene is indicatwy dy that is sweet going down but nasty
of "Good Will Hunting"'s overall sty1.fer or do you go for a real meal that
-- it's filmmaking as catharsis. The pa' :As to your ribs and makes you feel
off of years of struggling as actors, the happy to be alive? If you answered cotton
film is the two hour-and-10-minute th- cAndy and have seen "Titanic" at least
apy session of the film's writers and stn .ve times then you may want to stop
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Chuckie! ading this. But if substance is what you
venting their frustrations and exploriig ; ave in your movie going experience,
their close fraternal bond in a deeply per- :en stick around and find out about the
sonal, let-yourself-be-loved fashion. shear's best movie, "L.A. Confidential."
But a film of weeping and didacUF- Set on the landscape of '50s Los
cism "Good Will Hunting" is not's, A ngeles, "L.A. Confidential" is a story
wickedly funny character stud ..led ..fcor.ption on the police force that was
with foul language, playful r .thdaptes?3fom James Ellroy's classic
and charming, sharp dialogue. ot to crime !ovel. The story and intricately
mention the fact that it is, perhaps, the woven plot are top of the line and will
best-acted film of the year. keep you guessing throughout the movie.
The film's three major ave The fi1 o allows the characters slow-
been singled-out by the Acadmy f'r act =ychange develop before our eyes, a
ing excellence: Matt Damo complex act that tes it from the hoards of
title character, who's as sheltered and sad "'o-ther movies that crowd today's theatres.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Russell Crowe, as rogue cop Bud White, is staking out a long-shot Best Picture
win for Curtis Hansnn's criticali vlauded "L.A. Confidential."

77111 lV/ VMl CIO lIQIWVII 0 yi Mlpullj 191"WVN ti.

erful performance in a role that was some-
how passed over by the Academy.
Director Curtis Hanson, who also
cowrote the screenplay with Brian
Helgeland, does a superb job of creating
and maintaining tension in a story
where it is very difficult to distinguish
between which characters are good and
bad until the climax of the film. He
packs the story with numerous memo-
rable scenes and characters including a
truly ferocious interrogation scene.
Hanson and crew paid incredible atten-
tion to detail and did an impeccable job
in recreating both the look and feel of
'50s Los Angeles.
Simply put, "L.A. Confidential" has
the. best acting, writing and directing of
the year, hands
down, and it would
be criminal if the
Academy recog-
nized another film
as Best Picture.
- Matthew
Barrett
Titanic
Looking back
on the sinking of The cast of "The Fu
the great ship In miracles.
Titanic, almost a century after its demise,
many might ask why it sank. And a com-
mon answer might be something to the
effect of "I don't know. Maybe it shouldn't
have. But it sure as heck did."
And after the 1998 Academy Awards,
looking back, many might ask why the
film of the same name won the Oscar for
Best Picture. And a similar answer may
well be in order. "I don't know. Maybe it

.' ...
shouldn't have. But it sure as heck did."t
"Titanic" will win the Oscar for Best
Picture this year. But, how is it that this
year's field of nominees is lead by a bud-
get-heavy behemoth, featuring a
mediocre screenplay and substandard
acting (including the Oscar-nominated
performances of Kate Winslet and
Gloria Stuart)? Simple: "Titanic" has
become an incredibly popular film -
and it will ride this wave of popularity toe
a boatload of Academy Awards.
What is it, then, about the film that has
made it so appealing? It is because of its
ability to so completely cater to the needs of
the largest majority of the public. "Titanic"
will win the Oscar for Best Picture because
it is the most immediately available and the
most instanta-
neously affective,
film in the field,
and possibly of all
time.
James Cameron
should win the
award for Best
Director in honor
of his acute ability
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight to manipulate our
Monty" believes emotions. Each
and every plot
device used in "Titanic," from the string
quintet to the peasant vignettes, (yes, even
Cameron's random forays into the realm o$
social morality) are placed for the sole put-
pose of momentarily but violently wrench-,
ing the audiences collective gut.
Even the recreation of the sinking ofthe
ship was simply a means to this same end..
The producers spent $280 million on this.
mammoth technological task, and consid-
ering aesthetics, it was money well spent.
The engineering utilized in the creation of
this awe-inspiring event was cutting-edge,
and it moved viewers everywhere. a
This skillful orchestration of feeling on
so many fronts led to the enonnous level
of popular support that is now present,
and this same popular impulse has infect-
ed the Academy as well. This is especial-
ly obvious when regarding "Titanic"'s
record-tying 14 nominations. And there is
no reason to believe that this trend will

ull

as he is witty and wise; Robin Williams'
nuanced portrayal of the depressed ther-
apist who helps himself by helping Will;
and Minnie Driver, who, as Harvard girl-
friend Skylar, builds layers of humor and
emotion upon what could have been a
one-dimensional love interest in less
capable hands.
But acting isn't all the good will this
film offers, either. Director Gus Van

The fact that the cast did not receive
many acting nominations has more to do
with -the abundance rather than lack of
stellar performances. Only Kim Basinger
was recognized for her comeback role,
while newcomers Guy Pearce and Russell
Crowe turned in star-making perfor-
mances and got help from screen veterans
Danny DeVito and James Cromwell.
Also, Kevin Spacey gives his typical pow-

change tonight.
- Joshua Pederson
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