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February 19, 2004 - Image 11

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Weekeld Magazine - Thursday, February 19, 2004

_D F-THER

I ~

.- A.,

By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts Writer
Finally, a year has come when the
Academy nominated correctly ... or
almost. One would be hard pressed to
argue against the voters' reasoning
for naming a fantasy, a devastated
father's story, a high-seas adventure
and a Tokyo tale among 2003's elite
- though the horse is questionable.
As always, there remain some
fringe films that unfortunately
missed the cut because of their lack
of marketing power ("In America,"

"Big Fish"). And for once, quite
amusingly, we won't be seeing
Harvey Weinstein or his company's
name on the list of winners (but it
would have been nice to see "City of
God" or "Kill Bill" among the possi-
bles). While he'll blow off steani to
every reporter in the country that
"Cold Mountain" had its nomination
hindered by a late release date, there
is no avoiding the fact that it just
wasn't one of the year's best.
Suffice it to say that "Seabiscuit"
seems the oddest of all nominees.
Having garnered an improbable seven

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noms, the best-looking summer film
has ridden the whole way on the
money behind its awards push. Top-
lined by a superb cast, including the
scene-stealing William H. Macy, it
certainly received the most critical
accfaim of the summer and added an
amazing look to an already American
audience-oriented story.
However, it often dragged, provid-
ed the usual sappiness attributed to
such a success story, and limped past
the climactic match-race in an uncap-
tivating comeback plot turn. The act-
ing was good, not great; same with
the direction; and the film's best
quality, it's cinematography, pales in
comparison to the other films in that
category. This nomination is more a
purchased one than an honorable one
with a real prospect of winning.
"Mystic River," conversely, has
probably the best chance to snatch the
statuette from New Line's deserving
hands. Praised by critics as a cine-
matic triumph, yet no better than
some of the year's other depressing
tear-jerkers (especially the other Sean
Penn showcase, "21 Grams"), Clint
Eastwood's non-Western opus has the
benefit of names: Eastwood and
Penn, but virtually all of the all-star
cast as well - Robbins, Bacon, Gay
Harden, Linney and Fishburne.
Yet even though the acting was cer-
tainly outstanding and the script
superb, too many gimmicks and an
uncalled for Lady Macbeth ending
leave holes in "Mystic." It certainly
has a right to stand alongside
the other nominees, but it
would be a shame for
Eastwood to walk away with
Oscar this year.
Ah, the swashbuckling
epic that is "Master and
Commander." Russel
Crowe and more so Paul
Bettany deserved to be
honored in their respective
categories, and this high-
seas adventure has the
action and heart the
Academy loves. Peter Weir
again showcases his envi-
able talents in a superb
exploration of character and
friendship in the line of fire. To
call this achievement praise-
worthy would hardly do it jus-
tice.
Considering all aspects of
"Master" places it in a unique posi-
tion amongst the contenders. While it
has everything "Gladiator" wanted
and the outpouring of subtlety Ridley
Scott only wished for, it has the
unfortunate task to take the eyes off
"The Return of the King." It has a
miniscule chance to win, but the
chance still exists. To Weir's credit,

Courtesy of New Line

I'll never let go Sam ...

he did manage to create probably the
best pirate-like film in half a century;
however, the prize belongs elsewhere.
"Lost in Translation" appears
somewhat like the Little Engine That
Could in this race. Struggling
through an uphill battle, it needs
every "I think I can" it can muster.
As Sophia Coppola's sophomore
effort, "Translation" stunned critics
and moviegoers alike with a fantastic
story and even better acting. Scarlett
Johansson is a welcomed young
face to the popular front, and Bill
Murray performed his heart
out in his best portrayal yet.
This train took the Best
Motion Picture - Musical
or Comedy Golden Globe
home, and it has the rum-
blings of a Cinderella written
all over it.
Too bad. The youngest
member of Hollywood's
royal Coppola's has only a
smidgen of hope to steal the
pot. It's a cute little film, but
that's its problem: no mar-
keting power. Many voters
will surely be enamored with
the only indie on the list, but
the steamrolling juggernaut
of an adaptation that is
"Return of the King" looks to crush
everything in its path.
And deservedly so. Not only is
"The Lord of the Rings: The Return
of the King" the final chapter in one
of the greatest trilogies ever written
made into one of the greatest trilogies
ever filmed, but it also has the bal-
ance that its predecessors lacked.
Peter Jackson's masterful filmmaking

Courtesy of Sony
It's OK. Daddy will get you an Oscar.
Who's your daddy?
has the best odds for Hollywood's
most coveted prize, and the third time
should be a charm.
Sweeping and inspiring, breath-
taking and heartfelt, this one's got
the goods. Some say that the
Academy has waited three years
(and through presenting arguably
worse films with the gold) to crown
the "King," and New Line certainly
made sure everything fell into per-
fect order to make it happen. Sound,
editing, special effects, acting,
directing, writing ... you name it,
this one's got the best of it.
Thus, when it comes time for the
endless ceremony, an adventure in
itself, to say goodnight, the right
movie for once will be awarded its
due. Odds are for the little hobbits,
and justifiably so. Congratulations
Oscar, you're going home.

° mdkm)WtQ

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