Friday, February 15, 2008

Brothers In Oscar

I just found this out.

I was separated at birth from Sean Nelson, an editor at MSN. I had no idea until today. When I read Sean's article Worst. Oscars. Ever. I knew the two of us must be cut from the same cloth because our opinions are almost identical.

Here's where Sean netted out for what he calls his Top 10 Worst Oscars Ever.

10. Best Original Screenplay for Ghost. "I don't really have anything to add to this. It's self-explanatory, more or less. "Ghost." Best. Original. Screenplay. It's just funny to think that anyone -- even people who work in the movie biz -- saw those words together on one line and thought, "YES!" And then made a check in the box, looked the ballot over and mailed it. It's funny, right? Kind of funny. Not funny ha-ha, of course. Funny sad."

9. Best Supporting Actress Tie with Marissa Tomei My Cousin Vinney and Mira Sorvino Mighty Aphrodite. "As it turns out, these actresses are fantastic and do better and better work as they get older. But these awards were examples of academy tokenism at its most flagrant."

8. Ron Howard Best Director for A Beautiful Mind. "What can one say about Ron Howard? Has he ever made a genuinely good movie? I liked Parenthood, but it was basically a sitcom pilot. I liked Splash but it was basically a kids' movie. I liked ... uh ... no, that's it. I don't like anything else he's done, and that's because he's not so much a director as an assembler of movies."

7. Halle Berry Best Actress for Monster's Ball. "I'm all for physical beauty, and I'm all for unlikely winners, but there comes a time when you just have to be honest. Not only is Berry not much of an actress under normal circumstances -- I mean, she's fine, but really, she's there for her beauty, not her range -- but in this particular movie (which is subawful, by the way), she is atrocious. Bad at the Southern accent, bad at the slow-eyed grief, bad at the layers that attend being the mother of a problem child -- basically, bad at the whole package."

6. Best Actor Tie for Dustin Hoffman Rain Man and Tom Hanks Forrest Gump. "I love Hoffman and I love Hanks. When either one is at his best, he's among the most powerful, versatile, compulsively watchable actors of all time. But let's get serious about why they were rewarded for these towering monuments of cinematic embarrassment. Funny -- cartoonishly funny -- voices for characters with mental difficulties (one an autistic savant, the other a kind of all-purpose dumb-ass), sustained for a whole movie until the sheer ridiculousness of the insulting vocalizations somehow became an asset to the -- let's face it -- miserably bad films they anchored."

5. Best Picture Tie for Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Shakespeare In Love, American Beauty, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago. "It's kind of impossible to choose which one of these abominable-to-innocuous films actually deserves the honor of being called the most absurd Best Picture winner of all time."

4. Best Picture and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby. "Seeing the great Clint Eastwood win Best Director and Best Picture awards for Unforgiven in 1993 was one of the few unqualified thrills of Oscar memory. First, a perfect film made by the only director who could fully realize it, and second, the narrative: An artist underestimated as a lightweight former TV and action movie actor finally arrives to the glory and recognition he had long deserved. Perfect. Well done, academy. Now flash forward to 2005... Lo and behold, an even worse Eastwood production, a film that begins with the gripping story of a female boxer and her grizzled trainer, then devolves into a moribund morality play about the right to die, walks home with the statues."

3. Best Picture Crash. "Another raging example of Hollywood's intense desire to reward itself for "saying something." Only this time, they forgot to notice that the winning picture actually said nothing about race and class in America that you couldn't learn from reading a bumper sticker or wearing a ribbon on the lapel of your tux."

2. Best Picture and Best Director for Dances With Wolves. "This was probably the first Oscar moment that ever made me actually shout at the TV, as though someone inside could hear. The idea that Kevin Costner's bloated, dew-moistened white-man's-burden epic could defeat Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, a masterpiece on so many levels that you lose count, is all the evidence anyone should need that the academy has skewed priorities. When was the last time anyone said, "Oh, man, let's watch Dances With Wolves again! I love the part where it goes on for five hours and everyone learns a bunch of important lessons"? Meanwhile, I watched Goodfellas yesterday. Pow!

1. Best Picture, Best Director and Just About Everything Else for Titanic. "I mean, come on. I know you were in junior high and your first ever boyfriend took you to see it and you guys both reached for the popcorn at the same time and your buttery hands clasped as DiCaprio and Winslet gazed moistly at each other while Celine Dion yawped out the worst song of all time (also a winner that year, by the way). I mean, COME ON! We're adults now. You can admit this film is worthless garbage."

It's too bad you can't see me right now, because there are tears in my eyes. This is beauty at its most beautiful. Everything Sean Nelson has written is so true and it's so opinionated and it's so not understated. Sean, you and I are brothers of the movie kind and if I ever see you, I'm going to hug you because brothers don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug!

Thanks to Brian for the link.


Fox said...

Wow... just looking at #5, and being reminded of those Best Picture winners, and SEEING THEM ALL IN A ROW, really bummed me out.

What'd be interesting would be to see the list of movies that were nominated with those pics in their respective years.

soundtrackgeek said...

Aah, I believe you have found my brother as evil twin brother, who mocks everything I hold dear. I will get you one day, dear brother... one day!

Ray said...

I agree with some of this, of course. Halle Berry did not deserve her Oscar, and no Oscars should have ever gone to MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

However, TITANIC was a gigantic achievement. Sure, the romance was a little maudlin, and it was too long. But I definitely think the film works on many levels, only one of which was the romantic plot. It's hard to bitch about the romance in a film that reduced record numbers of audiences to tears - that shows the damn stuff WORKS.

brian said...


Titanic was a gigantic turd.


Ray said...


I think you're just saying that to be cool. Put your macho, credibility-seeking ego aside and watch the film unbiasedly.


Marilyn said...

I so disagree about Million Dollar Baby. It was the best modern melodrama to come out of Hollywood in more than 40 years.

Piper said...

Okay here goes,


You and I fall along the same lines more often than not and this is where you and I completely differ.

There's an interesting story here. And you've inspired me to write one.

Thanks Ray. Oh, and I'm completely with brian on this one.


Million Dollar Baby was the one hiccup for me. However, I would argue that it's nowhere near The Unforgiven, but no movie made me cry harder than Million Dollar Baby.

Ray said...


You rip mercilessly into TITANIC, yet you openly admit that you cried uncontrollably over a manipulative, overwrought piece of Oscar-bait like MILLION DOLLAR BABY.


Piper said...


I'm not saying it was Oscar worthy, just that it made me cry. And while Million Dollar Baby isn't great, it's far better than Titanic.

Tony Tanti said...

I agree with most of this though I think it's a huge stretch to include Forrest Gump in these lists of undeserving nominees. It's a good movie and Hanks did more than just use a "funny voice" in that one, he was brilliant.

Overall though this is a pretty good collection of the most embarassing Oscar winners ever.