Monday, February 16, 2009

I’m not a fan of Titanic, but…

I’m not a fan of Titanic (Sorry Ray.) It feels clichéd and sappy and I was disappointed that it won best picture in 1997. But wait, I looked back on the nominees for 1997 and it’s not such a surprise:

As Good as It Gets, James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi Zea, producers (TriStar)

The Full Monty, Uberto Pasolini, producer (Fox Searchlight)

Good Will Hunting, Lawrence Bender, producer (Miramax)

L.A. Confidential, Arnon Milchan, Curtis Hanson and Michael Nathanson, producers (Warner Bros.)

Titanic, James Cameron and Jon Landau, producers (Paramount and 20th Century Fox.)

Ok, if those are the five nominees, who would I give it to? Not As Good As It Gets. That movie drags in the middle and feels like a TV movie of the week. Not The Full Monty. It’s ok, but not even close to best picture material. Good Will Hunting is a good picture, but a little on the predictable side. That leaves L.A. Confidential and yes, that would have been my choice for Best Picture because it so beautifully captured the smarmy underbelly of L.A. in the 1950s. And of course the acting is uniformly terrific across the board from Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger to Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce.

But Titanic would have been my SECOND pick. (Piper may never let me contribute to the blog again and who could blame him?) Titanic would win second place because it was the most ambitious film of 1997 – recreating the sinking of the titanic. And, over-the-top acting aside, James Cameron did a pretty damn good job of making me feel what it must have been like to have been on that boat.


Ray said...

Excellent post, brian ... and not simply because you have bolstered my previously airtight case for TITANIC.

Your post points out that, many times, these pictures win because of what is LACKING in cinema rather than what the film itself stands for or represents.

TITANIC dominated its respective year. It was a well-made film in almost every respect. It not only manages to get the technical part right; it also manages to move the emotions .... which is NOT a bad thing, folks. But in comparison to everything out that year, TITANIC was probably the first or second choice for Best Picture. Emotions caused the scale to tip in favor of TITANIC rather than LA CONFIDENTIAL.

There are some years where Oscar gets it completely and utterly wrong - 1994's awarding of Best Picture to FORREST GUMP over PULP FICTION is an obvious example. This year's crop will get it completely wrong because the best film of last year is not nominated at all.

But Piper's constant harrassment of TITANIC is unwarranted when you look at it objectively as brian has done here.

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PIPER said...

Whoah. Hang on. Constant harassment?

If they were handing out an Oscar for best technical direction, James Cameron should have won hands down.

I agree with Brian that it was a very ambitious film and Cameron did make me feel like I was on the boat.

But I found no true emotion in the movie. The dialogue was embarrassing at times. The acting mediocre. And the story overdone.

And that is too many things to forgive to say that it deserved the Oscar for best picture.

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Christian Toto said...

If "Titanic" came out today, would the Oscar voters snub it ... nah, too popular, they might say.

Emily Blake said...

I kind of rank my movies by how much they make me cry.

This year:
Benjamin Button
The Wrestler
Slumdog Millionaire

Titanic made me cry a whole lot, so it would have won my vote at the time, although now I'd definitely rather watch LA Confidential.

I'm rethinking this method, though, because if I go by this philosophy Liar Liar should have won in its year.

PIPER said...


You're a sap. But so am I. I find myself crying at a lot of movies. Movies like Freaky Friday. I think you should rethink that method as well.

Kate Hanley said...

I just found this blog and I'm a big movie fan. I have to say I was so disappointed when Titanc won the best pic Oscar. It wasn't even nominated in the Screenplay category because it just wasn't that good. I'd have given it to LA Confidential myself. And I totally agree that Pulp Fiction was robbed in it's year. If you watch Benjamin Buttons, you're really just watching an new and expanded version of Forrest Gump. Great blog!

Sarah said...

Best movie of the bunch is "LA Confidential." Hands down.

DirtyRobot said...

Yeah, a slow year it was, L.A. Confidential should have been a lock.

Though I've finally decided to break my self-imposed ban on watching TITANIC... maybe I'll love it???

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Suzy Quick said...


The crew member that knew the sinking was going to happen and started drinking was the most interesting character to me. Not sure why.