Early Oscar Thoughts, 2006 Edition

There are a lot of things to say about this year’s Oscar picks. First, among the best picture contenders, this is the most worthy, challenging, intellectually satisfying field in years. Second, this year’s Oscar show may be the lowest-rated in the history of forever, because to date not a one of these worthy, challenging and intellectually satisfying films has done any sort of business in the theaters.

Numbers: At this moment, the three highest-grossing Best Picture nominees (Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Munich) have done less business in aggregate than the single Adam Sandler film The Longest Yard, and only barely edge out the terrible Superhero film Fantastic Four. All five combined made less than Madagascar — or the 2000 Best Picture, Gladiator. The average domestic gross of the Best Picture films this year at the time of their nomination is $37.1 million; adjusted for inflation, I suspect strongly this is the lowest-grossing class of Best Picture nominees in the entire eight-decade history of the Academy Awards. Whichever film eventually wins is very likely to be the first Best Picture in a decade not to crack the $100 million mark  — the last Best Picture to fail that was The English Patient.

Just how uncommercial is this crop of nominees? Consider this: a nominee for Best Documentary — March of the Penguins — has made more money than any of the Best Picture nominees. I guarantee you that has never happened before, ever. When Hollywood’s best films can’t compete with chilled, aquatic birds, there’s something going on.

This is not to say that box office should be a factor in deciding which films should be most honored. The money isn’t actually the point. The point is that the “best” movies of the year are profoundly alienated from what Hollywood is actually selling at the moment. When the highest grossing Best Picture nominee (Crash) is only 48th in terms of yearly grosses, what you’re saying is that the film industry is failing at the task of marrying art and commerce — or, at the very least, failing at the task of convincing moviegoers that art is worth seeing. Among the top ten domestically-grossing films of 2005, there’s not a single acting, directing or screenwriting nomination; the most significant Oscar nomination among that pack is Cinematography (for Batman Begins). You have to go into technical and wardrobe awards before the films in the top ten show up in any appreciable quantity.

Maybe film companies don’t care — but on the other hand remember that the film industry (rightly or wrongly) perceived itself in a slump last year; the $8.8 billion total gross was the lowest since 2001, and 2005 was the first year since 1991 that there was a shinkage rather than an expansion of total grosses. The general chatter on the ground was that in 2005, Hollywood wasn’t making films that people wanted to see; based on the Best Picture nominees, you could additionally say that Hollywood also recognizes that the best work of the film industry was not what it was actually busy selling to all of us. This damn well ought to be a teachable moment for someone.

Enough ranting. Here’s a quick take on the nominees and front-runners.

Best Picture: “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Crash,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Munich.”

In my opinion the Oscar race is pretty much already decided: barring a freakish mishap, it’s a Brokeback year. Aside from the film’s inherent quality, it’s also got Hollywood social momentum going for it, as the relatively liberal Academy will consider it a fine poke in the eye of the folks who freak out about men loving men, particularly when those men are cowboys. However, I see two chances for wild card situations: Crash takes place in LA and is socially conscious, and its cast won the Best Ensemble award at the SAG awards the other night. Actors are the largest branch of the Academy, so that might mean something. I suspect it won’t, actually, because the dynamic for a Best Ensemble award is not the same for a Best Picture award, but you never know. The other dark horse is Good Night, if the actors line up for George Clooney for Best Director and the rest of the Academy decides it’s more important to send a message about government intrusiveness than about the right of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal to openly kiss. But I think that’s a dark horse indeed. Capote and Munich are just there as filler — very good filler, mind you. But filler.
Early Pick: Brokeback Mountain

Director: Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”; Bennett Miller, “Capote”; Paul Haggis, “Crash”; George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; Steven Spielberg, “Munich.”

This is one of the very few years where all the Best Picture and Best Director nominations line up; usually there’s an odd man out. I think Ang Lee will nab this, both as part of a larger sweep for Brokeback and also because he’s due; he really ought to have won in 2001 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in my opinion. His only real competition comes from George Clooney, who aside from his fine work in Good Night is also primarily an actor, and the Actor’s branch of the Academy is notorious for dropping director Oscars into the lap of its brethren, often at expense of more deserving directors (ask Martin Scorsese about this: He lost out to both Robert Redford and Kevin Costner this way, not to mention Clint Eastwood). Nevertheless I expect it to come Lee’s way. Miller, Haggis and Spielberg are not actually in consideration this time around; even if Crash were to somehow come away with Best Picture, I would expect Director to go with Ang or Clooney.
Early Pick: Lee

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”; Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”; Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Walk the Line”; David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

This is the hardest category to handicap. The only person I’ll immediately vote off the island is Terrence Howard, with the notation that I’m surprised and pleased he got the nomination at all — he truly deserves it. Hopefully he’ll be happy with it as his reward. But after that things get iffy. I’d toss out Phoenix next, but since Reese Witherspoon is a genuine contender in Best Actress, and their performances are a matching set, I’m hesitant to discount him entirely. If David Strathairn gets the Oscar it’ll blow up any predictions about Brokeback and suddently Good Night will look like a real contender. But in the end I think it’s between Ledger and Hoffman, and I’ll give Hoffman the slightest of edges because he’s an actor other actors have admired for a while now. On the other hand, Ledger has achieved his ambition not to be seen just as a pretty boy, painfully biting back his emotions through Brokeback, and it’s hard to ignore a great performance no one was really expecting. It could go either way; I’m with Hoffman now, but I reserve the right to change my mind later.
Early Pick: Hoffman

Actress: Judi Dench, “Mrs. Henderson Presents”; Felicity Huffman, “Transamerica”; Keira Knightley, “Pride & Prejudice”; Charlize Theron, “North Country”; Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line.”

I bet you Keira Knightley is surprised as all hell this morning. Enjoy it, Ms. Knightley, because your big moment will be on the red carpet. Judi Dench: Not a chance, not in the least because six people saw Henderson in the theater. Theron’s performance in North is Norma Rae all over again, and she’s got that ill-advised Aeon Flux flick out there at the moment. It’s down to Huffman and Witherspoon, really, and while Huffman’s got the transsexual thing going for her, I’m really having a hard time imagining a universe in which the pretty, successful and driven Ms. Witherspoon doesn’t get this statuette.
Early Pick: Witherspoon

Supporting Actor: George Clooney, “Syriana”; Matt Dillon, “Crash”; Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man”; Jake Gyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain”; William Hurt, “A History of Violence.”

Interesting category. I’d throw out Hurt early, but it’s nice to see him taken seriously again. If either Dillon or Gyllenhaal win you can take that as an early indicator of their films’ fortunes, although the reverse is not true. It’s possible Clooney could get this if the pals in the Actor’s branch decide not to gang up on Ang Lee in the director category. Giamatti’s presence is very interesting; I suspect he’s here more because he was flagrantly ignored last year for Sideways than for his performance in Cinderella (which, to be clear, was very good), and if he wins it’ll be one of those “we’re sorry for not giving this to you when we should have” moments. I’d say for now Giamatti’s in the lead, followed narrowly by Gyllenhaal and Clooney.
Early Pick: Giamatti

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, “Junebug”; Catherine Keener, “Capote”; Frances McDormand, “North Country”; Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”; Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain.”

Good category — nice to see Amy Adams getting a nod, although I find it unlikely she’ll get a win; McDormand I think is out of it completely. Catherine Keener, I think, deserves an Oscar on general principals, but ultimately the real competition will be between Weisz and Williams. Between the two of them I’m leaning more toward Weisz at the moment, but this is definitely one of the categories where it’ll need to be revisited closer to the date to see how the wind blows. And don’t count Keener out completely; anyone who can make an actual human character in a film like The 40-Year-Old Virgin deserves your love.
Early Pick: Weisz

Other thoughts: I’ll be very surprised if Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana don’t get Oscars for Brokeback’s script and it’s very possible that George Clooney & Grant Heslov will get script awards from Good Night as well, not just for the script itself but because Clooney and Heslov are both better known as actors, and I’ve already impressed upon you the mightiness of the Actor’s branch — in fact, let me go on the record with them as front-runners for Best Original Screenplay. I expect Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit to get Best Animated Film. Best Original Song will go to “Travelin’ Thru” by Dolly Parton, because everyone loves Dolly. March of the Penguins is a no-brainer for Best Documentary, but Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room has a chance for political reasons, and Murderball has a shot because it’s cool to see paraplegics who can kick your ass.

Your thoughts?

28 Comments on “Early Oscar Thoughts, 2006 Edition”

  1. … and every year I see fewer and fewer films.

    I say this because I have seen exactly one of these films (“Goodnight…”), so I am reduced to considering these candidates over criteria that has even less to do with the films they were involved with.

    For example, I agree Keener should get an oscar just on general principles.

    I love picking winners like this; from nearly complete ignorance. My guess is that Brokeback is going to get some nods for being chosen in so many categories, but will be stiffed for Best Picture.

  2. I also see fewer movies at the theater these days – so little seems to be worth the prices being charged. I also make it a point to avoid movies released late in the year with “Desperately Seeking Oscar Nomination” clearly visible in the advertising.

  3. It’s not unusual that Best Picture nominees don’t do the same amount of business that the usual summer dreck pulls in. Indeed, it’s a rare year that the Best Picture winner also happens to be a colossal hit like The Return of the King or Titanic. Having said that, it should be mentioned that, given the “controversial” subject matter and all that, Brokeback has outperformed expectations by a long chalk. So far it’s done $51 million, on a $14 million budget, which has already put it well into profits even before it won the Golden Globe and went into wide release. Crash was also considered a surprise performer, its $53 million take easily outstripping the heavily hyped summer fare against which it was playing, like XXX: State of the Union and Stealth. And Crash only cost $6.5 million to make, meaning it’s been really profitable. So just because a movie hasn’t cracked the $100 million mark doesn’t mean it hasn’t done “any sort of business” in theaters.

    Still, I do think this will be the most predictable Oscar race in years. Brokeback, Hoffman, Witherspoon, and Lee are all probably shoo-ins in their respective categories.

  4. I think maybe we’re underestimating the academy’s fear of alienating homophobes – who account for a sizeable portion of the movie-going population. A sweep by Brokeback might cause a lot of hard-line conservatives to turn their backs on the awards. Are the winds of change really strong enough to fill this boat’s sails?

  5. Don’t know that I agree entirely with you there, Martin. All the Best Picture winners between now and English Patient were in the top 20 domestic grossers for their years (and most did better internationally) and even English Patient was #19 domestically (#11 worldwide). You have to back to 1987 (and The Last Emperor) to find one that did not rank in the top 20 of its year. And between 1988 and today the winners are fairly equally distributed in the top 20: Rain Man and Forrest Gump are #1s along with Lord of the Rings and Titanic, and several more are in the top 10.

    The average domestic gross of Best Picture films between 1986 (Platoon) and today is $173 million dollars, which bests most movies, even the summer ones, in most years. If I were to adjust for inflation through these two decades, the average would of course be significantly higher. Nor is this box office success a new condition for Oscar winners, although the further out you get the harder it is to do apples-to-apples comparisons due to the changes in domestic distribution.

    I’d also argue whether Brokeback has had surprising success to this point — Ang Lee and his films have been in the general public eye at least since Sense and Sensibility (art film lovers, of course, know him from further back than that), and his last two films had been $100 million + affairs, although I’ll be the first to grant that the audience for Hulk would not be a no-brainer to transfer to this point. Point is, this film had very good chances to be a success in some form just going in. It’s had about the success I personally figured it would have. I think at this point, with the Oscar nominations, it has a chance to make a run at $100 million, which would be significantly more than it would have made on its own.

    However, conflating low budgets and low expectations with being “successful” is missing the point. Certainly Crash and Brokeback are successful in making back the very small amount of money that was used to make them, but the metric I’m using here is a very simple one: Butts in seats. None of the Best Picture nominees this year has gotten a lot of butts in seats. That should worry Hollywood.


    “A sweep by Brokeback might cause a lot of hard-line conservatives to turn their backs on the awards.”

    And? To the extent that conservatives genuinely give a crap about any of this, they bailed out after Michael Moore got an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine. I don’t think that’s an issue, and if it was, it’d be difficult to see conservatives pleased by any of the nominees winning, excepting possibly Munich, but even that is too ambiguous for hard-liners, I suspect.

  6. Murderball has a shot because it’s cool to see paraplegics who can kick your ass.

    I almost inhaled a chicken wing as a result of this sentence.

    This touches on a thought I was having on my way to work the other day…. Is someone who tries to convince you that everyone should have glass eyes and false legs a prosthelytizer?


  7. None of the Best Picture nominees this year has gotten a lot of butts in seats.

    Very few movies this year period have gotten butts in seats. 2005 is going to have fewer movies crossing the $100 million mark than many previous years, though I’d argue it isn’t so much the quality of the movies that’s responsible (we get shit every year, and we got a lot of good movies last year) as it is the declining quality of the theater-going experience compared to the convenience of DVD.

    I think it is relevant to point out the profit margins of Crash and Brokeback, because in the end all studios want is black ink in the books, and those movies are plenty successful in that regard. Brokeback‘s producers would, I suspect, have been entirely delighted with good reviews and a $25-30 million final box office take. The publicity surrounding the movie, coupled with the fact that non-homophobic straights are going to see it in droves, have made it far more successful than the industry expected. You just don’t shoot a movie about gay lovers in Bush’s Amerika thinking, “Honey, this is gonna outgross Revenge of the Motherfucking Sith!”

    What should worry Hollywood, more than the fact none of the Best Picture nominees have broken the zillion mark in ticket sales, is their continued penchant for dropping hundreds of millions of drachma on merde like Stealth and The Island for a perceived most-important-demographic (teenage boys) who are finding few reasons to go to movie theaters any more when they have shiny new XBox 360’s and PS3’s to play with at home. You mention Hulk, and that’s a perfect example of an intended tentpole picture that cost too much to make and completely flopped with its target audience. In contrast, grown-ups have been going to see movies like Brokeback and Crash, the kinds of films which could be made cheaply even with stars, and making them very successful via good old word of mouth.

    Although there will always be an audience for well-made big-budget event pictures, Hollywood has been relying too heavily on them — and an absurdly high box office benchmark — as its barometer of success. Spoiled stars cost too much, CGI costs too much, but good stories don’t cost too much. I’d say that a movie with a $6 million budget that makes $54 million has been putting butts in seats, and when Hollywood learns to reformat its philosophy from “spend a lot, hopefully make a little” to “spend a little, make a lot”, they’ll learn to value those butts in the way they’re overvaluing the zitty butts of teenage boys.

  8. Well, Martin, you and I have no argument regarding the need to diversify film away from teenage boys.

    Re:costs, etc — what’s interesting about that, I think, is that of the nominees this year, I’m pretty sure Munich is the only one that’s released by the main branch of the film studio — all the rest are part of the “art film” divisions. This is not especially new — Miramax and Fine Line have been doing this for years — but it does point to what you note, which is that the mainstream studios are generally too busy making expensive movies for boys to make more diverse slates — and when they do make serious movies for adults, they make them expensively and have a more difficult time marketing them. An example of this which comes to mind is “In Her Shoes,” which was directed by Curtis Hanson and starred Cameron Diaz. The rumor is that it cost $70 million or so to make, and grossed about half that domestically. $70 million for an intimate character piece is just plain stupid, and I don’t remember hearing much about the movie until just before it came out. Too expensive, bad marketing — again, bad news for studios. They’ve forgotten how to deal with adults.

  9. The problem is that I’m not really that interested in seeing most of the nominated pictures. This isn’t the first year that this has happened, either. Prior to Return of the King, I hadn’t seen an Best Picture since Gladiator and then Braveheart before that. (Hmmm…a pattern!)

    In fact, looking at 1993 forward, I only saw the following Best Picture nominated films in the theater: Braveheart, The Sixth Sense, The Full Monty, The Fugitive, Gladiator, CTHD, and the Rings Trilogy. So for 12 years, I saw 9 out of 60 films in the theater..with that list being heavily weighed prior to 2000 (the Rings trilogy being an exception to the rule).

    The question is, is that a failing of Hollywood or me? I know I’ve been to see plenty of movies in the theater in that time. But I’m getting a little tired of depressing English class-war character studies and full-on depressing tales of rape and sexual-abuse. Personally, I think a big problem is that the oscars are SO focused on heart-wrenching drama, gravitas and A MESSAGE, that they’re missing what people are actually enjoying.

  10. WizardDru:

    “But I’m getting a little tired of depressing English class-war character studies and full-on depressing tales of rape and sexual-abuse.”

    Heh. None of which is in any of the Best Picture nominees this year, so it must be you.

    But your point is well-taken, which is that a certain type of film tends to be nominated for Best Picture, ignoring other types entirely. The nice thing about Return of the King winning was not just because it made geeks squee but it showed the Academy was looking beyond the usual suspects.

    For the record, I think this is an excellent year for Best Picture nominees; I think any of them would be a solid win, unlike other years where there was often a head-scratcher in the bunch. But it’s not a year where the best films has had any intersection with the most-seen films.

  11. John: Too expensive, bad marketing — again, bad news for studios. They’ve forgotten how to deal with adults.

    Too true. My retired parents go to the movies all the time, because that’s what you do with your free time when you’re old and retired! They always say to me, “If Hollywood knew how many retirees were out there with nothing to do but go see movies, maybe they’d make better movies.” There’s a healthy older audience out there just being flat ignored, because they think ADHD afflicted adolescent boys — and not financially sound senior Americans — are the only people on Earth with free time and disposable income. Baffling.

    WizarDru: So you like action movies. Great! So they don’t win too many awards. Well, so what.

    I agree that Oscar is too fond of “serious” dramas and arm-waving histrionic performances. I’d like to see them lighten up a bit. For instance, why so few nominations for comedies, or for performances in comedies? Having worked with actors, I can tell you that making audiences laugh is as much, if not more, work than uglifying yourself with no makeup and an accent and going all angsty and dramatic. The last time Oscar pulled its head out in regards to comic performances that I can remember was Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. Maybe there just aren’t that many funny comedies being made. At least not in Hollywood. I know I don’t go to see them.

    I do think that popular tastes should not be the sole, or even main, barometer for awards qualification. The most artistically innovative work in any field is rarely the most commercially accessible or successful work. I think awards ought to recognize the innovators and the artists who take risks. The popular stuff already has its awards, in the form of portraits of dead presidents nestled in bank accounts. If, on occasion, award-worthy work and popular tastes happen to coalesce (as has happened with guys like Lynch), fine, but one should not unduly influence the other.

  12. I’m in general agreement with everything you’ve said, John, except for your comments on George Clooney. I suspect he will win Best Supporting Actor because it’s very unlikely he’d take any of the other awards he’s nominated for. You’re quite right that actors who direct have a history of winning Best Director. However, as much as I like Good Night and Good Luck, the movie has failed to capture the popular imagination the way that Brokeback Mountain or even Crash has. Ditto Capote and double-ditto Munich. So I think Clooney will win for Syriana, and the actoring Oscars will again echo the SAG awards.

    I saw Match Point over the weekend, and the fact that people are raving about it so much indicate they don’t realize how far Woody has fallen as a movie-maker over the last few years. Crimes and Misdemoners was a MUCH better version of the same script. There’s even a point in Match Point when Scarlet Johansen not only has the same dialogue as Angelica Houston, she said her lines in exactly the same way.

  13. I love that when I first heard about the Oscar noms coming out, the first thing I did this morning was check for your picks =)

  14. Martin: True, I do enjoy action movies…but that wasn’t really my point. My point was that I’ve seen many of the Oscar-nominated Best Pictures AFTER THE FACT, on video. Hollywood failed to get me in the seat when the movie was IN THE THEATER. I think they should view that as a problem. Some of these films weren’t marketed very well, I think. I didn’t see a single trailer for any of the five films nominated AT THE THEATER. I saw “Good Night and Good Luck” because I sought it out. In fact, of all the oscar nominated films above, I only saw a print-ad for “Capote”, read about “Brokeback Mountain” and “Munich” mostly due to the controversial content.

    Looking back at the oscar-nominated movies of the last decade, I realize that I saw most of them AFTER THE FACT. That’s a lost opportunity on Hollywood’s part; I LOVE movies. I LOVE GOING to the movies. But as often as not, I have to seek them out, instead of having them offered to me. How many people saw “The Limey” besides me? Not many. How many people saw trailers for it? Even less. How many people saw trailers for “White Chicks” over and over and over and over?

  15. My favorite part of the Oscar nominations is not handicapping the race — I save that for Oscar night. My favorite part is second-guessing the Academy.

    While I agree with John that all of the Best Picture nominees are good movies, I would have loved to see “Syriana” or “Walk the Line” in place of “Crash.” (Truth be told, I would love to have seen “Match Point” in place of “Crash,” but my better judgment may have been overridden by my relief that Woody Allen hasn’t totally lost his touch.)

  16. I haven’t seen a single one of these movies. I’ve been told repeatedly by my television and radio and newspaper that I should, because they’ll be good for me. They’re important movies that tell me truth and give me a message and will broaden my horizons, presumably by force if necessary.


    I rarely go to movies to get my preaching or a “message”. That’s what church is for. When I want my horizons expanded, I’ll pick up a well-written book and have them expanded at my own pace.

    What I, and most movie-gong Americans actually want is a movie that uplifts us, makes us feel good about something out there in the world, shows us that not everything is the doom and gloom that we routinely get from the news. We don’t want necessarily insipid uplifting or banal comedy all the time, but we do like our humor with a good helping of smarts. That’s why a movie like The 40 Year-Old Virgin did so well and why others have a great first week, then die a quick horrible box-office death.

    Hollywood gets that to some degree because they keep making movies that people do go to see. Unfortunately, when it comes time to pat themselves on the back, they get all weepy for the movies that, quite honestly, most of us watch as a chore, because we believe that we have to see them else we’re slope-browed troglodytes.

  17. Over the last few years I’ve seen fewer and fewer movies in the theater, because in most cases I’d rather wait for the DVD and see it on the bigscreen at home and not pay $9 for my popcorn and soda. But this is actually a first for me, because not only have I not seen a single movie nominated for best picture, there’s not a single one that appeals to me at all. Going down the list:

    Brokeback Mountain – As a red-stater, gay shephards just don’t do it for me.

    Capote – Sounds extraordinarily dull, but I hadn’t even heard of this one before the nomination.

    Crash – Looks like it’s going to be too PC to possibly sit through.

    Good Night & Good Luck – films whose whole point is to push a leftwing agenda simply hold no interest for me

    Munich – Any movie that draws moral equivalences between terrorists and terrorist hunters would likely leave me too angry to make it all the way through it.

    In fact, the only movies that I have the slightest desire to see that got any nominations for any of the major awards are ‘Walk the Line’ and ‘Cinderella Man’. Nothing else. I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that this will be the least-watched oscars in recent history.

  18. Good Night & Good Luck – films whose whole point is to push a leftwing agenda simply hold no interest for me

    You know… it gets hard to be leftish liberal when people like you make us say things that normal conservatives dismiss as us making straw-men fallacies.

    Are you actually hired by real conservatives to make liberals waste their time attacking McCarthyism? Because, as it happens, that is already a defeated ideology.

  19. Out of Touch At The Oscars

    Somewhere in the confirmation of the Alito nomination, the State of the Union and various other major news events, they announced the Oscar nominations for this year. “What all these films have in common is they’re about the human condition,” said Osca…

  20. Also, the guys in Murderball are superhot. If they start writing SF, China Mieville better start looking over his shoulder.

    Skip, I’m not sure how you get from “I hate all movies to the left of Attila the Hun” to “Nobody will watch the Oscars this year”.

  21. I don’t think Skip speaks for all conservatives. I’m conservative, but that doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy going to the movies. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, but my wife and I still make time to go to the theater (of course, for us going to the theater is a much better break than watching a DVD at home). Fortunately my wife’s parents live close by and don’t mind a weekly babysitting gig. :D

    Anyway, I see a lot of films. I’ve seen two of the Best Picture nominees. My thoughts, starting with the three I didn’t see:

    Capote: I love Phillip Seymour Hoffman as an actor. He’s good at whatever he does (loved you in Magnolia, PSH!). But watching a biopic of Truman Capote writing In Cold Blood just doesn’t seem like my idea of an entertaining time. I’m sure its moving, disturbing and provocative, but I just can’t make myself go see it. So there.

    Good Night and Good Luck: Didn’t see it and don’t really have any desire to see it, mostly for reasons Scott pointed out. I think McCarthy has already been thoroughly and publicly discredited, no? I’m sure David Strathairn does a great job (loved him in “Limbo,” and much of the other stuff he does) but watching a movie whose main theme is “wasn’t McCarthy a jerk, good thing Murrow showed him!” just doesn’t seem that compelling.

    Brokeback Mountain: Just have no desire to see this movie. Call it homophobia, call it whatever you like, but I’m not that interested in a film about painfully laconic shepherds loving each other. Although I’ve heard and read so much about it I could probably fake it (“wasn’t Michelle Williams tragic as Ennis’ wife! Brought a tear to my eye!” etc.).

    Munich: Saw this one, was not overly impressed. I mean, was it just me or did the movie make the Mossad look like the Keystone Kops of intelligence services? The movie did not quite square with the Israeli’s fearsome reputation. My brother-in-law read the book and said that the “real” (not taking a position on its veracity) Avner’s tale told of a group with much more professionalism. Call me crazy, but Mossad agents making the kind of boneheaded maneuvers these guys did (again and again and again) kind of interfered with my suspension of disbelief.

    Crash: Wow, I REALLY enjoyed this movie. I can see the point of some critics who think that the racism was too overt and that the characters were too angry, but sometimes overstated expression can point us to more covert feelings and attitudes, can’t it? I especially liked the portrayal of Matt Dillon’s character. It’s rare that someone of his obvious racism is given any humanity, and I think it was his humanity that made his racism all the more tragic.

    Anyway, there’s a conservative take for ya. Not that politics necessarily has much to do with your appreciation of cinema.

  22. Skip,

    You’re the reason many people assume that “Red-stater” equals “close-minded, ignorant, prejudiced boob”.

    All you want is what you think you know, with no room for a differing viewpoint no matter the angle.

    For example, Crash is quite un-PC, which is why it’s gotten all the press it has. But you wouldn’t know that because of your erroneous assumption and refusal to see the film.

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