A Beautiful Mind (winner)
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Two of my favorite movies ever came out in 2001. The fact that both of them are non-English language films makes their nomination a longshot, though, so I suppose in retrospect there wasn’t a great deal of hope for Amelie or The Devil’s Backbone. Sticking on the foreign front, Spirited Away, Safar e Ghandehar, Monsoon Wedding, Kairo and The Son’s Room were also released in 2001. Monsoon Wedding probably had the best chance of those, although Spirited Away won the Animated Film Oscar. On the English language front, Ghost World, I am Sam, Monster’s Ball, The Royal Tenenbaums, and possibly Mulholland Drive could all have a case made for them. If I don’t mention that this was also the year for the first Harry Potter movie, Nick Jobe will kick my ass, but I think if he’s honest with himself, he knows it didn’t really deserve a nomination.
Weeding through the Nominees
5: Goodbye Moulin Rouge! I know there are people who love this movie; I’m just not one of them. I felt as if I was under constant assault by this film when I watched it. When the music stopped and we got smaller, intimate scenes, I was so relieved that I wasn’t being pelted with noise and color that I almost couldn’t concentrate on what was happening. This was little more than Titanic put on land, and I was happy when the final credits rolled. In my world, it wouldn’t have gotten a nomination at all.
4: Next to drop off the list is Gosford Park. I understand completely why Gosford Park earned a nomination, and I disagree completely with every reason it did. Yes, it’s a well-made period drama. And I don’t care. There are too damn many characters, it goes on for too long, and I can’t be arsed to care about any person involved. Worse, it washed over me completely—I had to go back to my review of it to remember that it was a murder mystery. That can’t bode well, can it? Something that leaves that little of an impression can hardly be considered worthy of Best Picture.
3: With eventual winner A Beautiful Mind, we’re at least getting into territory where I liked the movie. The problem with this one is more or less the reason it won. A Beautiful Mind is a wonderfully made film on a first viewing. It’s rich and filled with interesting ideas and it is beautifully filmed from start to finish. The problem is that it doesn’t hold up on a reviewing. See it a second time and you’ll know what’s coming, and there’s nothing special to see about what you missed before you understood the mystery. It’s completely flat in that respect. No rewatchability makes it good, but hardly great.
2: I went into In the Bedroom cold, knowing only some of the people in the cast and nothing about the story. I emerged on the other end a believer. This is a tightly-wound little film about love, loyalty, anger, and revenge. That it’s played out in the lives of such average people and that such average people are driven to the points they are is only in its favor. What on the surface would seem extreme seems perfectly natural in the context of the film, which is the reason it’s so damn good. An excellent cast, particularly Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, and Marisa Tomei seal the deal. With In the Bedroom, we’re hitting a film that I could justify winning, limited to the five nominees.