I’m writing in response to Adam Wenger’s rant, “Today’s Cinema Doesn’t Compare to 90s Blockbusters” (Daily Nexus, Oct. 3, 2005). Actually, I’m only using it as a springboard into a different, tangential topic — might as well be honest. Let’s begin.
You make a good and valid point; the motion picture industry is not producing the same level of quality that it was during periods like the early 70s, mid 90s, the entire Golden Age, etc. …
There is one thing you said, however, that I found fascinating, “I do not believe the Best Picture Oscar has been given out to a truly deserving film since ‘American Beauty’ won the award in 2000.”
Ok. “Chicago” and “A Beautiful Mind” were poor choices, but “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”? The best from a trilogy that also contests your statement about how nothing from the past five years will ever be rerun on TBS in 2015? Hell naw.
And what about “Million Dollar Baby”? You’d have to be a really, really big fan of Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago to say that it wasn’t the best damn boxing movie since “Raging Bull.” And certainly it was about as emotionally powerful as Clint Eastwood’s previous feature, “Mystic River.”
“Gladiator”? Ouch, that was the same year “Requiem for a Dream” was released. …Fuck, you’re right about that one. But hey, it’s not like the Academy didn’t have some strange years in the 90s, the decade you seem to cherish so much. Let’s recall “Shakespeare in Love,” for example, which beat out “Saving Private Ryan” for Best Picture of 1998. This is a move so astonishing that I can only justify it by suggesting that the aggressive and oversaturated campaign Miramax used at the time to hype the film was a novelty, and the Academy members bought into it like we all bought into that Y2K crap.
And let’s also not forget “Titanic,” the biggest hangover of 1990s excess this side of “Spice World,” Joey/Matthew/Andrew Lawrence and Peach Pit milkshakes. That Best Picture Oscar had “L.A. Confidential” written all over it.
And what about the year you seem to cherish the most: 1989? For all of the “fucking fantastic” movie classics you mentioned, none of them were Oscar winners. That honor belongs not even to “Born on the Fourth of July,” but to “Driving Miss Daisy.” Like, whatever!
Yes, “The Godfather” won Best Picture in 1973, but Al Pacino never received a Best Actor nod for his work as Michael Corleone, which I’m sure even those of you who are big “Scarface” fans will agree was his finest work. He didn’t even win for “The Godfather: Part II” in 1975. Hell, it didn’t even go to Jack Nicholson for “Chinatown.” It went instead to… wait for it… Art Carney, for “Harry and Tonto.” Gee, one of the greatest years for movies of all time and the award goes to the human inspiration for Barney Rubble. It was a move as deviously political as how Pacino finally won a Best Actor Oscar – 1992’s “Scent of a Woman,” by the way. Hoo-hah!
No, the Oscars have always been fucked up. It’s nothing new. Even if you were alive in the 50s, you would still be cringing at the nominations, as gems like “The Greatest Show on Earth” won the top prizes.
Adrian Ripburger is a sophomore film studies major.