Best Picture Hall of Fame Part 2

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I saw four winners including La La Land
These got me thinking about what I've seen. It seems I've seen seven BPs in a theater: Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, American Beauty and Gladiator.
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Legend in my own mind


Kings Speech (2010)

I had seen this film before and remembering enjoying it at the time without any particular details sticking in the memory. I remember the King seeking help to overcome a stammering issue.

The film looks outstanding, with some great camera work and a beautiful use of colours that make it aesthetically pleasing. The score also jumped out to me this time. I think that is largely due to the fact that I am more aware of film scores nowadays and that is largely due to this site.

This is a stellar cast. There are so many great actors involved and in such a line up and as well as Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush stand out particularly.

The story is about the relationship rather than the speech issue. The relationship between the two men was as fundemental if not more so than the techniques that Logue introduces.

It is also a story of perseverance that leads the viewer easily into empathy for the Monarch.

On the downside, there is not an awful lot of rise and fall in the pace or content of the film despite the fact that so much is actually happening in the backdrop of the film

Overall it is a simple film that is brought to life by superb cinematography, great acting and wonderful music, that brings in a feel good factor in a period of crisis for the British isles.

I enjoyed it more this time than the first time.

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"I don't want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me" (Frank Costello)



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
WARNING: "He should" spoilers below
He should've demanded a meeting out in an open field. Come to think of it when the King and his couple dozen personal guards leave the battlefield and Wallace goes after him and indeed catches him...if Wallace only would've took 50 riders or so with him, then he could've captured the king.
woulda, coulda, shoulda are NEVER our friends lol
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They say: that after people make love there's a kind of melancholia, the petite mort, the little death. Well, I'm here to tell you, after a romantic night with yourself there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide. ~Dylan Moran



Legend in my own mind


Platoon (1986)

I have watched this recently, but not recently enough to write about my thoughts and feelings without watching it again.

I played the computer game (on the Commodore 64) before I ever watched this film, but I remember when I did watch the film as a teenager that I didn't really enjoy it, as back then I watched films through very different eyes.

This is another film with an All star cast and it was only on a recent viewing that I noticed Johnny Depp. There are so many good acting performances in this film and each one is utterly convincing. Berenger stands out for me as Sgt. Barnes. He produces a full and visceral perfromance.

There are so many strengths to this film and one of the biggest is the emotive nature of it that is a culmination of the acting, directing, score and subject matter.
The real highlight for me is in the raw and brutal insight into war and conflict.
Many similar films seem keen to nudge a viewer towards seeing the 'good guys; and the 'bad guys' but Platoon doesn't do that. It focuses more on the internal war that is raging within each of the American soldiers featured and how that spills out into them as a group. It drves home a little bit of the horror that occurs internally for those that find themselves in such situations and the psychological and moral toll that takes.
The scene in the village is a microcosm of the whole film and a pivitol moment for the characters and the viewer.

Oliver Stone plays a blinder as director and the score is eerily brilliant.

A film that is still as important now as it was when it was made.

Beautiful, Compelling and Brutal.




Braveheart

I was a fan of this one, even if I came in expecting slightly more than I got out. I think I wanted more of a character development/depth to Wallace. I know that's not what the movie was going for, but his character still felt very flat.

This was a beautiful movie, however. I didn't really feel the runtime, at least not like Gandhi, and the cinnamon was stunning. Mel Gibson gives a fine performance (as well as directing effort) as William Wallace, a Scottish rebel fighting for independence from England in the 1200s.

The action scenes were cool, but frankly a lot of them were unnecessary, and the use of slo-mo dramatic effects has aged poorly in my opinion. The story is good, well paced, beautifully told.

I sound negative in my review, but really I don't have many complaints. This was a good movie that I'm glad I watched!

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The Kingís Speech


Some leaders are natural orators. They can rouse men with speech meant to illicit deep though, and to rouse then into action. Think Wallace in Braveheart. Others gave it in times of war to help with moral or to calm the masses Itís sometimes a necessary part of the position to give speeches. To do so, one must speak eloquently.
Unfortunately, the King to be, played by Colin Firth, is not one of those people. He stutters. Stammers even. And so he and his wife, played with grace by Helena Bonham Carter, to our and hire a speech pathologist named Lionel Logue, played by the great Geoffrey Rush. Despite the different backgrounds, a friendship develops between them, one that lasted a lifetime.
The film may be called The Kings speech, but itís really about the friendship that develops between Logue and King George VI. Logue sees the potential in him, before even he sees it himself. Itís that dynamic that makes the film work
The performances all great here, except Timothy Spall as Churchill. He plays him as a almost exaggerated permanent scowling as he lurks in the background.
I felt the film could have gone more into the friendship outside of the sessions, more into King Georgeís background, and more into Logue and his attempts at an acting career.
Something just felt incomplete about it.
I saw this in the theatre when it first came out, and I enjoyed it then. I was pleased to discover I still do.




American Beauty (1999)


It's all about obsession!

Am I right?

That's how I see American Beauty, it's about obsession and how it manifest itself in different people. Carolyn (Annette Bening) has gone nuts over obsessing over the 'good life'. She has a $4000 couch with Italian silk fabric, and it's ugly! But she doesn't care, she's obsessed to have it all...an in doing so she's forgotten the care free girl that she was back in college.

Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is obsessed with breast augmentation, though they looked plenty big to me. She's been saving her money since she first started baby sitting, probably when she didn't even have any breast and now that's she grown she doesn't realize they've grown too. That's obsession.

Her friend Angela (Mena Suvari) is bonkers obsessed with not being ordinary. She goes to great links to make herself out as a bold, daring, sex crazed girl...and yet in the end she's a virgin who just talked real big.

Then there's the guy next door Ricky (Wes Bently) with the camera. OK he's obsessed with capturing moments of beauty on film. Even if it's a dead bird, he's obsessed to capture those fleeting moments and save them. That's why he has a wall of shelves in his room, for all those videos he's made and saved.

Then there's his dad the marine dude (Chris Cooper) he's obsessed with control and maybe obsessed with being or not being gay.

Well, what about Kevin Spacey, He doesn't seem obsessed, in fact he's utterly complaisant, a doormat with a vacant smile on his face. His highlight is jerking off in the shower. That's it, that's all he's got to look forward to. He's the only one who's not obsessed. Through his character we see how being true to one's inner self, is so much better than being obsessed about stuff that doesn't even matter.

Of course other people's obsessions effect him and that's why he's dead.



In regards to American Beauty, a lot of it can be summed up by a quote from Coopers son In the film:

ďNever underestimate the power of denial.Ē
Thatíll be my lead in when I review it this coming Sunday.




Platoon (1986)

Wow! This was powerful...and such an emotional watch for me. I felt like I was forgetting to breathe, it was that intense. I'd seen this before too, in fact I reviewed it here at MoFo and only gave it a 3.5. I don't remember why I wasn't as enthused last time.

I haven't read my old review as I don't want this review to be influenced by my past thoughts...But since I last watched this I watched an excellent documentary by Ken Burns, The Vietnam War It's 17 hours long in 10 episodes and riveting! It was a real eye opener about the causes and effects of the Vietnam War including interviews with North & South Vietnamese and U.S soldiers...all who lived through that time. I can say that Platoon is pretty well factual and those types of atrocities did actually happen. Not often, but sadly they did happen.

My favorite part of the film is the first act where we get to know the young grunt Chris, (Charlie Sheen) who drops out of college to do his part in the war effort and finds out it's nothing like he had imaged. I like the set up where his voice-over reads his letters to his grandma. Those letters tell us a lot about Chris and Vietnam too. Then we get the attack scene during the jungle patrol, followed by the atrocities at the village. That was so hard for me to watch knowing those events did occur (on rare occasion).

This is a near perfect film and I'm picky about what I call a perfect film. The only thing I can nitpick is the second time Oliver Stone appears on screen. The first time was during a lull in the action so it wasn't a big deal and he didn't speak. But the second time is during the final attack (the Tet Offensive by the North) and seeing Stone on screen for me broke the intensity and realism of that final attack. Not a deal breaker and I would rate this at
or maybe even higher.

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I was planning on watching Gandhi tomorrow while my wife was at work but her workplace was vandalized so she'll be off a couple of days. A week from tomorrow I will watch it.



American Beauty

ďNever underestimate the power of denial.Ē

Everyone is in denial in this film. Each have their own illusions about themselves with the exception of Lester Burnham (Kevin spacey) and Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley).
Burnham decides to do something about. He starts lusting after his daughterís (Thora Birch) supposed best friend Angela (Mena Suvari). He starts fantasizing about her, working out to impress her after eavesdropping on her. He soon realizes heís more miserable then he ever realized and decides to relives his days as a youth. The typical midlife crisis. He gets a job at local fast food joint, starts getting high and buys a new car.
His wife (Annette Benning) is even more unfulfilled. Unhappy with her marriage and his newfound confidence, she realizes her hold over him has vanished. So she rushes into an affair with a local colleague in the realtor business.
Jane, their daughter, is unhappy. She has a friend who is self absorbed, and a family who ignores her. She never smiles until Ricky shows up in her life.
Ricky shows her that life is full of beauty, but one must accept it in all forms. Such as a dead bird. Or a plastic bag being thrown about by the wind. He sells weed to make money.
His father (Chris Cooper), not only ignores his sons finances, although he does suspect, but also his own latent homosexuality.
All of these lives intersect and come to a head in one violent act.
But itís the build up and the characters themselves that make this film so fascinating.
Bening and Spacey are good, though they do tend to deliver their lines With a tad too much enthusiasm for people so miserable with their outcome in life. Some scenes could have been toned down some.
At the end, Lester has transformed himself, both physically and emotionally, before he discovers that what he really wants was right in front of him all this time. Just in time to die. Thatís life for you.
I saw this film on dvd after it won Best Pic, I think? Iíve seen it maybe 3 or 4 times since now. It still a powerful film about how one views beauty and how one defines fulfillment in life. There is no easy answer there. And indeed, the movie doesnít provide one. Itís left up to us, as the viewer to interpret it much like we do life.
And weíre left to contemplate the meaning of it all, as Lester delivers at the end in a voice over: ďYou have no idea what Iím talking about, Iím sure. But donít worry...you will someday.Ē



The Departed

My "least favorite" Scorsese film at the moment, but I'd still place it in my top 75 movies and one of my favorite Best Picture winners. This film is stellar in all fronts. While it's a bit more over the top than the other movies of Scorsese, which is why I think I like them a bit more, it's also extremely well made, gripping, and thought provoking.

The acting is, of course, top notch. On top of Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon as the leads, we got Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, AND ****ing Martin Sheen. Pretty great cast Scorsese gathered.

This movie's premise is just so interesting. I know it's a remake and all but I bet Scorsese made some interesting twists to make it his own... and it really is his own, with the sweeping fast camera movements, the hilarious (sometimes hilariously bad) East Coast accents, and the F-bombs thrown around like a hot potato. It's all there, and Scorsese knows what he's doing at this point in the game.

Although this is amazing, did it deserve to win Best Picture? Well, yes, out of the films nominated. However, Pan's Labyrinth was released the same year and TOTALLY deserved the win over this. But hey, the Academy has chosen much much worse winners, and the Departed is an excellent movie.

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Oops.

Platoon
Terrifying, relentless, and no pretty picture, Platoon is my first Oliver Stone movie and one that I won't be forgetting any time soon. I haven't seen Apocalypse Now so I can't compare, but this one will be hard to beat.

Much of it is even shot in documentary style, making the realism of the Vietnam war pop out onto the screen. Especially the acting from Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe make it seem like you are in the war.

And that is horrifying. It's a two hour, non-stop barrage of men turning from - perhaps ******** - to killers. And of course it's more messy than that. Some are already killers. Some are killed before they can become that. Elias is one of the most interesting characters in the story, as a grizzled veteran who realizes the horrors he's living through.

I love the pairing of him and Barnes as two different sides of the war, two different mentalities. And then Chris as a symbol for the common American young man, innocent, stuck in the middle of it all. The poster is almost sarcastic, as Elias dying seems to reach out, asking "Why?" "What's the point?"

And who can forget the usage of Barber's Adagio for Strings, one of the most heartbreaking and powerful pieces of music ever written. Put it into a Vietnam War film and you've got dynamite.

I think I would still take Aliens over this for 1986 Best Picture winner, but that would have never won anyways. I'm completely satisfied with Platoon winning, it deserved it.

+




The Departed (2006)

On the positive side the story hooked me quickly with it's interesting plot and the characters kept me invested. I never got bored. And DiCaprio was great in this and the rest of the actors up to to par. The shooting locations were great.

On the negative side I couldn't help but feel that Martin Scorsese was emulating Quentin Tarantino's style of film making. The scenes were short and fast edited, the dialogue overly colorful to the point of me not believing cops would be talking this way...I thought the ending sucked. It was like the writer's ran out of ideas and just used a form of deus ex machina to end the movie...It was like boom, boom, boom and all the character arches are wrapped up with a shot.