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The Best of Pictures: A Beautiful Mind (2001), by Josh Long

14 Oct

Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Ed Harris

Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind has everything you might expect from a movie directed by Opie Taylor. It has lush settings, a comfortable 60s tone, and a family that overcomes odds to stick together. The film stars Russell Crowe as John Nash, a brilliant mathematician and economist who suffers from mental abnormalities. It’s about how he and his wife (played by Jennifer Connelly) can overcome the difficulties brought on by his situation.


The Best of Pictures: Chicago (2002), by Josh Long

29 Sep

CHICAGO (2002)
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Written by: Bill Condon
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly

The American musical is an institution. Truth be told, the genre of musical theatre sort of started in the United States; many consider Showboat the first true “musical” from way back in 1927. Since then the genre has seen many major changes and shifts, and has seen film adaptations ever since the beginning 1. And Chicago certainly has a feeling of Americana, even harking back to that era when musicals first appeared on the scene.


The Best of Pictures: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), by Josh Long

3 Sep

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen

Entering into any discussion of The Lord of the Rings makes me feel a little like the way I feel in preparing to watch The Lord of the Rings. It’s good, but there’s SO MUCH of it. You get tired before you even start. I can’t touch on everything, so I’ll try to hit a few of the major points about this movie in relation to the Oscars and its cultural significance.


The Best of Pictures: Million Dollar Baby (2004), by Josh Long

20 Aug

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Paul Haggis
Starring: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman

Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby is a movie that joins the ranks of boxing films that aren’t really about boxing. Raging Bull deals with a man whose physical and emotional violence take control of him, Rocky is about the hope that lies in the American dream of rising from “zero to hero.” Million Dollar Baby is about what it means to be family.

For the most part, Clint Eastwood is not a director who has moved onto the “new Hollywood” style. His work has a very old Hollywood feel – you could take most of his modern films, set them in the 60s in black and white, and they wouldn’t feel out of place. While I feel that his movies can still be very moving, he doesn’t challenge the medium, or move the art form forwards. That’s not a judgment; I’m not saying every film should. This is more to say that he may be an entertainer before he’s an artist, even if he’s on the fence between the two. It may even be a praiseworthy approach; since his films could have effected 60s audiences or modern audiences, that may mean that they’ll still be pleasing viewers forty years from now.



The Best of Pictures: Crash (2005), by Josh Long

6 Aug

CRASH (2005)
Directed by: Paul Haggis
Written by: Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco
Starring: Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton, Don Cheadle, Ryan Phillippe

Every once in a while there comes a movie that brings racial issues to the table and deals with them in a moving, challenging way. In recent years, that movie was Spike Lee’s 1989 Do the Right Thing 1. Eighteen years later, Paul Haggis wrote and directed a sappier, over-the-top version of the same movie. He called it Crash, and somehow won three Oscars, including Best Picture.


The Best of Pictures: The Departed (2006), by Josh Long

4 Jul

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: William Monahan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson

So I should probably start out by saying that I am a big fan of Martin Scorsese. I think he is a brilliant filmmaker and has made some of the most important American films of all time. That being said, I felt like The Departed was one of his more disappointing offerings, and not really the Best Picture for 2006.


The Best of Pictures: No Country for Old Men (2007), by Josh Long

24 Jun

Written and Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones

The west Texas landscape is harsh, rough, and unforgiving. This makes it the perfect setting for a world gone wrong. A world that may have once been vibrant and beautiful, but is now cold and dangerous. It’s a world fallen from what it was meant to be.


The Best of Pictures: Slumdog Millionaire (2008), by Josh Long

18 Jun

Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by: Simon Beaufoy
Starring: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor

So this Spring, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Academy Awards, making it one of the 15 biggest winning Oscar contenders of all time. Pretty impressive, especially for a film set in India 1, seeing as most Americans only know India as a place where they worship cows, where you can see the Taj Mahal, and where they probably have pretty good Chicken Masala.