Article by Justin Allen
The 82nd Academy Awards will be airing on Sunday night, and in the spirit of all things Oscar, I thought I would do a column about the Best Picture nominees that I thought deserved the statuette more than the actual winner.
Now before I begin, a disclosure: I have not seen every nominee. In fact, in doing the research for this article, I realized that there has never been a year where I have seen every nominee. So in the interest of fairness, I’ll indicate which movies I haven’t seen by highlighting them in red.
Enjoy, and let the debates begin!
My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire
Actual Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Other Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, Milk
I know, off to a great start on an article where I’m supposed to choose the Best Picture the Academy didn’t. Out of the 2008 nominees, Slumdog Millionaire was the only one I actually saw, so let me just mention that I liked it a lot: it was a really simple, cleverly done, feel good movie.
My Pick: Anything but No Country For Old Men
Actual Winner: No Country For Old Men
Other Nominees: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
I get why it won: a stripped down crime story by two Academy Award winners (Joel and Ethan Cohen) who know how to do crime stories. Mix in former Oscar winners (Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones) and strain through a past Pulitzer Prize winning author (Cormac McCarthy). I just didn’t get it.
My Pick: Babel
Actual Winner: The Departed
Other Nominees: The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, Letters From Iwo Jima
I loved The Departed, but for the sake of this sinking article, I’ll choose Babel as being my favorite. It was a gripping, unflinching look at several stories intertwined and complicated by a breakdown in communication.
My Pick: Good Night, and Good Luck
Actual Winner: Crash
Other Nominees: Capote, Munich, Brokeback Mountain
I didn’t think this was a very good year for the cream of the crop. Aside from Michael Pena’s astounding performance as a stereotyped Latino-gangbanger-locksmith, Crash just wasn’t the best. David Strathairn as the late journalist Edward R. Murrow in an epic stand against accusation and fear mongering, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s turn as Truman Capote both beat out the ensemble cast’s film about race relations in L.A.
My Pick: The Aviator
Actual Winner: Million Dollar Baby
Other Nominees: Sideways, Finding Neverland, Ray
I liked The Aviator this year for three reasons: first off, I’m a fan of biopics, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Martin Scorsese; secondly, I never got caught up in the moment of why so many found Sideways to be so good; and lastly, I never saw Million Dollar Baby or Ray, two films that I still would like to see to this day.
Stay tuned as I breakdown the Academy’s picks from 1999-2003.