Originally written for The Occidental.
The Oscars. Everyone knows about them — a bunch of great actors and filmmakers get awarded for their achievements. Good for them. But the Oscars have a major benefit for filmwatchers, too: a chance to catch great movies you missed, or see favorites again. For those of you who missed some of the best (and my favorite) nominees, here’s your chance. Get ’em while they’re hot — this year’s best films are in the theaters again!
As Good as It Gets
As Good As It Gets defies categorization. It’s a heartwarming drama, a comedy, and has one of the most spiteful people I’ve ever seen as its hero. Jack Nicholson stars as Melvin Udall, a romance novel author who writes great books, but is a failure as a human being. His ability to say amazingly wounding things as casually as most people say ‘good morning’ has distances him from everyone around him, including his favorite waitress, Carol (Helen Hunt), and Simon (Greg Kinnear), an artist who lives in his apartment building (Melvin: ‘Carol the waitress, meet Simon the fag.’). As nasty as he is, Melvin is also able to be a wonderful person — he hires a doctor just to take care of Carol’s son (so that Carol won’t take anymore sick days off work), and he takes in Simon’s dog when Simon is in the hospital after being brutally beaten during a robbery. And that’s just the beginning. This is one you must not miss! Nicholson, Kinnear, and Hunt were all nominated for Oscars, and deserve it. As Good as It Gets got four more nominations as well, and deserves every one of them.
My more faithful readers may remember the review I did of LA Confidential last semester. Well, I’m taking this chance to push it one more time — do not miss this film! Fans of the book may be disappointed at the simplification the very complicated story went through to make this two-and-a-half-hour movie, but LA Confidential is one of the smartest, most complex and well-crafted films I’ve seen all year. Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey star as three cops who are completely different, but must team up to solve the biggest case of their careers — the �Nite Owl Massacre� which left six people dead in a coffee shop. What begins as an ordinary investigation threatens to destroy them all as they uncover a web of conspiracy and corruption. The Academy nominated LA Confidential for nine awards, including best picture, which it richly deserves. My only complaint is that none of those nominations include Crowe, Pearce, or Spacey, all of whom did fantastic jobs. Go see this film — but don’t get a large drink, or you’ll spend the last hour squirming as it holds you captivated.
Not many people in American know about Queen Victoria beyond what they had to learn in High School history courses. Even fewer people know that she was nicknamed ‘Mrs. Brown’ because of her very close friendship with her retainer, John Brown(Billy Connolly). As the film begins, the Queen is in mourning over her dead husband, and has been for years. Brown, newly brought into her service, decides she needs to get some air, and brings her pony out for her to ride every morning until she agrees to go out. Soon he is her favorite servant, able to scold and joke with her with impunity. Mrs. Brown is the story of their friendship, and a magnificent film.
The Full Monty
As is proper, here is the best, saved for last. The Full Monty is one of the most touching comedies I’ve ever seen, and got four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Set in Sheffield, York, it chronicles the attempt of six men to get a little money, and the respect of their families, back. Inspired by the success of the Chippendales (who filled the local pub with a single performance), Gas (Robert Carlyle) talks his friends into joining him to become… strippers! Not surprisingly, the men have enough problems with learning to dance and overcoming self-consciousness sans clothing — but when Gas takes a leap, and tells the people in town that they/ll be going /the full monty’ (i.e. taking everything off), they get really nervous. Full of laughs mixed with the bittersweet drama the British do so well, The Full Monty is one you’d better see while you can!