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Blair Bass's Oscar Comment 2001  

To the Academy: This year's Oscars, another disappointment

With the recent Academy Awards, I take this time to reflect upon the Oscars of recent years, including this year: the hype, the failures, the winners and the even more interesting losers.

Let's start with 1998 and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. This was probably the most critcally acclaimed film of 1998 with some awesome, gut wrenching, not-for-the-waek-at-heart war scenes. It did not make my list for the best films of the year (see my website). I found it not to have that extra something special to make it standout among the movies of that year. An alright story in conjunction with some very well made scenes does not satisfy my movie going experience.

Instead that year, I fell for The Truman Show, a smart well acted thematical excellent film which was overlooked by the Academy. Instead, Miramax's Shakespeare In Love took home little Oscar that year. It was a safe bet: good acting, intelligent dialogue, pretty good story with some funny scenes. I don't think many disliked it. Also, god forbid that the Academy should ruin their reputation of past years making it nearly impossible for early year pics (ie Saing Private Ryan, The Truman Show) to have ANY success at their annual ceremony.

In 1999, the Academy finally broke they're string of "safe bets", that is avoiding any daring films, or the unimaginable, oh my gosh, daringly great film. American Beauty was the first Best Picture winner since 1995's Braveheart to make my annual top ten list. It was daring, funny, dramatic, with an unforgettable story and even more unforgettable main character, Lester Burnham, brilliantly portrayed by Kevin Spacey. Thank you Academy for your best selection in half a decade.

I was so happy in 1999 that I thought this year, there may actually be a chance that the Academy members continued their streak of looking like they know something about film. Boy, was I disappointed. Gladiator. This was not a safe bet and here's why: it was not a good movie. The story was so ridiculously predictable that it almost gets a laugh. The special effects look like they were done on some 2nd rate PC with a freeware graphics program (What was with that Colosseum? The audience is not suppose to see it as a computer generated object but the idea is to make it look real). The picture was dark and mrky at times. It was not good to look at. The fight scenes were good, but not comparable to the likes of Braveheart, or Spartacus to which this movie has been compared to.

Here's a newsflash: Spartacus was not a great movie either! Stanley Kubrick said it himself. At least Kirk Douglas showed that he could act. I would not believe that Russell Crowe was capable of giving such incredible performances as he did in 1997's L.A. Confidential and 1999's The Insider, judging by this flick.

I guess the Academy has an excuse in that it was a bad year for movies. Hopefully, 2001 will be much better. One of this year's early films, Enemy At the Gates would have been one of last year's best. After this annual Academy-bashing I leave you with my choices for the best of the year:

Best Picture: Finding Forrester, a  very well told story with two incredible performances by Rob Brown and Sean Connery. It was from the same guy who brought us the best film of 1997, Good Will Hunting.

Best Actor: Rob Brown. This was his first film but the only way you can tell is because he is young. Mr. Brown stole the screen from Sean Connery, who in his own respect was no less than excellent in this movie.

Best Actress: Renee Zellweger. The satirical, funny, outrageous Nurse Betty was brought to life by its star, who I first noticed in 1996's Jerry Maguire.

Best Supporting Actor: Vin Diesel. This guy could get places just with that cool voice. Oh, yea, he's a good actor too. Just check out his overlooked performance in Boiler Room.

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Hudson. This was supposed to be the ONE guarantee at this year's Oscars and I was happy with it; but, Marcia Gay Harden got the award. I cannot really criticize because I have yet to have seen Pollock.

Maybe, the Academy will force their members to take film classes over the course of this year. Okay. I know I'm going WAY overboard here, but they bring it upon themselves. Don't go with the safe bets. You actually got some praise for selecting American Beauty as Best Picture. Oh, also, refrain from picking the bad movies. Think before you select.

Blair Bass

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