Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

" Couldn’t live with the whole celibacy thing. You could call me a man of the cloth without the cloth. "
— Matthew McConaughey, Contact

MRQE Top Critic

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I don’t put much stock in the Academy Awards. Yet here I am, up early on a Tuesday morning to give you my meager input. The Oscars are just too big a phenomenon for any movie lover to ignore, as tempted as I am to do just that.

In a perfect world, the best films of the year would be rewarded by a panel of learned judges, who would be required to defend their selections with great works of prose. Instead, the Academy Awards are voted on by Hollywood elites in a grand popularity contest. That’s not to say that the results are always bad, but the process is hard to swallow for someone who really loves film and hates the culture of celebrity worship.

But the Oscars get people talking about movies. We talk about what was good or bad. We talk about what will probably win and what ought to win if we could only vote. We talk about what moved us and what bored us. We talk about what deserves to be chiseled into history and how we want the future to remember us at this moment.

That is what really makes movies so great. That is why even I can’t ignore the Oscars. That is why I’m up early on a Tuesday.

This year’s batch provides the usual mix of frustration and gratification.

The biggest frustration is that Being John Malkovich was not nominated for Best Picture (although it garnered nominations for Directing and Original Screenplay). To make room for Malkovich, I’d have removed The Green Mile or The Cider House Rules from the list of nominees. The Green Mile told a good story, but it had robots instead of characters. The Cider House Rules was not bad, but it was muddled by its ambition.

The other nominees for Best Picture are American Beauty, which was merely good, but which somehow penetrated the souls of Americans; The Insider, one of my favorite movies from this year; and The Sixth Sense, a pleasant surprise that I thought would have been too lightweight for the Academy.

The biggest gratification is that “Blame Canada,” one of the dozen satirical songs from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, was nominated for Original Song. It’s even more satisfying that its in direct competition with not one, but two gaggingly sweet ballads from Disney cartoons (“When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 and “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Tarzan).

A few other nominations from well-deserving, though smaller independent films, made me take notice. Election, the quirky dark comedy produced by MTV films, was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay; and Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in the critically acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry.

My repulsion from the culture of celebrity worship means I won’t be watching the ceremony. As usual, I’ll be far away from my TV when the winners are announced. Family and friends will have to put up with my bitter ranting if anyone asks why I’m not watching.

...And yet, the morning after, the first thing I’ll look for in the newspaper is whether Malkovich got Screenplay and which Disney cartoon got Best Song. Most of all, I’ll be glad it’s over for another year.

The nominees for best picture are:
American Beauty
The Cider House Rules
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Sixth Sense

The other big categories:


Russell Crowe (The Insider)
Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story)
Sean Penn (Sweet and Lowdown)
Kevin Spacey (American Beauty)
Denzel Washington (The Hurricane)


Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules)
Tom Cruise (Magnolia)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile)
Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley)
Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)


Annette Bening (American Beauty)
Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds)
Julianne Moore (Magnolia)
Meryl Streep (Music of the Heart)
Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry)


Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense)
Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted)
Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich)
Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown)
Chloe; Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry)


American Beauty
Being John Malkovich
The Cider House Rules
The Insider
The Sixth Sense


All about My Mother
Solomon and Gaenor
Under the Sun


South Park: Bigger, Longer &Amp; Uncut
Music of the Heart
Toy Story 2


The Cider House Rules
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Talented Mr. Ripley


American Beauty
Being John Malkovich
The Sixth Sense

The full list of nominees can be viewed at: