Thursday, January 22, 2009

Some Previous Oscar Winners/Nominees

What's the big thing today? The Dark Knight and Wall-E got shut out of the major Academy Award categories. Not a surprise. But I'd like to look at some films that have won/been nominated that probably wouldn't stand a chance today just because they're not about serious people doing serious things.

It Happened One Night, 1934:
It's sassy. It's hysterical. It's sexy, especially when you consider it was made in 1934. (Clarke Gable takes his shirt off.) It wouldn't get nominated today. (Also nominated that year was The Thin Man, a comedy-murder-mystery with two of the coolest detectives ever, Nick and Nora Charles.)

The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938:
Errol Flynn is a jovial, thoughtful Robin in this swashbuckling adventure. Is it particularly deep? No. Is it a lot of fun? Hell yeah. It's everything you want Robin Hood to be. (Compared to this, The Dark Knight is basically No Country For Old Men in terms of big, dark themes.)

Roman Holiday, 1953:
A beautiful princess (Audrey Hepburn) needs a day to herself and runs away in Rome. A reporter (Gregory Peck) finds her and shows her around, knowing he's got the best scoop in town. Romantic tension follows. It's one of the most charming movies ever. But apparently charming isn't good enough for an Oscar these days.

Annie Hall, 1977:
It's one of the best looks at relationships ever. It's hard to even call it a romantic comedy--it's about a relationship and it's funny, but there's nothing cutesy about it. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton nail their parts. And even though the ending is bittersweet, most viewers will agree that everyone "needs the eggs." (Also, it's the last time a comedy has won. Over thirty years ago. How fucked up is that?)

My point is that the Academy has forgotten that not all "great movies" are intense movies. Sometimes they're comedies. Sometimes they're action films. Sometimes they're romances. Sometimes they might even be animated. If we can't acknowledge different kinds of greatness, what are we acknowledging?