Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Oscar Repo Man: Best Picture, '95

Note: We here at The Film Official considered calling this The Oscar Robin Hood -- as in: rob from the rich and give to the snubbed -- but decided against it because 1) we might soon be in for some Merry Men overkill*, and 2) we didn't want to be confused with any of these guys.

*No, not Overkill**.

**Wait, can I add italicized asides to an already-italicized aside***?

***I guess so.

Anyway, as is the right of all the filmically inclined, it's time to repossess an Oscar and give it to its rightful owner. Today's target: 1995 Best Picture winner Braveheart.

Yes, Mr. Wallace, we might not be able to take your freedom, but we're taking your Oscar. Why?

First, can any non fanboy/fangirl honestly remember anything except that one famous line and all the blue paint*? I mean, I just looked at the cast again, and I don't even remotely recall Brian Cox being in this movie. And I love Brian Cox**!

*OK, OK, I'll admit it -- I remember a certain scene involving this actress, too.

Secondly, the real culprit behind this movie's big Oscar win was the Best Picture category's Epic Epidemic of the Mid-1990s (Schindler's List, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic and even Shakespeare in Love, sort of). Not a big period piece? Sorry, not a Best Picture.

But that was then. We're at now now. And when will then be now? Hopefully not soon*.

*If you're not sure what the hell that was all about, click here.

But alas, we're not just in the business of stealing Oscars from winners and keeping them for ourselves. Instead, after careful studying of 1) the landscape and 2) a small sample of eligible films, we're bestowing the award upon these guys:

Now, picking The Usual Suspects isn't simply a case of "I like this movie better than that movie." It's not even a case of "This movie pimp-slapped that other movie so badly that Travis Bickle had to shoot up the place* just to save it."

*Oh good God that "shoot up the place" link is NSFW.

No, it's also a matter of how times have changed. Check the last five Best Picture winners:

2004: Million Dollar Baby

2005: Crash

2006: The Departed

2007: No Country For Old Men

2008: Slumdog Millionaire

Now, we could argue about these films' quality (or lack thereof*) forever.


But the point is: Not really any epics in there, eh? Not a single period piece (unless you count the No Country and the 1980s), no war (except mafia war) -- not even a story that spans too many decades.

Indeed, we have seen a recent priority shift in the Oscars. Films don't need to be GREAT in the literal sense to be great in the parlance of our times. Got a good story? Competent filmmaking? Then you, too, could be a Best Picture winner.

And if you've seen it, chances are you know: The Usual Suspects is beyond-words good. If it were released in the last few years, I'd've put considerable money on its receiving more than just two nominations/wins (editing, anyone?) -- and one might well have been Best Picture.

But it wasn't, so it didn't -- until now, as the first benificiary of The Oscar Repo Man's charity work.

Now, in return, I expect gifts from all cast members ... just so long as I don't receive what Kevin Spacey gave Brad Pitt (NSFW) in another 1995 film.

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