Is this As Good As It Gets?

I stumbled onto a great podcast last week from Cracked.com. The overall theme of the podcast is straight nerd comedy. Although it’s not a theme I’m normally drawn to, it was funny and insightful enough to keep me listening. The most recent two episodes discussed the topic of what movies and tv shows hold up over time. Great movies of their time watched decades later don’t always remain good. For example, have you ever watched one of your beloved childhood cartoons as an adult and thought, “This is such a piece of shit. How did I ever like this?” If you haven’t had this moment go back and watch the original Smurfs cartoon. *Shudders*

The Cracked podcast mentioned the Oscars and some of the award winning films that should and shouldn’t have won. With the announcement of the 2014 Oscar nominations on Thursday, this is a perfect opportunity to take a moment to check their track record.
When the Oscars got it wrong:
1991- Dances With Wolves won Best Picture instead of Good Fellas. This is one of the example’s given by the Cracked guys. Even though I haven’t seen either film, I don’t doubt that Kevin Costner loses his cool factor 20 years later.
1994 Tommy Lee Jones won Best Supporting Actor for the Fugitive instead of Leonardo DiCaprio for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. This is a case where no one’s performance went bad it was just a bad decision. Leo’s role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is probably the best performance of his whole career.
1995- Forrest Gump won Best Picture instead of Pulp Fiction or the Shawshank Redemption. I’ll admit I loved Forrest Gump when it came out. The heart warming tale was a huge hit amongst audiences everywhere. Years later the film reads a little shmaltsy and dumb where as Pulp Fiction is still as edgy as it was on opening night.
1997- The English Patient won Best Picture instead of Fargo. Similar to Tommy Lee Jones, I think this is a case where time had nothing to do with it. I thought they made the wrong decision on the night of the awards. Everyone got caught up in the epic (boring) love story. Fargo is quality cinema and the English Patient needs to be taken off life support.
2002- A Beautiful Mind won Best Picture instead of Moulin Rouge. Also Jennifer Connelly for Best Supporting Actress for the film instead of Maggie Smith for Gosford Park. First Maggie Smith is perfect in everything and hands down she should’ve won over Connelly’s boring and forgettable performance. As for Best Picture, Moulin Rouge was clearly the most original movie of that year and it still is just as good even 10 years later. Note: A Beautiful Mind isn’t a bad movie but Moulin Rouge is just better. This is also a mistake I knew on awards night.
2006- Crash won Best Picture instead of Brokeback Mountain. I’ve written blog posts before about this one. Does anyone even remember Crash? Brokeback Mountain was so good it virtually eliminated gay movies for the next ten years because no one wanted to complete with it. Crash won because the Academy was too afraid to pick (at the time) controversial barebacking cowboys.  Also, Best Supporting Actor should have been Jack Gyllenhaal instead of winner George Clooney for Syriana. Although I suspect Clooney won more for his over all popularity and career and not this specific performance. 
The Oscars have also gotten it right a few times:
1991- Kathy Bates won Best Actress for Misery. Yes, totally deserved. 
1992- Silence of the Lambs won Best Picture and Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster both took home Best Acting trophies.
1994 Tom Hanks won Best Actor for Philadelphia. You can argue about his win in 1995 for Forrest Gump but Philadelphia is one of the best of his career.
1997- Geoffrey Rush won Best Actor for Shine and Francis McDormand won Best Actress for Fargo. Geoffrey Rush was sort on an unknown and unproven actor in 1997. His amazing performance kick started a career that has lasted and spawned dozens of other great roles. McDormand gave the standout performance that made Fargo what it was.
2000- Hilary Swank won Best Actress for Boys Don’t Cry. There is theory on how you win an Oscar. Either you’re a big actress in a unknown/small movie (Nicole Kidman in the Hours) or you’re an unknown actress in a big Hollywood movie. (Kathy Bates in Misery) Swank broke that mold when she was an unknown actress in an small indie movie. Her turn as Brandon Tina was perfectly acted. 
2001- Gladiator won Best Picture. I tried to watch Gladiator at the time and thought it was incredibly boring. In fact I fast forwarded through most of it. You might wonder then why I ‘m glad it won. I’m only glad it won because it beat the favorite Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. CTHD was breathtaking when it first came out. When you watch it now it looks totally ridiculous. Awful in fact. 
2003- Chicago won Best Picture. I LOVE this movie and totally deserved the top award. The look and sound of this musical is still fresh and timeless. This was also an “I’m sorry” from the academy because fellow musical Moulin Rouge lost the year before.

Visit The Cracked Podcast to have a listen. I also recommend the podcast about LBJ. I was surprised how interesting it was.

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