Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

The End of the 00s: Ten Years of Best Picture Suck, by Zachary Woolfe

REMEMBER THIS?There was no tragedy this past decade greater than the utter implosion of quality among the winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Some might point to the 90s as the time our troubles began, and I admit that Dances with Wolves and Forrest Gump were bad omens. (The 90s did end with the intolerable American Beauty!) But you also had Silence of the Lambs! Shakespeare in Love! And, OK, Schindler's List, in all its retardedly black-and-white-and-oh-my-God-her-dress-is-red glory! There were glimmers of light, is what I'm saying; yes, 2007, sure;and that light of hope is shows what was missing in the awful aughts. Let me show you.

2000: Gladiator
Gladiator is a long, boring piece of shit, and that hyperstylized slo-mo thing-you know, like that 300 nonsense?- is nails on a chalkboard but for the EYES instead of the EARS.

2001: A Beautiful Mind
I guess A Beautiful Mind might have made some weird consolatory sense just after 9/11. (Those scary guys trying to get you? They're just figments of your imagination!) But there's really just a lot of Russell Crowe squinting his eyes and looking very, very frustrated, and Jennifer Connelly looking drugged and sad. Ugh, remember when Russell Crowe starred in two Best Pictures in a row?!?! That's the 00s for you!

2002: Chicago
It's really stupid to cast a lead in a musical who can't sing. And then it's even stupider to make this lack of talent into a signifier of her "vulnerability." It didn't work in Lawrence High School's 1995 production of Hello Dolly, and it didn't work for Renee Zellweger.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
American cinema's rise and fall, in one fact: The only two trilogies to have all three films nominated for Best Picture are The Godfather and The Lord of the Rings. Sweet Jesus.

2004: Million Dollar Baby
These three could do their performances in their sleep: Morgan Freeman in his treasured magical-Negro mode, Clint Eastwood as the grizzled, secretly kindly one, Hilary Swank as the quasi-lesbian. And then she gets paralyzed and makes him kill her, in a twist so cloying that it makes Terms of Endearment seem like Funny Games. This movie is for 55-year-old men what Something's Gotta Give is for 55-year-old women.

2005: Crash
Crash is one of the worst movies ever made, and the fact that it won the Oscar for Best Picture says something-I don't know what-about our world. Actually, I do know what! It says that we are so scarred by globalization and atomization and Internetization and whatever that we just want narratives in which all these unrelated people and stories are "woven" (i.e., thrown) together in one big redemptive bundle and we can UNDERSTAND IT ALL.

2006: The Departed
THIS is what Martin Scorsese finally wins for?! Not for any of his legendary masterpieces, but for a watchable, unremarkable genre movie? And you know what, there was something way off about the plotting!

2007: No Country for Old Men
I phased out at the end cause I thought it was JUST ONE MORE CRYPTIC MONOLOGUE and then the movie was over and I feel like I missed the point. Or was there not a point? Also, everyone said that Javier Bardem and his air hose were scary, but I didn't think they were scary.

2008: Slumdog Millionaire
SO GREAT…. that we can feel okay about poverty in India because wait! Poverty actually is not poverty at all, but in reality an intricately designed preparation to succeed at American-style capitalism. Fuck this crazyass Horatio Alger shit. "But it's a FANTASY!" Right, and what we totally needed are more fantasies about how being desperately poor sets you up to win a lot of money!

Thanks, Oscars. I really do hope Up in the Air wins this year. That would be the rancid icing on a moldy ol' 00 cake.

Zachary Woolfe has had it with your movies.

75 Comments / Post A Comment

The 50s were decade of best-picture suck, too. Consider:

"The Greatest Show On Earth" (1952)
"Marty" (1955)
"Around the World in 80 Days" (1956)

queensissy (#1,783)

Okay, I've been out of town and in the desert the past few days, so forgive this late reply. But what problem do you have with "Marty"? I'm sending Ernest Borgnine over to kick your ass.

Ted Maul (#205)

In defense of this decade, the same could be said for the 80s and 90s. And, as MisterHippity points out, most other decades.

2002: Man I can't believe that was that long ago.
2004: Thanks now I will never have to see that movie.
2005: The message there is that white male middle aged – old aged academy voters still did not feel comfortable voting for the gay cowboy movie even though about 50% of them are gay.

Yeah, "Crash" over "Brokeback" will probably go down as the worst best-picture decision of all time.

josh_speed (#97)

TRUE. Heartbreaking.

Natan (#1,967)

Yeah, because Ang Lee deserved a Best Picture Oscar more than Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock…

A bunch of straight people did an update of Love Story with two dudes in for Ryan O'Neal and whoever else. That's all the fuck it was, OK?

toadvine (#1,698)

This is a thread Mike Piazza would love.

Jared (#1,227)

1994: Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction.
1989: Driving Miss Daisy over Do the Right Thing (not even nominated, much to Kim Basinger's displeasure).

HiredGoons (#603)

Don't even get me started on the Gay Hollywood Glass Ceiling.

It's not just the actors. I've seen upper level execs get canned after coming out.

HiredGoons (#603)

Oh, I know.

HiredGoons (#603)

I worked there for a year, and it's disturbing how openly homophobic that city is.

toadvine (#1,698)

Mike Piazza would not love this thread.

To a somewhat lesser degree than News Corp, the LA media/entertainment contingent feasts on the prejudices of the world. Actually as corporate despots go I prefer Rupe to Sumner Redstone.

Brian (#115)

Terms of Endearment makes Grand Hotel seem like Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

And "Driving Miss Daisy" for 1989, and "Do the Right Thing" wasn't evenn nominated for Best Picture.

I stopped watching the Oscars in the early 80's. If we add up the average of 4 hours per year, over, say, 26 years, I've gained about 4 days of life. I'll spend it watching better movies.

"…This movie is for 55-year-old men what Something’s Gotta Give is for 55-year-old women."

For a certain demographic, mostly with money. Don't smear us all.

toadvine (#1,698)

Actually that movie was called "Sideways" and it totally blew.

HiredGoons (#603)

What are you talking about!? 'Million Dollar Baby' is hilarious!

… what?

It was the "Something`s got to Give" reference that gave me the creepy crawlies.

HiredGoons (#603)

I just love seeing Clint Eastwood playing variations on 'Clint Eastwood'*

*this statement is a lie, I do not actually enjoy seeing this.

the Loud Coast (#1,362)

Slumdog Millionaire was obviously not the best picture of 2008, nor of Danny Boyle's career, but it was by far the best MIA video anthology ever produced.

HiredGoons (#603)

is it wrong that I love 'Shallow Grave'?

Kakapo (#2,312)

Continue loving. That movie is loads of fun and easily his best.

Matt (#26)

"It’s really stupid to cast a lead in a musical who can’t sing."

And the wood that does not float:


the non singing white girl in:

Meh, can't wait.

Re: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

And the wood that does not float:


the non singing white girl in:

Kakapo (#2,312)

It can actually work, especially if it's a plot point:

Ok, not really a musical but a really underrated movie.

toadvine (#1,698)

Mike Piazza loves musicals

Vulpes (#946)

Or how about Rex Harrison? 'Enry 'Iggins and Dr. Doolittle don't sing, they just sort of talk-sing, but they're still brilliant.

Weren't those parts written for him, with his limitations in mind?

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I haven't seen many of these movies, but I've seen enough to wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. (I don't think movies should be eligible for awards until they've been out at least 50 years — only half-kidding? Or maybe they could institute a 'Damn We Fucked Up' Category?)

mathnet (#27)

Everything you said about Chicago is right about Chicago and also about Moulin Rouge the end.

Vulpes (#946)

What is with you people and hatin' on Moulin Rouge?!? It had Ewan MacGregor singing! Nicole Kidman before her face froze! KYLIE MINOGUE!!!!11!!

slinkimalinki (#182)

oh, and peter jackson just got a knighthood.

In modern times knighthood seems to be awarded based on how much income can be extracted via taxation from the intended knight and/or how much income was volunteered.

But. As much as I can't stand Lord of the Rings, or the royals, I kind of like to imagine Jackson in armor on a horse. Doing the knight thing.

Peter Jackson, in full knight regalia, seated on an ill-tempered donkey

Vulpes (#946)

As a nerd, I take umbrage, UMBRAGE, at your disparagement of Lord of the Rings, sir! Seriously, as someone who spent three years in the throes of a LotR movie orgasm, and who can't even remember what the other nominees were, it deserved it for the capstone achievement of it.

Also, Shakespeare in Love? Really?

He gets a bukakke load of demerits for The Lovely Bones. What was he thinking!!!!!!!111111!1!!

Vulpes (#946)

Oh, I haven't even seen that movie, but even the commercials with that girl's Valium-monotone voice and Marky Mark's awful hair make it look atrocious. But I don't really care, because it's not him I love (especially since he went from an adorable wee hobbit to a stringy Gollum) but the movies.

TroutSavant (#1,990)

Agreed about Shakespeare in Love. It was a very well done movie, but in no way a great movie. Don't agree about LOTR though. So basically, I'm just a hater. Sigh.

Vulpes (#946)

Minion of Sauron! *LOL*

Bittersweet (#765)

Just re-watched the LOTR movies with my 7-year-old. It's a lot more fun that way.

RE: Shakespeare in Love, fun movie, but Blanchett wuz robbed, robbed I tell you!

HiredGoons (#603)

I will give him 'Heavenly Creatures.'

Kakapo (#2,312)

I'll gibr him "Dead Alive" and "Meet the Feebles," too. But, then again, I also give him the Lord of the Rings pictures. ANY of them are way ahead of the 3rd Godfather.

Golden Globes >>> Oscars

for so many reasons, but this list is a good start.

also, people can drink booze and socialize at the golden globes, which makes it more fun to watch, generally. also, movies AND tv.

toadvine (#1,698)

No Country for Old Men is almost defensible. Except that There Will Be Blood came out that year. But yes, Crash is a horrible, horrible piece of sh!t, along with the other movies listed.

brad (#1,678)

"2007: No Country for Old Men
I phased out at the end cause I thought it was JUST ONE MORE CRYPTIC MONOLOGUE and then the movie was over and I feel like I missed the point. Or was there not a point? Also, everyone said that Javier Bardem and his air hose were scary, but I didn’t think they were scary."

bite me.

Natan (#1,967)

The overall tone of the movie was very light and offhand, borderline flippant. How anyone could have found it intense is beyond me.

toadvine (#1,698)

It is not one of McCarthy's best books. But it was a good movie. The tone you speak of is vintage Coen brothers — you either like it or you don't, but it's what they do. That's not to say it lacks intensity, however.

FeyBoohoozer (#410)

Agreed. And thanks. I hated, hated, hated all of these movies. And can I just say that I still, to this day hate "Titanic"? Yes, HATE! and I also thought "Avatar" sucked. *ducks*

toadvine (#1,698)

Mike Piazza thinks that was a compliment!

What does he think of "A Light in the Piazza"?

sox (#652)

I have managed never to watch Titanic. Nor will I ever.

A point of pride for me as well.

Bittersweet (#765)

Ditto. Although weirdly enough, I had nightmares about it during all the hoopla.


This list is both affirming and liberating. I thank you, Z Dubs.

Ugh. No idea why the word "wear" appeared in that sentence. Hope the sentiment is still understood (ie FUCK A NO COUNTRY)

Well, I, for one, loved Gladiator. I can agree with you on most of your other points, but Gladiator makes me think maybe we just have different tastes in genres?

katiebakes (#32)

Same and also I really liked Lord of the Rings :(

joeclark (#651)

If I wanted character encoding this bad, I'd Print This! with! at NYMag!

Now you’ve lost me.

mjr256 (#2,816)

Don't blame the decade; blame the Oscars, who have always favored flavors of the month to films that will stand the test of time. What do Double Indemnity, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Star Wars, and Pulp Fiction all have in common? None of them won Best Picture Oscars. And with the exception of Star Wars losing out to Annie Hall, none of them were beaten by films anyone gives a sh*t about today. And Don't throw American Beauty in with the crap. American Beauty actually was at least one of the better films of 1999, which was already possibly the greatest year in cinema history. And as far as biopics go, A Beautiful Mind was pretty good. And you're just flat-out crazy about The Departed, which is in my opinion, one of Marty's finest works to date. LOTR sucked. But yeah, you were pretty dead on with everything else, especially Gladiator which was a giant turd. But jesus, what the hell did you like this decade?

Bittersweet (#765)

Go ahead and throw American Beauty in with the crap. Self-indulgent, self-satisfied tripe, and every character deserving of a punch in the face.

Dismal (#2,817)

Seriously, you had a problem with No Country for Old Men. Go fuck yourself. That's it. Outta this fucking cab. I'm sorry your dumb ass wasn't entertained by it. Go watch Synecdoche, New York or whatever gay ass bullshit you like.

toadvine (#1,698)

Mike Piazza loves "gay ass bullshit."

KarenUhOh (#19)

They didn't have Slo-Mo in Roman Times.

blatanville (#860)

Since when have the Oscars reflected real filmic accomplishment? Everyone knows they're bullshit. We just like the spectacle…don't we?

charley cvercko (#2,842)

A few good points, but you lost me at Shakespeare in Love and American Beauty. Those are among the most egregious examples of What's Wrong with the Oscars.

BitterDiva (#2,855)

"Flashlight, hell!"

Geez…. what a miserable article. :)

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