Directed by William Friedkin
Screenplay by William Peter Blatty, based upon his novel
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cob and Jack MacGowran
Confession is an appropriate place to start this entry, given the heavily Catholic tone of The Exorcist, so here goes: I’ve seen The Exorcist before.
See, when I started this Project – The Also Ran’s – I had the idea I’d use it to see Best Picture nominees I’d not seen before as a way to force new viewing experiences on myself. Given I’d already seen many of the Best Pictures, that made the Best Picture Project as much about revisiting films as it was about discovery. By definition then, The Also Rans was explicitly meant to be about discovery because it excluded movies I’d already seen. Moreover, it would also give me a unique look at the workings of prior generations, in that by looking at what lost, I might find something very instructive.
But while this is my aim, here I am throwing the rule away and using this project as an excuse to re-visit The Exorcist. Why? Because it’s my Project, so it’s my rules to break. Also, because with The Exorcist, any viewing will be a discovery.
Directed by Martin Scorcese
Screenplay by William Monahan, based on the film Infernal Affairs
Starrring Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damno, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg
Martin Scorsese should have an Oscar – Martin Scorsese should have a fistful of Oscars. A fistful in both hands. He is a legend of cinema, with talent enough that he can hop genres and eras with relative ease, making his style fit them all, no matter how disparate then may be. Better, he’s been consistently good for more than four decades, without the flameout in quality you get from many other so-called legends. Add to that he’s a student of film and treats it legitimately, and reverently, as art, and you can see why he should have more Oscars than he know what to do with.
But he doesn’t have more Oscars than he knows what to do with – he only has the one. Not for directing Raging Bull or Goodfellas, but as director of The Departed.
Let me ask you a question – which is worse: Continue reading
Directed by Tom McCarthy
Written By Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci and Bryan d’Arcy James
In 1976, All The President’s Men competed for Best Picture with Network, Taxi Driver and Bound for Glory and of that group, Bound For Glory is the one I’d argue isn’t a suitable Best Picture winner. Sure, it’s got the period look, and seems to capture the flavor of the time and place, but ultimately it’s missing that indefinable something a Best Picture winner should have.
The other three films thought – All The President’s Men, Network, Taxi Driver – are completely timeless and any of the three could have, and should have, won. No surprise, they all lost to the flagship of the Rocky franchise, a film some people consider a ‘classic’, but is one I just don’t get.
Well, while All The President’s Men didn’t win, but at least it can take solace in the fact that 40 years after it’s loss, it’s most direct offspring, Spotlight, scooped the big prize.
Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Akiva Goldsman, based on the Sylvia Nasar book
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Josh Lucas and Paul Bettany
Not all that long ago I covered the awful 2000 film Gladiator for the Best Picture Project and mentioned I thought Russell Crowe won an Oscar for the wrong film. Usually the Academy gets it wrong and honors an actor (or director) for some lesser work later in the career, usually to make up for overlooking them earlier in their career. Think about Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman but going empty-handed for everything he did in the 70s; Martin Scorcese taking gold for The Departed and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas; or Kate Winslet winning for The Reader despite previously being overlooked for Little Children and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. These are but three, but the list goes on. Continue reading