Best Picture and Director 1999

1998 through 2007

What are your picks for 1999's Best Picture and Director?

American Beauty
24
36%
The Cider House Rules
0
No votes
The Green Mile
0
No votes
The Insider
7
11%
The Sixth Sense
2
3%
Lasse Hallstrom - The Cider House Rules
0
No votes
Spike Jonze - Being John Malkovich
9
14%
Sam Mendes - American Beauty
18
27%
Michael Mann - The Insider
4
6%
M. Night Shayamalan - The Sixth Sense
2
3%
 
Total votes: 66

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Sabin » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:43 pm

Three very good movies nominated for Best Picture, one great one for Director. Spike Jonze's handling of Being John Malkovich launched two careers: his and Charlie Kaufman's (to be fair, Jonze was doing just fine making some of the best music videos of the 90s). By encouraging his actors to play but take this material 100% seriously, Being John Malkovich is a forebear to a wave of popular television comedies that blend absurdity with utter conviction. It's so easy to underrate his contribute to this film but every performer is on exactly the right wavelength and every scene has a fantastic energy. His direction looks better and better almost a decade and a half later, and let's be honest: the fact that Being John Malkovich got a stone's throw from the Best Picture circle is some kind of a wackadoo miracle.

The Cider House Rules is an utter betrayal of its wonderful novel and there's no reason for it or Lasse Hallstrom and anything in the film aside from Rachel Portman's lovely score to be anywhere near a nomination. I haven't revisited The Green Mile since the advanced screening I saw on the University of Arizona campus in 1999 right after reading (and loving) Stephen King's books. I liked it then. I'm sure if I saw it today, I wouldn't totally dislike it but in a year like 1999 it doesn't deserve to rank above Boys Don't Cry, Fight Club, Topsy-Turvy, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Election, and so many others. It's between American Beauty, The Insider, and The Sixth Sense, three films of relatively equal merit in my estimation. I like American Beauty still quite a bit. Almost a decade and a half later, it's starting to show up with all seriousness on AFI Lists so it's officially survived the backlash. American Beauty is a "classic" and I'd imagine among most peoples' favorites of the last fifteen year's worth of Best Picture winners. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine that M. Night Shyamalan is an Oscar nominee. What's amazing about The Sixth Sense is that you can see everything that goes wrong in his other movies entirely present throughout the film but it somehow works. Every bad instinct, every lame moment, it's all there but through casting, pacing, story (magic?) it's still a pretty beautiful film. I stick by my original assessment in 1999 five minutes before the twist was revealed: I thought the twist was that what started as a gimmicky movie turned into a very touching family story. It gets my vote for Best Picture.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby ksrymy » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:31 pm

I watched Outer Space since Eric recommended it. At 10 minutes long, it may be one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby FilmFan720 » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:02 pm

I consider 1999 the greatest year of filmgoing in my own lifetime, although that may be where the year places in my own life. I was a senior in high school for this Oscar season, and with so many exciting, bold cinematic experiences coming out at a time in my life when I was able to actually consume all of them with a group of young, excited friends was a mindblowing experience. At the time, films like American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, The Red Violin, Election, Bowfinger, Dick, The Sixth Sense, Three Kings, Summer of Sam, The Insider, Toy Story 2 and especially Eyes Wide Shut taken in within an 8 or 9 month period forever altered my understanding of what filmmaking was, what it could be, and what I wanted in my cinema. At the time I thought I was going to film school at some point in my life, and these were the types of films I wanted to be making. Late on, I would continue to catch up with The Straight Story, All About My Mother, The End of the Affair, and Topsy-Turvy and the year would only continue to grow exponentially in my estimation.

I have to admit that I still have not seen The Green Mile, although I don't feel very guilty about that.

John Irving is my favorite novelist, and I have devoured everything he has written. The Cider House Rules is one of his grandest achievements, but the film can't stand up to it.

The Insider was a film that my friends and I really loved when it came out, but in my memory it hasn't stuck too well. I should probably revisit it soon, but my general disinterest in Michael Mann doesn't make me think it will move up too much in my estimation.

Like Mister Tee, I went into The Sixth Sense already knowing the ending, but the film is almost more powerful when you know what is going on and can see what Shyamalan is doing to you. I won't vote for it here, but it probably deserves a place on this list if only for being an intelligent, entertaining blockbuster.

At the time, American Beauty was my favorite film of the year. Over the years it has slipped slightly in my estimation, as I grow older and the digs the screenplay takes seem less novel and more slight. It is still a very funny, scathing film, though, with a lot of great performances and if it is no longer at the top of my list, I have no qualms voting for it here.

I won't vote for Mendes, though, because I get the chance to honor Spike Jonze, whose wild vision burst on the scene and whose film is just as sharp, bizarre, funny and original 15 years later. If given the option, I would love the opportunity to cite Lynch, Kubrick or Almodovar instead, but Jonze is a great choice to represent the year.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Okri » Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:32 pm

I was 15 the summer of 1999 and I desperately wanted to see Eyes Wide Shut. I wasn't allowed to go see any movies by myself, though, because the last movie my mother and I saw together was A Clockwork Orange (the local college was playing it) and she was so horrified that I wanted to see it that I simply wasn't allowed to go to the theatre (it was supposed to be for a year, but I got out of it after three months). Anyway, I was visiting my uncle in Washington, and I was aware he knew enough about the film to forbid me (or at least check with my mom first) so I asked my other uncle, who I knew wouldn't know anything about it. The I'm-a-teenage-asshole caveat was that he was a newly arrived immigrant from East Africa who didn't speak a lot of English. When the movie was over he asked my not to tell my mom he had taken me to see this film (and he was clearly VERY confused as to why I would want to see it).

Like BJ, 1999 was a pretty formative year cinephile wise. It wasn't my first oscar season (that was the 1997 film year, though I watched the 1996 oscars). Even in (or maybe especially in?) retrospect it felt like there was just a surfeit of great filmmaking that was innovative, unique and very good. Of course, AMPAS didn’t care. It’s more annoying in 1999 than in 1995, though I’m not sure I could articulate why. Mister Tee commented on what From Here to Eternity was for him; I’d just say that 1999 was that for me.

What’s more annoying is that they could’ve been annoying traditionalists if they wanted and STILL nominated a bunch of great films. Fun game: go to the writing categories. Subtract the best picture nominees. We have Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Election, Topsy-Turvy and Being John Malkovich. Raise your hand if that’s a better line-up? I much prefer it, anyway.

The fate of The Talented Mr. Ripley leaves me the most disappointed, truthfully. It’s beautifully film, cracklingly well written and just across-the-board superb. So many directors that win their first time at bat never seem to return to prominence again, regardless of their future output. Anyway, I genuinely think Minghella had another masterpiece with Ripley and find it’s snubbing the most disappointing.

I don’t hate The Green Mile. It’s a lumbering bore, yes; mostly poorly acted (though I enjoyed Barry Pepper), written, and directed. Actually, maybe I do hate it. Check that. I like The Cider House Rules is about the same as well – I don’t even think Caine’s all that good in it and found is eventual victory to be a disappointment.

The Insider is an overblown, overlong, histrionic mess of a film that’s worthwhile thanks to a stellar performance from Crowe and a solid narrative arc.

The Sixth Sense works well enough once you know the twist. The performances are really quite good – the scenes Osment and Collette shares are just lovely (yes, their reconciliation had me in tears) and as a portrait of a broken/challenged family, it’s quite beautiful (indeed, any scenes that are sad work much more effectively than the thriller moments).

There’s nothing like seeing a bad film that makes you respect a good one more. And on that note, seeing what Charlie Kauffman did with his own screenplay in the execrable Synecdoche, New York gave me more respect for what Spike Jonze did do in Being John Malkovich (not that anyone could’ve filmed the later screenplay successfully. But they might’ve removed Kauffman’s head from his ass, which would be an achievement). But there’s something about the deadpan realism that Jonze brings here that I found absolutely delightful. His willingness to just toss certain things off (the puppet!!!) provides much of the humour, and he nails the twisty tone. I’d be tempted to give him best director....

...were it not for Sam Mendes. Mendes really does make American Beauty seem a lot more trenchant than it actually was. Not only was the ensemble across the board terrific, he gets a stellar behind-the-scenes crew – starting with the amazing Conrad Hall and burnished with the terrific Thomas Newman to add weight and force. I doubt I’d love it as much today as I did then and I’d probably go for any of the five other screenplays for best picture, but barring that choice a Mendes/American Beauty straight ticket it is.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Heksagon » Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:32 am

This is a strange year, as it's completely missing the historical epics and the fancy costume films that the Academy loved so much during the 90s.

Instead, there's a family drama, which is kind of reminiscient of the early 80s, and not one, but two suspense films, and the two historical films which are nominated, are relatively low-budget and do not deal with upper class drama or civil right issues, and only of them is set on backdrop of a war, and even that is a relatively minor reference. I don't count The Green Mile as a civil rights film, because... really, the "Magic Negro" stuff just doesn't count.

In terms of quality, it's a drop on the previous years. American Beauty and The Insider are good films, but the remaining three are a mixed bunch. None of them is bad, and all have qualities that make them interesting, but somehow, they are all left wanting.

I haven't usually commented on those films that I enjoy, but which the Academy didn't nominate, because there's a lot discuss there, and Shouldabeen topics are really for that reason, and I'll get there at some point (I hope), but this is one of those years when there were a lot of better films in the running, and the Academy just went past them.

The Sixth Sense feels too much like a one-trick pony these days, even if it is an effective film when watched for the first time (very unfortunate that Shyamalan's career has basically become a joke since then); The Green Mile just has too many scenes that don't contribute and the story is interesting in the beginning but ultimately disappointing; The Cider House Rules is a decent professional film, but it feels too much like a straight novel adaptation where the director didn't really know or care what he was adapting.

My choice is between American Beauty and The Insider, and it's a difficult choice as they are very different type of movies. In the end, I chose to go with The Insider.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:48 pm

This new two-a-week regimen is killing me; it was tough enough keeping up before. I was especially daunted by the idea of doing justice to such a bountiful year as 1999 on a rushed schedule. Now that I get to it, however, I realize that a whole lot of us (Eric as always an exception) are ending up saying many of the same things, highlighting the same movies.

To put it succinctly: 1999 – like 1962 and 1969 – saw an impressive number of inventive, terrifically entertaining, absolutely of-the-moment films. And, as in those two earlier years, the Academy wasted spots instead on third-rate retro crud that had no business being near any best picture ballot. It was bad enough in the 50s when such stuff made the ballot; it’s worse here when you can easily cite the well-reviewed, popular alternatives whose spots were stolen.

Tops for me among the missing was The Talented Mr. Ripley, which a number of us here saw as a genuine best picture threat until it was left off by the DGA. Even then, it seemed impossible Minghella – a popular winner just three years earlier – could be left off the directing ballot in favor of Hallstrom. (Ths film, by the way, is the one exception I can think of to my “Don’t give me no remakes” rule – though I’d very much enjoyed Purple Noon, whose storyline was basically the same, I thought Minghella made something genuinely fresh out of Highsmith’s material, justifying the redo)

I’d also have heavily advocated for Three Kings – still my favorite DOR movie, and one for which I’d have named him the year’s best director. After that, it’s many of the films other have been citing: All About My Mother, Magnolia, Election, The End of the Affair, Fight Club, Malkovich for picture as well as director. Oh, and Boys Don’t Cry: I found it exceedingly odd that, even with the substantial praise for Swank and Sevigny’s performances, there wasn’t a hint of interest in honoring the film for directing or writing.

To the grisly actual nominees: I remember watching Entertainment Tonight the night they reported on the nominations; they showed Michael (RIP) Clarke Duncan watching the reading of the nominees. When Green Mile was read out as a best picture candidate, he exulted “They can never take that away!” – a sentence I’d have spoken in a far more funeral tone. I’ll always believe that Green Mile got its nomination because it had been so spoken of for so long as a potential best film that the campaign took on a life independent of the tepidly reviewed film. Bummer nomination.

The Cider House Rules, the other dreary nominee, offered proof that Harvey Weinstein got Oscar nominations even in years when he had no viable candidates. Cider House isn’t a terrible movie or anything – though it’s somewhat puny next to Irving’s sprawling novel, it’s got a number of decent touches. It just pales in the context of the stronger films it kept from the list.

The Sixth Sense at least was a more typical Academy candidate: the out-of-nowhere sleeper that does staggering box office has quite frequently secured a spot on the best picture list. It’s hard for me to evaluate the film objectively, since, thanks to Roger Ebert and Elvis Mitchell, I was more or less onto the secret as soon as the movie began. It wasn’t uninteresting watching the movie even with that knowledge – I could see how cleverly Shyamalan was staging his scenes to keep the audience unaware. And the story even beyond the big reveal was intriguing/touching enough – thanks largely to Osment, who’s wonderful. But, of course, for most people what made the film memorable was that big twist, and, since I couldn’t partake of it, my enjoyment level was substantially lower. The film wouldn’t make my top ten of the year, let alone five, or one.

I found it odd that The Insider achieved such acclaim -- notably winning best film from the LA Film Critics, but also high praise from people I know. I perfectly well liked the film – it’d make my ten best. But in a field where so many entries were so boundary-bursting, it surprised me that a basically traditional, even if very well-made film would be anyone’s top choice. The film is certainly gripping, and it features the one performance of Russell Crowe’s career I’d call truly excellent. It, by default, ends up my second choice on the best film ballot. But give me Malkovich/Ripley/Three Kings/Boys Don’t Cry over it in a heartbeat.

Being John Malkovich was easily the most inventive of even this sterling pack of films. Charlie Kaufman’s mind works like no other, and his film starts from a wild premise and just goes higher and higher from there (though I have to admit the final sections didn’t quite live up to my by-then soaring hopes). Spike Jonze executed the tale perfectly – catching all the comic possibilities, making the absurdities play believably. I do think that, in the end, the film isn’t really about very much, beyond its own wild creativity – I don’t see it as showing much insight into the overall human condition. That’s enough to keep me from judging it the year’s best film (or Jonze best director). But it’s one of the movies that made 1999 the pleasure it was.

I know a lot of people, like Eric, whose despise American Beauty, and I’ve never quite understood why. Even at the time I didn’t think of it as anything ground-breaking in subject matter – the idea of suburbia concealing dirty secrets was standard thinking from Peyton Place on. What I enjoyed about the film was the wonderful array of characters – especially Spacey’s Lester Burnham, and the kids – and the overall sardonic view. I think Spacey gives the performance of his career – there’s his patented snark, yes, but also great humor, and unexpected tenderness in his final scene with Mena Suvari. Sam Mendes does a wonderful job shooting the film, but I think Alan Ball’s screenplay is much underrated (here and elsewhere) – I find it very funny, but also filled with off-center grace notes.

So, like in ’62 and ’69, I think, while the Academy botched the nominations, they came through in the end and picked the best of the bunch in honoring the film and Mendes. My vote agrees with theirs.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby ksrymy » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:50 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
ksrymy wrote:
Eric wrote:01. Outer Space

I enjoy reading your lists the most, Eric, but I cannot, for the life of me, find anything about your #1 movie online. Can you explain?


I believe he is referring to this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219964/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Is this is, Eric?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTarJ0Op7W8
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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:30 pm

ksrymy wrote:
Eric wrote:01. Outer Space

I enjoy reading your lists the most, Eric, but I cannot, for the life of me, find anything about your #1 movie online. Can you explain?


I believe he is referring to this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219964/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby ksrymy » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:02 pm

Eric wrote:01. Outer Space
02. Eyes Wide Shut
03. The Wind Will Carry Us
04. Beau Travail
05. American Movie
06. Election
07. Being John Malkovich
08. Fight Club
09. Pola X
10. Summer of Sam

I enjoy reading your lists the most, Eric, but I cannot, for the life of me, find anything about your #1 movie online. Can you explain?
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Cinemanolis » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:19 pm

Voted for Mendes and American Beauty

BEST PICTURE
1. American Beauty
2. The Talented Mr. Ripley
3. All About My Mother
4. The End of the Affair
5. Magnolia

BEST DIRECTOR
1. Anthony Minghella - The Talented Mr. Ripley
2. Sam Mendes – American Beauty
3. Pedro Almadovar – All About My Mother
4. Paul Thomas Anderson – Magnolia
5. David Fincher – Fight Club

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby mlrg » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:06 pm

In the absence of Magnolia and PT Anderson, voted for American Beauty and Sam Mendes

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Reza » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:55 pm

Voted for American Beauty and Sam Mendes.

My picks for 1999:

Best Picture
1. American Beauty
2. The Talented Mr Ripley
3. The End of the Affair
4. Being John Malkovich
5. The Straight Story

The 6th Spot: Magnolia

Best Director
1. Sam Mendes, American Beauty
2. Anthony Minghella, The Talented Mr Ripley
3. Neil Jordan, The End of the Affair
4. Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich
5. David Lynch, The Straight Story

The 6th Spot: P.T. Anderson, Magnolia

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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:04 am

We all probably have the year that keeps us coming back to this thing -- 1999 is mine, for several reasons, all of which amazingly coincided in the same year. First, it was the year I really started following the Oscars. When the fall movie previews started coming out, I paid close attention to which movies had awards buzz, and managed to see all of the Best Picture/Director nominees before even nominations morning, catching many of the nominees in the top categories before the big show. Second, it happened to be a truly amazing year for movies, perhaps the best of my lifetime, so not only was I suddenly being exposed to adult movies for the first time, but they happened to be a lot of really impressive ones. And third, there was that one movie that became very special to me, which really buoyed my enthusiasm all season long.

As for the films that missed in Best Picture, where do I start? Being John Malkovich, All About My Mother, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia, Boys Don't Cry, The Straight Story, Toy Story 2, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Election all struck me as 100% Best Picture worthy. But there were additional movies which, even if I didn't love them as much, I still found highly memorable -- The End of the Affair, Fight Club, Topsy-Turvy, Three Kings, Princess Mononoke, Run Lola Run, Bringing Out the Dead, Mr. Death.

Given so many wonderful options, it's to the Academy's great embarrassment that they went with The Green Mile and The Cider House Rules instead. The nomination for Frank Darabont's movie caught me really off guard -- although it had been widely talked about as a frontrunner to WIN early in the season, most felt those lousy reviews pretty much torpedoed its chances. And yet, there it was on nomination morning instead of plenty of movies that seemed to have a lot more enthusiasm for them. I think the movie is pretty troubling -- a story about a mystical black man who shows up to improve the lives of the white people around him, and who actually WANTS TO DIE to be spared the suffering of the world isn't exactly the anti-racist piece the filmmakers seem to think they made. It was basically from the Mississippi Burning school of racial dramas, and it's just so unfathomably LONG. I think it's a disgraceful nominee.

The Cider House Rules was a bit better, simply because it did have some moments of tenderness that at least felt genuine, set to Rachel Portman's lovely score. But for me, it's one of the key examples of a movie about a significant subject that doesn't actually have that much to say about said subject. For a drama in which abortion plays such a major role, I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to take away from the movie thematically. That abortion exists? And all kinds of other big issues reared their heads too -- rape! incest! -- but by and large the movie sidesteps actually making any points about these topics by focusing more often on cute orphans. I haven't read John Irving's novel, and I understand it's quite a bit harsher. But the movie and its nominations struck me as mostly a triumph of Harvey Weinstein convincing people this was a film on SERIOUS subjects, and therefore it was an important movie. Lasse Hallström's nomination caught me even more offguard -- I honestly hadn't even considered him a possibility until his name was read. By this point, he had basically been enveloped in Miramax-land, and I guess the best you can say is that we're lucky he didn't get TWO directing spots in a row for such lightweight blandness.

I think the other four candidates are all significant enough movies that I don't object to their nominations, even if I wouldn't have endorsed all of them. The Insider is quite a strong effort -- powerfully acted by Crowe, Pacino, and Plummer, excitingly photographed and cut, and with a sprawling but consistently engaging real-life story. There's a scene early in the movie that I like a lot, when Crowe first realizes his house is being watched -- every time I've seen the movie, I've felt completely tense during this scene, and it's not really because on paper, it's such a nail-biter. But the way Michael Mann films it -- with haunting blues in the cinematography, jazzy edits, and an unsettling sound mix -- makes it FEEL more unsettling than it might have in the hands of a lesser director. Throughout the movie, Mann makes consistently surprising and exciting directorial choices that elevate already strong material. But, though I like the movie a lot, I wouldn't say I'm wildly enthusiastic either; Damien called The Insider a very well-made movie about nothing, and though I don't think the movie is about "nothing," I also don't think it resonates as broadly as some of the movies that reached me more this year. It's mostly a good movie about THIS whistleblower in THIS situation. So, I'm fine with its nominations, and it's nice that a director as clearly worthy as Mann got this recognition, but my votes go elsewhere.

In the summer of 1999, I was completely obsessed with The Sixth Sense. For starters, I thought it was the scariest thing I had ever seen. Characters like the girl vomiting in front of Haley Joel Osment, or the kid with the back of his brain blown off walking by, absolutely petrified me, not simply because they were ghosts, but because they were ghosts of children who had experienced horrific things while living, and so the terror felt far more real. And then there was that twist, which absolutely floored me at the time. I couldn't wait to see the movie again to see how all of the pieces fit, and I thought the construction was practically ingenious.

I've seen the movie a number of times since then, and don't hold it in as high esteem -- it strikes me now more as a very clever commercial effort than a major piece of film art. But I still like the movie, and I think what elevates it above a very effective chiller is its genuinely touching thematic resonance. Ultimately, The Sixth Sense is a movie about people learning to cope with death, and M. Night Shyamalan uses the tale of a kid who sees ghosts to symbolize this. I can't think of too many horror movies that have a moment as emotionally powerful as the Osment/Collette "Do I make you proud?" scene. (And frankly, the mother/child bond throughout the film works pretty strongly as an effective character study in its own right.) It's amazing to think about The Sixth Sense now, given that Shyamalan's career has flamed out so catastrophically -- does everyone remember the magazine covers that declared him "the next Spielberg"? But I wouldn't want to downgrade the movie just because the guy revealed himself to be nothing more than a one-trick pony. The Sixth Sense is full of memorable visuals, effectively staged suspense sequences, and strong acting, no more so than from the kid who completely knocked a challenging role out of the park. Ironically, the fact that the movie became such a phenomenon likely ignited Shyamalan's ego to an extent that he was never really able to make something as fully successful as this ever again, but his breakthrough was a big deal for a reason, and I lament that he never really delivered on the promise of this one gem.

Being John Malkovich is my second favorite movie of the year, and in many other years, it would have been my first. I think it's flat-out wonderful. Charlie Kaufman's concept is beyond original, and yet as the movie goes on, it keeps finding surprising twists and turns that are both hysterical and oddly profound, about the nature of celebrity, identity, and human relationships. And though Kaufman rightfully earned much of the praise for the movie's success, one cannot discount the contribution of Spike Jonze either. From the imagination of the puppet sequences to the ingenious visualization of the 7 1/2th floor, from the "Malkovich! Malkovich!" sequence (still one of the funniest things I've ever experienced in a movie theater) to the monkey flashback, Jonze takes Kaufman's wild conceits and brings them to life in completely original, consistently humorous ways. And I think he gets career best performances from John Malkovich, Catherine Keener, and probably most impressively, Cameron Diaz. Jonze's work is so thrilling, I almost find it hard not to cast a vote for him this year.

But American Beauty is the movie that completely changed the way I view movies, and when I saw it that fall in 1999, it instantly became my favorite. I don't hold that opinion today -- in fact, the most recent time I watched the movie, I found it nearly impossible to be objective, I could still virtually quote the thing. So it's hard for me to even evaluate it now, it seems less like a movie and more like a historical event that happened to my life. I will say that, though the movie set off a rather nauseating trend of films and tv shows that aimed to expose the malaise beneath American suburbia (with Desperate Housewives serving as probably the nadir), Beauty felt joltingly fresh to me at the time, and I feel that it remains a very vital time capsule piece that reflects American life at the end of the Clinton era in very compelling ways. And I think it's telling that when Kevin Spacey won his Oscar, he thanked Sam Mendes for his screenplay, then quickly corrected himself, adding that it FELT like Mendes wrote it. This comment confirms something I've felt even while watching the movie: that Mendes took a script from Alan Ball that, admittedly, could have bordered on the cartoonish, while juggling an odd variety of tones along the comic/dramatic spectrum, and grounded its more satirical elements so that they remained just barely on the right side of reality. Mendes also seemed to smooth out the movie's disparate tones, and (along with Conrad Hall) gave the film a beautiful visual look that earned a rare Cinematography Oscar for a contemporary character drama. And those actors in such wonderful roles -- Spacey's gleefully sardonic Lester, Bening's meticulous and frustrated Carolyn, Cooper's abusive but tormented colonel, the trio of troubled teens played by Birch, Suvari, and Bentley, and even Janney's quiet housewife, who delivers so much backstory without saying a word -- further cement Mendes's triumph. I respect that many don't like the movie -- it's possible if I hadn't been thirteen the first time I saw it, I would have a different opinion. But I can't completely divorce myself from my teenage self on this one, and I have to go with my choices at the time: Beauty and Mendes.

Of course, the film's ultimate Oscar triumph -- which, along with Swank's Best Actress win, made for a hugely thrilling night for me -- led me to believe that MY favorite movies would ALWAYS be endorsed by the Academy. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

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Eric
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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby Eric » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:04 pm

Not much more to say other than that there may not be a year where more deserving contenders were passed over (or, more likely, not even considered in the first place) for a more irrelevant slate than what came to pass for the 1999 Oscars. There's only one even remotely decent film in the best picture line-up, and though I'd love to give Michael Mann a corresponding vote (in the absence of chances to do so in 2004 and 2006), Jonze had by far the most unique outlook among the nominees. That the Academy thought it prudent to give nods to Hallestrom, Mendes or frankly anyone over Kubrick is classic Academy Award myopia.

Were it not for Crash's victory, American Beauty would've been the most risible winner of my adult life.

01. Outer Space
02. Eyes Wide Shut
03. The Wind Will Carry Us
04. Beau Travail
05. American Movie
06. Election
07. Being John Malkovich
08. Fight Club
09. Pola X
10. Summer of Sam

ksrymy
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Re: Best Picture and Director 1999

Postby ksrymy » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:50 pm

I saw American Beauty at a very impressionable age, so it still remains one of my top ten favorite films ever.

Best Picture
1. American Beauty
2. The Talented Mr. Ripley
3. Magnolia
4. The Sixth Sense
5. Being John Malkovich

6. Election

Best Director
1. Sam Mendes, American Beauty
2. Anthony Minghella, The Talented Mr. Ripley
3. Paul Thomas Anderson, Magnolia
4. David Lynch, The Straight Story
5. Woody Allen, Sweet and Lowdown

6. Alexander Payne, Election
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald


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