21
Feb
15

Brik Hates the Academy Awards: 00s Edition

It’s no mystery that I hate the Academy Awards. Hollywood spends half the year binging on cocaine and hookers and the other half praising themselves for it. No other industry exerts so much energy and spends so much money on self-congratulatory masturbation than the film industry. These sick fucks have the cushiest, easiest jobs in the world, and they act like what they do is some kind of goddamn accomplishment. “LOL OH LOOK I JUST RECITED SOME LINES SOMEONE ELSE WROTE FOR ME AND SHED A TEAR AT THE SAME TIME! I’M A FUCKING ACTING GOD! QUICK SOMEBODY GIVE ME FIFTY AWARDS LOL!” In theory, I could get behind the awards if they actually awarded things that were deserving. You know, giving a Best Picture award to the best movie of the year. But the Academy rarely gives that award to the best movie of the year. Hell, they don’t even give it to the most popular movie of the year. Usually, they give it to whatever cool person produced the movie, or to the most obscure, independent, foreign piece of shit they can find. Typically, no one in the mainstream public will have even seen the winner. They’ve been pulling this shit for years. So, I decided to analyze the past years, offer my own nominees, and declare new winners. Best movie isn’t the one that makes you cry or makes you think. Best movie is the one that you want to revisit over and over again. A movie you watch once and never again isn’t good. It’s only good if you can’t help but watch it a million times. Rewatchability is the hallmark of something great.

This time around, I’ll be taking a look at the Best Picture winners from the 2000s.

2000
Winner: Gladiator
What else got nominated: Chocolat, Crouching Tigger Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic
My nominees: Gladiator, Timecode, Shanghai Noon, Cast Away, O Brother Where Art Thou
What should have won: I know it’s hard to believe, but in the last three decades, the Academy was right twice. Gladiator was the best movie of the year 2000. It’s chock full of war, decapitations, blood and guts, Russell Crowe brooding, Joaquin Phoenix brooding, and Romans speaking in English accents. The best part is when the villain dies, and realizes he’s dying as he dies slowly. It’s not one of those stupid moments where the hero chops off the villain’s head. No, here, the bad guys gets to reflect on how he lost, which is pretty great. Gladiator is endlessly rewatchable, which is what makes it the best movie of the year.
2001
Winner: A Beautiful Mind
What else got nominated: Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge
My nominees: Memento, A Knight’s Tale, Rush Hour 2, Zoolander, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Fellowship of the Ring
What should have won: There were a ton of great movies this year, and it wasn’t easy picking the best. Memento is a strong front-runner with a unique flow that no other movies have, but in all honesty, a comedy was this year’s best. Zoolander is an absolutely hilarious movie, perhaps more relevant now than ever before. With society continuing its decline to greater depth of vapid stupidity, the fictional Zoolander sometimes looks like a genius compared to the likes of Kim Kardashian or Kanye West. It’s endlessly quotable, and gets better every time. Even though I know it by heart, it never fails to make me laugh.
2002
Winner: Chicago
What else got nominated: Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist
My nominees: The Bourne Identity, 8 Mile, The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, Adaptation
What should have won: Being the second part of a trilogy is almost never a good thing. Usually, it’s a bridge from the setup of the first movie and the conclusion of the last. The Two Towers, however, manages to avoid most of those problems. It still has the fantastic fantasy setting which was perfect in the first film. It ups the ante by including a massive battle, which manages to be exciting and tense all at once. The characters continue their growth in natural ways. Viggo Mortensen, as always, is a total badass. Return of the King, while great, sort of went overboard on the battles, and cannot top the perfect Helm’s Deep battle here. The Lord of the Rings is a great trilogy, containing a very strong middle film, which is more than we can say for The Hobbit.
2003
Winner: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
What else got nominated: Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit
My nominees: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Last Samurai, The Return of the King, X2: X-Men United, School of Rock, Kill Bill vol. 1
What should have won: Obviously, the Academy gave Return of the King the best picture prize this year as a means of recognizing the entire trilogy. But since the trilogy already won last year, this year’s choice went to something different. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, is a breezy, effortless, fantastic adventure romp with fun characters and cool battles. It also managed to make pirates cool again. Jack Sparrow in a great leading character, twisting the status quo because he is also the comic relief. While the series has gotten increasingly worse over the years, this movie manages to be great fun every time you watch it.
2004
Winner: Million Dollar Baby
What else got nominated: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
My nominees: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Bourne Supremacy, Team America: World Police, The Aviator
What should have won: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the best of the entire Harry Potter film series. Director Alfonso Cuaron took the kid-centric films and sharpened them with a darker edge. The changes he made set the tone for the rest of the films to follow, and he definitely moved the series in the right direction. Author J.K. Rowling deserves a lot of credit, too, but Cuaron’s vision to make the series darker was absolutely the right move for the films. As the kids age, they become better actors, able to handle a more complex plot. Despite the darker edge, the series managed to maintain its level of wonder. Because this is the best film in the series, it wins this year, although The Aviator was probably the next best film. Leonardo DiCaprio was brilliant as the young, tortured Howard Hughes. That is a movie everyone should see, too.
2005
Winner: Crash
What else got nominated: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
My nominees: Kingdom of Heaven, Batman Begins, Hustle & Flow
What should have won: Holy shit, 2005 was an abysmal year for Hollywood! Pretty much everything they put out this year was total shit. Kingdom of Heaven was indeed a stellar Crusades movie, and we don’t have a lot of Crusades movies. Batman Begins was the beginning of a new Batman trilogy, and moved that series in the GRRR DARK AND GRITTY GRRR direction. It remains a favorite of mine. However, the movie of the year is, without a doubt, Hustle & Flow. The movie is about Terrence Howard’s pimp character trying to rise out of the ghetto through rapping. The movie unglamorizes the pimp lifestyle, but manages to somehow be serious, uplifting, depressing, fun, and funny. Howard knocks it out of the park as his performance as a small-time pimp. The raps are amazing, and one of them actually won an Academy Award. Check out my full review here.
2006
Winner: The Departed
What else got nominated: Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
My nominees: The Illusionist, The Wicker Man, The Departed, Borat, Casino Royale, Rocky Balboa, Children of Men
What should have won: The Wicker Man. Was there any doubt? Nicolas Cage’s most insane movie wins by default. There is a lot to learn from this film including the art of random dialogue, overacting, terrible directing, and nonsensical plotting. You can learn about the other lessons of The Wicker Man here. Just remember one thing: “OH NO, NOT THE BEES!”
2007
Winner: No Country for Old Men
What else got nominated: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
My nominees: Blades of Glory, Hot Fuzz, Eastern Promises, American Gangster, The Bourne Ultimatum
What should have won: Sort of how the Academy likes to do things, I gave this year’s award to the film series that deserved it, namely, the Jason Bourne series. The Bourne Ultimatum serves as the capstone to a perfect trilogy (shakey-cam aside). It changed the spy genre completely, setting things in fast-paced realism, which would be stolen by every spy movie since, including James Bond. Bourne manages to stay fresh and interesting throughout the course of all three films, and that is a testament to everyone involved. The action is hard-hitting, the plotting is sharp, and the acting is top-notch. My favorite of the series is the first film, The Bourne Identity, but they’re all great.
 
2008
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
What else got nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader
My nominees: Rambo, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Hamlet 2, Changeling, Gran Torino
What should have won: Iron Man kicked off the current glut of superhero movies that Hollywood is shitting at us every year. At the time, though, nobody expected that to happen. Iron Man was a second-tier superhero that nobody gave a shit about. Somehow, the filmmakers managed to elevate him to first-tier status. Robert Downey Jr. playing himself certainly helped. Iron Man was a lot of fun, it didn’t take itself too seriously, but wasn’t overtly campy, either. It may have been light on plot, but it was strong everywhere else. This was a fun, effortless film, that is a treat every time you watch it. Tony Stark may be a more narcissistic version of Bruce Wayne, but that doesn’t make him any less interesting to watch on screen. And once he finally puts on the full Iron Man suit and kicks ass, it’s impossible not to be entertained.
2009
What else got nominated: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
My nominees: Taken, State of Play, 500 Days of Summer, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ponyo, Inglourious Basterds, Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans, Avatar
What should have won: 2009 was a solid year for Hollywood. There were a lot of great movies. It was hard to pick a winner this year. But it is finally time to give Quentin Tarantino his due. Inglourious Basterds is a fantastic film, and most likely his masterpiece. Christoph Waltz steals the show as a charming Nazi who somehow ends up as the main character. This is also the film from which Michael F. Assbender was willed into existence. The stories, as usual in Tarantino’s work, intersect in various ways. The spaghetti western music perfectly accentuates the WWII setting. The revisionist history ending was an unexpected delight. Tarantino is at the height of his powers here. He commands amazing performances from his cast, and the pacing, the framing, and the building sense of tension are all perfect.
So there you have it, my decade in review. Wouldn’t you know it, the Academy got it wrong almost every single year. They should put me in charge of this stuff. That way you won’t have shit winning all the time. Movies that people have seen, movies that are actually good would win. I suppose that’s asking too much. Perhaps someday the Academy will pull their heads out of their asses. But I doubt it.
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