Leading up to the 84th Annual Academy Awards the In The Bagg staff will take a look back at the past ten years of the awards and will give their opinions on whether the movies/winners held up, if they academy completely shat the bed, and how strong that particular year was for movies. Please note that the date in the title is for the year the movies were released, not the year the actual awards ceremony took place (so the Oscar Retrospective 2001 are for the awards that took place in 2002, or the 74th Academy Awards).
Chris: This was an incredibly weak year for the academy’s nominations, especially when two of the nominees were incredibly over-hyped at the time and are painful to watch now (I’m looking at you Mystic River and, especially, Lost in Translation). The win for Return of the King was well deserved because the previous two movies (Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers) had been nominated in each of the two years before, but neither won, and because the quality of the trilogy hinged on Return of the King wrapping up the story satisfactorily, which it definitely did (which was more of a crowning achievement because of the high quality of the first two Lord of the Rings movies). Sean Penn’s best actor award was deserved but he also most likely benefited from finally living up to the potential he showed early on in his career (and the I Am Sam “snub” from a few years prior); the subdued Bill Murray would have also been a very good choice. I have to admit I only saw Naomi Watts’s performance in 21 Grams and while it was good it wasn’t anything earth shattering, and the Academy loves when you ugly it up so Charlize Theron gets the nod. And while Return of the King deserved the award for adapted screenplay an honorable mention definitely goes out to Bráulio Mantovani for City of God (how it wasn’t even nominated for Best Foreign Language Movie is a travesty).
Will: By honoring the third film in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the Academy was correcting past ignorance of the adventure/fantasy genre (think “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Star Wars”) as well as congratulating Peter Jackson and Co. for producing 3 films at once and turning it into box office gold. Although the third film is quite long and by no means best picture worthy (the first film, admittedly, should have won over “A Beautiful Mind”) the pool for the year did not offer any significant challenge. Maybe “Mystic River”? Both Charlize Theron and Sean Penn did well enough to deserve their Oscars for their respective performances in “Monster” and “Mystic River.”
JoeDog: Definitely the best year for quality movies so far. LOTR was deserving of all the awards it received. But that’s to give absolutely no slight to Lost in Translation, Mystic River, The Last Samurai, American Splendor, Big Fish, Seabiscuit, and above all, City of God. Sean Penn won for a solid performance that was probably more of a much-loathed body-of-work award. My pick would have been Bill Murray’s understated and touching performance in Lost in Translation. Monster is one of the few serial killer flicks that I have not seen and I must rectify that in the near future.
Jake K: Lord of The Rings: Return of the King sweeps the awards meant for the series, which presumably puts an end to Peter Jackson’s manic depression and eating disorder (seriously, he’s lost a lot of weight). Finding Nemo wins the much deserved Best Animated defeating the equally fantastic Triplets of Belville.