Oscar Retrospective 2006

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:  Yay for Scorcese!  He wins best picture for The Departed and all is right with the world, kinda.  Little Miss Sunshine’s nomination seems like a rather unfunny joke (which resembles the movie to a T) but then of course we are in the  “Unfunny Indie Comedy Nominations Era”.  In fact this year’s winners seem to be following a familiar pattern, awarding long time nominees who have never won, even though their best work was probably done in a previous year.  This fits for Scorcese, Forest Whitaker and Alan Arkin (while I think Arkin is deserving I LOVE DJIMON, so I can’t be objective).  Helen Mirren gets the Capote treatment from the year before, winning for her impersonation in The Queen.  Also, what a terrible year for Animated Features (blech).  I’d also like to say that trying to watch Babel, in an English language movie theater (in Florence) BUT with Italian subtitles is no fun at all.  Sottotitoli, ti detesto!

Will:  The Academy chose this year as the year for Martin Scorsese, however “The Departed” is not nearly one of his best. Although the film was a solid choice in a weak year, “Babel” seems a much better pick. That film was a much more engaging and artistic version of “Crash” that could have won if “Crash” had not done so the year before. None of the nominees for Best Actor were that memorable, so Forest Whitaker holds up enough for “The Last King of Scotland” whereas Judi Dench’s portrayal of an obsessed coworker in “Notes on a Scandal” was much more powerful than the by-the-book and bland performance by Helen Mirren in “The Queen.”

JoeDog: Scorcese finally won his award. The Departed is good but won over a field that didn’t have any standouts. Each of the Best Picture nominees had a role to fill: the plucky indie (Little Miss Sunshine), the historical drama (The Queen), the war film (Letters from Iwo Jima), and the international foreign-made hit (Babel). Let me just take a minute to discuss how lame the Best Animated Film category is. Admittedly, I haven’t seen any of the nominees for the 2006 awards. But with the expansion of the Best Picture nominees to 10 films, hasn’t this category effectively been neutered? If an animated film is good enough, it will get a Best Picture nominee. If there aren’t any good flicks on a given year (and I’m sorry but I’m going to assume that for 2006) then we don’t have to deal with this charade?

Jake:  Martin Scorsese is given the long overdue praise for a very entertaining film, The Departed. It’s flashier than his most celebrated films but that’s no reason to discount the effort here. Forest Whitaker deserves his win for The Last King of Scotland, a career of great work, and – fellow nominee – Leo DiCaprio’s terrible accent in Blood Diamond. For some reason Mark Wahlberg is nominated for Best Supporting, but not to worry, he doesn’t win. Alan Arkin’s Oscar feels like a life achievement award and it’s fine with almost everyone. Djimon Hounsou was only shy of awesome.

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