Oscar Retrospective 2008

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:  A fairly boring years for the nominees.  Not only were many of the movies snoozefests (Milk, that’s right I’m calling you out), but there were no real surprises in this year’s nominees.  Slumdog Millionaire was probably the most ambitious and the most entertaining, so I was fine with that win.  The Reader was almost deserving until the final act began, which was not near the quality of the previous acts.  Yet another award for an imitation of a somewhat famous historical figure for Sean Penn and his version of Harvey Milk.  Anytime you hook up with teenagers and get naked a few times while being German you deserve to win, so hurrah to Kate Winslet.  This was also a pretty good year for original screenplays with Milk, Wall-E, and the very good In Bruges being nominated.  I feel the academy made a critical error in not nominating Wall-E for best picture (not animated feature, but picture), as there was barely any dialogue for the first 45 minutes, yet still captivated audiences (a majority of which were made up of children) and instilled more real emotion through animated robots than most live-action movies could ever do.  Hey Doubt, thanks for playing.

Will:  What another terrible year in American film. Of the five nominees for Best Picture, Slumdog Millionaire, the eventual winner, still seems the most original and interesting. Although Sean Penn gave a very nice performance as Harvey Milk in Milk, Mickey Rourke poured his heart out and gave it his all in the very depressing The Wrestler. Kate Winslet did a fine enough job to earn her Oscar in The Reader.

JoeDog: Snoozefest. This is pretty much an exact reply of the awards from 2007. Slumdog‘s victory is the classic example of the Academy honoring a movie that would have been cutting edge a decade ago. Benjamin Button was oddly emotionless (except for the aging effects, which were terrifying). Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Reader had some great performances but were otherwise forgettable. A couple superlative documentaries in winner Man on Wire and foreign picture nom Waltz with Bashir (no doc nomination?)

Jake:  Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture and is almost immediately forgotten. The brilliant, Danny Boyle is finally shown some respect as one of the greatest working directors. Heath Ledger is posthumously awarded Best Supporting for his role as the Joker, beating Robert Downy Jr’s performance in Tropic Thunder for one of the strangest contests in Oscar history – the right man won. On a side note, Stephen Daldry’s The Reader was not slated for release until 2009. It was rushed through post production by one of it’s producers (‘cough’ cough’ Weintstein ‘cough’) to qualify for this year’s Oscars. To Daldry’s credit it’s a fairly solid picture. However, it’s easy to wonder “What could have been?” had it gotten the proper attention and release date. It would have been a serious contender for the following year.

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