As David mentioned earlier, there are so many wonderful discussions going on throughout the comments, it's difficult to decide where to take this Conversation next. While I want all of them to continue, I've also been thinking of something which I'd like my cohorts (and all of you) to weigh-in on. So let's move through Globes stuff, as the great Grambo would say, bullet-stizz, and then get on to something else.
- Liz gave me too much Globe fodder to chew on. I'm not ready to make any actual predictions – the one thing the Globes have going for them is they often manage to surprise. The most interesting awards might be those Motion Picture acting categories. Liz mentioned Imelda Staunton, and for my money, it shouldn't even be a contest. While not a big fan of Birth, I did love Nicole Kidman, but Staunton's performance in Vera Drake hit me harder than any other this year. The transformation we see her go through, and the nearly silent breakdown she experiences in the brilliant interrogation scene should be enough. Can it win her an Oscar? Who knows. But the fact that the HFPA nominated her means the members saw her, and if you've seen her, regardless of how you feel about the entire movie, I imagine the power of Staunton's performance touched you too.
- Jamie Foxx, meanwhile, managed to give what I think are two more of the best performances in two of the most overrated and disappointing films of the year. As Ben alluded to in the comments, Foxx's people probably made the choice of how to campaign for him. I believe the HFPA has the flexibility to nominate in the categories they see fit, but for the Oscars, it is actually up to the film's studio to determine to what category an actor will be submitted.
- I don't know if I'm in the minority here, but I was really dissatisfied with Team America: World Police. I found it dull; I thought most of the jokes fell flat; the gimmick got tired after about 20 minutes; and most disappointing to me, the songs were really subpar. Even "America, Fuck Yeah," didn't stick in my head all that long, and none of the others did at all. Since I consider the South Park movie to be a genius work of satire with brilliant and memorable songs I sang for weeks, I was looking for something a lot better.
- Liz also mentions that the TV nominations don't move her all that much. I'm a bit surprised because TV is one area where the Globes often go against conventional wisdom, and I think there are some great shows eligible to win the prize. I wholeheartedly agree with her about Oliver Platt and Huff, though. The show started slow, but it has grown on me each week. The one element that has never wavered, though, is the superbly manic portrayal of Huff's best friend by Platt. I'll be rooting for him too.
- In the series categories, I'm hoping "Drama" comes down to Deadwood versus Lost, and I really think the HBOer should get it. I wouldn't be surprised if the HFPA went with Nip/Tuck, though. They shocked everyone by giving the award to FX's other series, The Shield in 2003. In Deadwood's favor, I think the Globes like giving awards to critically praised shows and people snubbed by the Emmys, and I'm hoping Ian McShane benefits from that as well.
- "Comedy" is another story with only two shows that rightfully should receive this award: Arrested Development and Desperate Housewives. While my pick would be with the former, Liz's apt comments regarding the latter's dominance of the TV landscape as reflected by the three Best Actress nominees has got to make ABC's newcomer the favorite.
Moving beyond the Globes for a moment, I've noticed a lot of discussion regarding The Life Aquatic, I (Heart) Huckabees and Hero and House of Flying Daggers. I'm sure everyone came to all of these films with certain expectations. For me, The Life Aquatic was one of the most disappointing films I saw this year. So was Collateral, a movie that I really wanted to like even though I'm not generally a Michael Mann fan. But the damn thing just kept bitch-slapping me around, daring me to go along with its atrocious script until I couldn't take it anymore. While I love Wes Anderson, what was missing from The Life Aquatic was, ironically enough, any sense of life. (And just for the record, I refuse to dignify Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events or its director Brad Silberling with the dignity of being an integral part of this discussion.)
This all plays into the "expectations" argument a bit, but I wonder, what films did everyone find most disappointing in 2004? Did you completely dislike them, or did they just not live up to what your hopes for them? I remember not expecting much from The Terminal, but I was actually angry when I walked out because I couldn't believe that Spielberg would be so lazy to move ahead with a slapdash script containing tons of holes and virtually no logic. I was angry at him. I'm not angry at Anderson; just a bit sad that with all I liked about the movie, it still couldn't hold my interest enough to give a shit.
For those of you who just can't get on board with Huckabees, were you upset by the result because you anticipated something more straightforward and less esoteric from Russell? Were you expecting to love it? Do you find the film to simply reflect the director's pretensions?
I found that after seeing House of Flying Daggers, I had trouble deciding whether I liked it more or less than Hero, but my initial gut reaction told me I preferred Hero due to its more striking visuals, with those breathtaking vibrant colors at the mercy of Christopher Doyle's camera. While still wonderful, I found the look of Daggers less sumptuous. However, as I mentioned on my blog the other day, I was more interested in Daggers' love triangle, regardless of its simplicity, than Hero's Rashomon-like tale. The flaws of one are the strengths of the other.
So what does this all mean about the way we watch movies? Are you more disenchanted with a movie that doesn't fulfill its potential than one which never should have been very good to begin with?
One last thing before I take my leave, probably until sometime on Sunday: Back in the comments to Filmbrain's first post is a long discussion regarding auteurs. Britopia and Filmbrain both mention that films have been hurt by the desire of directors to write their own films, whereas so many of the greats from the early days never wrote their own scripts, or if they did, it was in collaboration with another writer.
I actually agree with their notion that too many writers want to direct while too many directors try to write, and sometimes the singular creative force can actually be detrimental. But what neither Britopia nor Filmbrain seem to take into account (unless I just missed it) is that this development has been in part a direct result of the changes in the business. In the Studio days, story departments would have dozens of writers under contract, churning out scripts which could then be selected by or assigned to directors under contract on the same lot. Directors weren't expected to write their own material, and people became directors by working as cameramen, assistant directors, etc.
That's just not the case anymore. These days, if you want to become a director, nobody is going to hand you the material to do so. Until you're a proven commodity, no major financier is going to sink millions into a production to allow you to direct a film, certainly not if the script comes from someone else and you have nothing else to show. These days, if you want to be a filmmaker, you either have to find a writing partner or be willing to create your own material. Otherwise, there's not really another way to even get in the door.
Alright, that's enough for me tonight. I believe each of us will be back once or twice throughout the weekend, but posting might be a bit lighter. Keep the comments going though.