Best Picture

by Max Carlson

Five great films were nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. Each was good in its ownway. Despite the violent snowstorms Minnesota had late in January, I was able to get to the movie theaters and see all five of these movies.

The Thin Red Line seems to explore the psychological side of war. It shows humans at their worst. Unlike Saving Private Ryan, there is less sympathy felt and more confusion. Still, it’s a great film. The Thin Red Line has a lot of big stars. Among them are Woody Harrelson, George Clooney, and many more. However, most of them pop into the film for a short cameo of about two minutes. I think the biggest star of the film is probably the cinematography. It is really well photographed. One thing I particularly liked was the photography of animals during battle scenes. You’re watching men shoot each other to bits and suddenly the scene cuts to a monkey in a tree. It’s a very well done film, but it didn’t quite have what it takes to win the award for Best Picture.

Life Is Beautiful is another WWII film. The story takes placein Italy. Actually, it’s an Italian film with English subtitles. I’m surprised that it was nominated for the Best Picture category as well as the Best Foreign Film category. Roberto Benigni does an extraordinary job. His form of physical comedy is worthy of Charlie Chaplin himself; the first-half hour of the film is hilarious. The film takes a dramatic turn when Benigni and his family are put in a concentration camp because they are Jews. He tries to disguise thehorror of the camp from his son by convincing him that it’s all just a big game. Life Is Beautiful still manages to keep the humor coming at a lighter pace, but you actually feel guilty for laughing since it’s more serious than funny. Overall, it’s agreat film, and I’m glad it got Best Foreign Film instead of Best Picture.

Roberto Benigni won two Oscars

Shakespeare In Love is much better than I thought it would be. It’s about how William Shakespeare falls in love with a pretty young girl named Viola De Lesseps, Gwynth Paltrow’s character, and is inspired to write Romeo and Juliet. Even though the film isn’t entirely accurate, it’s fun to watch. It may be a little too cute at times, but it’s pretty light and easy to take in. Gwynth Paltrow gives one of her best performances, as does Judi Dench, who does an incredible job as Queen Elizabeth. The film may be worth seeing just for her. I am surprised this won Best Picture. I really did expect Saving Private Ryan to win.

Saving Private Ryan is a knockout! Steven Spielberg has done it again. Like Schlinder’s List and Amistad, Saving Private Ryan accurately depicts the historical atmosphere. It doesn’t glamorize World War II like so many otherfilms. In some cases it’s fun to see an unrealistic and unbelievable film, but it doesn’t compare with Saving Private Ryan. Some of the movie is hard to watch. There is lots of killing and lots of blood, and it is extremely real. It’s especially hard to watch, knowing that things like that probably really happened. There have been few movies that have been able to tap into people’s emotions and really give them the time of day. I think Saving Private Ryan is one of them. The film is a masterpiece and I highly recommend it. Of the five films nominated, Saving Private Ryan would have been my choice for best picture.

Elizabeth is a surprisingly good movie. Its stunning cinematography and excellent cast make it a film worth seeing. I have never heard of Cate Blanchett or seen her in any movies, but she certainly did a wonderful job playing Queen Elizabeth I. This movie is probably going to be a good one to have in her repertoire. She’s cute, too. Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes, both of whom were in Shakespeare In Love, are also in this film. They certainly do their parts well. Unlike Shakespeare In Love, Elizabethis, at times, very sinister and dark. The beginning is certainly unpleasant (three Protestants are burned at the stake). There’s some pretty serious stuff in this movie, but, because of its wonderful cast, its fantastic cinematography, and the superb acting, I recommend it. It’s a shame that it was shunned at the Oscars along with The Thin Red Line.

Max Carlson studies music and cinema at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

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