Volume 3, Number 4
On March 23, 1998, two distinct cinematic ages emerged in Hollywood, BT (Before Titanic) and AT (After Titanic). What will the AT film world be like? I think we can all guess. But for the next $200 million films coming out, I see lots of enormous icebergs floating ahead.
I will admit that, overall, I liked Titanic. I am glad I saw it on the big screen because the special effects were impressive. The love story was sweet, although not entirely convincing. What tugged at my heartstrings was the ship sinking, and not because of Jack and Rose (the leading lovers), but because eighty-four years ago, 1500 people died in the same terrifying manner. The writing, however, was elementary. For example, take the scene where Jack and Rose have made love for the first time:
Rose: You're trembling.
He'll be all right?! Isn't there any other possible line that could have been used there? I'm thinking three little words?
The costumes and sets were beautiful, and Cameron took very little poetic license with the true sequence of events, which was admirable. I'm not surprised Titanic was nominated for 14 Academies. It was a good film.
LA Confidential, however, was a great film.
The writing was intelligent, the acting honest. Everything about this film was exemplary. Everything, that is, but the box office receipts. And as the Oscars are basically Hollywood's self-congratulatory pat on the back, it's not surprising that LA Confidential only walked away with two awards (Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published, and Best Supporting Actress). But it sure is disappointing.
Film noir is a difficult style to work with, the disastrous Mulholland Falls being the prime example. Yet director Curtis Hanson establishes his style fluidly, and with the same charisma and spark as the novel by the same name. The plot is complicated, yet intelligible and keeps you rooting on the good guys, even if (as in real life) they are a little difficult to pick out at times. It stays true to the novel and the style, while developing its own voice and character. I give you my personal guarantee that in time, LA Confidential will be ranked up there with Chinatown, Raging Bull and Witness as a cinematic achievement overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But if the Oscars were based on objectivity and cinematic excellence, this is how it would have gone for 1997:
Best Costume : Kundun
Best Makeup : Kundun
Best Screenplay (Previously Published) : LA Confidential
Best Screenplay (Written Directly for the Screen) : As Good As It Gets
Best Song : This category would be eliminated.
Best Original Score : Jerry Goldsmith (LA Confidential)
Visual Effects : Titanic
Cinematography : LA Confidential
Art Direction : LA Confidential
Best Supporting Actor : Robin Williams
Best Supporting Actress : Kim Basinger
Best Actor : Any of these actors could have won and I would have agreed.
Best Actress : Judi Densch (Mrs. Brown)
Best Director : Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential)
Best Film : LA Confidential