Monday, September 22, 2003

Placing bets early 

I keep hearing raves about the new movie "Lost in Translation," and I'm glad that it's making its way to Birmingham next weekend. Bill Murray has always been funny, but since seeing him in films like "Rushmore" and "Ed Wood," I've been further impressed that he can act.  This is not to say that comedians in general can't  act, but rather, that Murray is just so good.

Considering that "Lost in Translation" is one of the best-reviewed movies thus far this year (if not the  best-reviewed — such statistics are difficult to calculate), there is now a solid lineup of best-picture contenders for the Oscars.

  • American Splendor
  • Finding Nemo
  • Lost in Translation
  • Seabiscuit
  • The Return of the King

    Of course there are three months worth of movies yet to come, and some of the best Oscar fare often debuts in December, but I like this lineup.

    "Splendor" and "Translation" give the art affecionadoes something to croon over, while "Finding Nemo" and "Return of the King" (and even "Seabiscuit" to a lesser degree) are the blockbuster hits. It's evenly balanced.

    "Nemo" is universally adored. It's the highest-grossing movie of the year and critics lauded it with praise. It would be no surprise if it became the second animated feature ever to be nominated for best picture. "Seabiscuit" appears to be another shoe-in. Like boxing, the Hollywood community just loves horseracing. It's the patriotic choice en-lieu of a war movie. "Splendor" is another movie that all the critics seem to love, and the fact that comic books have exploded into popular culture over the past couple years gives it an additional edge. And while "Return of the King" won't open until December, so I have no idea what the critical or public reaction will be, I'm confident that it will follow its predecessors and work its way into the lineup.

    Of the movies on my list, "Splendor" and "Translation" have the greatest chance of being knocked off. They're just the two best-reviewed movies at the moment.  Next month, there could be another pair that the critics embrace. The other three movies, though, have solidified themselves with box office receipts, so their inclusion on the list is a safer bet.

    Only five more months to go before we find out just how far off base my list really is.