SKANDIES AVERAGE RATINGS FOR BEST PICTURE WINNERS, 1996–2008
(in descending order):
No Country for Old Men: 3.45
The Departed: 3.42
The English Patient: 3.27
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: 3.26
Shakespeare in Love: 3.21
Million Dollar Baby: 3.06
American Beauty: 2.97
A Beautiful Mind: 2.73
Slumdog Millionaire: 2.42
Benjamin Button 2.42
The Reader 2.27
Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire were exactly tied.
I would not have expected the Ron Howard film to get a better rating than the David Fincher film from this group of voters.
Regardless, I think it's interesting that it's garnered so much support despite being a low budget, no star movie largely in a foreign language. For it to win the Best Picture Oscar given that make up is pretty remarkable IMHO.
DISCLOSURE: I also liked the movie.
What did you like about it?
I have still yet to hear a convincing argument for why this is a good film, despite the outpouring of love.
It struck an interesting tone I thought in that it was simultaneously rather dark and cute. The end result was an entertaining portrait of life in the slums of Mumbai, if not a necessarily realistic one, (I think it was billed as a "fairy tale" or whatnot) an enjoyable one.
I watched the movie, was interested in what was happening, liked the characters, and didn't feel like shit afterward. That's enough for me to like a movie. Also I haven't seen lots of movies about life in India so it was a fairly fresh topic for me.
This discussion (of SLUMDOG's merits) reminds me of an old conversation on rec.arts.movies.current-films, in which somebody (don't remember who) wanted a "convincing argument" for why FORREST GUMP was a good film, or something like that.
The question is as pointless now as it was then. It's borne of ignorance. See the film, then explain why you thought it was good or not.
If you've already seen it and didn't like it, no argument will be convincing enough to make you change your mind about it. I mean really -- have you ever seen a film and disliked it, then changed your opinion when somebody argued with you about it?
And if you haven't seen it, then what's the point of the argument? To convince you to see it?
Disclosure: I haven't seen SLUMDOG yet.
I would also be really interested to find out good reasons for fawning over Slumdog Millionaire. I'm not looking to be converted into a fan (yes, that's impossible), but I'm still desperately curious to see the other side of the story. I mean - even though it's a lesser film even in my eyes - I sorta get the love for A Beautiful Mind. But the relentless hosannahs that Slumdog's getting just make no sense to me. Where do they come from?
In the meantime, that Skandies ranking of BP winners is generally solid (I quite like and/or woship the Top 4, I agree with the bottom 3) but I can't accept Titanic and Gladiator landing above Shakespeare in Love (is it too gay for a set of manly Nolan aficionados?) and American Beauty respectively. Much as I love American Beauty (I saw it first at the right age), I sorta get the hate - but to prefer Australian Gladiator - that I don't get at all.
I suppose by "convincing argument" I meant that I was looking for something that helped guide me toward what exactly about SLUMDOG sets it apart. I found nothing in the film that inspired new ideas or evoked great depth of feeling, and haven't even read anyone say that it did those things either, which is what great films ought to do. Even as entertainment, I thought it was pretty dull.
I feel that political and cultural alignment really guided the Oscar winners last night, rather than great filmmaking, and dearly hope that won't develop into a trend.
I actually consider Gladiator the best winner since Schindler's List, including the Coen and Scorsese films. It's the most awesomely shameless epic entertainment of my adult life, a glorious throwback (with possibly the finest pure movie-star performance of the modern era). But when I saw it a couple weeks before its release it literally never even occurred to me that it would be any kind of Oscar contender.
Those looking for a convincing argument in favor of Slumdog aren't going to find one. If you watch a lot of foreign movies about destitute societies throughout the world, it's not going to seem very fresh or realistic. If you one of the people who don't lots of movies like that, and that includes 99% of the movie going population and a large majority of Oscar voters, then the happy ending probably won't seem false, it'll be joyous Plus, most of these folks probably learned a bit about a country they view as little more than the other end of the line during a technical support call. There is no convincing argument to turn you from the former to the latter. There is no hidden subtext where Latika actually died halfway through the movie and all that happens after that is in Jamal's head. But if you're worried that Oscar rewarded politics over great filmmaking, well that's definitely nothing new.
Also, I don't really see what is unrealistic about the movie. If you're willing to accept that somehow every question he answers pertains to some aspect of his life, then it's not unrealistic that he might get the last question right. I mean he had a one in four chance right?
For my part, I am still trying to figure out how a poor, blind, Mumbai street urchin would know what a US $100 bill looks like.
Just wanted to let a few loyal Del Angelo readers know that Silent Light is playing in LA -- at LACMA -- on April 24 and 25.
Go for it.
1 - Would it be easy (operationally) for you, MdA, to search and publish the Skandies top-20 of all time, in all categories? Please?
2 - Do Sakndies winners (or nominees or the top-20) get to know they were honored? I think it could be used for marketing purposes (both of independent movies and of the AVB members).
3 - I'm ashamed to confess, but Silent Light made me sleep in a movie theater for the first time in my life, although I really liked its last 15 minutes or so. I think I must try it again someday...
Hamilton: All the Skandies Top 20s can be found either at Mike's web page or at Skandies.org depending on the year.
I do not know how many of the winners/nominees/top 20 in the Skandies are aware of this honor. At least one nominee is definitely aware: Skander Halim, who finished #4 in Best Screenplay for Pretty Persuasion. Skander is not only a member of the voting body, but he is also the person the awards were named after.
(The Pretty Persuasion screenplay was 4th on my own ballot that year, so I do think Skander was deserving of his nomination.)
The Pretty Persuasion nomination for Skander was for 2005, by the way.
Thanks Joshua for your concern.
But I didn't make myself (my poor english) clear: by "top-20 of all time" I meant "take all the ballots from 1995 (?) to 2008, put them all in the same list, as if they were all movies released in the same year, and let us know the top-20 in this big fat new list"...
Maybe its too big of a task, but maybe not, if the ballots are all recorded in the same spreadsheet.
I meant "take all the ballots from 1995 (?) to 2008, put them all in the same list, as if they were all movies released in the same year, and let us know the top-20 in this big fat new list
This would not be feasible since point tallies are not comparable across multiple years. A performance which netted 200 points in a weak year might have only pulled in 60 points in a strong year. The only year-to-year comparisons which make sense are the average ratings.
(This is also not feasible since I doubt Mike has all the old ballots anymore.)
The only way to do an overall top 20 list is to poll the voters for their top 20 across the past 15 years.
Decade poll is happening this year anyway. Highest-ranking films from 1995-1999 in the last decade poll were:
6th: Exotica (1995)
7th: Breaking the Waves (1996)
8th: The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
12th: Chung King Express (1996)
13th: In the Company of Men (1997)
14th: Safe (1995)
17th: Rushmore (1998)
18th: Dead Man (1996)
19th: The Ice Storm (1997)
'Silent Light' is also playing for a week, starting tomorrow (Feb. 27th) at the Sundance Kabuki theater in San Francisco. Can't wait to finally see it.
Hamilton: Another reason why an all-time list for each award category would not be meaningful is that there have not been the same number of voters every year in the poll.
On the other hand, an all-time list of the top 20 films by average rating would be at least somewhat meaningful -- subject to the fact that I believe that average ratings tended to be higher in the earlier years of the poll. I don't have all the average ratings available from all years but I believe that they can be located (beginning with 1996 -- ratings were not compiled for 1995).
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