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Oscarwatch: Day 4

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 28, 2005 5:59PM

Pretty handsome for a guy with no nads! Now that the Oscar nominations have been announced, Chicagoist plans on spending the weekend catching up on the films it’s missed so far this season. The Landmark (at Clark and Diversey) is making it real easy too; half of the films playing there are nominated for an Oscar: Being Julia, Hotel Rwanda, A Very Long Engagement, and Sideways. AMC River East has a bunch too: Being Julia; Hotel Rwanda; Closer; Phantom of the Opera; Kinsey and National Treasure (Best Phoned In Performance by Formerly Respected Actor). The Village on Clark even has an all-Oscar marquee with Kinsey, Finding Neverland, The Aviator, and Ray (which comes out on DVD this Tuesday if you’re agoraphobic).


Chicagoist isn’t the only place with Oscars on the brain though. The Trib has been chock full of Oscar-related articles this week. For instance, there was this editorial yesterday by Columbia College prof Ron Falzone regarding the alleged chickenshit tendencies of the Academy and their penchant for only nominating passing fancies and not recognizing great art when it’s released. We sat in on a film discussion group with Falzone once and he definitely knows his stuff but we think he’s a bit off-base here. Though he’s dead-on about Casablanca (you will never watch that film the same way if you start looking at it as a propaganda piece), to say that Gandhi portrays an “easily attained solution” understates things just a tad.

More musings and the Trib’s latest attempt to capture the youth zeitgeist after the jump.


While the movies he cites haven’t changed either the mechanics or the art of making movies, we’d argue that some of them did have a lasting cultural impact (“Rain Man-smart” is still the shorthand for anyone with otherworldly intelligence and Driving Miss Daisy catapulted Morgan Freeman out of TV movie-of-the-week land into A-list leading man territory). Still, as Rachel Abramowitz points out this morning, the success of some films on Oscar night stems from their ability to ride a feel-good crest of popularity with Academy voters while other works get slighted (Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction come immediately to mind here). But we live for Oscar surprises like the year Silence of the Lambs ran away with the night and provided the first and last time you’ll see a Best Picture winner featuring a scene where a guy “tucks it back.” Captain Stottlemeyer, we hardly knew ye!

Maybe the Oscars would have more impact if its youth contingent had more of a say. But until Haley Joel Osment and the Olsen Twins stage a voting coup, we’ll have the Tribune’s TAFFY awards (Teen Awards for Favorite Films of the Year) to tell us what the youth of America are watching in the multiplexes. With categories that resemble some unholy cross between the Oscars and the MTV Awards, the Trib is asking its youth readers aged 13-19 to vote on its favorite movies from this year and bribing them with prizes. But won’t the results be skewed because 13-16 year olds aren’t allowed to see R-rated movies? Because it’s not like teenagers are buying tickets for Chasing Liberty and then sneaking into Kill Bill, right? Nah…that would never happen.