on Oscar 2002
March 24, 2002 will go down in history as one of the most emotional nights every seen on television. Although there were long boring stretches, those of us who actually made it to the end were well rewarded. On the personal level, this was the first time we can ever remember being happy with every single award. In each case, with only one exception, the Oscar went to either our first or our second choice. (The exception was Jim
Broadbent, but we could hardly begrudge him since he gave
three notable supporting performances in 2001 -- in BRIDGET JONES’S
DIARY, IRIS & MOULIN
We thought Robert Altman would win the “lifetime achievement award” as Best Director but we were wrong; it went to our first choice Ron Howard. In the event, the “lifetime achievement award” went to Denzel Washington as Best Actor. Thus Denzel Washington walked the path laid down by Paul Newman, Al
Pacino, and all those actors wrongly passed over for their greatest roles, but rewarded later.
In tribute to the great Denzel Washington, we watched GLORY again last weekend. He won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1990 for
GLORY & what a performance it is! There is one scene in particular in which he holds a close-up with mesmerizing intensity. You will know it when you see it & once you see it, you will never forget it.
We have been fans of Washington’s since we first saw him as Dr. Philip Chandler in the television series ST. ELSEWHERE in the mid-80s. For the record, these are our favorite Denzel Washington films:
|The 'A' List
||The 'B' List
|COURAGE UNDER FIRE|
|DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS|
|MO’ BETTER BLUES|
(Please remember that we only rate things we’ve seen recently & we didn’t start
FILMS FOR TWO until 1999, so we’ll have to add many of these films to our database over time. We’ve seen all of these films & we know we liked them, we just don’t want to commit to the ratings & the details on the basis of memory alone.)
Digression on THE HURRICANE: If you’ve read our essay
The Case for A BEAUTIFUL MIND or our first
FAQ: Does the truth matter?, then you’ll know that our objections to THE
HURRICANE have nothing to do with how closely the film followed the “actual facts” of Rubin Carter’s life story. What we didn’t like was that the story reduced to “good guys & bad guys,” with little shading in between. Filmmakers can NEVER present all of the complexity, but they need to tell plausible stories or they lose us. In the case of THE
HURRICANE, the film only worked when Denzel Washington was on screen. None of the other
back stories about Dan Hedaya or those strange Canadians made any sense to us. (For the record, we nixed THE
INSIDER for very similar reasons.)
So we don’t think Denzel Washington was cheated when he didn’t win Best Actor for THE
HURRICANE. In that case, we think he starred in a flawed vehicle that failed to win a significant following among either critics or viewers. (On the other hand, Jan feels strongly that he was cheated when he wasn’t even nominated for
REMEMBER THE TITANS, a film & a performance that deserved more respect from the critics than it got.)
It is very difficult for even the most accomplished actors to transcend a flawed vehicle in the context of competition as intense as the five Oscar finalists. That’s why Halle Berry’s triumph in
MONSTER’S BALL is so extraordinary. In this case, Halle Berry walked the path laid down by Meryl Streep (who created a character with much more depth than the author of
SOPHIE’S CHOICE ever imagined). We thought the script of
MONSTER’S BALL was only OK, however, we thought the performances, especially Halle Berry’s performance, were excellent.
So, we both give our most heart-felt applause to both Halle Berry and Denzel Washington. We also send a high-five in the direction of Randy Newman, another one of our personal favorites -- noting, in particular, the soundtrack for
AVALON & the theme song for MEET THE PARENTS (“When You’re a Fool in Love”).
As for A BEAUTIFUL MIND, the evening’s big winner, well, suffice it to say we were both very pleased.
Finally, here are some wonderful photos from the Oscars: