Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oscars Reset -- 2004

It's been awhile, but we're finally back to put this little guy to good use. SOMEBODY has to!
If I was a betting man (we leave those types of things to Bill Simmons), I'd wager that you thought this little project was dead. Oh ye of little faith! It's only been since...wait...JULY?!?!? OK, so I guess I can see how you would misconstrue a 7+ month layoff -- to be fair, I have made it clear that I get bored with things rather easily. Nevertheless, this Oscars project is not dead! Look at it as more of a coma, and we've just woken up to find that our wives have remarried and our kids are in their 20's. Actually, now that I think about it, there's a pretty strong chance that our kids will be in their 20's by the time we finish this project. Let's not waste anymore time.

Recap: Casey and I are imagining ourselves as minor deities. We have gone back in time and have the authority to pick the Oscars, with hindsight in mind, the way they should have been picked. We started with 2000 (movie year, not Oscar show year) and we are working our way towards last year. In case you missed the previous four years, here are the links so you can catch up:


Opening Comments:

Jon: Hey, remember when we used to do these, Casey? I don’t know if you do, but we actually started in 2000 and managed to do four whole years worth of movies in approximately one year! And before you try to tell me that isn’t impressive…well, now that I think about it, it’s actually kinda pathetic, isn’t it? Would you buy it if I said the layoff was actually a marketing ploy to release these around the time of the 2012 Oscars?

Casey: Makes sense to me. I know one thing for sure – that layoff had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with you buying a home, my office in the midst of a massive cross-country relocation, and each of our families adding a child in 2011. It definitely wasn’t that!

Jon: It also had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me forgetting everything because my brain is aging as fast as Robin Williams in ‘Jack.’ And yes, I did just break out a ‘Jack’ reference. Bet you never thought you’d see that on an Oscars list!

Casey: Yeah, I guess you caught me a little off-guard with the ‘Jack’ reference – and it should be noted that certain death awaits you if you mention Robin Williams one more time – but after recently learning of Oscar nominations for Jonah Hill, Puss in Boots, and what seems like a dozen for Spielberg’s stupid horse movie, you could say that it takes a lot to shock me these days. Fortunately, it’s hard to find a bad apple in 2004’s Oscars. This was a year to remember. I can’t wait!

Jon’s Inner Thought: (A year to remember…….too bad I kept forgetting. I sure hope Casey doesn’t think of this!)

Best Comedy 

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy                                                    
Napoleon Dynamite                                                   
Shaun of the Dead                             
Team America: World Police
The Incredibles

Jon: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Casey: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Jon: My head seriously exploded when I went through the list of potential nominees. What a dominant year for comedies! It’s as if George Steinbrenner was running 2004 and decided, “I’m just going to buy up all the best players even though it will ensure that the majority of the league/decade will suck.” (If you think you notice some angry overtones…well, you might be on to something) So yeah, this year is clearly the ‘Yankees’ of the decade…if that makes any sense. And if 2004 is the Yankees, then Anchorman is definitely Derek Jeter. Look, it seems like I always get sucked into these types of comedies, with a funny cast, a good promo, and heavy billing, but they rarely turn into anything memorable. For the most part, the only funny moments are placed in the trailer and the rest of the movie falls flat. Anchorman, however, not only managed to live up to its incredibly funny cast and billing, it vastly exceeded the potential that everyone thought this type of comedy had. Even 7 years later, the movie is heavily quoted and is still funny no matter how many times you’ve seen. For me, it’s been 23 times…and that is absolutely NOT an exaggeration. I love it so much that I did an entire NFL Free Agency column on it! WHAMMY!!! (By the way, in case you were wondering, my favorite is Brian Fantana. Love, love, love him!)

Casey: What can I say about Anchorman that hasn’t already been said about it on the blog 100 times? This movie may very well have defined our freshman year in college more than anything else! Is that sad? Do I have any regrets? Do you think Baxter regretted eating that entire wheel of cheese? Of course not! Speaking of regrets though, unfortunately, viewers are frequently heard saying, “I immediately regret this decision!” when they watch any movie Will Ferrell made after this one.

Jon: Look, there are plenty of years ahead for which we can slander Will Ferrell’s career…let’s spend this time celebrating a monumental achievement in movie history (no exaggeration there!). You are 100% correct in saying that Anchorman defined our freshman year of college. We spent an entire semester introducing the movie to new people, watching it on a semi-nightly basis with our hall mates, quoting whole sections at a time, and getting angry at certain individuals for grossly misquoting some very important lines. Heck, I even went so far as to work quotes into nearly all of my papers…at least, those that I took the time to do. It was easily the most glorious rainbow ever! My only regret is that our comedy lives peaked so soon, and that we are now doomed to an extended period of deep seated anger and frustration that nothing will EVER live up to the impossibly high standard of Anchorman. Also falling in the regret category is that our children will eventually look down on us for constantly using Anchorman quotes, just as we look down on our parents for quoting “funny” movies from their time. Thankfully, there is always the chance that our children will form a family band and that we will tour the countryside… (AND YOU WON’T BE INVITED!!!). Quick question, what are your thoughts on a potential Anchorman sequel?

Casey: Oh man, I forgot about how infuriated we got when hall mates misquoted Anchorman! “It works 100% of the time, 40% of the time!” GRRRR!!! I’m already fuming again! As for a sequel, you know we simply have to go into this assuming the absolute worst. I am incredibly down on film these days, especially comedy. Then, throw in the part where I absolutely abhor sequels in general. I do have hope that there will be some useful comedy in a sequel, but two things: 1) They MUST, MUST bring back ALL FOUR guys. 2) Plot needs to be of minimal concern. Let me explain – often, when a sequel is made of a classic comedy, the writers place so much focus on the “circumstances” that lend to the sequel (does Ron Burgundy fail as a national anchor, so he has to take his job back in San Diego? Does Veronica break up with him, so he must be consoled by his old buddies?). So much attention is given to these details that the writers forget what made the first movie funny… hint, hint, it wasn’t the plot!!!!  It was randomness! So, if they actually manage to find a way to reunite ALL FOUR main characters, then let them randomly wander the town together without much regard as to why (i.e. suit shopping… “YAY!”), then MAYBE they have a chance.

Best Actor in a Comedy 

Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)                 
Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)                     
Tom Hanks (The Terminal)
Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead)
Paul Rudd (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

Jon: Channel 4 News Team (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)
Casey: Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

Casey: Shock of the century, I know, especially after what we just wrote above! As I said before, sadly, it would only be downhill from here for Mr. Farrell. Count that as one more reason I have to be concerned for an Anchorman sequel. “Bewitched was a bad choice!”

Jon: Believe me, I tried. I wanted to do this thing legit and pick one actor to receive the individual award, but, sadly, I succumbed to my inner John Madden. Remember back when ABC had Monday Night Football, and John Madden would put his player of the game on his stupid trailer? Remember how, about four weeks into the season, he would cop out and put two players on his trailer? Remember how this eventually ended in him putting up pictures of the entire Ravens defense as his “player of the game?” Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened here. How could I just pick Will Ferrell and leave out Brian Fantana and his “Sex Panther?” How could I possibly overlook Champ slyly saying “whammy” as he tries to cop a feel on Veronica Corningstone? And really, how could I not invite Brick to the party with the pants? It’s just not right. Thus, I call forth the Channel 4 News Team with my conch! NEWS TEAM, ASSEMBLEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

Casey: Okay, that was good. You know how I am about rules, but even I can’t argue with that. “I’m not even mad, that’s amazing!” Now, since we’re basically worshipping the entire cast of the movie, we might as well mention that not only was the news team amazing, but we had contributions from guys like Vince Vaughn, Fred Willard, Chris Parnell, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Fred Armisen… heck, even Danny Trejo made an appearance! Even Kathryn Hahn thinks she has a career now, just thanks to one word: “A-NY-THI-NG.” Here’s a question for you – do you think this was Jack Black’s finest work? I’ll take three seconds of him on a bridge over Nacho Libre any day!

Jon: I don’t think there’s any question about it! Jack Black’s career peaked the moment he punted Baxter off the bridge, and there really is no way for him to recapture that glory. Basically, he opted for milk on a hot day. And yes, it was a bad choice. By the way, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge Napoleon Dynamite. Clearly, our discussion has been dominated by Anchorman, and rightfully so, but it would be a shame to totally ignore how good Jon Heder was at pretty much being Jon Heder. That’s right; I’m saying that he did NO acting. None! They just followed him around with a camera and captured a day in his pathetic life. And it was hilarious! Now, Casey, you’re probably angry right now because you know exactly what I’m doing. I’ve intentionally waited until I have the very last comment on the comedy section so that I could praise Napoleon Dynamite without worry of your condescension. You must feel like you’re in a glass case of emotion! Look, I know that a lot of people ruined Napoleon Dynamite by overquoting and overpraising it. Fine, I get it. But there’s a lot of really good awkward humor there. In nearly any other year, it wins for Best Comedy. And hey, if Uncle Rico really can throw a football over them there mountains, then he should EASILY win for Best Actor in a Comedy. (There, I’m done.)

Best Supporting Actor

Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)                  
Alan Alda (The Aviator)                      
Jamie Foxx (Collateral)  
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland)

Actual Winner: Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)

Jon: Jamie Foxx (Collateral)
Casey: Jamie Foxx (Collateral)

Jon: This is an extremely tough choice for me, as I strongly feel both Morgan Freeman and Jamie Foxx are deserving winners. Unfortunately, I can’t cheat and combine them into one all-encompassing “Channel 4 News Team.” Trust me, I feel bad leaving my boy Morgan out in the cold, but Foxx’s performance really stood out to me. Some of that sentiment is because Collateral blew me away, and some it is because I was so shocked at how good Foxx was. I guess that’s not necessarily the most fair way to judge, but I can’t help but be impressed by a guy who carries the majority of a movie from the driver’s seat of a taxi.

Casey: I’m sure you’re terrified I will pick Thomas Haden Church for being in what I commonly refer to (only to annoy you!) as the greatest movie of all-time! But let’s be honest – his acting in Sideways wasn’t all that impressive. Mostly, the writing carried the humor for his role. As for Freeman, yeah, he did a good job, but I didn’t even think this was one of his best performances. I really don’t think anyone was expecting him to win this Oscar (Golden Globe went to Clive Owen, whom we refuse to even mention on this blog, and the Screen Actors Guild, usually the most accurate predictor of the Academy Awards, gave it to Foxx). I think all the voters just realized they were on the brink of doling out two Oscars to the SAME guy in one night, when Freeman managed to go through the entire 90’s (Driving Miss Daisy, Glory, Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, Amistad) without getting an Oscar! Yet another example of dumb, political decisions by the Academy. Look, Morgan Freeman, I’m sorry you’ve managed to go all these years without an Oscar. But when I look back at Deep Impact, Lucky Number Slevin, Evan Almighty, Wanted, and Red, I have a hard time feeling bad for you. Freeman was really good in Million Dollar Baby, but Jamie Foxx in Collateral definitely outperformed any of these other guys. End of story.

Jon: Did a vagrant poop in your car before work this morning? Just curious, because I am noting a hint of vindictiveness. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – truth is, I was just scared to say it myself since I feel certain Morgan Freeman reads my blog religiously. But yeah, Jamie Foxx definitely outdueled Morgan Freeman in every sense. Since we seem to have gotten to the bottom of this issue, I have another issue that I’d like to bring up. Now, I LOVE The Aviator as much as anyone (more on that later!). And I LOVE Alan Alda as much as any person under the age of 40 can. But I’ve always been a bit curious as to how the guy got a nomination from the Academy when he couldn’t have had more than 15 minutes of screen time. I mean, it’s not as if he pulled an Anthony Hopkins in ‘Silence of the Lambs!’ (Note: He only received a nomination from us because of bias. We like him, we live Aviator.)

Casey: Speak for yourself, Jon. He was good in The Aviator, and I’d be willing to bet this is one of those roles where it doesn’t FEEL like he’s on the screen much, be he actually is more than you think. I think the reason it feels so short is that The Aviator is a pretty long movie (what Scorsese movie isn’t?), and he doesn’t even show up till well over halfway through the movie! But I am confident he plays a vital role in the last hour or so, and probably gets more like 20-30 minutes of screen time. I don’t know if anyone keeps stats on this stuff, but I wish it were available! (Me waiting for Jon to pop in “The Aviator” holding a stopwatch…)

Best Actress

Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)             
Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland)          
Cate Blanchett (The Aviator)
Audrey Tautou (A Very Long Engagement)
Laura Dern (We Don't Live Here Anymore)

Actual Winner: Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)

Jon: Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)
Casey: Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)

Casey: I can’t wait to hear Jon’s reasoning behind not picking the clear best actress performance of 2004! Look, I tried to find a way to prove the Academy wrong here and pick Cate Blanchett. After all, her Katherine Hepburn impression was DEAD ON! However, Blanchett is the very reason they have an Oscar for lead acting and one for supporting – the Hepburn role was in no way integral to the movie, whereas Hilary Swank WAS the movie. Swank earned her Oscar by delivering a phenomenal performance in a great film. I DARE you to disagree, Jon!

Jon: Sorry to disappoint, but I actually went through the exact same thought process as you. Blanchett deserves all kinds of praise for her work in The Aviator, and I’m actually willing to give her even more credit than you, as I think her role was both extremely difficult and key to the film. But you’re right; she wasn’t a LEAD part. She was Lamar Odom…if that makes sense. And yeah, Hilary Swank dominated her role, though I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say she WAS the movie. But now I’m just mentioning petty semantics because it sucks when we agree on these things. By the way, I actually do have an argument for not giving Swank the award. Pretty sure you know what it is! (Hint: It involves Swank bearing a striking resemblance to the aforementioned Odom…aka, she is a man! So even though I picked Swank for real, I’m secretly picking Tautou because she’s hot. But don’t tell anyone I feel this way, OK?)

Casey: Jon, picking a Frenchwoman! This is certainly new territory for you, in more way than one! Also, it should be noted that Tautou, though she has definitely looked good at times, has probably sported more little-boy haircuts in her career than Halle Berry. And come on, do you really have to be so hard on Hilary?! Just because she’s played a man… and a boxer… okay, I don’t really know where I was going with that. You no likey P.S. I Love You?

Jon: P.S. No, I no likey…it smells like a turd covered in burnt hair.

Best Actor

Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)        
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator)            
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Christian Bale (The Machinist)

Actual Winner: Jamie Foxx (Ray)

Jon:Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator)
Casey: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator)

Jon: This is likely one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, Oscar misses of my lifetime. Now, before I continue, let me be upfront about three things; 1.) I did not particularly like Ray, 2.) I worship the ground Leo walks on, and 3.) I have a particularly strong affection for roles in which the actor must play a person with severe OCD. Because of this, I enter these comments knowing that I am being unfairly cruel to Jamie Foxx. But hey, since we already gave him the Oscar he actually deserved, why should I feel bad about taking away the one he didn’t? DiCaprio’s work in playing Howard Hughes, the real life ‘Most Interesting Man in the World,’ was nothing short of brilliant, and I’m not sure I can think of a performance that rivals it in the last decade or so. When you think about ‘The Aviator,’ you probably think about the various flying scenes, in which Hughes breaks the speed record, crashes the plane, etc. Those are all great scenes, but they’re really a small part of a film in which the vast majority of the time is spent focusing on Hughes as a person; his personality, his dreams, his fears, his problems. If DiCaprio doesn’t put the movie on his back Michael Jordan-style, then the whole thing falls flat. When I think of the film, I flash back to three scenes – Hughes and Hepburn in the night club, when his friend messes with his food; Hughes going crazy, locking himself in his personal theater, and lining up the bottles of urine; and Hughes repeating “way of the future” over and over at the end of the movie. Go watch those scenes, and then try to tell me Jamie Foxx deserves this Oscar!

Casey: Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints. Show me all the blueprints.

Jon: So, I guess you agree? (I’m Ron Burgundy?) Since, we’ve apparently come to an early agreement on this one, let me take a moment to mention two people. First, I’d like to say that Clint Eastwood would have been my runner-up. I know some people are turned off by his gruffness, misinterpreting it as being stiff, but I’ve always been a huge fan of his acting style. Part of that is my love for old Westerns, of which Eastwood is obviously a legend. But I think many of the same qualities that made him so good in Westerns has translated to movies like Million Dollar Baby. Also, I find grumpy old men to be extraordinarily humorous…and no, not you Walter Matthau! Finally, I am thrilled that we got to give Christian Bale some much deserved love for his work in The Machinist. The movie was far too small, and Bale not established enough, to catch the Academy’s eye. Looking back, it’s kind of a big miss. Honestly, anyone who gets down to approximately 17 pounds for a role MUST be given a nomination. Unless you’re Keira Knightley…then you just get nominated because you’re hot.

Casey: Yeah, I’m not so big on the gruff-old-man Eastwood thing. Sure, it did work, and just as it works for Westerns, I won’t argue with that. I’m just not ready to award something that “works” if it doesn’t seem that it requires the same level of talent/effort that many of these other actors demonstrate. I mean, Keanu Reeves “worked” perfectly for The Matrix, but I’m not going to go patting him on the back for it! Finally, my boy Paul Giamatti deserves some love for his complex role in Sideways. Say what you want about the movie – it’s not for everyone – but his delightfully self-loathing character made me laugh, cry, and genuinely feel for him, despite his tendency to bring it on himself. Wonderful job, Paul! Now, would you please, uh, go make another good movie, you know, one of these days? (And no, Fred Claus does not count!!)

Best Director

Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) 
Martin Scorsese (The Aviator)    
Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill: Vol. 2)
Mel Gibson (The Passion of the Christ)

Actual Winner: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)

Jon: Martin Scorsese (The Aviator)
Casey: Martin Scorsese (The Aviator)

Casey: Oh, how joyful a moment it was to see Marty FINALLY make that majestic march up to the proudest stage in Hollywood and hold that long-awaited, coveted trophy. Wait, what’s that? That wasn’t 2004? He still had to wait a couple more years?! Honestly, this was a tough decision for me, too, as Eastwood is an incredible director and Million Dollar Baby was nothing short of what we’ve come to expect of him. But at the end of the day I can’t overlook Scorsese’s masterpiece. The Aviator had all the wittiness of Goodfellas, the intensity of Casino, and the brilliant acting of Gangs of New York, but there was something more this time. Vision. Imagination. Relevance. The story of Howard Hughes is fascinating, and Scorsese brought it to life in the most thrilling possible way. This film could have been a huge flop with the wrong director. Howard Hughes was a big sicko! Who wants to see him go crazy and urinate into bottles in an editing room?! But instead, we saw a colorful film with flashes of fantasy, darkness, and fear weaved through it. The visuals were stunning. Marty didn’t settle for mediocre scenes – everything was big, flashy, and elegant – making Hughes’ twisted mind eerily real. Leo was awesome, but credit Scorsese equally for the ultimate effect his character had on the audience.

Jon: It certainly would have been a shame for Eastwood to walk away empty handed after the work he did on Million Dollar Baby, but it’s an even bigger shame for Marty to get snubbed. Again. Since there really isn’t much for me to say on the matter – both because I’m tired of agreeing with you and because you already said what needed to be said – I’d like to present an idea. Not sure if this has ever happened before, but I think Leo and Marty should sign exclusive contracts with each other (with a provision allowing Leo to work with Christopher Nolan, of course). They’ve hooked up four times now (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island) and it always turns into something special. They go together like Barry Bonds and steroids!

Casey: Whoa, whoa, wait a second… Barry Bonds used steroids? I thought he just accidentally took some supplements! I thought this was America! Anyway… yes, Leo and Marty do go together like the Chicago Bears and sacks. You know, back in the ‘Golden Age’ of cinema, actors actually were exclusively owned by the studios. I guess we know why we now have the Screen Actors Guild! Let’s just say I don’t think today’s actors would be quite willing to limit themselves in such a scenario. But if you ask me, Leo is actually the more gifted of the duo, so what if we worked up a flipped scenario where Marty is ONLY allowed to make movies with Leo in them? This would allow Leo to still form new relationships with the up-and-coming likes such as Nolan. Take a couple minutes to think about ‘Kundun’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and you’ll see that this is a good idea!

Jon: I’m unwilling to consider whether Leo is more gifted at his craft than Marty is at his – not because I necessarily think you’re wrong, but because I’m afraid my head might explode in the process. Let’s just move on from this before my employers have clean up bits of my brain splattered across the office, shall we? Good.

Best Picture

Million Dollar Baby
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Finding Neverland

Actual Winner: Million Dollar Baby

Jon: The Aviator
Casey: The Aviator

Jon: We just spent the last eight paragraphs making sweet, sweet love to The Aviator, so I’m not sure what else I can add. Honestly, I feel sad that it didn’t win the actual Oscar. I wasn’t following movies as heavily back when this happened, so I’d be curious to know why Million Dollar Baby won. My best guess would be because of the controversial nature of the themes, and because the Academy was actually having an affair with Clint Eastwood at this point. Casey, since you undoubtedly have more knowledge of this than I do, can you shed some light?

Casey: At the time, I was rather confused. However, I watched Million Dollar Baby a couple more times, and I have come to see just how great of a film it is. Maybe it’s not for everyone – it’s kind of slow and very heavy. But it really is a masterpiece. Yes, I’ve said a lot of good stuff about The Aviator up to this point, but I should also admit that I do not consider it a “flawless” movie. This subtle distinction may not matter or make much sense to some people, and it’s hard to describe, but there was a time when this was my primary concern when choosing best pictures. In short, I consider a film “flawless” when there is absolutely nothing I would change about it. That doesn’t mean I have to like it or that it has to be brilliant. It simply accomplishes exactly what the director set out to accomplish, perfectly. Million Dollar Baby is everything Eastwood intended it to be. There are things, even if only subtle things, that I could have done differently with The Aviator. I really could go either way here. I guess I’m going with The Aviator because it was more ‘epic’… and, well, you know, all the other stuff I’ve gushed about it already!

Jon: Don’t misunderstand me; I love Million Dollar Baby. The fact that it won an Oscar is not confusing to me in the slightest…the fact that it won over The Aviator? Very confusing. You mention the slowness of Million Dollar Baby, and that really is the biggest problem for me. The fact that I was totally ready for the movie to be done about three-quarters of the way through tells me that the pacing and storytelling were definitely off. If you think about it, I should probably be making that statement about The Aviator since it was a much bigger and more difficult story to tell. But yeah, both movies are definitely Best Picture worthy. Oh how I long for the good old days when there would be two, sometimes three, movies worth a good Best Picture debate. Also, when those movies had sound…

Casey: Yes, this was a story of two completely different types of movies. One was a slow-developing, heart-wrenching drama, the other a fast-paced biopic about a fascinating but psychotic millionaire. Both were deserving. I’m going to pretend not to notice that you just took a shot at a movie that you’ve never seen and that, from everything I’ve heard, read, and seen, demonstrates pretty much every aspect of great filmmaking.

Best Movie

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
National Treasure
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
The Incredibles

Jon: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Casey: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Casey: Look, Anchorman is not for everyone’s tastes…specifically, those who are more mature than the average middle-schooler! But I loved it, I’ve watched it over and over again and it never gets old, and, well, this was sort of a process of elimination for me as well. I’m sure National Treasure would be an easy pick for most people, but call me crazy, I never ‘got’ it. I love a good piece of adventure-comedy, but there’s something about Nicolas Cage playing a smart person and chasing down incredibly implausible conspiracy theories that rubs me the wrong way! Also, Christopher Plummer is old. Collateral was great, but I don’t really think of it as a “best movie”…I wouldn’t want to watch it repeatedly.

Jon: Casey, I noticed you forgot to mention a certain movie in your comments! Look, I know how you feel about Harry Potter, and I know that you just naturally despise joy and happiness, but this particular Harry Potter movie really stands out. It’s the first time in the series that Harry, Hermione, and Ron are seen as something other than goofy kids, and it marks a seismic shift in the overall story towards darker, more serious plot lines. Also, it was MASSIVELY popular, and remains so through TV viewings and DVD sales. Totally fits the profile of “Best Movie.” OK, Casey – the floor is now open for you to bash Harry Potter, as I know you wish to do.

Casey: No, I won’t waste my precious time bashing a series about a bunch of private-school brats who constantly get into trouble just to learn that they’ll be heroes if the ends justify the means (see what I did there?). Okay, I realize that this series is wildly popular, and I can understand why. Let’s just say it’s not for my tastes. I don’t find any of the characters to be at all compelling, and I feel like the story is often recycled with only minor details changed (e.g. who’s the new teacher gonna be this year, and what quirky character will we initially be suspicious about only to later find out we judged too quickly?). Sorry, millions of people whose hit-lists I just made! P.S. every time I see Hermione’s name all I can think of is the word “hormone”… then I notice her broad shoulders and thick eyebrows… and before you know it I’m dreaming up Ryan Braun-magnitude conspiracy theories again. Any chance she’s related to Danny Granger?

Jon: I’m not even going to dignify your horribly insensitive and judgmental comments. Just know that the next time we meet, I’m going to Avada Kedavra you repeatedly until you look exactly like Voldemort. Then we’ll see how “recycled” you think it is!!!
(By the way, Pre-Butch Cut Emma Watson=Hot.)

Closing Comments:

Casey: Hey, looking back on this year, I’m starting to feel kind of good about the Academy after all! Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby… they actually made some decent picks! Can we please stop here now so I don’t get too depressed? Looking ahead from here, I think this may have been the last respectable year the Academy will ever have. What follows from here on out is both extremely dangerous and horrifying. Is there any chance either of us will make it all the way through the rest of the decade without having an aneurism?

Jon: The short answer is, no. The long answer is, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO…and on into infinity. By the way, am I to make something of the fact that you immediately listed Hilary Swank after your “I’m starting to feel kind of good about the Academy…” statement? I’m probably just imagining things…you know how I let my mind go wild with visions of Harry Potter and what-not!

Casey: Good point. If the best they can do is Hilary Swank, while still snubbing Leo, then it is clear the chain of events was already set in motion. To say they ‘did well’ this year is like saying Matt Hasselbeck ‘played well’ last year – he didn’t gain nearly enough yards to compete with the elite, and barely threw more TDs than INTs… but hey, at least he proved he’s not dead yet like we all thought!


Well, that's a wrap for 2004! I'm sure it was worth the wait...and by that I mean I'm sure you're all very upset that we didn't abandon this project before it ever started. Anyways, 2005 is next...see you in 14 months!

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