Sunday, January 6, 2013

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1998

Full fledged riots have never broken out after the annual Academy Awards telecast, but in the virtual world of anonymous message boards, movie fans can rage about Oscar results 24/7.

Looking back on the results always seems to ruffle feathers with disbelief over the past winners, but one film tends to get more bashing than others.

With 7 wins out of its 13 total nominations, Shakespeare In Love was the talk of the town in 1998, but many now feel all the acclaim is far from warranted.

Apparently, a little story imagining Shakespeare with writers block wasn't for everybody.

Having seen this movie numerous times before and enjoying it, for some reason this time around I tend to be leaning more on the side of the curmudgeonly grumblers these days. Maybe I just wasn't in a romancey mood.

Film fans can't believe it beat out two intense war movies (Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line), but a lot of the hatred comes from what some call the worst Best Actress winner, Gwyneth Paltrow.

 (An example of how not to make a movie trailer. Bad)

Paltrow does a fine job being charismatic and  lovely while falling in love with Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), and rocking the hell out of a creepy beard and cross-dressing to play Romeo. However, there is really not much more to it, especially when you compare it to the other, more powerful nominee, Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth.

All I can say is that if the other Best Picture winners from the 90's prove anything it is that the Academy was really in the mood for love.

Even if I didn't like it as much as I had remembered, the magnificently elaborate period costumes, the solid romance between Fiennes and Paltrow, and the clever story still make this a movie worth watching.

Most have read at least one of Shakespeare's plays, and there is a lot known about his life, but he also remains quite mysterious. Shakespeare in Love melds the facts with creative propositions on how one man might have created many of the most memorable stories ever told.

The movie opens with Shakespeare promising a new play to two rival theaters, but struggling to write and searching for a muse. Once he spots Lady Viola (Paltrow) from a distance, he is lost forever. With his new inspiration, he begins to craft his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet.

What I do adore about the movie is that almost every scene is imaginatively crafted to be an allusion to that play, filled with nighttime love professions from balconies, duels, and mistaken identity. In this world Shakespeare didn't just write Romeo and Juliet, he actually lived it.

Any literature or history nerd will also be blown away as many scenes showcase a striking recreation of The Rose Theater as well as another theater during the final scene at the first performance of Romeo and Juliet. We all know how tragically the story ends, but it's sort of incredible to imagine what that first audience must have thought about the demise of Juliet and her Romeo.

No matter what people are going to be enraged when it comes to the Oscars, and  Shakespeare In Love definitely isn't the only Best Picture winner that is hotly debated. While it may not have been as intense as the other movies from that year, it does accomplish what beautiful looking costume romance dramas do best.

For all those interested in checking this out, it is currently streaming instantly on Netflix.

Up Next: Kevin Spacey and a floating plastic bag in American Beauty.

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