LIFE WITHOUT OSCAR: 2005 and 2006

Posted by · 3:11 pm · January 5th, 2011

Catch up with the idea behind this series here.

We all remember Jack Nicholson’s raised eyebrows as he said the word, “Crash” at the end of the 2005 ceremony. What has to be, objectively, one of the biggest surprises of the last twenty years in the Best Picture category is, subjectively, one of the worst catastrophes the Academy has ever produced. “Crash” is a wretched film, but let’s focus on the positive. This was the first time a Best Picture winner was a film that premiered at festivals and was picked up for distribution.

Ang Lee became our first non-white Best Director winner, George Clooney became the first person to receive acting and directing nods in the same year for different films, no film won more than 3 Oscars for the first time in nearly sixty years and the Best Documentary winner grossed more than the Best Picture winner. No shortage of talking points then.

2006 was the year of Scorsese, finally winning the big prizes for “The Departed.” Biopics continued to reign in the acting categories, with Forest Whitaker joining last year’s Philip Seymour Hoffman in the category of non-traditional leading men walking away with Best Actor honors.

Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres were charged with hosting duties, both more famous in the TV realm and both serviceable MCs. Again it was up to Jack Black and Will Ferrell to bring the night’s best entertainment.

So what should you throw into your Netflix queue other than “Crash?”

2005 – “Me and You and Everyone We Know” (Miranda July)

I want to start by saying that I should hate everything about this movie. First of all, July’s reputation as a performance artist more than a filmmaker made me extremely trepidacious when stepping into the theater. The fact that it was a colorful Sundance pick-up commonly described as “quirky” gave it almost impossible odds to be anything other than awful. And yet, somehow, July hits all of the right notes and carves out a completely unique take on falling in love.

She wisely sticks close to home, portraying a performance artist in the film (possibly as a way to showcase some of her work) and populates the supporting cast with interesting characters and even more interesting actors. Potential Oscar nominee John Hawkes is not your typical love interest, but he shares a gentle chemistry with July that seems to be perpetually on the verge of boiling over into pure passion or contempt.

The real scene-stealers, though, have to be Brandon Ratcliff and Miles Thompson as his two young sons. One scene involving them on an internet chat room is an instant classic that had me absolutely beaming in the theater as I marveled at its humor, bravery and delicate execution. Who says scenes of people typing are boring? Extra bonus points to July for avoiding the deadliest of Hollywood hackery and letting these children be children, not miniature adults.

The warm cinematography by Chuy Chávez and precious electronic score by Michael Andrews both perfectly compliment July’s vision as does the crisp editing by Andrew Dickler and Charles Ireland. All three work in tandem to highlight moments, which is what July and this film are really about. Something as tiny as her character hopping into a car, noticing a sticker on the dashboard and saying, “cute” is as memorable as anything put out in 2005.

I still consider “quirky” a pejorative, but July proves that a genuine love and understanding for the characters and world you create, rather than standing back and laughing at them (I’m looking at you, “Napoleon Dynamite”), proves it can actually reflect something unique and inspired.

2006 – “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait” (Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno)

It’s about time some actual experimental cinema got recognized by this column, since it will never ever be recognized by the Academy. If you don’t know, this film is a conceptual experiment initially conceived as an art installation that saw directors Gordon and Parreno set up seventeen cameras around the Santiago Bernabéu stadium and captured an entire 90 minute soccer game between Real Madrid and Villarreal. The twist? Every single camera was trained solely on one player, Zinedine Zidane.

Soccer fans will immediately recognize the name as one of the greatest players to every kick a ball and the temptation may be to assume that the film plays as a 90 minute highlight reel for a major talent. Instead, it brilliantly contextualizes the role a single player has on such a team sport. This is a film about a man quietly doing his work. There’s no cutaways to any other player, there’s a few quotes from the man himself that serve as sporadic narration and there’s a fantastic score by Mogwai pulsating throughout. But that’s. About. It.

In an interview with LA Weekly promoting his film, “Offside,” director Jafar Panahi stopped the questions to ask one of his own. “Wait, do you even know what an offside is in soccer?” The interviewer confesses ignorance and states he never watches the sport. “You have no idea what you’re missing. Do you even know why movies are 90 minutes long?” Panahi asks. “Don’t tell me, it’s because soccer games are 90 minutes long!” Panahi laughs and says, “Of course!”

I can admit to being a soccer fanatic (there’s no other way to be when you are raised in Europe by Europeans) and find a lot of truth in what Panahi says, even if it is a bit tongue in cheek. You may need to have at least a passing interest in either soccer or experimental cinema to get much out of “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait,” but as a sports film, it challenges us to rethink the concept of what these people actually do. The circumstances may be radically different, but the stress and pressures of the workday are surprisingly universal.

Sit back, enjoy the stunning cinematography, listen to the gorgeous score and watch as Zidane, Gordon and Parreno turn a routine Sunday match into a hypnotic meditation on the work of a superstar.

Those are my picks. What do you guys think?

[Photo: IFC Films]
[Photo: Artificial Eye]




→ 46 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Life Without Oscar

46 responses so far

  • 1 1-05-2011 at 3:20 pm

    SC said...

    I’d have voted for “Brokeback” over “Crash”, but I’d have preferred “Munich” or “Good Night, and Good Luck” over either of them.

  • 2 1-05-2011 at 3:21 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Easy, for me:

    2005 – Red Eye or The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
    2006 – Casino Royale or The Painted Veil (criminally overlooked).

  • 3 1-05-2011 at 3:28 pm

    PalCinema said...

    2005: Mysterious Skin, Match Point, Murderball, Transamerica

    2006: The Pursuit of Happyness, Venus, The Last King of Scotland, The Fountain

    I know some of these films received an Oscar nomination or two, but all deserved more recognition than they got.

  • 4 1-05-2011 at 3:40 pm

    Andrej said...

    The Zidane movie sounds really interesting. Gonna try to catch it if I see it around.

  • 5 1-05-2011 at 3:47 pm

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    2005: Me and You and Everyone We Know (and King Kong and The New World deserved so much more recognition)

    2006: Shortbus

  • 6 1-05-2011 at 4:00 pm

    Keil Shults said...

    Is that John Hawkes I see?

    :-)

  • 7 1-05-2011 at 4:11 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Love the “Zidane” pick — such a mesmerising film, and I don’t even like football all that much.

    Obviously I co-sign your selection of “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” with “Saraband,” “Caché” (whether for the 2005 or 2006 Oscars) and “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” also on my ballot.

  • 8 1-05-2011 at 4:26 pm

    Keil Shults said...

    2005:

    The 40-Year-Old Virgin

    Runners-Up (alphabetical):

    Grizzly Man
    Jarhead
    Lords of Dogtown
    Me and You and Everyone We Know

    2006:

    Casino Royale
    The Devil and Daniel Johnston
    The Proposition

    Runners-Up:

    The Fountain
    Hard Candy (Ellen Page was probably better in this than Juno, but it’s been a long time since I saw it)
    A Scanner Darkly

    Three films that I really liked, but which might fall just short of deserving to be among the top 5 nominees in any given category:

    Brick
    Bubble
    The Descent

    Also: I still haven’t seen all of this, but from what I’ve seen and read, it will probably prove to be worthy of nominations in at least one category (Best Actress):

    Inland Empire

  • 9 1-05-2011 at 4:55 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Me and You and Everyone We Know = ick pedophilia propaganda

  • 10 1-05-2011 at 5:00 pm

    Andrew Rech said...

    2005. Kings and Queen.

    2006. Inland Empire. Out of all the David Lynch films that need repeated viewings, this might be the one that needs it most. Fantastic.

  • 11 1-05-2011 at 5:22 pm

    RJL said...

    2005: —
    2006: For Your Consideration / or / The Painted Veil

  • 12 1-05-2011 at 5:25 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    You guys are mentioning a lot of movies that I really hate.

  • 13 1-05-2011 at 5:55 pm

    ScottC said...

    For 2005 I’d go with 2046. Love it.

    I don’t have as clear a favorite for 2006. Probably Children of Men. Though maybe United 93? Though I remember liking Science of Sleep a lot, and I’ve probably watched Brick more than any other movie from that year. But it’s tough to live up to Children of Men, much less top it.

  • 14 1-05-2011 at 6:13 pm

    Rhett said...

    I remember hearing the 2006 nominations and being shocked that United 93 didn’t get a best picture nomination. Of course, I was 15 and only thought it would get in was because it was really good. I know better now.

    My picks:

    2005: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

    2006: nothing really, but damn, United 93 should have got more

  • 15 1-05-2011 at 6:52 pm

    Derek said...

    2005: The Wayward Cloud Dir: Tsai Ming-Liang
    By far the greatest porn/musical/ watermelon fucking metaphor of a film that i’ve ever seen. In doing so exploring the nihilistic dangers of wish fullfillment through compulsionary deeds of momentary bliss that fizzles into absolute despair.

    2006: Private Fears in Public Places Dir: Alain Resnais
    What can I say it’s Resnais. The new wave still has some wind in sail, long live nouvelle vague.

  • 16 1-05-2011 at 7:51 pm

    Patriotsfan said...

    For 2005 I would pick Everything Is Illuminated, which is one of the most underrated films ever in my opinion. I also love the song that plays at the end of the credits. Start Wearing Purple!

  • 17 1-05-2011 at 7:53 pm

    red_wine said...

    2046, Cache for 05. Love both.

    And Casino Royale for 2006. Love love love that movie.

  • 18 1-05-2011 at 7:59 pm

    Tom C said...

    2005: “Grizzly Man”

    2006: Either “The Painted Veil” or “Brick”

    Oh and “United 93″…worst Best Picture snub of the decade.

  • 19 1-05-2011 at 8:21 pm

    Joe7827 said...

    I’d defend “Crash” until the day I die. It’s a great movie, plain and simple.

    2005: “Rent”. I really liked the music (obviously, most of it wouldn’t have been nominated anyway), but the cast is wonderful, highlighted by Rosario Dawson and Idina Menzel.

    2006: please don’t hate me, but I still believe that Lady In The Water is one of the most poetically beautiful films I’ve ever seen. And it includes career-best work by Paul Giamatti. I would also go for Akeelah And The Bee or one of my all-time favorites, Facing The Giants.

    I think I’ve lost everyone by now. But at least Taylor Swift wasn’t in any of these movies!

  • 20 1-05-2011 at 8:27 pm

    jrmoviedude said...

    2005: Caché
    2006: Breaking and Entering

  • 21 1-05-2011 at 8:41 pm

    Aaron said...

    I hated Me and You and Everyone We Know, but Crash is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

    2005–Cache, King Kong, Match Point, The New World

    2006–I’m definitely more than okay with The Departed’s Best Picture Oscar, but Pan’s Labyrinth is my favorite film from that year.

  • 22 1-05-2011 at 8:42 pm

    James D. said...

    2005 would definitely be Grizzly Man. 2006 would be a little tougher, but I guess 12:08 East of Bucharest.

  • 23 1-05-2011 at 9:13 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    That was so shitty of the Academy to disqualify Grizzly Man for a stupid reason, and acknowledge its mistake when it was too late.

  • 24 1-05-2011 at 9:21 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Joe7827 – The only movie more wretched than Crash is Rent.

  • 25 1-05-2011 at 9:34 pm

    Speaking English said...

    2005: “Caché” all the way.

  • 26 1-05-2011 at 10:09 pm

    Lucky Bojangles said...

    I understand we’re writing blurbs here, but can someone please explain their reasoning for such vehement hatred/love for films. Why the Crash bash? Why the Kong love? If you can give a reason for your love…you might influence others and help ’em out when it comes to watching something new or rewatching something old.

    2005 – Three Times
    Flim is a visual medium. Dialogue, music…SOUND is an aid to the visuals. Three Times mostly takes a silent film approach that still has the ability to move and mesmerize someone like me with it’s naturalistic performances and stunning photography. It’s bold, unique, beautiful, timeless and bold in its subtly.

    2006 –
    This I thought was a great year. The Lives of Others, Pan’s Labyrinth, Babel, Letters form Iwo Jima, The Departed, A Prairie Home Companion, Inland Empire: all these films can be defended and championed till their fans are blue in the face. And I love them all for one reason or another. But Children of Men to me IS cinema. It’s staging and cinematography will be legendary in tech-land. The direction was as precisely executed as a surgeons incision. The cast was remarkable. The script was profound and had layers, and like Three Times, did not rely on dialogue to scary the story but motion and visuals. It ended when it needed to end. And all the while, you have the classic man-on-the-run thriller with EVERYTHING at stake.

    These films show that today’s filmmakers pay attention to the legends who preceded them and that they also have the vision to become legends for the future generations.

  • 27 1-05-2011 at 10:12 pm

    Lucky Bojangles said...

    And yes, I noticed by repetition of the word “bold” and the word “scary” instead of the intended “carry”. =) Tease away!

  • 28 1-05-2011 at 10:31 pm

    Zac said...

    2005 – I had a hard time choosing between The 40 Year Old Virgin and Sin City. In the end, I went with 40 YOV since it’s one of the funniest movies of the last 10 years or so. I still think Steve Carell should have gotten an Oscar nomination as well as Judd Apatow for his hilarious script. A lesser movie would have had Andy’s co-workers mocking on him, but here we see that they care about him even if they don’t know a whole lot about him. Oh how I wish people would have discovered Apatow before this; maybe then Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared would have lasted longer than one season each.

    2006 – Just like 2005, I had a hard time choosing between two movies for this; Casino Royale and V for Vendetta. I went with Casino Royale since it’s one of the best Bond movies. I quite liked the Brosnan ones, especially Goldeneye, but Casino Royale beats them all. Daniel Craig is fantastic. I admit I wasn’t sold on him as 007 at first, but he makes the character his own and showcases a Bond that relies on brawn just as much as charm.

    It’s getting harder and harder to make a pick for each year since I’ve seen more and more movies from the years covered.

  • 29 1-05-2011 at 11:03 pm

    Glenn said...

    Chad, I agree about M&Y&EWK. I thought I’d hate it as well since I have little affection for “quirky” comedies that deal in massive helpings of “twee”, but this one worked because it really honed in on the true sadness of those characters. I wrote something about it in Guy’s top 50 of the decade countdown that I really liked, but can’t be bothered finding it. Haven’t seen “Zidane”.

    2005 is definitely “Mysterious Skin”, “M&Y&EWK”, “Look Both Ways” and “Cache”. Although a big sadface to Joan Allen not being nominated for “Upside of Anger”.

    2006 I would choose “Jindabyne” (although maybe that came out in 2007 in America?), “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” or “The Descent”.

  • 30 1-06-2011 at 6:15 am

    Devin said...

    Let me be unafraid to step on the “in defense of ‘Crash'” bandwagon. For some reason it’s become the in thing to bash this film. Perhaps because it beat out a more “historic” film, “Brokeback Mountain.” Perhaps because it is widely believed that some pro-Los Angeles sentiment swept it to the win that year. Whatever the case, I am proud to announce that I not only adamently believe it deserved the Oscar for Best Picture, but that it was my second favorite film of the 2000’s…..second only to Christopher Nolan’s “Memento.” It is one of the greatest films on the many faces of racism ever made. And although “Brokeback” is also, in my opinion, among the best of the decade, “Crash” was the best film that year. Incidently, I’m not the only one who believes that. Roger Ebert named it his best film of the year, and his co-hort at the time, Richard Roeper, had it in his top 3….and both ahead of “Brokeback.” I’m tired of it being fashionable to rip apart this fantastic film. Where are the “Crash” defenders like myself? Stand up, crash-ers, and be heard from.

  • 31 1-06-2011 at 6:31 am

    Sawyer said...

    Oh 2006. How I love thee.

    Pan’s Labyrinth
    The Lives of Others
    Children of Men
    The Fountain
    Casino Royale
    Superman Returns
    Days of Glory
    United 93
    Notes on a Scandal
    Harsh Times
    The Descent
    Art School Confidential
    For Your Consideration

    and others. Easily my favorite year of the past decade.

  • 32 1-06-2011 at 6:32 am

    Sawyer said...

    I like Crash and Brokeback Mountain. Neither film blew me away, but they were both well-made.

  • 33 1-06-2011 at 6:37 am

    Maxim said...

    Munich was the best film of 2005. By far and across the board – Directing, Screenplay, Cinematography, etc.

    And Devin, for all my love of that film I will defend “Crash” too. Something I have been doing for years now. I firmly believe that it’s a smarter and less manipulative film than it’s given credit and, having seen it three times (discovering something new each time), I know it stands up. Brokeback Mountain, on the other hand, while good and important is something of a High Melodrama and has got its own share of manipulations.

    I feel I need to say more on Crash just to counter the sheer overblown idiocy coming from Chad’s mouth. I found the film enormously
    refreshing and perceptive in its addressing of racism. It wasn’t a redundant lecture as some people have suggested (a rather offensive notion in itself) but a far far more reaslistic and complex gallery of psychological portraits on the subject that I’ve seen in most any other film.
    It is shameful, that it was the Subtle work in Munich and Crash that got so blasted for the kinds of things that existed only in the likes of Brokeback (a film I do not dislike overall).

    And as far as Oscarless picks go, how about War of the Worlds (a meditation of sadness that much like Saving Private Ryan shows the sheer randomness of destruction and survival – a theme so many have missed – and is so much more relatable for it) and the completely unnominated Star Wars Episode 3?

    In the latter films case, it unfolds almost like a greek tragedy and does so quite beautifully. Few films have ever been as scrutinized for flaws (existing and nonexisting) in so short a period of time and while ROTS is a bit linear on subsequent viewings, both stand up as superb summer type fare.

  • 34 1-06-2011 at 6:37 am

    AdamL said...

    Okay, I’m all for experimental films being recognised (well actually I’m not but let’s pretend I am) but Sky Sports (UK satellite broadcaster for those who do not know) used to have this thing called playercam which did exactly what that Zidane film does. They did it first. They did it every single week.

    To recap, Sky did it first. And they did it multiple times.

    So why on earth is this silly Zidane film award worthy?

  • 35 1-06-2011 at 6:45 am

    Maxim said...

    There’s been a lot of great films that came out over that period, some of which Istill need to catch up with (like Three Times, of which I have heard great things).

    Loved most of Kong, the scene on the ice in Central Park near the end, is one of the most perfect and romantic moments ever in film. Couldn’t stand the overprised shallow tripe that was “Pan’s Labyrinth” and it’s nonsensical let’s pretend everything is happy in the end and forget all the suffering that just occured. Everything’s just as it was ment to be… gah.

    There are few films I loath more than “Grizzly Man”. I could have learned just as much from seeing the guy’s footage by itself and wouldn’t have had to suffer through Herzog’s egomania.

  • 36 1-06-2011 at 6:47 am

    Maxim said...

    AdamL, did the Sky’s program concentrate on just one player. From what I understand all they did was to show the view from player’s point of view while the film tried to actually get inside his head.

  • 37 1-06-2011 at 8:49 am

    Jack Wyle said...

    How Cinderella Man did not get a BP nod in 2005, I don’t know.

  • 38 1-06-2011 at 9:42 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    AdamL- I never said it was award worthy. I said you should watch it. The whole point of the column is that awards are nonsense.

  • 39 1-06-2011 at 11:48 am

    Jeorge. said...

    There may be no film whose appeal baffles me more than “Me You and Everyone We Know.” To say I hated it is an understatement, but enough smart and perceptive critics and friends admire it that I can only throw up my hands and let it go.

  • 40 1-06-2011 at 12:14 pm

    Pope said...

    Interesting 2006 pick Chad, I’ll have to check that one out. I have to admit the idea sounds wonderfully appealling because sometimes when watching sports, (well, this only works for basketball and soccer probably) I’ll just watch one player for a while and how they move or how their interactions/movements affect the whole game.

  • 41 1-06-2011 at 12:20 pm

    AdamL said...

    Okay fair enough Chad. May give it a chance.

    Maxim, playercam did concentrate on one player for 15 minutes (cameras on them rather than showing their POV) or so then used to switch to another player for the next 15. No-one liked it very much so they canned it after a couple of years. This film might be interesting but would have been better if it had been the World Cup final in 2006 when he head-butted a guy and got sent off. I would watch that.

  • 42 1-06-2011 at 12:38 pm

    Lucky Bojangles said...

    Still reading and shocked to see that no one has mentioned A History of Violence, Tsotsi or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada for 05 nor Little Children or Half Nelson for 06

    to quote the lovely Frank Costanza – “Somethin’s MISSIN!”

  • 43 1-06-2011 at 1:16 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    AdamL- He gets sent off in this game too, coincidentally.

  • 44 1-06-2011 at 1:30 pm

    Maxim said...

    Thanks for the info, AdamL.

  • 45 1-07-2011 at 3:51 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Lucky Bojangles, that might be because “A History of Violence,” “Tsotsi,” “Little Children” and “Half Nelson” were ALL NOMINATED FOR OSCARS.

    And Maxim, “Star Wars: Episode III” was indeed Oscar nominated, for Best Makeup.

  • 46 1-07-2011 at 9:58 pm

    Joe7827 said...

    Chad (#38): interesting outlook on this series. But wouldn’t you want to pick a movie that you would have nominated for something (if you had a ballot)? How can it be worth watching if it is not award-worthy (in your opinion)?