So this time around I am joined by Tobi Ogunyemi, Al Robinson, and Jasmine Elia, as we embark on a discussion on the hazardous journey that was the Academy Awards of 1997.
(On land, Robin and Tobi arrive)
Tobi: Are we in first class here or steerage?
Robin: You’re the captain dude.
Jazz: Hey all.
Tobi: Tell that bastard Ismay I don’t bloody care about the speed record then!
Robin: Hi all. Thanks for coming.
Al: Thanks for the invite.
Tobi: Won my ticket in a poker game for this.
Robin: Did anybody watch the Oscar show back then?
Al: Nope. I wish I liked the Oscars back then.
Jazz: I did!
Tobi: Nope, I’m glad I didn’t like the Oscars back then.
Robin: The late 90s were awful Oscar years for Best Picture, but the shows were great, better than they are now.
Jazz: (laughs) I used to be drinking coke in my bedroom watching it secretly, coz I should have been in bed.
Al: Did they feature as much music?
Jazz: Not that I recall.
Robin: They did feature musical numbers, they’ll never stop doing that. (laughs)
Al: I guess music is, and has always been, a part of the ceremony. I’d be fine if they ditched it.
Jazz: That was the year of Cuba Gooding Jr.
Tobi: That was 1996.
Jazz: Omigod, that was?
(Jazz checks brain cells)
Tobi: I assume we’re talking about the year of the movies, not the year of the ceremony right, Robin?
Robin: This is 1997. But as we speak I am watching the Supporting Actress award on YouTube and Cuba announces as you said that Jazz – so that was spooky.
Tobi: Please stop with the musical numbers, Academy.
Robin: Yep, it is Titanic year.
(Robin swallows hard)
Al: Exactly Tobi. So, really we’re talking the 1998 ceremony.
Tobi: I like to think of it as Kim Basinger’s, but that’s just me.
Robin: So before we delve into the Oscars, do you guys know the race, and what happened?
Al: Only when I look back at the nominees and winners. Otherwise, nope.
Jazz: The year of L.A. Confidential, Titanic, and Good Will Hunting if i’m right.
Tobi: Yep, yep, As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty.
Jazz: The Full Monty. Ah that film.
Al: So, we’re gonna talk about Titanic and its Oscars?
Robin: That year, yes. Basically, two key things happened. Firstly, L.A. Confidential was the critic darling throughout the whole race – Picture, Director, Screenplay – the Oscar favorite, the old-fashioned gem. And Titanic was over-budget, not yet released, but getting bad press because of the money. Was it going to be James Cameron’s failure? And then – it was released. And it was all over.
Al: I think L.A. Confidential is great, but Titanic is perfect.
Robin: But it was all over to the extreme, and I feel the movie was over-lavished.
Al: Do you guys want to hear my Titanic story?
Tobi: L.A. Confidential is clearly the better film, like strikingly so, but I really have no qualms about it winning Best Picture.
Robin: Go ahead Al, I will edit it out.
Tobi: And I stand with Titanic for the record.
Al: I was 15 at the time, and this was spring 1998. I had heard Titanic was great, but I didn’t know that much about it. My step-mom wanted to see it, so we went, and I fell in massive love. It was all I could think about afterwards for two weeks.
Tobi: Same, more or less for me.
Al: That, and that song. Oh that song…
Jazz: (laughs) I love your Titanic story, Al, but mine was the opposite.
Robin: Not the same for me either, sorry Al.
Tobi: Don’t have to talk about the song, do we?
Jazz: That song! I hated it. My neighbor played it endlessly. So being the hunty I was, I would retaliate with Guns n Roses, and blasted it to drown Celine out.
Al: So you guys saw it, and didn’t like it?
Robin: I appreciate Titanic’s technical side, but it was not for me overall.
Jazz: I didn’t like Titanic until it came out on DVD.
Tobi: What changed for you, Jazz?
Jazz: I just appreciated everything about the film, the beauty, the acting, the whole score. You name it. But when it first came out, I was eh Titanic, fuck right off.
Robin: I hated the song. I hated James Horner for a while, which is bad. But when Celine Dion wore the heart of the ocean at the ceremony I wanted to drown her.
Jazz: Robin, this is why we are friends.
Al: It was definitely overplayed, but I just kept thinking of the film.
Robin: And James Cameron declaring “I am the king of the world”. Oh fuck off.
Al: That picture of DiCaprio is my Twitter banner right now. (laughs)
(Robin unfollows Al on Twitter)
Robin: Yes Jazz, I thought I was alone.
Tobi: Goddamn it.
Jazz: I wanted it to lose. (laughs)
Tobi: Too big to lose, followed the Dances With Wolves playbook to the letter.
Robin: It won because of the money too, it was a huge gasp of astonishing relief that it made the money it did, because I am telling you there was panic before its release.
Tobi: It was a pure throwback to the winners in the ’50s; most nominations, longest running time, yep this wins.
Robin: Right. But 14 nominations!
Tobi: Yeah, biggest film history at that point, no fucking way it wasn’t going to win.
Al: Should we discuss by each category? I think it deserved Cinematography. And Production Design win as well. And Editing.
Robin: Cinematography, sorry, but I am not a big fan of cinematography winners that are influenced so much by visual effects a la the late Andrew Lesnie for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Roger Deakins should have won for Kundun – I’ll never change my mind about that.
Tobi: Honestly, Titanic deserved a lot of its wins. Kundun! Fuck yeah!
Al: But visual effects has it’s own category.
Robin: It has, but take that away from the cinematography, it is not all that.
Al: I don’t remember Kundun to be honest. It’s Scorsese, I know that much.
Tobi: I think Titanic’s lensing is pretty good, even taking out the notion of the VFX, if that’s ones fancy.
Al: I agree. It had great framing.
Tobi: It did.
Al: Plus, so many good looking actors on camera.
Tobi: Billy Zane with hair!
Tobi: That alone wins it for Best Picture.
Robin: Titanic acting, I don’t think Kate Winslet was spectacular good, she has done far better work and been ignored by AMPAS. And I was not in on the Gloria Stuart love, sorry.
Al: I agree. She was good, not great. I liked Bill Paxton a lot.
Tobi: Can’t sign off on Paxton in Titanic. His portion is completely unnecessary to the story, the present day framing device to launch into the main story that the ’90s loved doing for some fucking reason.
Al: Sure. I see what you mean. Just leave it all in 1912. I have to admit, I haven’t seen many others from 1997.
Tobi: It’s Titanic, why are we farting around with present day sleazebag treasure hunters? Give us Kate Winslet and her hat straight up from the jump.
Robin: Leonardo DiCaprio was good also, but none of the performers would have made my ballot.
Al: Really, why not?
Tobi: Cold blooded, Robin.
Al: Leo should have been there. Even if not a win.
Robin: You get 5 choices in each category, I thought there was better work in other films.
Al: True. Okay, let’s vote. Leo for a nom?
Al: I say yes.
Tobi: Although, on the right day, I can be convinced for it. Hell, it’s in my top ten for DiCaprio performances.
Robin: No for me. But a slight surprise given the heavy coverage of the film. But look at the Best Actor race that year, he had no chance.
Al: See, I say take out Hoffman and Fonda, and put in DiCaprio and Wahlberg.
Robin: That’s madness.
Tobi: I like how the Academy clearly loved the film, but we’re like “this doesn’t need a screenplay nod or one for DiCaprio, hold the phone there.”.
Al: I just think both were great in their roles, but I don’t remember Wag the Dog at all. So, that’s where I come from on that. Never saw Ulee’s Gold.
Tobi: Hoffman is aces in Wag the Dog. You can’t take them out just cause you didn’t see them, Al!
Al: I guess you’re right, Tobi.
Robin: Yeah, Hoffman was great, stole the movie. And Fonda was very good too.
Al: How was Ulee’s Gold as a film?
Tobi: I don’t know why Nicholson won exactly, but I don’t know who else would’ve won besides him.
Robin: Ulee’s Gold is good. A nice little indie film, personal story, one which the Academy could easily have ignored.
Al: I think Matt Damon was better than Jack.
Robin: Before we wrap up the Titanic loathe, I mean love, let me just say that what else annoyed me about Titanic sweeping was not really the film itself but the choices from the Academy, coming off the over-indulgence of The English Patient, the win for Braveheart, and the win for Forrest Gump – it was a bad spell for me personally with those movies winning, and those that did not. It did not get much better the next year.
Al: I can see that, Robin.
Tobi: I ride and die with The English Patient, what’s good y’all?
Al: Nah, I’m a Fargo man myself.
Robin: Me too.
Al: The English Patient was okay.
Tobi: Fargo is an all-timer, I love it greatly. Totally fine with it not winning Best Picture.
Al: That year Trainspotting should’ve been nominated.
Robin: Right! And sorry again, but Jack and Helen winning, especially Helen, has never sat well with me at all.
Tobi: Hunt winning is kinda preposterous.
Robin: Helena Bonham Carter would have been a great winner. Or Judi Dench. But I suspect they knew this hence what happened the very next year.
Tobi: Judi Dench for Mrs. Henderson should’ve gotten that.
Robin: Mrs. Brown.
Tobi: Shit, thanks. I knew it was Mrs. something. (laughs)
Robin: But we can do that year too, Tobi. (laughs)
Al: The Best Actresses, I only saw Titanic and As Good As It Gets.
Robin: That shocks me, Al, but not surprises me.
Tobi: Should we talk about how fucking awesome L.A. Confidential is then, or no? Because guys, it’s really awesome.
Robin: Yeppers! Good Will Hunting is my personal favorite, but L.A. Confidential ought to have won given the form it had during the season.
Jazz: Sorry, I have a client on the phone! He should have gone down with the Titanic!
Robin: Biggest Laugh of the Conversation goes to – Jazz.
Al: Before we delve into L.A. Confidential, I just want to add that The Revenant is very similar to Titanic.
Al: Oscar-wise at least.
Al: Neither of them had a Screenplay nod.
Robin: The Revenant won’t win 11 Oscars though.
Al: But it still might take Best Picture.
Robin: I am still not convinced The Revenant will win, but I am stubborn like that.
Tobi: I’m not either, Robin. Both aren’t the best in their years, but will clean up regardless. It’s nominated for 12 though!
Jazz: I think Spotlight might hold strong.
Al: Could very well Jazz.
Robin: I agree with Spotlight, The Big Short maybe.
Al: So, does everyone dislike James Cameron?
Robin: No. If AMPAS was not broken then he would have been nominated for Aliens and Terminator 2.
Tobi: Yeah, I don’t have a problem with Cameron. Wish he would stop with Avatar though.
Robin: Or just before Avavtar. (laughs)
Al: I just remember hearing people hated him because of his awards speeches.
Tobi: Eh, who cares about his speeches?
Robin: I hated him for his Oscar speech, fuck yeah, but then I put Aliens on – forgiven!
Al: You guys are awesome!
Robin: When he said he was king of the world though I drowned my TV.
Robin: Hate that scene in the film too. Awful screenplay – they did right not nominating it. In fact Good Will Hunting and L.A. Confidential is when they got it spot on right for once.
Tobi: I don’t think I could ever hate a cat for their speech, it has nothing to do with anything regarding the film, and especially after being given an award, and having to say shit in front of everyone. But that’s just me.
Robin: It’s the moment you hate, and you attach it to the person. Given Titanic had just won nine fucking Oscars, I was pretty pissed already.
Tobi: Doesn’t matter who wins, homie. (laughs) Titanic’s screenplay is so awful, I wonder if it’s on purpose. (laughs)
Al: I don’t get why its screenplay is so bad. But, maybe I don’t know enough about screenplays.
Tobi: The screenplay awards are usually the best awards as far as quality goes.
Al: What was bad about Titanic’s?
Robin: Oh where to begin. Basically, Cameron can direct, he cannot write so much.
Tobi: Except 2014, don’t know what happened there.
Tobi: There’s not a lot of detail in the script at all, especially in regards to the characters. Cliched up the ass, the terrible repetition of the main characters names.
Robin: Should L.A. Confidential have won Best Picture?
Al: I don’t think so, Robin. I’d still vote for Titanic. L.A. Confidential is a great film. Russell Crowe steals the film.
Tobi: I’d give the Academy a split L.A. Confidential for Picture, Cameron for Director.
Al: Yeah, exactly. I’d give Curtis Hanson director.
Tobi: Or vice versa, whichever.
Al: What did you guys think was the overall best film that year, Oscars or not?
Tobi: L.A. Confidential.
Robin: Good Will Hunting. The Sweet Hereafter. L.A. Confidential. Boogie Nights.
Tobi: Again, it sucks but I have no problem with the actual best picture not winning Best Picture. That’s not what the Oscars game plan is.
Al: Boogie Nights is great too.
Tobi: The Sweet Hereafter, yeah!
Robin: So we agree Helen Hunt was a no no?
Tobi: Yeah. No offense, Helen.
Al: Um. She’d get my vote I guess.
Tobi: I loved her in the film she was nominated for in 2012 though!
Robin: The Sessions. The one were John Hawkes was NOT nominated – fuck!
Al: Robin Williams for sure was the right winner.
Tobi: Yep. Beard + serious role = Oscar.
Al: Beards rule!
Robin: Right. I believe Burt Reynolds was fave at one point but he started opening his trap and bad-mouthed Boogie Nights – FAIL. He had a beard too. Beard + Slagging off your movie + Porn = Lose.
Tobi: Good Will Hunting is legit though, saw it on the big screen recently.
Al: That’s awesome. I’d go see it in the theater if I could.
Tobi: Reynolds was the “we love that you’re back! But the nom is the win here” nominee.
Robin: I remember seeing Good Will Hunting in the theater – I was all Wow.
Tobi: Gus Van Want is a damn good director.
Robin: Agree. So some of the films that were not nominated – what do we like?
Al: Boogie Nights, Men in Black, and Starship Troopers. And The Fifth Element.
Tobi: In 1997? Wow, I gotta think on that.
Robin: The Ice Storm? Jackie Brown? The Boxer? Grosse Pointe Blank? Open Your Eyes? Gattaca?
Tobi: Jackie Fucking Brown, yes.
Al: I thought Jackie Brown sucked.
Tobi: God, I wish we had that version of Tarantino back.
Robin: Robert Forster was nominated for an Oscar, which was good.
Al: I liked Contact that year as well.
Tobi: Its the fork in the road for Tarantino fans! The Ice Storm for sure too.
Al: Want to see The Ice Storm.
Robin: No Sigourney Weaver – Boo! They still invited her though the cheeky bastards. Cameron probably prompted her to attend.
Al: 1997 was supposed to be the year of The Postman.
Tobi: (laughs) Oh yeah, The Lost World came out this year.
Robin: The Postman. (laughs) Kevin Costner thought he was bulletproof.
Al: He was wrong.
Tobi: Donnie Brasco and Princess Mononoke, that’s a wrap.
Robin: Nice. Looks like we lost Jazz, which is a shame as she was on my boat.
Tobi: Pun intended?
Robin: Oh yeah.
Jazz: I’m here. still got this hunty on the phone.
Robin: Oh, The Full Monty won Score – comedic – they had two score awards then.
Tobi: Oh shit, Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls documentary came out this year too.
Robin: And Men in Black won Make-up.
Al: I think 1997 also gave us Flubber and Pootie Tang. What a year!
Tobi: Sweet Christ. Cop Land!
Al: Nope, my bad. Pootie Tang was 2001.
Robin: Should we wrap up then, or is there anything else? Do we think Kim Basinger deserved the win?
Tobi: Hmm. The thing is, there’s not much to say about 1997 since Titanic cleaned house. Yes on Basinger.
Robin: Not Julianne Moore?
Tobi: Close, but no dildo.
Al: I don’t get why Julianne Moore didn’t win. I mean, she got naked and everything.
Robin: Porn Al, porn.
Tobi: Julianne Moore should’ve won for two other awards, but that’s a different story.
Robin: So, shall we do this again very very soon? And which year? 1998?
Al: I’m game for 1998.
Tobi: All I have to say for 1998 is – Malick is back, baby!
Jazz: And I’m back.
Robin: Poor Saving Private Ryan though. We’re done, Jazz, bye. (laughs)
Tobi: Saving Private Ryan won 5 awards, it’s not that poor.
Robin: And stole The Thin Red Line’s Cinematography Oscar.
Jazz: Fuck yes on that point, Robin. John Toll!
Al: Shakespeare in Love is great as well.
Robin: Well thanks people, I’ll get this edited up and see if it is worthy for publishing. (laughs)
Robin: We’ll do 1998 soon too!
Tobi: Viva La Malick!
Al: I gotta go. Getting ready for work tonight.
Robin: Have fun everyone. Later gators.
Please add your own comments below. The participants can be found on Twitter: