Oscars 2005

Ted Pigeon

“The Incredibles”

Although “Shrek 2” monetarily reigned champ at the box office, this film outdoes it in nearly every respect. The animation is more eye-popping, and its scenario of a aged superhero suffering a mid-life crisis who’s called back into action lends itself more naturally to comedy as well as action, two things this film has an abundance of. “The Incredibles” is one of this past year’s most delightful and enjoyable offerings.

The film is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Sound Editing.

“The Aviator”

Easily the best biopic of the year, Martin Scorsese’s take on entrepreneur Howard Hughes doesn’t take the conventional path of chronicling the entire life of Hughes, but rather shows only a certain portion of it. This approach allows Scorsese to create a detailed world in which to set the story. From there he doesn’t just immerse us in that world, but also inside the mind of a troubled man who yearned for and accomplished so much but was ultimately conquered by his own fears and insecurities.

“The Aviator” is nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.


Jamie Foxx delivers a powerhouse performance in this visually arresting work from director Michael Mann. On the surface, this film appears to be nothing more than a violent hit-man drama, and though it essentially becomes a generic thriller near the end, it is for the most part a thoughtful character study that works very well due to the outstanding performances. Mann complements the story with a dazzling vision of late night L.A. that creates an atmosphere and mood that fits the story like a glove.

“Collateral” is nominated for two awards, including Best Actor in a supporting role for Foxx’s performance.


Natalie Portman and Clive Owen steal the show in Mike Nichols’ most recent film, which examines the dark inner-depths of sex, lust and human desire. It evokes so much thought and feeling exclusively through the performances of the four characters, all of whom end up causing pain to one another through sex. While this film is emotionally brutal, it is one of the few films in recent memory that provokes ideas and feelings in high and equal doses.

“Closer” is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Owen) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Portman).

“Maria Full of Grace”

There are so many treasures in cinema made outside the United States, and “Maria Full of Grace” is a perfect example of that. It is about a young Colombian girl who mules drugs into the United States as a means of fast money. The film does no preaching of any kind; it merely presents a simple, powerful portrait of a way of life so unimaginably apart from anyone from this country. The material is never manipulated, and it resounds deeply even after it’s ninety minute duration.

The film is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Catalina Sandino Moreno).

“Million Dollar Baby”

This is one of the few films of the year which has proved that the progressively building critical and commercial hype is the result of the quality of the film and nothing else. Since its limited release in December, this unsentimental boxing drama starring and directed by Clint Eastwood has done nothing but continue to grow more popular and earn high critical praise, and deservedly so. It is a quiet drama about the lives of three people that by the end of its narrative takes on some very serious issues but keeps us firmly implanted in the lives of its characters. By the end, we are so involved in the story that Eastwood doesn’t feel the need to manipulate the audience. He instead allows us simply to witness the tragedy these people endure. “Million Dollar Baby” is a stunning achievement.

The film is nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

The first two Harry Potter films were visually spectacular and endlessly imaginative, but they are dwarfed by the many accomplishments of the “Prisoner of Azkaban.” The film represents imaginative storytelling at its finest, while at the same time it is a poignant and even subtle drama. Director Alfonso Cuaron combines the majesty of epic storytelling with sublime visuals and acting to create a beautifully woven narrative. The characters no longer feel like broad caricatures of a typical fantasy, but rather like palpable individuals with real struggles and emotions. The story itself creates a dark sense of foreboding that is complemented in Cuaron’s unique visual style and John Williams’ music, which brilliantly captures the atmosphere and reflects the tragic undercurrents layered in the narrative.

The third “Harry Potter” is nominated for Best Music (Score) and Achievement in Visual Effects.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman once again has managed to tell an oddly compelling, moving and even poetic story with a daringly original and fractured screenplay. Director Michel Gondry, who has collaborated with Kaufman before, brought the screenplay to vibrant life with this film, which takes the viewer on a journey through dreams and memories of a man who decides to have the memory of his ex-girlfriend erased after they break up. As it gets deeper into his memories, this film uncovers some profound truths about the nature of human relationships, how they are inherently imperfect and sometimes hard, yet inexplicably beautiful.

“Eternal Sunshine” is nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Kate Winslet).


My choice for the year’s top film is this indie surprise from young director Alexander Payne, whose previous achievements include the heartbreaking “About Schmidt” and the black comedy “Election.” The beauty of this film isn’t the complex story, which has a lot in common with a buddy movie, but instead the characters. The central character, played by Paul Giamatti, is a high school English teacher and a lover of fine wines who wants so desperately to be happy but is too sensitive to embrace it. This film provides an even mix of drama and comedy, but its real strength is in its portrait of these flawed yet very real characters. “Sideways” is both bittersweet and redeeming, and it somehow is able to evoke themes and feelings about finding happiness amid the many flaws and struggles that every person haves. And it does it all in the form of a deceptively simple story.

The film is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture.