Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesdays Top-Grossing Reviews

I'm always fascinated by which movies did well at the box office, and which ones only barely made it. Also, the stats the papers produce about how this year's box office totals compare to last year or the year before always seem a little fishy. So to combat this, I thought I would look at them a little differently. Each week I'll review the top grossing film of a particular year from the last 20 years. These are based on the year the film was released, and not necessarily the year all the money was made since a lot of movies are released at the end of the calendar year and make most of their money in the following year. It seems appropriate to start with the highest grossing film of all time, which was also the highest grossing film of 1997: Titanic.

Year: 1997
Film: Titanic
Box Office Gross: $600,799,824
Awards: 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director (1998)
Actors: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton

I saw this movie with my college roommate, and we both cried, and then we went home and she cried for hours like her best friend had died. While time has proven that this movie is too long, overly dramatic, and induces mocking and parody more often than praise 10 years after its release, it was still a movie that moved millions and introduced epic scale movie-making to a new generation. Just in case there are a few of you who don't remember or actually missed this movie, I'll recap, with spoilers! It's the story of Rose Dawson, nee DeWitt Bukater, a 90-year-old woman who sees a program on TV about Bill Paxton scavenging the "Titanic" wreckage. She goes to the scavenging ship and starts to tell the story of how she happens to be wearing an enormous blue diamond in a drawing the night "Titanic" sank. The rest of the film is in flashback, where we see a young society debutant Rose (brilliant Kate Winslet at only 22) boarding the ship with her controlling mother (Frances Fisher) and semi-crazy fiance (Billy Zane). She's calm, collected, perfectly dressed, and later we learn sick to death of it all. When she tries to escape all her perfect life will force her to do by jumping overboard, she meets Jack (DiCaprio) a happy-go-lucky artist who won his trip on "Titanic" in a poker game. They fall in love, Jack shows her what it means to be free (doesn't it mean having nothing left to lose?) and she pulls away from her rich, privileged life, ultimately having Jack sketch her naked with the diamond. However, getting in the way of their plans to run away and be free, "Titanic" hits the iceberg and starts to sink. Catastrophe ensues, Rose's fiance gets Jack locked up for stealing, so Rose has to brave the waters to save him, and then they don't make it on the life boats in time, but somehow survive the sinking. However, when the boats come back to look for survivors floating in the freezing water only Rose is still alive - Jack gave up the ghost to save her. It's a heartbreaking movie that you already know will end poorly given the setting, but it's still a classic. There's a lot of heavy acting, dramatic realizations, excessive effects and staging, but overall it's still a classic and has made more money than any other film by a lot. So to start off the Tuesdays Top-Grossing Reviews, I give you Titanic.
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Anonymous said...

Count me in as one of the many sappy Titanic-goers, who went home and continued to cry for hours. I don't know what came over me--perhaps Jack reminded me of my long lost high school first love? Whatever the reasoning, I was absolutely pathetic as a result of this movie! lol.

B-Mama said...

Oops, the comment above was from me! Sorry!

Rachel said...

The 16-year-old in me holds a soft spot for this one to this day. I know it's crap, but I still watch it every now and again, for the nostalgic value. And Leo is so yummy.