Saturday, January 29, 2011

30 Days of Oscar: Day 2 - The English Patient

Movie: The English Patienti
Year: 1996
Nominations: Just about everything - Picture, Director, Actor , Actress, Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Score, Adapted Screenplay, and Score
Wins: They won everything except Actor for Ralph Fiennes, Actress for Kristin Scott Thomas, and Screenplay, beaten by Geoffrey Rush in Shine, Frances McDormand in Fargo, and Slide Blade, respectively.
Robbed: I can't argue with any of the acting losses, those were some amazing performances.  And they won everything else that year!

I'd seen parts of this movie, though I can't say it was any more than what they showed at the Oscars that year or in other snippets, so I felt it was time to dig in an watch it all.  The movie is epic in nature and the story-telling matches the overall feel of the film.  Flashbacks and a progressing story intertwine two love stories, Fiennes and Thomas' illicit affair (she's married to an affable Colin Firth) just before WWII, and the current developing love between Binoche and Naveen Andrews ("Lost").

Willem Defoe comes into play and tries put a shady spin on our hero's previous actions.  One of the things I found confusing is that there are two separate plane crashes, one that results in the death of Thomas and one that causes Fiennes' burns.  Also, one seems to be in the desert and the other in Italy where the current story frame continues.  That's what threw me.  However, you don't have to follow every detail of the story to understand the sexiness that is Thomas and Fiennes' love affair and the tenderness and hope for survival with Binoche and Andrews.

This was an odd year for the Oscars.  Fargo and Shine are both remembered as terrific movies and wonderful performances, but adding that to The English Patient means only 3 movies really made up the Oscars that year, which of course isn't true.  There were a lot more smaller films that had interesting moments or a bit of writing, but nothing that has stood the test of time particularly well.  I saw Ghosts of Mississippi a few months ago also, James Woods was nominated for a Supporting role, and a young Alec Baldwin did a great job with the movie, but it hasn't aged well as a film even considering the events in the movie took place in the 50s.  Just an example of movies that weren't able to take down The English Patient.  

If you want to take part in 30 Days of Oscar, feel free!  You can check out previous days here.

5 comments:

CMrok93 said...

It may not be the most amazing best picture winner, but the cinematography is beautiful, and adds so much more substance to this material.

The Mad Hatter said...

This was right around the time I was seriously getting into film - so for me this was a big screen experience. And Holy Hannah - what a big screen experience!

Can't help but wonder what the confusion was over the plane crashes - care to elaborate?

The desperation of the film's final act has always moved me...what Almasy is willing to do to save Katherine's life, and what Carvaggio is driven to in an effort to save his appendages. You don't usually expect such things from sweeping epics.

And don't even get me started on the tension of Kip diffusing that bomb!

As for Oscar in 1996, it was a wild introduction to life as an award fanatic. All the usual suspects were passed over that year as mainstream Hollywood was flipped the bird. Instead, Oscar night was all about SECRETS & LIES, SHINE, BREAKING THE WAVES, SLING BLADE, and FARGO. Not really such a bad thing when you consider that the only mainstream film in the Best Picture mix was JERRY MAGUIRE!

cinemasights said...

I could never buy into the romance of this film, it just seemed too implausible and the chemistry never gelled, so it ended up being way too long and dull for me. At least it had Binoche, who I'll watch in pretty much anything.

Mrs. Thuro's Mom said...

Another one that I just don't get. She's bored because her husband is busy with the war so she starts an affair with a man she gets trapped in a dust storm with and, all of a sudden, it's a love that transcends time? Are you kidding me? Absolute crap.

Jess said...

Finally, someone who said what I was thinking - I just don't get it.