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THE BEST PICTURE: WHY NO CHRISTIANS NEED APPLY
CATHOLIC EXCHANGE ^ | 2/25/05 | JAMES BEMIS

Posted on 02/25/2005 11:22:14 AM PST by jbemis

THE BEST PICTURE

BY JAMES BEMIS

When this year’s Academy Award nominees were announced, many were shocked Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was not nominated for a single major award. The movie, which chronicled Jesus’ last twelve hours, took the cinematic world by storm.

BREAKING AN UNSPOKEN TABOO

Because the movie was filmed in Latin and Aramaic with no big-name stars, Hollywood insiders figured producer and director Gibson was throwing away his $30 million investment. However, upon general release in February 2004, it was obvious something extraordinary had occurred: THE PASSION was not only a box office smash but the film succeeded brilliantly as cinema.

Gibson expertly puts us at Ground Zero of the last twelve hours in Christ’s life. In his wisdom, the director played it straight, letting the gripping Passion narrative unfold just as it has been passed down through the ages – thankfully, there’s hardly a modern touch found anywhere in the film.

In taking Christianity seriously, however, “The Passion” broke Hollywood’s unspoken taboo. Controversy raged about whether the film was “anti-Semitic.” But whether people loved or hated the film, most agreed it was extraordinarily powerful cinema. The question was not if the film would be nominated for major awards, but how many.

Then came January 26’s startling news: THE PASSION was nominated for three minor awards but no major ones. Few imagined Hollywood’s bias against Christianity was so big – and its elite so small – that THE PASSION would be virtually snubbed when the Academy Award nominations were announced. Was 2004 such a stellar year for the movies that a great cinematic achievement like THE PASSION could be ignored?

THE SECOND-RATE COMPETITION

Hardly. The five films nominated for 2004’s Best Picture are – at best – second-rate, forgettable as last week’s leftovers. RAY, for instance, is simply a mediocre bio-pic of the sort – albeit seamier – Hollywood used to churn out by the dozens: THE GLENN MILLER STORY, THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY, THE GENE KRUPA STORY, THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY, etc. (None of these – including RAY – holds a candle to “YANKEE DOODLE DANDY,” though.) You never forget you’re watching a movie about Ray Charles: Despite all the acting accolades, Jamie Foxx seems far too delicate and insubstantial for the role of a tough, complex giant like Ray Charles. As one who loves Charles’ music, I wanted to like the movie but found it trite and unmoving. Most viewers would better understand “The Genius” by listening to a greatest hits CD rather than watching this anemic film.

It says much about the corrupted state of our culture that Clint Eastwood’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY is considered mainstream. The story involves the freakish sport of female boxing, an activity that would be unthinkable in a civilized society. None of the athletes exhibit even the faintest hint of feminine virtue, but instead talk, act and think like undersized men with mammeries. Worse, the film smiles upon the “mercy killing” of an invalid by the nominally Catholic “hero.” The message: Once you’ve lost the ability to earn big bucks pulverizing women in a boxing ring, then life just ain’t worth living. This is deep thinking, Hollywood-style.

Finally, director Eastwood can’t resist taking cheap shots at the Catholic Church. As in last year’s MYSTIC RIVER, a priest is disparaged: This time, he’s made to appear immature and so ignorant he can’t explain the doctrine of the Trinity or the Immaculate Conception to a pesky parishioner. In short, MILLION DOLLAR BABY is a thoroughly repulsive film.

Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR is similar to Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose: so overblown it hardly gets airborne. This leaden biography of Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a cartoonish, indulgent, almost amateurish production. DiCaprio’s hair looks like it was dyed with shoe polish. In the second lead role, Cate Blanchett’s caricature of Katherine Hepburn is uproariously incompetent. Like every movie Scorsese has made since 1980’s great RAGING BULL, this film is too long, too loud, and too lumbering. Nothing in it rings true. Put another way, THE AVIATOR, as they say, must be seen to be disbelieved.

Critically acclaimed SIDEWAYS reveals more about its admirers than it does about human nature. The story revels in degradation - of marriage, friendship, courtship, family, etc. You name it, SIDEWAYS demeans it. Ostensibly about two friends on a week-long wine tasting binge before one’s wedding, the wretched SIDEWAYS is a sort of upscale PORKY’S, replete with foul language, naked fat slobs, animal-like carnality and juvenile high-jinks by two thoroughly unlikable male leads. If this is the “cultural landmark” many are saying, conservatives must ask whether American society has much left worth conserving.

FINDING NEVERLAND, a story about “Peter Pan” creator J. M. Barrie, is a thin but rewarding film, featuring an excellent performance by Johnny Depp – the first role I’ve seen in which he doesn’t grossly overact. Another highlight is the extraordinary performance by Freddie Highmore as a member of the family that inspires Barrie to write “Peter Pan.” NEVERLAND is an enjoyable and touching movie, but ultimately is rather insubstantial.

RELISHING RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY

By any artistic standard, THE PASSION is far superior to any of the films nominated as Best Picture. Why the cold-shoulder? First, part of the wailing over the movie was veiled envy from an embarrassed Hollywood establishment, those makers of infantile comedies and seductive trivialities who saw what a real filmmaker could do. Watching THE PASSION is an unforgettable experience: It demonstrates the heights that cinema is capable of but rarely achieves, especially these days.

Second, THE PASSION’S snubbing puts the lie to the Hollywood establishment’s reputed “tolerance.” In fact, a hostile blacklisting of Gibson and other Christians now occurring is far more hideous than anything happening during the supposed “Dark Ages” of the McCarthy blacklisting era because it is done out of religious intolerance. Over the years, observers have noted how Hollywood executives relish producing films that undermine, demean, and ridicule the Christian faith. This year the mask is ripped off and we see the bared fangs of religious bigotry in all its grisly and vivid ugliness. In a year when a great film like THE PASSION so obviously should have been honored, Tinseltown’s elites instead chose five forgettable films as the finest they had to offer. Faced with an opportunity to rise above their prejudices for a change, the Academy – to its everlasting shame - took a flyer.

The 2004 Academy Awards forever will be remembered as when the year’s best picture wasn’t nominated as Best Picture.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: academyawards; antichristianbigotry; antisemitism; cinema; giveitarest; hollyweird; hollywood; movies; oscars; popularculture; thepassion
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1 posted on 02/25/2005 11:22:15 AM PST by jbemis
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To: jbemis
"In the second lead role, Cate Blanchett’s caricature of Katherine Hepburn is uproariously incompetent. Like every movie Scorsese has made since 1980’s great RAGING BULL, this film is too long, too loud, and too lumbering. "

Blanchett gives probably the best performance of any kind in the last year. Scorsese is still one of the greatest living directors. If this is an indicator of this guy's taste, his opinion doesn't mean much.

2 posted on 02/25/2005 11:27:04 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: jbemis

ping


3 posted on 02/25/2005 11:28:04 AM PST by frankiep
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To: jbemis
Today's Hollyweird crowd hates Catholicism and everyone and everything connected to it...

That's alright, Mel Gibson is laughing all the way to the bank. And he's releasing another cut of "The Passion" to the theaters next month.
Instead of watching the self congratulatory Oscars, I'll go out and purchase the DVD of "The Passion" and watch it. Payback is a ...
4 posted on 02/25/2005 11:28:54 AM PST by kellynla (U.S.M.C. 1st Battalion,5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Div. Viet Nam 69&70 Semper Fi)
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To: Darkwolf377

Agreed. Anybody that dismisses Scorsese's work out-of-hand like that is not very credible as a film critic.


5 posted on 02/25/2005 11:30:23 AM PST by Junior_G
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To: jbemis
When and if the Hollywierd establishment is ever throwing accolades at a "Christian" movie, I'd have to wonder how very Christian that movie could possibly be. Oil and water don't mix well.
6 posted on 02/25/2005 11:31:00 AM PST by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: kellynla
Hollyweird crowd hates Catholicism

Glad to see someone call it like it is.

7 posted on 02/25/2005 11:32:06 AM PST by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: jbemis
If Hollywood nominated THE PASSION it would be seen as a slap to the Jewish community. At least they didn't nominate Fahrenheit 911.
8 posted on 02/25/2005 11:37:00 AM PST by FreedomSurge
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To: jbemis
Look, I think POTC should've been nominated, too. But I don't agree with the heavy handed critique of "The Aviator". I saw that movie and thought DeCaprio did a fine job. And so did Blanchett as Kate Hepburn.

Slamming all the other films nominated for Best Pic isn't the best argument for Gibson's film.

That being said, I won't be watching the Academy Awards again for the thousandth year in a row. They've become boring and repetitive and trite and predictable.

9 posted on 02/25/2005 11:40:34 AM PST by Recovering_Democrat (I'm so glad to no longer be associated with the Party of Dependence on Government!)
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To: jbemis
Ah, Mr. Bemis...how right you are.

It wasn't too long ago that H'wood was promoting Der Bingle and Ingrid in "The Bells of St. Mary's" (and wasn't himself in St. Mary's JHS at the time?) and 'Duke' Wayne and Maureen O'Sullivan in a couple of other award-winning flicks.....and Barry Fitzgerald was the epitome of H'wood Irish-Catholicism for decades.

Eastwood was my anti-hero hero in the 'spaghetti westerns' and the 'Dirty Harry' flicks.

It must be the CA smog that makes guys like him decide that a Tonya Harding look-a-like film is worth making.

I haven't set foot in a movie theater in 20 years; (1) because there was nothing worth paying $10 to see and (2) nobody in charge seems to want to tell the a**holes that they're not watching TV and "keep your mouth shut."

I gambled on "Master and Commander" at the video store last year and since then I have rented it three times, read all 21 of Patrick O'Brian's novels and was blessed with the Collectors Edition DVD from my son for mybirthday last month.

Thank God the Sisters of Mercy taught me to love reading!!!!!

10 posted on 02/25/2005 11:42:50 AM PST by JimVT (I was born a Democrat..but then I grew up)
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: Recovering_Democrat

"Slamming all the other films nominated for Best Pic isn't the best argument for Gibson's film."


Agreed. "POTC" might've been an inspiring movie for religious movie goers, but watching a guy get beaten, bloodied, and stuck up on a cross for 2 hours isn't great cinema. I guess since I grew up Catholic, was an altar boy who helped with Stations of The Cross every Lent, and read the accounts of the Crucifiction literally, I just wasn't that in awe nor surprised or shocked by "POTC".


12 posted on 02/25/2005 11:45:22 AM PST by Blzbba (Don't hate the player - hate the game!)
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To: jbemis
1944 Going my Way & 1945 Bells of St Mary. Back to Back award winners. Amazing no foul words, sex scenes or murders would win.

Guess after seeing The Passion, mobs ran out to destroy Jews. But Hollywood and the pundits would admit they were wrong if they recognized The Passion.

13 posted on 02/25/2005 11:47:03 AM PST by ex-snook (Exporting jobs and the money to buy America is lose-lose..)
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To: jbemis
I am a Christian also. However you are mistaken concerning the quality of the other movies which were nominated. Labeling Clint Eastwood as anti- Christian is over the top as well.
14 posted on 02/25/2005 11:48:24 AM PST by wmileo
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To: jbemis

Do many consider The Passion to be entertainment?


15 posted on 02/25/2005 11:48:31 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: jbemis

So? It's their awards show. They can award it to anyone they want for any reason, good or bad. Witness the fact that they "honored" Michael Moore a couple of years ago for a very poorly made piece of hideous propoganda.

But it's still THEIR awards show.

Now don't get me wrong, I 100% agree with and applaud what this author wrote (I even agree with his reviews of the other films, down the line). What I disagree with is the unstated assumption that Hollywood ought to behave any differently. We get to criticize them, but we shouldn't expect them to change who they are.

Now, if we want to we can have our own awards show. We've had plenty of threads about "best picture" and other such categories (I liked the "best guy flick" the other day). But I bet there are FReepers out there who could actually organize an alternative film awards process that would represent the views of real people and not Hollywood robots.

So, any takers? Anybody think they have the organizing skills to get something like this off the ground?

I bet if we did it we could get the folks at the Liberty Film Festival interested in at least looking at what we come up with. Maybe an alternative to the Oscars (the Ronnys?) given 6 month's off cycle, around the 4th of July.


16 posted on 02/25/2005 11:52:05 AM PST by Phsstpok ("When you don't know where you are, but you don't care, you're not lost, you're exploring.")
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To: jbemis

The last movie I enjoyed was Sixth Sense. That's about six years old now?


17 posted on 02/25/2005 11:52:23 AM PST by Tribune7
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To: Blzbba
"watching a guy get beaten, bloodied, and stuck up on a cross for 2 hours isn't great cinema. "

Well OK if all you saw was just 'a guy'.

18 posted on 02/25/2005 11:52:31 AM PST by ex-snook (Exporting jobs and the money to buy America is lose-lose..)
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To: kellynla
Today's Hollyweird crowd hates Catholicism and everyone and everything connected to it...

They'll just settle for their stupid "Jesus is my homeboy" T-shirts and their red Kabbalah bracelets and Kabbalah water because religion to them is an accessory, like a new handbag or new yoga position.

19 posted on 02/25/2005 11:54:29 AM PST by frogjerk
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To: Phsstpok
Good post!

I really don't care about "The Passion" getting accolades from Hollywood or not. They've (Hollywood) left their "containers" behind ages ago...

20 posted on 02/25/2005 11:56:57 AM PST by frogjerk
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: kellynla
Today's Hollyweird crowd hates Catholicism... Hollywood hates God!
22 posted on 02/25/2005 11:59:11 AM PST by Free_at_last_-2001 (is clinton in jail yet?)
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To: jbemis

ping


23 posted on 02/25/2005 12:01:11 PM PST by ColoCdn (Neco eos omnes, Deus suos agnoset)
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To: FreedomSurge
If Hollywood nominated THE PASSION it would be seen as a slap to the Jewish community.

Not nominating could be seen as a slap to the Christian community.

24 posted on 02/25/2005 12:02:12 PM PST by ladyjane
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To: frogjerk
You'd be surprised at the number of clowns in LA wearing a cross around their neck and they wouldn't know where the nearest church was if you gave them a map! LOL
And the same goes for the Jews with the star of David... Most of the young Jews in the "industry" haven't seen the inside of a synagogue since their bar mitzvah! LOL
Yep, it's all just accessories to these morons...
25 posted on 02/25/2005 12:02:39 PM PST by kellynla (U.S.M.C. 1st Battalion,5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Div. Viet Nam 69&70 Semper Fi)
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To: jbemis

The author needs to understand that since the Passion is not in English it doesn't qualify for best picture. Since it is not in any language currently spoken on the planet, it doesn't qualify as a foreign film.

Why does everyone have to go into spasms when their favorite film isn't nominated. Big whoo. Most of the Best Pictures of the past 20 years really sucked.


26 posted on 02/25/2005 12:05:27 PM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs (I don't support gay male prostitutes, beating up people in strip bars or poor grammar.)
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To: jbemis

The Passion was one of the best movies I have ever seen.

To fail to acknowlege that brings shame to the awards themselves.


27 posted on 02/25/2005 12:05:53 PM PST by Mr. K (this space for rent)
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To: ex-snook

"Well OK if all you saw was just 'a guy'."


Yep. Just an actor, like I see jsut about every movie. Sorry - I just wasn't blown away by watching Jesus get beaten and killed.


28 posted on 02/25/2005 12:19:20 PM PST by Blzbba (Don't hate the player - hate the game!)
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To: Mr. K

Let's face it, the people who select the winners don't get the Passion much less the movie which depicts it.


29 posted on 02/25/2005 12:19:48 PM PST by freedomfiter2
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs
Since it is not in any language currently spoken on the planet, it doesn't qualify as a foreign film.

Aramaic survives as a spoken language in small communities in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Aramaic Language. Do not know how dissimiliar it is to Biblical Aramaic (the Aramaic used in the film?).

Vatican City uses Latin to some degree, no? But I wasn't sure if the film used a Classical Latin pronunciation or not--it sounded different, but didn't necessarily sound like Church Latin either.

My guess is the film is predominantly "Aramaic", but it is in fact bilingual. For the academy to discriminate against a polylingual, mostly dead language film, is the height of intolerance.

30 posted on 02/25/2005 2:08:49 PM PST by nonsporting
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To: nonsporting
For the academy to discriminate against a polylingual, mostly dead language film, is the height of intolerance.

It didn't meet the criteria. It's not intolerant, it's the rules. Movies don't have to win Oscars to be popular movies, usually the Oscar movies are boring.

31 posted on 02/25/2005 2:14:23 PM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs (I don't support gay male prostitutes, beating up people in strip bars or poor grammar.)
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To: nonsporting

....'For the academy to discriminate against a polylingual, mostly dead language film, is the height of intolerance.'....

Why is this the height of intolerance? Polylingual, mostly dead language speakers, are probably one of the smallest groups on earth, and I haven't heard any of them complain.


32 posted on 02/25/2005 2:15:58 PM PST by stuartcr
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To: Darkwolf377
I disagree.

Now days Hollywood rarely makes a great movie unless it is by mistake.
People must be really bored with life to shell out $8 to $12 dollars on wasted film.
How many more stinkers like the Folkers or other tripe, will these unimaginative left wingers put out.

I see better Made For TV movies on Lifetime.

I got talked into putting in cable and taking the various movie channels.

That did not last long as I did not want my children using any of those Hollywood actors as role models.

Takes a fairly dumbed down person to like most of what Hollywood puts out.
33 posted on 02/25/2005 2:21:18 PM PST by OKIEDOC (LL THE)
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs
It didn't meet the criteria. It's not intolerant, it's the rules. Movies don't have to win Oscars to be popular movies, usually the Oscar movies are boring.

Wasn't my sarcasm obvious?

34 posted on 02/25/2005 2:26:42 PM PST by nonsporting
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To: stuartcr
Why is this the height of intolerance? Polylingual, mostly dead language speakers, are probably one of the smallest groups on earth, and I haven't heard any of them complain.

Someone must represent "them." They probably don't have TV, and definitely don't have access to the internet.

35 posted on 02/25/2005 2:29:30 PM PST by nonsporting
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To: nonsporting

How would we know if they are offended and feel the need for representation? Maybe they like their anonymity..


36 posted on 02/25/2005 2:34:28 PM PST by stuartcr
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To: jbemis
FINDING NEVERLAND, a story about “Peter Pan” creator J. M. Barrie, is a thin but rewarding film, featuring an excellent performance by Johnny Depp – the first role I’ve seen in which he doesn’t grossly overact. Another highlight is the extraordinary performance by Freddie Highmore as a member of the family that inspires Barrie to write “Peter Pan.” NEVERLAND is an enjoyable and touching movie, but ultimately is rather insubstantial.

I would never categorize Johnny Depp as an overactor. He just isn't. His portrayal of the Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN was meant to be over the top and he was brilliant. Finding Neverland was a beautiful movie and I recommend it to everyone.

37 posted on 02/25/2005 2:37:23 PM PST by Hildy
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To: OKIEDOC
"Takes a fairly dumbed down person to like most of what Hollywood puts out."

OK. What's this got to do with my post about Scorsese?

38 posted on 02/25/2005 3:09:31 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: stuartcr
How would we know if they are offended and feel the need for representation? Maybe they like their anonymity..

We can ask them.

As to their anonymity: Some linguist(s) must have payed them recent visits, and identified their spoken language. They probably couldn't care less about the Acadamy. However, they might want know there is now a film made in their native language. They may have trouble with the Latin, and subtitles may need to be translated into Aramaic. I don't recall that menu option.

39 posted on 02/25/2005 3:30:01 PM PST by nonsporting
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs

Another point they need to consider: only the top 5 vote getters in the preliminary voting qualify for the final ballot. For all we know, "Passion" could have made the top 10 in the preliminary voting.


40 posted on 02/25/2005 5:16:26 PM PST by EveningStar
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To: nonsporting

I apologize, I didn't realize your sarcasm. Too many people beating this to death that I am numb.


41 posted on 02/25/2005 8:45:27 PM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs (I don't support gay male prostitutes, beating up people in strip bars or poor grammar.)
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To: newgeezer
Hollyweird crowd hates Catholicism

I thought they hated Christians. As for how they treat or portray Catholics, I can be open minded; but, I have a large collection of movies and am more than a little taken aback at the notion that Hollywierd gives Catholicism a raw deal. It would be interesting to see a list of the people in Hollywood that are Catholic and portray Catholics preferentially as a result. How many Pentacostal ministers can you remember on the screen? Horror movies always seem to have the Catholic priest dragged in to pose as a hero or hero wannabe. Without commenting on the reality of that, I'd love to hear what such a charge is based upon. I may agree or disagree - don't know. The charge just doesn't seem to square with the portrayals I've seen on screen. Perhaps you're still ouching from Braveheart? I know Catholics tend to paint the picture that anyone mentioning the inquisitions is by definition intolerant, anti-catholic and a bigot for bringing it up. Somehow, I don't get the feeling that Germans feel hated and reviled by the world because of Hitler or the mention of World War II. Just an insight.. but, please, proceed...

42 posted on 02/25/2005 9:19:36 PM PST by Havoc (Reagan was right and so was McKinley. Down with free trade. Hang the traitors high)
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To: jbemis

It still amazes me that "The Passion" was not nominated for Picture (or Director, Actor) when that overlong sappy bore-fest "Return of the King" was nominated and WON last year. "The Passion" had me on the balls of my feet with chills on my neck from start to finish. ROTK had me falling asleep for the last 90 minutes. Will be skipping the irrelevant Oscars for the first time this year.


43 posted on 02/25/2005 9:24:31 PM PST by montag813
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To: jbemis
Like every movie Scorsese has made since 1980’s great RAGING BULL

Which was robbed for Best Picture by the thoroughly detestable "Ordinary People" (watch it now and marvel at how it ever won).

44 posted on 02/25/2005 9:30:39 PM PST by montag813
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To: jbemis; GatorGirl; maryz; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; livius; goldenstategirl; ...

Ping.


45 posted on 02/25/2005 9:33:42 PM PST by narses (Free Republic is pro-God, pro-life, pro-family + Vivo Christo Rey!)
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To: Darkwolf377

Correction: Scorsese WAS one of the greatest living directors. He's done nothing worthwhile for decades.


46 posted on 02/25/2005 9:50:12 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Junior_G
Agreed. Anybody that dismisses Scorsese's work out-of-hand like that is not very credible as a film critic.

He's right, though. With the possible exception of "GoodFellas" (which I think is grossly overrated and has a dreadful ending), Scorcese has not produced a single substantial film since "Raging Bull" (for which he should have clearly won over the ridiculous choice of "Ordinary People" and it's director Robert Redford).

47 posted on 02/25/2005 9:51:18 PM PST by montag813
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To: ultima ratio

No correction, please, that's your view, not mine. In the past two decades I've loved After Hours, Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence; Cape Fear and Gangs of New York were greatly flawed but still better than most of Gibson's works.


48 posted on 02/25/2005 9:52:18 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: FreedomSurge
If Hollywood nominated THE PASSION it would be seen as a slap to the Jewish community

I am a Jew and was very moved by "The Passion" and consider it one of the finest films ever made. I railed against so-called "Jewish" leaders like that fat socialist creep Abe Foxman.

49 posted on 02/25/2005 9:53:20 PM PST by montag813
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To: Blzbba

And watching a three-hour film about an eccentric millionaire who once dated Katherine Hepburn is your idea of important cinema? Somebody's values are perverted--and it's not Gibson's.


50 posted on 02/25/2005 9:54:12 PM PST by ultima ratio
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