erik lundegaard

Oscar Watch: L.A. Critics Pick "WALL-E"

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association announced their annual awards yesterday and not only did they go popular ("WALL-E"), they went popular twice (runner-up for best pic was "The Dark Knight"). This is in direct contrast to their recent history. Throughout the decade, L.A. critics have awarded best picture to character studies or quiet, somber films, drained of color, in which something horrific happens and is then resolved ambiguously or painstakingly:

2007: There Will Be Blood
2006: Letters from Iwo Jima
2005: Brokeback Mountain
2004: Sideways
2003: American Splendor
2002: About Schmidt
2001: In the Bedroom
2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Not a lot of laughs there. I guess not a lot of laughs in "WALL-E" or "Dark Knight," either. This is not criticism, by the way. My best pics this decade, which would include "Crouching Tiger" and "Brokeback Mountain," were mostly somber films: "The Pianist" in 2002, for example.

So a break from their recent history but not from their history. The Association, which has obviously differed over the years (you can see their current membership here), has often awarded bold, popular movies. I'm thinking "Star Wars" in 1977, "E.T." in 1982 and "Pulp Fiction" in 1994. I'd add "L.A. Confidential" and "The Insider," two Russell Crowe movies from the late '90s, but, as good as these movies were, I don't think they were ever popular at the box office.

Here are their picks over the years:

1999: The Insider
1998: Saving Private Ryan
1997: L.A. Confidential
1996: Secrets & Lies
1995: Leaving Las Vegas
1994: Pulp Fiction
1993: Schindler’s List
1992: Unforgiven
1991: Bugsy
1990: Goodfellas
1989: Do the Right Thing
1988: Little Dorrit
1987: Hope & Glory
1986: Hannah and Her Sisters
1985: Brazil
1984: Amadeus
1983: Terms of Endearment
1982: E.T.
1981: Atlantic City
1980: Raging Bull
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer
1978: Coming Home
1977: Star Wars
1976: Network & Rocky
1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest & Dog Day Afternoon

Not a bad list. I'd also recommend checking out the LAFCA Web site, which is clean and well-designed for this kind of research. 

The rest of their picks for this year, including Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger) can be found here.

Posted at 08:48 AM on Wed. Dec 10, 2008 in category Movies - The Oscars, Movies  
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