Oscar Blindspots: 2002 Refreshers

It might be 20 years late, but I’ll be catching up on all the Oscar nominees and winners I have missed from the year 2002 through the month of November

I’ve caught all the big Oscar films from 2002, but I felt I needed to rewatch a few I’d only seen once and give myself a full view of the year.

The Hours
Directed by Stephen Daldry

Three women from three different times deal with depression in their lives. Book editor Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) is struggling to put together a party for her poet friend Richard (Oscar-nominated Ed Harris) in 2001. Pregnant housewife Laura Brown (Oscar-nominated Julianne Moore) struggles with her boring husband and young son in 1951. Author Virginia Woolf (Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman) writes her novel Mrs. Dalloway why fighting mental illness and depression alongside her husband Leonard (Stephen Dillane).

Depression is the common factor between the three women. All three are in drastically different circumstances, but their illness hits them equally as hard. Each case is singular in its depiction. There is no obvious solution, and no matter how much they try to avoid it or explain it away, no one around the ladies can understand. They all have to cope in their own unique ways, and some are much more drastic than others.

Kidman’s Oscar-winning performance might have been overrated at the time, but she is dynamic in the role. Moore’s sequence might be the most riveting and I feel she gives the best performance. Moore shares a scene with Toni Collette (a glorified cameo), which electrifies the screen. The two up their game for the scene and it stays with you throughout the rest of the film. Streep isn’t bad, but she just doesn’t have as much to go on as the other two.

I’m disappointed it took me this long to re-watch the film. It’s a brilliantly laid out as it was in 2002 and will only get better with age.

Directed by Rob Marshall

Roxie Hart (Oscar-nominated Renee Zellweger) dreams of stage stardom. While cheating on her sad sack husband Amos (Oscar-nominated John C. Reilly), she is scorned by her lover and shoots and kills him. Imprisoned with other female murderers, Roxie utilizes Matron Mama Morton (Oscar-nominated Queen Latifah) to summon high-priced lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) for her defense. In the process, she butts heads with fellow murderer Velma Kelly (Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones).

When adapting a stage musical, there are plenty of ways the film adaptation can go. This is one where they essentially decided to do all the musical numbers directly from the stage and film it, while having the non-singing narrative intercut. I don’t think it totally works, but it doesn’t distract from the film enough to really matter.

Zeta-Jones is the star of the show from the moment she comes on screen. The only problem is how little she is there. Every moment without Velma is a moment wasted. Zellweger is miscast as a sexpot who dreams of stardom but shows little in the way of either characteristics. Gere is having fun in his role, but he also is miscast. Latifah gets one show-stopping number, but that’s about it. The same goes for Reilly.

I do think it’s a well-made film. I personally would not have had it as the Best Picture of 2002, but I also think it gets a bad rap as a sub-par BP winner. It’s a very entertaining movie with a more-than-worthy Supporting Actress victory along with it.

Directed by Julie Taymor

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Oscar-nominated Salma Hayek) channels the pain from an adolescent injury into her significant artistic works. As she battles the love with her philanderous husband Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) and against the constant pain she suffers, Kahlo wrestles with her work and her many loves to become the legendary artist she is recognizes as today.

With director Julie Taymor, you can’t expect a straightforward narrative or traditional biopic. Instead of what is expected, the film is filled with artistic flourishes of major parts of Kahlo’s life and work. It’s more about getting the feeling of the woman instead of caring about the factual realities.

Hayek is the star of the show. She embodies Kahlo with such raw energy that she can never truly unleash because of her overwhelming physical pain. She is ready to burst, but she must convey that energy into her work. Molina is her equal in each scene, painting Rivera as a larger-than-life ball of fun. Each supporting actor does fine work.

Of all the rewatches, this was the one I was the most surprised with. I remember it being much more experimental and inaccessible. Instead, all the tricks and framing devices just made the film come that much more alive.

That concludes my Oscar Blindspots from 2002!

Check out my picks for the Best of 2002

All 2002 Oscar Blindspots
Review: TAR

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