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David Poland

By David Poland

AFI Awards 2004

Tee hee.

As Jack says to Miles in Sideways, "I’m going to get your joint smooched."

Let’s take a look at the AFI Awards from a slightly different perspective.


Dreamworks – COLLATERAL




Fox Searchlight – KINSEY, SIDEWAYS



Columbia – SPIDER-MAN 2

Notice, no true indies.  No Fahrenheit 9/11 or The Passion of The Christ.

They did leave Paramount out… but smooching Paramount doesn’t help much when the leadership of the company is in play. 

Maybe they’ll change their name to the American Board of Review.

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20 Responses to “AFI Awards 2004”

  1. Nick says:

    I’m so happy Maria Full of Grace continues to be recognized, and IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME Friday Night Lights got some love. I thought I was alone in thinking it was one of the best films of the year, and one of the best sports movies ever made. Since only directors can nominate directors for the Oscars, I’m betting that their peers will reward Joshua Marston and Peter Berg with a nod in Februaury.
    Call me crazy, but I really don’t see what’s so fucking great about Sideways. It’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Especially the direction. Really nothing special.
    Alexander Payne is a point and shoot director, whose films all happen to have one thing in common: They look like crap.
    Have any of you ever seen a film of his and wondered “What a beautiful shot?” or “What an interesting camera movement/angle or “What tension?”
    Watch Maria Full of Grace, Friday Night Lights, and Sideways, back to back, and tell me which director is the weakest link.
    It’s painfully obvious.

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    I like the list a lot. The only two I don’t care for are Spider-Man 2 (one of the most overrated movies since Spider-Man) and Friday Night Lights. Sorry, Nick, but I found Berg’s movie to be painfully mediocre. Reduced a great book to a cliched sports movie. I loved

  3. Eric says:

    Nick, direction is about more than camera work. Payne’s talent as a director is in the work he does with his actors. I can’t remember a poor performance in any of his movies.
    The other examples of good direction you list are fine, but they’re a different sort of work. And some movies may cry out for “extreme visuals,” but they would be really inappropriate for the sort of movies that Payne makes.

  4. Mark says:

    Sideways is the top movie of the year. Not groundbreaking but what movie has been better this year? Maybe Collateral.
    Spiderman was great but top 10 on a critics list?

  5. Martin says:

    Nick, since when is directing solely about making beautiful shots? If that was it, all the tv commercial and music video directors would be winning academy awards. The best directors typically are good at working with actors and knowing how to tell a good story. Being visually inventive one of many skills needed for the job. Anyway, that can be left up to the DP.

  6. Nick says:

    I dunno, I think that since film is essentially a visual medium, a great director has to be able to do both: get great performances out of his cast, and make the film appealing to the eyes.
    Here are a few that come to mind: Almodovar, Wes Anderson (though I haven’t seen Life Aquatic), Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, and Paul Thomas Anderson.

  7. fizz says:

    I don’t think Payne’s movies would be helped by showy visuals, in fact they’d undermine his pitiful and dry take on modern-day America.
    The tatty suburbs, pot-holed freeways, and moldy homes are suitably captured. Payne’s brilliance, to me, is in the goofy authentic details, esp. production design and costuming.
    Think of the glittered and glued kid drawings on Stephanie’s fridge or Miles’ generic khakis and docksiders. Someone had to track all those details down but we just soak ’em up and laugh ’em off.
    Conversely, I think Collateral’s visuals and storyline are completely overrated during a weak year. That movie won’t stand the test of time.
    Lowell Bergman and Jeffrey Wigand (not to mention Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace) are truly compelling cinematic characters. “The Insider’s” suggestion of the big corporate media stranglehold on people’s lives was beautifully realized and terrifyingly relevant.
    Think of Dante’s shots in La. before Wigand testifies against Brown & Williamson. Those lovely shots, tensely jumpcut, of officious sedans and bodyguards.
    What do Max and Vincent have at stake except an overly contrived ‘it all started as an ordinary night’ story structure?
    Vincent’s “throwing the i ching” speech is a writer struggling to give a character w/o a soul some kind of identity. And visiting Max’s mom at the hospital is a weak attempt at giving the movie some heart and personal context. The music was also an artificial bridge intended to give you the feeling that you cared for the characters and situations. And the visuals could just have easily been drawn from an extended if haphazard music video shoot.
    If this weren’t a stronger year, I don’t think either Collateral or Sideways would be in the running. They’re both sort of small-minded and domesticated. They’re big fish in a woefully small pond.

  8. Stella's Boy says:

    The cinematography in Collateral is stunning. It will definitely stand the test of time.

  9. Chris Benton says:

    Collateral is overrated as hell! I do agree that outstanding Maria Full of Grace deserves some fucking recognition. And Dave Poland: Maria… it is an indie even though it was picked by New Line. Indie is not all about the studio

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    Collateral has nothing on Spider-Man 2 in the overrated department.

  11. PeppersDad says:

    HERE IT COMES … I’m going to offer more than a defense for the unexpected recognition by AFI of Spider-Man 2. I’m actually going to sing the movie’s praises.
    A lot of people trivialize SM2 because it’s built upon the comic book/action genre, special effects, and archetypical characters we think we’ve seen before. My retort: Yeah, but so what? Those were the same basic gripes many people had with the Lord of the Rings cycle, and it wasn’t until the 11th hour (literally) that enough filmgoers were willing to acknowledge what a breathtaking accomplishment the trilogy was. When a colossal movie project works, why shouldn’t we herald it and separate it from the lion’s share of blockbuster dreck we get every weekend during the summer?
    Certain films move the medium forward (and I don’t just mean from a technical level), and I think SM2 is just such a movie. To see why, just take a look at its opening sequence. Needless to say, CGI is most typically used for fight or battle scenes involving a lot of carnage, explosions and assorted other mayhem. Here, though, the production’s CGI resources brilliantly went full throttle in a wickedly funny sequence about Spider-Man’s manic, aborted attempts to … deliver a pizza. You could feel the almost tangible jubilation in the theatre as the thrillingly kinetic scene progressively built to its thwarted conclusion. The rest of the film’s narrative flows from that down-to-earth, crushingly human tone, and its energy level never flags. I think Billy Wilder would have loved it.
    I recognize the generally undeniable excellence of films like Sideways, Kinsey and most of this year’s other heralded films. But I also believe that most of them will hold your interest for no more than one, two, three, maybe four viewings. (As surprisingly good as it is, how many times are you going to sit through 2.5 hours of Ray?) Sure, if you dissect their scripts, direction, performances and editing, you will come upon a lot of subtle nuances, complex narrative choices, varying degrees of personal relevance, and some incandescent wit. But I think SM2 unabashedly provides all of that, as well as (dare I say it?) a whiz-bang time at the movie theatre. Sorry, but I refuse to punish it for that.
    It’s not at all about the benjamins. Yes, I rue the day when only CGI blockbusters will get green-lit and smaller films will suffer the fate of dramas on Broadway. But when a blockbuster like SM2 is this good and outperforms the competition at most every level, I cannot see any reason to deny it its due.

  12. Stella's Boy says:

    PeppersDad, I don’t care at all that SM2 is based on a comic book. I’m not a comic book reader. I’ve never read one in my life. But, I have no issue with movies based on them. I enjoy some and don’t enjoy some. It has nothing to do with the source material. I judge each one individually. And frankly, I thought SM2 (and SM) was a huge bore. The characters do nothing for me. It’s incredibly silly. The writing is pretty weak. It’s way too long. It’s overkill and then some. I know I’m in the minority, and that’s fine with me. They just don’t do it for me.

  13. Barry says:

    Spiderman 2 was a huge improvement over the original but to call it a great film is ridiculous. It’s like those people that put Star Wars in the same class as a film like Lawrence of Arabia or Citizen Kane. Any self-respecting movie fan cannot in their right mind equate a kids fantasy with a great piece of cinematic art. SM2 is what it is, but a great film it is not. It’s a great film for 12 year olds, just as Empire was for my generation. It’s insane to call it any more than that.

  14. PeppersDad says:

    Stella’s Boy – To each his own and more power to you. Seriously. I don’t agree with you, but to each his own and more power to you.
    Barry – You, on the other hand, I take issue with. “Any self-respecting movie fan cannot in their right mind equate a kids fantasy with a great piece of cinematic art.” REALLY??? What about The Wizard of Oz? Or E.T.? Or any of the animated Disney classics? Sorry to sound like a Republican, but your grotesque, elitist snobbery is just totally out of whack with ANY respected concept of cinematic art.

  15. Nathaniel R says:

    Glad to see that the AFI is less genre averse than the Academy. I have noticed so many people (here and wherever) who readily admit that Spider-Man 2 is great but then don’t want to see it actually, you know, honored as one of the year’s best. It’s genre prejudice. No more or less. Glad to see the AFI jury avoided that.
    Just as the AFI jury in 2001 managed to give Buffy the Vampire Slayer very deserving Television props despite the Emmy’s continual ‘no thank you’ to that innovative show. Presumably because it was about, you know, vampires and demons and stuff.

  16. bicycle bob says:

    if a kids movie is great, it deserves its credit. but most kid movies are not made for kids. they got levels everyone can enjoy.

  17. Mark says:

    The Wizard is a classic.

  18. joe says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that collateral has been extremly overrated? The direction is not the one is great, it is the cinematography; and Tom cruise dies in the most unbelievable way posible.

  19. bicycle bob says:

    you are. its a great flick

  20. movie guy says:

    collateral is not a good movie and u cant make it 1

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