I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicago, 2002










Rated PG-13

I am the proud owner of the DVD of this Best Picture winner and have seen it quite a few times. I considered it a treat to put it on today and dance around my living room. I remember seeing “Chicago” in the theater with my dear friend Beth, another musical theatre junkie like myself. I immediately bought the soundtrack. I often think one song is definitely my favorite, and then the next one comes on, and I say, “No, this is my favorite.” (I’ve still never had the privilege of seeing the stage version, so I can’t compare the two for you here.) But, needless to say, I was thrilled to hear this title announced as the winner when I watched the Academy Awards that year. I felt like it was a win for all musical theatre geeks and fans; a nod of approval and recognition so to speak.

In case you don’t know, the film is a screen adaptation of the mid-70’s stage hit made famous by dancer/director icon Bob Fosse. It tells the story of two spotlight-hungry singer/dancers (played by Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones) who are in the clink for murder in Chicago in the early 20’s. The only way to get out of their execution sentence is to hire the lawyer (Richard Gere) with the perfect record who can manipulate the media. He views trials (and the whole world) as show business. The women are rivals throughout the movie fighting for tabloid celebrity status and fame. They’re also “helped” along the way by the prison’s “Mama” (Queen Latifah) who pretends to work in their best interest for a small price. The adorable John C. Reilly plays the na├»ve and devoted husband to Roxie Hart (Zellweger). The musical drama is chock-full of witty lines and unbelievable dance numbers. I especially love how it was filmed: it jumps back and forth from the real-time actions of the story to “production” numbers. So it’s like you’re watching a stage show too. Brilliant.  

All of the actors I mentioned above were nominated for Oscars except for Gere, which I thought was a shame; he deserved a nomination just as much as everyone else. The stunningly beautiful and glowing Catherine Zeta-Jones walked up on the stage as the only winner wearing stilettos and looking about 9½ months pregnant.

A little mistake I heard when watching this time around… lawyer Billy Flynn is heard asking “This all happened on Lake Shore Drive?” I lived in Chicago for two years and I actually lived on Lake Shore Drive. The road wasn’t built until the 30’s and wasn’t renamed Lake Shore Drive until the 40’s. Oops.

It had been 34 years since a musical won this prestigious award. “Chicago” was up against “Gangs of New York”, “The Hours”, “The Pianist”, and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”. I’ve seen all of these films except for “Gangs of New York”; even though my boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio is in it, good friends who knew me told me I couldn’t handle the gore. I was ecstatic that “Chicago” won but will be perfectly honest in saying how surprised I was when it did. Those are some great movies to be up against, and movies about the Holocaust generally tend to win. It’s interesting to note that all five Best Picture nominees came out in the end of December, making them eligible by just two weeks. They also were all set in the past. “Chicago” won six of its thirteen nominations that night.

Another FABULOUS movie made this year that I just want to give a little credit to was “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. My husband (then boyfriend) dragged me to this film but I’m glad he did; I was hesitant to see it since I saw it starred an ‘N Sync member. (By the way, he still occasionally brings up that time as if to remind me that he has better movie-picking abilities than I do… “Remember ‘My Big Fat…’?”) I’ll admit it wasn’t contender material for the Best Picture award, but I do think audiences all over were pleasantly surprised with that film. (I am also the proud owner of that DVD.)

FAVORITE SCENE:

My favorite scenes in this movie are like my favorite songs… always changing. I love them all. I love “Cell Block Tango” but couldn’t really find an appropriate picture to post here... If I had to choose another scene that I couldn’t take my eyes off of, it would be the finale when Roxie and Velma sing “All That Jazz”. (I’ve also included a couple cool pictures of those talented stars.)



LESSONS LEARNED:

Fame is fleeting. As Billy Flynn explains to Roxie in the film, “You can’t beat fresh blood on the streets… That’s Chicago.”

Razzle dazzle them. (A line from a song by Billy Flynn) I’d like to skew its meaning a bit and make you apply it to something you may find challenging or intimidating. Whatever it is, do it big, do it the best you can, and do it with some pizzazz. After all, “How can they see with sequins in their eyes?”  Good Luck… or rather, Break a Leg!

3 comments:

  1. I loved Chicago. I have seen both the screen version and the stage version. They are two different animals as far as I am concerned. Fosse just doesn't do well on the big screen. He was a minimalist and Hollywood needed a bunch of show stoppers. However, of the two, I much prefer the movie! Love! Was so excited when it won. Yay for musical theatre making it back to the movie theater! <3 PS Roxie killed her boyfriend that she was having an affair with.... :)

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  2. I haven't seen this probably because I figured it would be a lot like Moulin Rouge and I did not like that movie. Maybe I'll watch this during the summer with you. Also, that is so funny that you lived on Lake Shore Drive...nice connection.

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  3. Love. And you saw this with me at the movies too! Every song is my favorite lol...
    I made Jaime watch this with me when we first started dating and even he got into it.
    I can watch this all day:)

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