Every once in a while my brain returns to 1998, the first full year I worked as a film critic. What happens is that something will remind me of a movie that has aged particularly well, something like The Big Lebowski or A Simple Plan, and I'll notice that there were quite a lot of good movies that year, and that many of them didn't get much love at the time. But then I'll start thinking about all those movies that did get lots of love -- especially Oscar love -- and how they haven't aged well at all. By looking at the Oscars and the box office list, you'd think it was a terrible movie year, but in reality it was a great movie year. How does this happen?
One of the things I ask myself is: why wasn't Jeff Bridges nominated for Best Actor for The Big Lebowski? And come to that, why wasn't Jim Carrey nominated for the otherwise highly acclaimed and beloved The Truman Show? Or Warren Beatty for Bulworth? How about George Clooney for Out of Sight, Robert Downey Jr. for Two Girls and a Guy, or Johnny Depp for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Or, heck, why not the 14 year-old Eamonn Owens for his astonishing performance in The Butcher Boy? The answer is, of course, because the Academy had to make room for message movies, war movies and Holocaust movies.