The Snub That Still Hurts: The midcentury cool of L.A. Confidential was no match for Titanic

·2 min read
The Snub That Still Hurts: The midcentury cool of L.A. Confidential was no match for Titanic

We did not need a bigger boat. And yet it seemed that no metaphorical iceberg could stop Titanic from sweeping the 70th Academy Awards: James Cameron's blockbuster behemoth — essentially a waterborne snuff film, with fancy hats — took home a record-tying 11 prizes (only Ben-Hur and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King match it), beating out the likes of Good Will Hunting and L.A. Confidential at nearly every turn, from Best Picture to Score.

Is Titanic an awesome technical achievement? It is, by any metric; we are not here to question the movie's total domination in areas like Sound Effects Editing or Visual Effects (take the L, Starship Troopers). And even there it did not win them all: Best Makeup still went to Men in Black.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

Everett Collection 'L.A. Confidential'

Nor do we begrudge the undeniable platform it gave its young stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to go on to long careers full of far more interesting choices. But the history books will still show that of the nine nods Hunting and Confidential came in with, each would go home with just two undercard wins, in well-earned Supporting (for Robin Williams and Kim Basinger, respectively) and Screenplay categories — a choice that, looking back, feels even more like the ultimate triumph of hollow spectacle over smaller character-driven stories told with substance and style.

Maybe Gus Van Sant's melancholic portrait of a wicked-smaht janitor with a Boston-sized chip on his shoulder and Curtis Hanson's moody puzzle-box noir never really stood a chance against Cameron's doomed ship; eventually, our hearts did go on. And in many ways, both those films have managed to sustain far longer shelf lives than the bloated sentiment ofTitanic (or at least, been a lot less easy to outgrow). Forgiveness, though? Come back to us in another 24 years.

EW's countdown to the 2022 Oscars has everything you're looking for, from our expert predictions and in-depth Awardist interviews with this year's nominees to nostalgia and our takes on the movies and actors we wish had gotten more Oscars love. You can check it all out at The Awardist.

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