Monday, March 03, 2008

Real (Reel) People Win Oscars: 2007 Analysis

Last year I did a 19 post series called Real (Reel) People Win Oscars. This series was inspired by the fact that 9 of the 14 best lead actor and actress winners of the 2000's were won by actors portraying real people in bio-pics.

With this past years winners of Marion Cottilard (portraying the real-person Edith Piaf) and Daniel Day Lewis (a non-bio-pic character), the new stat is 10 out of the last 16 winners won for playing real people...still a high stat.

Yet the effort to write these various post about the life of those depicted in bio-pics wasn't just awards prognostication, rather it was a deeper interest.

A good bio-pic has the ability to illuminate someone's story. It's a way of bringing real life history alive. Suddently, Frank "superfly" Lucas the heroin dealer or Jean-Dominique Bauby the former French Elle editor with locked-in syndrome become people that we know much more about.

And while some people might have already carved out their place in history (like Queen Elizabeth I) others get a unique chance in the spotlight (like Melvin B. Tolsin).

A bio-pic is up to far more criticism that a generic historical film. Just think how much slack Mel Gibson got in regards to Braveheart. And as a result think how much people learned about 13th century Scotland as a result of his film.

And while every Real (Real) Person post did not lend itself to becoming a 2007 hit (say Becoming Jane for instance) and many failed to have a traditional release in 2007 (Savage Grace, Chapter 27, An American Crime, The Christmas Cottage, Death Defying Acts, Manolete) these opportunity to learn about this different characters lives and the choice to make films on these people are perhaps interesting studies in themselves.

I've arranged the pictures above in the montage in the chronological time period of the real life people the characters portrayed. You will notice that even in bio-pics the emphasis was primarily on characters from this past century in 2007, that too is interesting to me.

While I have enjoyed the 2007 Real (Reel) People series, I am uncertain as to whether I want to repeat it in 2008. There are a ton of bio-pics coming out this year, and I am sure that again the Academy will chose to honor at least one bio-pic actor or actress in the lead categories this year.

Yet, I am uncertain to the popularity of these post as I posted them the early part of last year. Relative to many of my post, the Reel People post received few comments and seemed on my end to spark little interest (with the exception of those who couldn't believe Thomas Kinkaid would get the bio-pic treatment).

As blog readers, did you enjoy the Real People series?


Amy said...

I did.

Anonymous said...

I thought the series was interesting. I didn't realize how many bio pics there are coming out these days. Of the ones we saw, I think my personal favorite was American Gangster or There Will Be Blood.