Sunday, February 08, 2009

10th Anniversary Award for Best Picture, 1998


Rushmore [Wes Anderson] (145 points/22 votes)

“I can safely say that I’ve never met anyone quite like you.” ~ Miss Cross

With his debut feature Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson showcased the kind of dialogue driven, off-balance comedy with a heart that has since become his trademark. But it wasn’t until Rushmore when given a considerably bigger budget to work with that his capabilities as a Writer/Director were put on full display. Using Bill Murray as his one big ticket item, Anderson put his trust in a cast of largely unknown actors and seemingly spent the rest of the studio’s money on production design with an obsessive attention to detail and some very well chosen sound cues. The script was co-written with Owen Wilson and according to Bill Murray remained largely in tact through the course of shooting - a testament to Anderson’s sure footed vision for the film before the first frame was shot.

Bill Murray was the film’s early box office draw but as great as his character Herman Blume is, there is no question that the star of this show is Max Fisher. After an exhaustive, year long casting search Anderson found Jason Schwartzman who, in his very first role, was able to bring Max to life with a performance that perfectly balances a teenager both wise beyond and his years and painfully naive. Unlike other movies that reference a character’s various talents but never bothers to show them Anderson goes well out of his way to put them all on display here. Some of the best scenes of the movie remain Max’s completely over the top plays (including a theatrical staging of Serpico). Max’s other various clubs and interests are captioned and woven together in quick shot montages. The ability of these sequences to transfer so much information within a short amount of time is one of the film’s real strengths and something advertisers will seemingly never tire of ripping off (See the recent Cars.com Super Bowl spot for continued proof).

The unique look of the film, developed with veteran Cinematographer Robert Yeoman, featured beautiful framing and a brand new retro look that was often filled with oddly intimate panoramic shots that remain focused on the characters while deftly capturing the film’s elaborate backgrounds. The dialogue-free sequence where Max goes to war with Mr. Blume has a rare synchronicity where all the elements of the filmmaking process seem to be working together in stylized precision.

It has been argued that some of Anderson’s more obvious influences (The Graduate and Harold & Maude among others) may seem a bit exposed at certain points but this film still manages to feel like something all its own 10 years later and is now considered somewhat of a cult classic in its own right. ~ Bryan Whitefield

Runners-up:
The Thin Red Line [Terrence Malick] (111/17)
The Big Lebowski [Joel Coen] (109/18)
Out of Sight [Steven Soderbergh] (102/15)
Buffalo ’66 [Vincent Gallo] (87/14)

Click here for complete results

9 comments:

lucas mcnelly said...

so far, this is the best Muriels yet

Matt Noller said...

My top five and this one are the same (different order, but same movies). Nice job Muriels voters.

Brian said...

Whoever voted for Flowers of Shanghai: you are correct.

Jason_alley2 said...

"The Truman Show", "Happiness" and "A Simple Plan" wuz ROBBED!

Andrew Dignan said...

Wait, Rush Hour ranked higher than Bullworth? Ouch.

Hedwig said...

I just can't believe that only two other people voted for Velvet Goldmine...But it's a worthy winner, and a worthy top 5

Tor Hershman said...

I just photoshopped a silly hat onto Michael Phelps @ my blog.

Daniel Getahun said...

I'm with Jason - "A Simple Plan" was my #1! But Rushmore was second, so all is well...mostly.

Nice to see some other love for Ronin as well!

Kza said...

I voted for the Republican.