Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar Movie Review: "A Beautiful Mind" (2001)

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Movie"A Beautiful Mind"
Year Nominated: 2002
Director: Ron Howard
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Did It Win?: Yes.

The story of Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe).

"A Beautiful Mind" is directed by Ron Howard, who has directed numerous Oscar nominated nominated films such as "Apollo 13," "Cinderella Man," and "Frost/Nixon." It is written by Akiva Goldsman and is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The film stars Russell Crowe as Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash. The story covers his time in college as he worked on his doctorate degree, up until when he won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994. Joining Crowe are Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Anthony Rapp, Adam Goldberg, and Josh Lucas, who play numerous different people in Nash's life ranging from his roommates to his wife and workmates.

"A Beautiful Mind" is based on a true story, though it is not a perfectly literal take on John Nash or his life. It has drawn criticism for leaving out many of the more unsavory moments of Nash's history. This is not uncommon for biopics as films must have a cohesive narrative and overall arc, and real life doesn't always have this. We also happen to know Ron Howard tends to favor neat, happy Hollywood stories and endings, so omitting certain details may have just been directly in line with his style. We, however, are mostly forgiving on the fudging of facts in biopics because we can only judge what we seen on screen in the final product of a movie. As long as a filmmaker is able to capture the spirit of the character and make their film entertaining and engaging, we're good.

This movie winds up being mostly enthralling as what starts out as a standard biopic quickly turns into what feels like a spy thriller. Howard does a great job creating twists and turns and has a brilliant use of visual metaphors throughout his storytelling. For those who did not know a lot about John Nash prior to seeing the film, "A Beautiful Mind" does have moments that are quite jaw-dropping for first time viewers. Russell Crowe does a magnificent job as the sometimes abrasive Nash, who relates more to numbers than he does to people and struggles keeping mentally stable and keeping his wits about him. Those fake teeth though, they are god awful. Crowe was nominated for best actor for his performance, and though he didn't win, it was his coworker Jennifer Connelly, who plays his wife Alicia Nash, who took home an Oscar for best supporting actress. She gets one of those really intense "baity" scenes that pretty much solidified the award for her.

"A Beautiful Mind" wound up being nominated for eight Academy Awards total and took home four, including the aforementioned best supporting actress, as well as best picture, best director, and best screenplay. Ron Howard does a fantastic job in making a biopic that is truly captivating, even a little exciting, and somewhat pleasant, though its protagonist doesn't always act as such. Though Howard fudged a few facts and omitted a few more, it is all in the name of making a film that captures the spirit of its character, even if it's in the best light possible.


My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
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Last Oscar season, we were watching: "The Defiant Ones"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "Ordinary People"

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