best films: #11: TITANIC (1997)
It’s only fitting that another big prestige movie (The King’s Speech) garnered a higher-than-average Oscar nomination count just a few days ago (and that it happens to be a little polarizing to viewers), as my number 11 entry in my top 100 (this is circa 2009, so expect a revision once I finally finish counting down this version) fits both bills. Garnering 14 Oscar nominations, Titanic tied a 47-year-old record set by All About Eve, but was arguably the most successful film ever at the ceremony (Eve received six wins, while Titanic managed 11). And, since no seemingly infallible success can go without its detractors, it also happens to be a movie that polarized critics and audiences alike. Due to its placement on this list, you can assume which side of the aisle I fall on. I’m the first to admit that Titanic is deeply flawed in many ways. There are historical plot holes and scientific inaccuracies – and hey, it leaned on the melodrama time and again throughout the romantic trials of Jack and Rose, but I will always love it for the following reasons.
For one, it launched the careers of the two people that would become the greatest actors of their generation (feel free to fight me on that), or, at the very least, two of the most lauded actors. Without Titanic, we perhaps might never have seen the countless stellar performances that have occurred for the duo since. Imagine the roles that happened simply because they were the stars of the biggest movie ever! (And yes, I’m fully aware that Kate and Leo were both Oscar nominees at this point, but let’s all agree they’ve grown into their abilities since 1997.) Second on my list of insistences is that the grandiose effects, art direction, cinematography, and sound editing were incredible even by today’s standards. Third, though James Cameron’s head may be bigger than the ship itself, the man can achieve spectacle without schlock (for the most part) – the only other director that I think can achieve this degree of spectacle effectively is Peter Jackson (see King Kong for proof of this). And last, James Horner happens to be one skilled composer. Check out his filmography, and come back to me with any missteps you can find in his soundtracks – really, because I can’t find any. So I guess what I’m saying is, at first glance of the above headline, I’m sure you were sent into a tizzy of negative comments, but I implore you – don’t let backlash get the better of you. It’s been almost 15 years; Titanic deserves another viewing.