"The Aviator" is the Best Picture of 2004. No question. Martin Scorsese is the Best Director of 2004. No question. And if not for It Man Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio would be Best Actor of 2004.
"The Aviator," about the life of Howard Hughes, is one of Scorsese's best films to date and easily his best movie in several years. Both he and DiCaprio clearly have a passion for the subject and it shows in every facet of the movie. It looks beautiful thanks to the editing, cinematography and set design, and the script is enhanced by a powerful cast that also includes Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, John C. Reilly, Kate Beckinsale, Jude Law, Ian Holm and Alan Alda.
Still, "The Aviator" is anything but a glorification of the ambitious playboy from the first half of the 20th century. Hughes, though incredibly bright, was ridiculously stubborn and, more importantly, mentally unstable. Suffering from serious OCD and other problems, Hughes had to struggle to keep his companies together, especially when a federal oversight committee opened up an investigation into his spending practices.
DiCaprio is absolutely terrific in the lead role, mastering every scene in which he appears and completely transforming himself from the pretty boy so many people despise for no specific reason. Though Jamie Foxx has been embraced as this year's breakout actor, DiCaprio delivers an equally impressive performance and, perhaps, is long overdue for Oscar gold. DiCaprio, who time and time again is underrated due to his good looks and "Titanic," is one of the best actors out there to never receive an Oscar. If not for this movie, then what?
In a supporting role, Cate Blanchett is also very good as Katharine Hepburn, good enough to perhaps garner an Oscar nomination as well.
Sadly, this movie will probably not win awards for its spectacular performances, but it has a good chance of claiming the biggest prizes of all. Scorsese, who is long overdue to win an Oscar of his own, seems almost a lock as Best Director. "The Aviator" for Best Picture will be a tighter race, but I can't think of another film more worthy of the prestigious top prize.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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