Could The Monuments Men have won best picture?
When the 2013 Oscar talk first began, George Clooney's The Monuments Men was considered one of the front runners (if not the odds on favorite by many film critics and cinephiles) to win best picture. Originally scheduled for a December 18th, 2013 release, the film seemed to be in a prime awards season spot right in the thick of Holiday movie season. With an all-star cast that included: Clooney himself (Lt. Frank Stokes), Matt Damon (Lt. James Granger), Bill Murray (Sgt. Richard Campbell), and John Goodman (Sgt. Walter Garfield), the film seemed like a shoe in for, at the very least, a best picture nomination. A delay due to special effects, however, caused The Monuments Men to be pushed back to a February 7th release, thus making it ineligible for this years Academy Awards. While many inside the film community urged director George Clooney to rush the film for awards consideration, Clooney stuck to his guns stating that story and quality mattered more than awards in the case of The Monuments Men. So did the delay help the film? Was The Monument's Men truly a best picture quality film? Find out after the break....
Could The Monuments Men be the best War film since Saving Private Ryan?
Considering the cast Clooney had to work with and the praise, hype, and expectations The Monuments Men had before it was ever seen by anyone, critics or the public alike, it's probably safe to say The Monuments Men was a bit of a let down, even if it wasn't a monumental one. But why, and maybe the bigger question here is how did this happen? Perhaps the "why" was Clooney's need to base the film strictly off of the historical information found in The Monuments Men book written by Robert Edsel. The film starts off in promising fashion as the great cast of characters builds a decent rapport in a very strong basic training sequence. However all of this rapport and humor quickly dissipates as the group is suddenly split up into different locations across war torn Europe. This split hinders the first hour of the film where stakes are built and felt but entertainment falls by the wayside, thus making for a very fragmented film that doesn’t really establish itself well tonally as we jump for the laughable duos of Bill Murray (Sgt. Richard Campell) and Bob Balaban (Pvt. Preston Savitz) one minute, to the subtle love story of Cate Blanchett (Claire Simone) and Matt Damon (Lt. James Granger) the next. All of this by the book historical storytelling keeps an epic cast of characters quite subdued for the majority of the film.
The duo of Bill Murray and Bob Balaban
provided The Monuments Men with it's most entertaining moments!
By the third act the film really begins to come together, delivering the audience the type of excitement and humor they were expecting. This was achieved through simply bringing the supremely talented actors back together for the film's finale. As surprising as it may seem, even when the great cast is united at the beginning in end of the film no actor really lives up to the hype attached to their particular name, not even Bill Murray (Sgt. Richard Campbell). This probably could best be chalked up to the direction of Clooney, who most likely encouraged his talented cast to exercise restraint in order to maintain historical integrity rather than simply chew scenery.
Did George Clooney's directing keep The Monument's Men from being a truly Epic war film?
The Monument’s Men may not be a letdown as a whole, but it has to be considered a missed opportunity. Clooney was right to practice historical integrity, but at some point with a once in a lifetime ensemble cast like this, you have to let the boys bring home the gold. While you have to respect and admire Clooney’s decision as a Director to practice restraint rather than simply pander to the academy as David O. Russell tends to do. The fact of the matter remains Clooney had all the ingredients to make a truly monumental World War II period piece and failed to deliver anything memorable.