350. A Beautiful Mind

Movie: A Beautiful Mind

Release Date: December 21, 2001

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Josh Lucas, Anthony Rapp, Christopher Plummer.

Tag Lines: “The Only Thing Greater Than the Power of the Mind is the Courage of the Heart”

“He Saw The World In A Way No One Could Have Imagined.”

“I need to believe that something extra ordinary is possible…”

“It is only in the mysterious equation of love that any logical reasons can be found.”

Relevance: Russell Crowe was pretty much a household name, at least households that liked movies, by the time ‘A Beautiful Mind’ was released. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for 1999’s ‘The Insider’ and he won Best Actor for 2000’s ‘Gladiator.’ (Spoiler Alert: the first movie is not on this list, the latter will be showing up sometime next month.) And he was nominated yet again for ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ Back to back to back nominations with one win, not too shabby. In my humble opinion, although I loved both of the aforementioned movies as well as his performances in them, this is my favorite performance by Mr. Crowe.

His portrayal of John Nash, whom I knew nothing about at the time of my first viewing was quite extraordinary. It is easy for an actor when playing a character with a mental illness, in this case paranoid schizophrenic, to go “over-the-top.” I am sure he had excellent guidance from Ron Howard, the Academy Award winning director of this film, but Russell Crowe’s choices throughout were spot on. He was equal parts frustrating and heartbreaking as a man trying to piece together what was real and what wasn’t in his complex and beautiful mind.

I can’t remember exactly when I first saw ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ but I know it was at least before March 24, 2002, the night of the 74th Academy Awards. That year I was all about ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (Do I even need to say that movie is on my list?) but I remember rooting for Russell Crowe to pull an upset over Denzel Washington. He didn’t win, but when asked what some of my favorite male performances ever in movies are, his performance as John Nash is in my top five.

Today’s Thoughts: I probably haven’t seen this movie since I first saw it in 2002 but I was equally impressed and entertained. Like most movies that I have recently re-watched as part of this list, if it wasn’t viewed within the last five years, I most likely forgot a lot of the details. That was the case with ‘A Beautiful Mind.’

What was most striking this time around was the direction of Ron Howard. To take a movie about a real life person and make it part thriller, part drama and part bio pic is quite impressive. The techniques he used to illustrate Mr. Nash using his ‘beautiful mind’ with minor visual effects, mostly using lights and shapes, were very effective. Interestingly enough, he used similar techniques in 2006’s ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ Also, his handling of mental illness is to be commended by giving it both depth and meaning and allowing characters to feel compassion for it at a time when it wasn’t always portrayed with such grace like that in film.

He was also able to get so much from his very talented cast including Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer. And special shout out to Anthony Rapp and Adam “Eddie Menuek” Goldberg who I forgot were even in this movie. As well as Russell Crowe who was just as fantastic as I remembered.

Like the last few movies I have watched, there were tears. From John Nash telling Marcee that he won’t be able to talk to her again to his peers placing pens in front of him as a gesture of their acceptance, I was pretty much a puddle.

I’m going to have to stock up on my Kleenex if things continue this way.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, Ron Howard (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Jennifer Connelly (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Akiva Goldsman (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Russell Crowe (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Mike Hill, Daniel P. Hanley (nomination), Academy Award for Best Makeup, Greg Cannom, Colleen Callaghan (nomination), Best Music, Original Score, James Horner (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Russell Crowe (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Jennifer Connelly (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Akiva Goldsman (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, Ron Howard (nomination), Golden Globe for best Original Score, James Horner (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Russell Crowe (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Jennifer Connelly (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Akiva Goldsman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Director (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Russell Crowe (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Jennifer Connelly (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, Russell Crowe (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Jennifer Connelly (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Ron Howard (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for best Screenplay, Akiva Goldsman (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Motion Picture, Ron Howard (winner), PGA Award for outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Akiva Goldsman (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Hulu, DVD Availability.

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