A Beautiful Mind is a biographical film about John Nash, a mathematician who later won the Nobel Prize for Economics. The film looks at how he battles with a tendency towards isolation as he does secret government work in cryptology.
The other nominees for Best Picture that year were Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Moulin Rouge. In addition to Best Picture, A Beautiful Mind also won Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Connelly); Best Director; and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Sylvia Nasar's book).
In this film, Crowe takes on a very different role than in his Oscar-winning turn as Maximus in Gladiator. As John Nash, he is an awkward loner, who has a tendency to grow lost in thought and forget about the real world circling about him. At the risk of revealing too much, I can say little more about the role, except to say that, for me, this role deserved an Oscar far more than Maximus did.
Of course, it would have been difficult to compete against the juggernaut that was Denzel Washington in Training Day, who was the first African-American to win Best Actor since Sydney Poitier in 1963 for Lilies of the Field.
Connelly's role as his supportive wife did nab her an Oscar, although I doubt that most viewers will find her role the most memorable in the film. Still, she does a good job of portraying the conflicting feelings of a woman dealing with the often unpredictable Nash.
Director Ron Howard does a great job of portraying the inner world of Nash, making a film about a mathematician exciting. He uses special effects, camera angles, and a dramatic musical score to explore how Nash thinks.
I first watched this movie about nine years ago, when it was in the theaters. At the time, I was impressed by the way the movie packs an emotional punch and takes a subject that is very internal -- how somebody thinks -- and makes it external and visual. Rewatching it, especially with knowledge of the various plot twists, I could see how seamlessly it all fit together. If anything, I am even more impressed.
In this film, though it didn't make as large of a splash as many other Best Picture winners, Howard added to his credentials as a stellar director, and Crowe proved to all doubters that he was an Oscar-worthy actor, even if he didn't win it for this film.
Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)
The internal world can be beautiful, complicated and mysterious.
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