Starring: Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jonathan Lipnicki (his first role), Bonnie Hunt, Jay Mohr, Regina King, Kelly Preston, Jerry O’Connell
Director: Cameron Crowe
Summary: A sports agent strikes out on his own after he loses his job
Other Nominations: Actor (Cruise), Supporting Actor (Gooding Jr.)*, Original Screenplay, Film Editing
A very middling Best Picture nominee, although perfectly enjoyable I guess. The film’s theme is “can you have a soul and success in a cutthroat, ruthless, totally money-driven industry?”; since this movie plays out as predictably as possible, the answer is of course yes. Cruise is fine and I liked Zellweger a lot, but it’s pretty shocking to me that Gooding Jr. won the Oscar for a performance that didn’t really stand out to me as exceptional-especially in comparison to William H. Macy for Fargo, Armin Mueller-Stahl for Shine or Edward Norton for Primal Fear. Nothing is really problematic here, except that Maguire getting fired didn’t have a good enough build-up: he was fired because of his mission statement I guess, but it feels absurd for the company to fire their top agent at the drop of a hat simply because he was critical of the industry in a memo. Unless it was actually because Mohr’s character basically staged a coup? Anyway, it stuck out to me that the plot point that gets the whole plot rolling is executed poorly. It was fine, but still an uninspired choice.