Top 100 Movies Of The 1990's: #72 Titanic
Box Office: $659.4 Million
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (James Cameron), Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Stuart), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects
Oscar Wins: Best Picture, Best Director (James Cameron), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects
Available To Stream: Roku, Prime Video ($3)
The first half of Titanic is not a good movie. The boat is obviously stunning and the Bill Paxton stuff at the very top is interesting but everything else has problems. Leonardo DiCaprio's weird cliched Italian friend is awful. The characters are mostly two dimensional. The dialogue is rough. There is a reason that among its Oscar nominations, you don't see any for screenwriting. I'm sure the Braveheart Brigade that was already annoyed that movie is 75th on the list is aghast that Titanic is above it.
I get all of that. I really do.
Having said all of that, the second half of Titanic is so impressive that it makes up for all of it. I don't know if James Cameron planned it but it gets good almost exactly at the midway point. It takes a giant boat hitting an iceberg for the move to finally show human moments while some of the best special effects in movie history are surrounding all of it.
This is the greatest disaster movie of all-time. Somewhere along the way, this got dismissed as a chick flick. Yes, teenage girls swarmed to the theaters to see Leonardo DiCaprio and a paper thin love story but that's all perception. James Cameron directed this! Hundreds of people die in the matter of minutes. That last half of this movie is almost wall-to-wall action. If Cameron had cast John Goodman instead of DiCaprio, this wouldn't have this weird Tiger Beat reputation. The awful Celine Dion song doesn't help either.
Even though it's his most famous role, this might be DiCaprio's worst performance. He's certainly not bad but he's also been much better elsewhere. This is Kate Winslet's most famous role as well but she is brilliant. When she is running down the flooded corridors or terrified of drowning, I believe every second of it. This is where Cameron is at his best. There are parts of Titanic that are right out of a horror movie. It's unfair that the most iconic parts of this movie are the goofiest where the great scenes aren't as well remembered.
If you're 30 or younger, it's probably hard to really grasp how big this movie was. It was number one at the box office every weekend from December 19 through March 29th. In that time, it also won 11 Oscars. It dominated the entire movie industry for over three months straight. Even into the middle of June, it was still in the Top 10. The success of the movie may have ruined Cameron. He became less interested with telling stories and more obsessed with how he can create a bigger movie experience. Now, he just does weird Avatar movies that look great and sell tickets but don't really mean anything to anyone.
I don't care about the lame typical talking points around the movie. The endless debate about if Jack can fit on the raft is almost as tired as fighting about whether Die Hard is or isn't a Christmas movie. Some people now ironically like the Billy Zane performance. Don't. It is ridiculous and stupid. The corny repeated quotes in the movie don't help either. It's wild to me that those are the takeaways from something that has such a dedication to accuracy with what people did on the boat and how they reacted. The scene where the captain quietly goes down the with the ship is amazing. Why can't that be what people talk about with this movie?
Arguing Titanic is a little like discussing politics. Everyone has an opinion and nothing anyone says is really going to change anyone's mind. I'm sure you've all seen this and if you haven't, even that in of itself is a statement. I guess I just ask that if you do watch this again, try to go in with an open mind. Don't let the reputation of the movie seep into how you watch it. It's a brutally uneven film. But if you make some popcorn and sit back for the ride of it all, it really is a impressive experience.
73. Billy Madison
74. Apollo 13
80. 12 Monkeys
81. Stir Of Echoes
83. Total Recall
84. Quiz Show
87. Men In Black
90. Three Kings
98. Any Given Sunday