If I were to ask you for a list of the best films of 1997, a few would jump to mind. The Full Monty, L.A. Confidential, Good Will Hunting…maybe? Even Titanic? I’ll admit to being a film snob, but it’s hard to match the technical brilliance of Titanic. Somewhere in your list, though, would be Ang Lee‘s The Ice Storm. Do you know what it doesn’t have in common with any of the other movies I’ve listed here? The Ice Storm, an absolutely gorgeous and stunningly acted film, wasn’t nominated for any Academy Awards. Not one. It was nominated for at least one of all the other major awards out there, including a Golden Globe for Sigourney Weaver (who got the brunt of the attention, but it’s hard to say what the best performance among this stellar cast is. Is it Kevin Kline? Is it Joan Allen? Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, and Adam Hann-Byrd are all great in it, if not award worthy (though Ricci did pull in a handful). Tobey Maguire is here too, as probably the most normal person in the entire movie. When baseline normal in your mainstream indie is Tobey Maguire? I don’t know, man.
But it all works, and works very, very well. What doesn’t work for The Ice Storm is its advertising campaign, which wants to paint it as some 70s coming-of-age triumph. The Ice Storm is a lot of things, but coming-of-age film, or anything remotely triumphant isn’t one of them. Bleak, articulate, intricate, devastating, and as ThatWeirdGirl points out, somewhat life-affirming, The Ice Storm remains widely considered one of the best films to never have been nominated for an Academy Award. This is a film that is worth your time no matter who you are, unless you just watch movies for explosions. There are a couple of implosions here, but it’s families, not property damage that’s on the menu.
Find this film, and you’ll be rewarded with an oddly funny, off-putting, thought provoking period film that might be a little too real as America leaves the feel-good 50s and settles into the troublesome 70s.
*For the love of Ang Lee, DO NOT WATCH the trailer for this movie. I’d link it, but then you’d watch it, and I just told you not to! Not only is it misleading, it’s riddled with spoilers. Just watch the movie and ignore its advertising.