The Aviator
2004
Leonardo DiCaprio portrays eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes, who turned a small fortune into a massive one by producing Hollywood classics such as Scarface. He simultaneously branched into and transformed industry after industry -- including aviation.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Martin Scorsese, a born director, is so gifted that one of his minor efforts can still win over critics and become an Oscar front-runner. "The Aviator" brings the charm, fascination, and downward spiral of Howard Hughes to the screen in a massive production so accomplished that Scorsese makes it look easy. It might be three hours long, but it feels like twenty minutes, whizzing by and never coming close to wearing out its welcome. Scorsese is able to attract top talent to his films, and here he fills almost every speaking role with a familiar face, in a way that doesn't distract like it did in "Cold Mountain," perhaps because every character here is supposed to look glamorous. Cate Blanchett makes the strongest impression as Katharine Hepburn, incredibly grating in her first scene (a golf date with Hughes) but soon emerging as the most perceptive and most human character in the movie. Leonardo Di Caprio has trouble convincing as Hughes partly because he bears no resemblance, but few actors better embody the heedless ambition of youth, and Di Caprio is able to suggest that Hughes was driven to such successes by his demons, always trying to stay one step ahead of them. The film doesn't have much of an emotional impact; indeed, its main character is essentially the same character at the end that he was at the beginning, but the only major gripe I have is with the editing: I have not seen this many blatant continuity errors, from shot to shot, in any movie that I can recall. It boggles me how this film could have gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Editing.

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