The other movie this year aside from “Boogie Nights” to center on the anatomical Mr. Happy also was a huge independent hit in this indie-trendy era.
“The Fully Monty” was an example of the wily Union Jack crossing the Atlantic to conquer Lady Liberty with the charming story of six out-of-work steelworkers who decide to put on a male-strip revue for cash.
The picture’s titillating aspect ran second to the human element of the men’s emotional stories as they face economic woes and romantic problems.
The generally liberal Academy usually warms to the playful treatment of sex and labor issues in films of quality, and “The Full Monty” has the combination of lower-middle-class human foibles and relationship issues that marked last year’s modestly produced while strikingly written and performed British best picture nominee, Mike Leigh’s “Secrets and Lies.” What “The Full Monty” doesn’t have is the cachet in critical circles that Leigh enjoys. And it took Leigh many years to get any American attention, then many more to get Oscar attention.
The no-name deficit blankets “The Full Monty” as director Peter Cattaneo, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and cast members Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Addy may have a hard time popping up in Academy voter’s recollections.
A left-field shot for a best picture nod, like “The Full Monty” has often been rewarded with a writing nomination. Examples in the 1990s include “The Usual Suspects,” “Heavenly Creatures,” “Enchanted April,” “Metropolitan” and last year’s eventual scribe winner, Billy Bob Thornton’s “Sling Blade.”
Classic Oscar credentials: 0
Cause celebre: 4 (Everyone in Hollywood relates to unemployment and male dysfunction)
Vanity element: 0
The David vs. Goliath Syndrome: 10 (Plucky Isle vs. Yank B.O. gluttony)
The feel-good movie of the year factor: 9 (Dig those disco numbers)
The unavoidable, inexorable buzz pic: 8 (Underdog, underwear, disco, freeing Willys)
Idiot savants have more fun: 1 (There are those gnomes)
Timing is everything: 5 (Summer release is still going strong.)
O.Q. total: 33