Hey! Remember when I used to do this! It’s been over a year since the last one (which you may recall involved a botched attempt at mixing, cake, alcohol, and fire), but I finally got my act together last night and made some “Frango” mint brownies in honor of Chicago, the first musical to win Best Picture since 1969 when it won in 2003 (none as won since, though for about 3 minutes in 2016, La La Land thought they had…) Anyway, focusing on an actual best picture winner:
Had I seen this one before?
Yes. As a musical theater middle and high schooler I watched this countless times. But I don’t actually remember when I last saw it. I had a glowing memory of it as a near perfect movie in my head, and…it doesn’t quite live up to that but it is a really fun adaptation that makes Bob Fosse mainstream somehow, which I appreciate.
Top 3 observations on this viewing?
- Despite what my boyfriend referred to as, “a troubling pattern of violence against men,” this song holds up:
And see Mya there! This movie is full of cameos! Including Dominic West! And Chita Rivera! And Lucy Liu! I’m sure that I was excited about Ms. Liu at the time, but last night I was the most excited to see Chita, since she was in the original broadway cast of Chicago and it’s pretty cool that she was included here.
2. I remember people talked a lot about Richard Gere was miscast in a musical, because he can’t sing. But Billy Flynn isn’t a hard part to sing, the issue is that he can’t dance/give himself over to the unreality of a musical number. He sounds fine, he just looks so uncomfortable.
3. Every single character in this movie is a sociopath, except Amos (John C. Reilly). I knew it was about murders, and the beginnings of a vampiric crime press, but I mean seriously these are all the worst humans. Except Amos, bless his dumb little heart. He deserves so much better than these monsters.
What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?
Gangs of New York – I’ve never seen all of this, I’ve heard good things, and it’s Scorsese…
The Hours – I love this movie, but it is so small and quiet, this nomination feels like its win
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – I have attempted to watch this multiple times and fallen asleep each time. (I will eventually see it when I get to Return of the King on this list…I promise).
The Pianist – Ooomph. This one is a gut punch.
So, it was a real grab bag of a year. At the time I was thrilled for Chicago and probably I’d still give it to them today. The Pianist is probably a better film, but Chicago is a more impressive production, which is technically what the Best Picture award is for.
Bechdel Test pass?
Yes! They may all be horrendous criminals who murder men for revenge or money but they also have names! And they talk about their ambitions and fears and crimes.
I wanted an old timey Chicago dessert, and all I could think of was Frango mints. I found a recipe for Frango mint fudge. But longtime readers know how fudge tends to go for me. So I adapted this recipe for mint chocolate brownies (mostly by simplifying it) and invented my own version of the classic treat:
Frango Mint Brownies
- 1 box of fudgey brownie mix
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 8 tablespoons of butter softened to almost melted
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1.5 teaspoons mint extract
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Mix and bake brownies in a 9 by 13 in pan (I baked mine only 28 minutes for more of a cakey texture)
- While they’re baking/cooling (I popped mine in the freezer) combine powdered sugar, milk, butter, and mint extract in a large bowl using a mixer
- When brownies are cool, spread mint cream mixture evenly over the top
- Top with a layer of chocolate chips
- Place in fridge or freezer to cool/solidify
- Slice and serve!