"Chicago" is a visual masterpiece. Say what you will about other Best Picture Oscar nominees being more deserving of the award, but there is no denying that this is a great film. The racy Broadway musical comes to life through director Rob Marshall's out-of-the-box vision for the story. His interpretation creates a seamless duality between the real world and the vaudeville sequences in Roxy's imagination. It is something that initially made me hate the show (since none of the musical numbers actually happen) but now it has become the most endearing characteristic. It allows the audience to see Roxy's disillusioned, warped perspective of her crime through her eyes. To create these larger than life musical numbers, it was essential to have an all-star costuming and production crew. These costumes include very little clothing for the first third of the film, which successfully brings the burlesque style to life (although it makes it a little awkward to watch with your parents or significant other). It is no surprise that the film won the Oscars for Costume Design and Art Direction (now known as Production Design), but it is equally surprising that the film was robbed of an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Many would argue that this was the most deserved award out of all of its nominations. The film would be completely disjointed without the clear visual contrast that distinguishes the bleak real world from Roxy's vividly colored imagination. Amongst the nominations and awards, the most memorable piece of the film is it's exciting 1920's ragtime musical score. The "All That Jazz" and "Cellblock Tango" sequences have become iconic while the marionettes of "They Both Reached for the Gun" and the "Razzle Dazzle" circus assure that the film is constantly unpredictable. But none of this would matter without the catchy tunes and impressive vocal performances by Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifa, and John C. Reilly, ALL of whom were nominated for Oscars! Even Richard Gere, whose singing voice was slightly odd, had the perfect tone for his fast-talking character. The movie could not have been cast better and these songs will be running through your head for weeks after it ends. "Chicago" may be edgy but it is a must-see for both its significance in cinema history for revitalizing the movie musical and for its stunning production design that achieves perfection in the catchy musical numbers.
[Pictured: You will never forget the Cell Block Tango once you've experienced it]