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Best Picture Nominee: The Aviator

Producers: Michael Mann and Graham King

Previous Best Film wins: Golden Globe (Drama)

The story: The young and idealistic Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is driven by two forces in his life: airplanes and Hollywood. The Aviator begins in the 1920s, as Hughes obsessively works on his silent debut film Hell’s Angels, which he ends up scraping completely to remake as a talkie, thus making it the most expensive film of its time. While embarking on doomed affairs with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), Hughes also builds a plane that makes him the fastest man in the world in 1935, while running TWA and building planes for the government during WWII. Yet, the mental illness that would consume Hughes later in life begins to rear its ugly head. As does his dogfights with Pan Am’s Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), who sics his in-pocket politician, Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster (Alan Alda), on Hughes. The billionaire eventually stands up to Brewster’s senate investigation, and then manages to finish and ceremonially fly the Spruce Goose. But soon he makes his final descent into undiagnosed and untreated madness.

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