It's rare to see a film these days that doesn't feature a mobile phone, so it seems unfair that the Oscars didn't have a category to recognise the top movie mobile moment. Not only are mobiles used as a reference to modern life but in many cases they've become intrinsic to the film's plot. From comedies to dramas, the ever-present mobile phone is a prop that's becoming as popular on the silver screen as off it. Here are Crave's top five nominations:
One of the first films to give a mobile phone centre stage was The Matrix (1999). In it, Keanu Reeves relies on a Nokia 8110, aka 'the banana phone', to contact the 'real' world. The 8110 was one of Nokia's first slider phones and came with a relatively basic feature set, but became a huge success with Matrix fans. It also became a design classic that heavily influenced other mobile phone manufacturers.
Three years later and a film called Phone Booth (2002) begins by explaining how mobile phones are quickly overthrowing the humble phone box. A New York publicist, played by Colin Farrell, is a prolific mobile phone user who becomes a hostage in a phone box -- he's avoiding using his mobile so he can call a girl he's trying to woo and not get caught by his girlfriend.
While this isn't strictly a film about mobile phones, it does highlight some interesting questions about the advent of mobile phone technology. Whether or not it's intentional, the film critiques our emotional relationship with mobiles and literally stops everything in its tracks in a static phone booth, where Farrell is made to atone for his mobile sins.
Another sin-filled film is the Da Vinci Code (2006), but unlike Phone Booth, our relationship with mobile phones is definitely not in question. The lead character, Dr Langdon (Tom Hanks), finds himself borrowing someone's Sony Ericsson W850i to use the WAP browser. This is a hilariously awkward and blatant use of mobile phone product-placement that adds nothing to the film -- who would have guessed it was produced by Sony Pictures?
Fortunately, The Departed (2006) -- winner of some much less coveted awards last night -- manages to steer clear of any brand names and sticks firmly to the plot, with mobile phones playing an important role in its conclusion. In a similar way to Phone Booth, this film also tackles the duality of our lives created by using mobile phones. All the main characters rely heavily on mobile phones to communicate -- and lie -- to one another.
Another Sony Pictures film is Casino Royale (2006), which completely outdoes The Da Vinci Code and features Sony Ericsson phones all over the place. While James Bond's phone, the Sony Ericsson K800i, is a great handset, we're not overly convinced it falls into the realms of a Bond gadget. We don't want to see high-street stuff in Bond's pocket -- we want the kind of phone that only Q could come up with.
And the winner is... the Nokia 8110. This phone not only made Keanu Reeves look cool, it was also popular with the punters and definitely added substance to The Matrix. A great phone for its time, and a great film. -AL