Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar

We're about five to six hours away from the bi-annual spectacle of Hollywood lavishing an embarassing amount of praise onto a Harvey Weinstein pickup that nobody will care about within a month. I'm thinking I'll live-tweet the Oscars this year (unless circumstances don't permit it) so if you're not already following my Twitter @the_moviebob now would probably be a good time...
I think what annoys me so much about the impending coronation of "The Artist" isn't the film itself - as I've said elsewhere, it's just an inoffensive little ball of feel-good nothing - but that it's not even the best of the nominees at the things it does do: It's not the best paean to Silents, that's "Hugo" (flawed but ambitious beats well-executed mediocrity.) It's not the best harmlessly-silly romantic comedy about The Good Old Days, that's "Midnight in Paris" (which unlike "Artist" also manages to be ABOUT SOMETHING.)

"Moneyball" and "Descendants" are better "Older Gentleman Evaluating Life Choices" movies, "Tree of Life" wrings waaaaay more out of recreating the mid-50s than "Artist" gets out of the 20s... hell, I'd go so far as to say that "War Horse" does a better job channeling John Ford and Walt Disney than "Artist" does channeling it's grab-bag of Silent influences (it also has a more likable Silent Protagonist than Benigni Dujardin, though to be fair that horse wouldn't have been as funny in the OSS movies...) Honestly, the only nominees I can say it's definitively superior to are "The Help" and "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close;" and at least both of those had a touch more ambition to them, conceptually.

18 comments:

Blue Highwind said...

Waa.

Anonymous said...

Those two movies are about as unambitious as they come.

Last year The King's Speech won, and it was only better than one of the other pictures (The Kids are alright), and it beat several terrific movies (The Fighter, 127 Hours, True Grit, Inception) and TWO masterpieces (Social Network and Winter's Bone). Honestly, a nice, cute little movie winning over Hugo and Tree of Life doesn't really bother me too much in comparison.

Elessar said...

You know Bob, whatever reason you have for hating the Oscars (I imagine Goodfellas figures in) but you need to get over it, especially when you start reflexively hating the probable winner (the only time you did this and I even SLIGHTLY agreed with you was The King's Speech).

I also note you didn't comment on the 2007 Oscars? Was that because you couldn't find a way to say that No Country For Old Men was a 'safe pick?" Okay, that was mean, sorry. But still, get over it man.

Sylocat said...

My thoughts, Part 1:

Did you seriously say that Iron Lady was a well-selected choice for the makeup category? A BIOPIC beats out HP7.2? Fuck that, and fuck the Academy in their pasty decrepit... um, ears.

I was delightfully surprised at the Christopher Guest cameo. I haven't heard a thing from him since For Your Consideration, which was the only bad movie he's ever done. What's he been up to since?

On my ballot, I called Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo getting Best Editing. It's the one category where the Academy seems to pay attention to genre films.

...On the topic of Drive, I am recalling some review I read that said something along the lines of, "There are two Big Movies this year: Drive, and War Horse. One of those movies is an emotionally manipulative shell that presents as its main character a deliberately-blank slate for the audience to project themselves onto, to trick them into thinking the film says more than it actually does. The other involves a farm animal and takes place during World War I." But yeah, the "sound editing" (whatever that means... is it just a consolation prize now that they don't do a general FX category anymore?) was good.

As of 6:30 Pacific time, Ellen DeGeneres has had two commercials so far. One of which has her playing Lucy. Wow.

I love the Cirque du Soleil, and they're in top form, but will someone tell me why the Academy didn't let the Muppets just sing their own damn song?

RDJ and Gwyneth remind me of Mike Myers and Heather Locklear in the SNL skit about the pasta maker.

A documentary about football beats out Paradise Lost 3. Is the Academy still trying to do damage control to appeal to the redneck demographic who wanted Peter Jackson et al to "mind their own business and let us lynch innocent men."

Sylocat said...

My thoughts, part 2:

From reading your Twitter... thanks for catching the voice-actor thing.

Either Emma Stone is wearing seven-inch heels under that dress, or Ben Stiller is a midget.

...Are they seriously going to lockout HP7.2? I mean, I loved Hugo, but damn.

Plummer was a shoe-in... though I wasn't expecting that speech. Wow.

The Tyler Perry joke was one of three of Billy Crystal's lines that I've laughed at so far.

So, Tommy actually came out onstage.

Penelope Cruz actually has that accent? It sounds so fake I thought it was an act.

For the umpteenth time, his name isn't "Tin Tin," it's Tintin. It's ONE WORD for fuck's sake.

I agree 100% on The Artist's score. This should be illegal, not just because it was terrible, but because they disqualified Jonny Greenwood for far less offense than that.

Well, at least it won Best Original Song. I was worried they'd lock it out entirely.

...Ellen DeGeneres's third commercial. I think I might actually start shopping at JCP. Gotta be better than Wal-Mart or Best Buy.

And now GOB. And it's a commercial for Hulu, which I support. I swear the most entertaining thing about this whole evening has been the commercials. Is this only on ABC?

I'm glad Payne won, though it's shredding my ballot further.

Okay, the Bridesmaids have been the best part of the evening, and now they're the only ones who even come close to pushing any kind of edge or boundaries.

Her name is seriously spelled "Oorlagh?" Wow.

Okay, we're coming up on the acting awards. Before they get official (or my browser crashes and I lose the comment), I'm calling Meryl Streep for Best Actress... but even with the infamous "Biopic Advantage," she still doesn't even belong on the same ticket with Michelle Williams.

Sylocat said...

Hazanavicius says he's "the happiest director in the world right now." He certainly has the most reason to be happy, given how far above his merits he's just been placed.

Do they do this montage at every Oscars, or has my brain edited it out to avoid PTSD?

*sees the Best Actor choice*

AAARRRGGGHHH...

*calms down*

I'll give them one thing: I love the deco design of the backdrop.

Oddly, Rooney Mara looks much creepier in "normal" makeup than she did as Lizzie Salander... what is with that hairline?

Colin Firth is giving some oddly profound speeches here.

Please, please, PLEASE let Michelle pull a surprise upse... FUCK THE ACADEMY VOTERS.

Sylocat said...

*sigh* Okay, Part 4...

...I hope to Azathoth that Billy Crystal was making a joke that flew over the audience's head, when he introduced Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise "makes the impossible possible?" No, he makes the impossible show up on tabloid pages when preaching L. Ron Hubbard's bullshit and jumping up and down on couches.

Okay, it's Best Picture time. Let's see if they can pull a last-minut...

*headdesks*

Anonymous said...

Sorry Bob, it was the Artist.

Enjoy your grumpiness.

Anonymous said...

People who have won an Oscar: Eminem

People who haven't: Alfred Hitchcock

Do you really think that the oscars matter?

Do you remember Shakespeare in Love winning over Saving Private Ryan? As a matter of fact, I don't think Kubrick ever won an oscar for best director. The oscars are a shit marketing campaign to the masses. I don't think anyone that likes film should expect them to not pick something like the Artist. It's easy to like and appeals to a sundry amount of people. The oscars aren't for people that like movies; the oscars are for the people who pay for the Maseratis of the people who make movies.

There's a reason that Woody Allen hates the Academy, and it's not because the American public hates him.

Aiddon said...

The goddamned dog should have won Best Actor over Roberto Begnigni 2.0. At least Cohen got to do his dictator schtick during SOME part of the damn ceremony.

Goku50k said...

My favorite film of the year was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and that wasnt even nominated. I didnt see Hugo but I saw every other movie on that list and I have to say the most ambitious film and the one that was the most evocative was The Tree of Life, I would have given Gary Oldman the award for best actor (man is he over due) and for actress I would have given it to Rooney Mara.

Anonymous said...

I would like to offer FILM CRIT HULK'a humble opinion on this Oscar nonsense:

http://thesilvertongueonline.com/2012/02/slip-of-the-tongue-lets-talk-about-the-oscars/

Smashmatt202 said...

Honestly, I really liked The Artist. In fact, after watching the Oscars and hearing the music from the movie, I'm tempted to go back and watch the movie again!

Pat said...

@Elessar

I actually don't think he was a professional movie critic in 2007, just a guy with a blog and a YouTube account that he hadn't even monetized. Speaking personally, though, I'd say that 2007 was a pretty good year for the Oscars, comparatively speaking. Sure it was arguable that There Will Be Blood was better than No Country for Old Men, but I thought NCfOM had a much stronger screenplay, better pacing, and an excellent cast. TWBB doesn't really heat up until the latter half and Daniel Day Lewis is pretty much the only truly remarkable thing in the movie. And beyond that, you had a rare case where there wasn't one or two movies that swept most of the categories. Just about every major film that year got an award it deserved (though TWBB got robbed in Best Original Score).

And Bob has written extensively on the Escapist about his problems with the Oscars and how it affects the film industry as a whole, and they are problems that go beyond just an annoying awards show. So I really don't see why he should have to "get over it", particularly when it's kind of his job to talk about how he feels about the Oscars and other aspects of the film industry.

Joe said...

@Anonymous 5:28 AM:

I haven't listened to that yet, but I remember one of Hulk's essays where he related an old adage that the Academy means "most" when they say "best":

THERE OLD ADAGE ABOUT OSCARS AND THAT YOU “SWITCH THE WORD ‘BEST’ WITH ‘MOST.’” AFTER SEEING VOTING PROCESS UP CLOSE HULK TELL YOU IT ABSOLUTELY TRUE. MOST ACTING. ALWAYS THE BIG BOMBASTIC PERFORMANCES WIN. VOTERS LOVE TANGIBLE EVIDENCE LIKE ACTOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT OR “GOING UGLY.” EVEN EXTREME EXAMPLES OF METHOD ACTING WILL DO. OR PERHAPS MOST COSTUME DESIGN. PICK YOUR PERIOD PIECE DU JOUR! MOST SCEENWRITING. PICK MOVIE WITH MOST MEMORABLE DIALOGUE, IGNORING CHARACTER MOTIVATION AND STORYTELLING 101 STUFF. JUST THE STUFF AVERAGE MOVIE-GOER KNOWS THE WRITER DID. HECK, EVEN MOST PICTURE WORKS. LOOK HOW MANY FLAWLESS FILMS HAVE LOST TO THE MOST EPIC ONE (MOST OBVIOUS L.A. CONFIDENTIAL VS. TITANIC). AND TITANIC AT LEAST HAVE SOME KIND HISTORICAL RELEVANCY. THERE REASON SO MANY OTHER BEST PICTURE WINNERS NO GO ON BECOME HISTORICAL GREATS.

Coconut Buyer said...

Your live tweeting was embarrassing, Bob. It was like a snobby teen who didn't get an iPhone for christmas.

Elessar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elessar said...

@Pat:

He was not a professional movie critic, but he did an Oscar Commentary for every. Other. Oscars. EXCEPT 2007. As for my opinion on There Will Be Blood vs. No Country For Old Men, when I dug up my top 10 films of 2000-2009 (Note to self: Post those to my blog sometime tomorrow) There Will Be Blood came in 5th, No Country in 2nd. So there's my opinion in a nutshell.

And yes, I'm well aware of his 'problems' with the Oscars, and I have my own issues with them (To wit: French Connection over A Clockwork Orange? Are you fucking KIDDING me?). What hacks me off, if that I'd argue that they do MUCH more good than harm.

For example, think of a good film, not a good movie, a good FILM that's been made. Black Swan maybe? Social Network? Up in the Air? ANYTHING by people like the Coen's, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick. Even things that don't get nominated like Melancholia or Drive? At some point, in their pitch, was the sentence, "Well it could win an Oscar."

And THAT is why the Oscars are important. Because movies cost money, more than most other forms of media, and having something like the Oscars, that doesn't reward based on how popular it is with the masses (the people who make shit like Transformers or Expendables a hit and Winters Bone or Scott Pilgrim flops). Something that encourages artistic achievement instead of simply making money, is so impossibly important that if we were to lose them, the artistry in the American film industry would disappear faster than dignity when Michael Bay is involved. This is why the Oscars are so important (and why Video Games need something like them so much) because they promote smaller more artistic ventures, over big shit fests. So what they don't always choose the best films of the year, everyone's opinion is different. I'm willing to bet there are a bunch of people who think they DID, and in my opinion, of the nominated films, the only one they could have chosen that was better was The Descendants.

But then why am I sitting here arguing? I became of the opinion that Bob forfeited his right to complain about anyone else's pick for Best Picture the minute he gave Captain America his 2nd best film of the year. So yeah, I'm done. Enjoy my wall of text.