Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, it happened, that.

Reader, sometimes I wonder what you must think of us. The team behind this blog so often comes across as being of 2-3 different minds on almost every topic that comes up on the radar screen. I'm grateful that you take the time to read, whoever you are. The culture in which we find ourselves puts somewhat of an unfair premium on time and efficiency, and a web page that isn't interesting tends to be ignored or, even worse, skimmed.

I'm guilty of doing that myself all too often, but I wish that I didn't. It's almost as though I'm denying myself the opportunity to gain as much knowledge as I could just because something isn't eye-grabbing at first, or because it's long. Oooooh. Isn't that horrible? Something's LONG. Wow, I might just learn something if I read it. Billy Shakespeare probably said it best, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"


How about them Oscars? To be honest, I am/was disappointed in the show. The opening musical number was out of place, although Neil Patrick Harris has a good set of pipes. I must admit that I felt some of its "appeal" was misplaced. Is it supposed to be incredibly ironic that a gay man is dancing between a couple of showgirls? Come on, it's not like no one's ever tried that kind of subtext before! I'd rather that we stop treating people like novelty acts over stuff like that. He's a talented actor and entertainer. Period. Let's stop treating folks any different. Why not take a page from Ellen's book when she hosted the show? Oh, wait, she was forced to cut a significant portion of her material because she was ticked off at the way she'd been treated after her coming-out episode and planned to come out of the gate guns blazing. Maybe we better not follow her example if we're going for "moving past the past."

As far as the opening dialogue went, Martin and Baldwin had some good material (loved Steve's bit about Christoph Waltz having hit the motherlode of Jews), but the way that they pitched to various things was incredibly stilted. Set-up, joke . . . "and here's so-and-so over here from such-and-such-a-film." (campy grin + forced applause = LAME) I heard someone say that the material would have worked better if it'd been performed as a monologue, and I have to agree. When one person is throwing the spotlight around the room at various people, you go with it. When two guys are trying to go back and forth and come across as strangely under-rehearsed, it's just too bad.

The awards themselves were a mixed bag. The major awards were incredibly anticlimatic. Every single one of the acting awards went the way I predicted. The Hurt Locker picked up Best Director and Best Picture. Yawn. This didn't exactly make for an incredibly exciting show. I'm not terribly upset about THL's victory, although I still think that Avatar was a more significant achievement. As for Bigelow being the first woman to win Best Director? Good for her. I would have voted for Cameron, but she did a fine job and it's a step up from recognizing Danny Boyle last year. I almost still can't believe that actually happened! I did feel sorry for her standing up there. She looked so nervous that she seemed like she might faint before it was all said and done.

I did find Mo'Nique's comments a bit strange in which she said she didn't want to make her speech a political one, and then promptly thanked Hattie McDaniels. I'm all for her thanking those that came before her and paved the way for her to stand there, but to say she wasn't going to do something and then do it anyway seemed strange. Personally, I'm a bit tired of all the talk of race at the Oscars. A few years ago, when Denzel and Halle won, it was a big deal. 2 years later, Jaime Foxx and Morgan Freeman dominated their respective races from top to bottom, and was their ethnicity mentioned once? Nope. It seems that we've moved past certain things now. Why must we keep bringing it up?

That said, there were a number of upsets in other categories that I wasn't prepared for. Both writing awards went to films I wasn't expecting, although I had started to get an inkling that THL might use its momentum to snag that one too. I was pretty ticked off that The Hurt Locker won in the Original category, instead of Inglourious Basterds. COME ON! Tarantino's script was virtuosic in its ability to accomplish so many different goals, sometimes at once, that it's a crying shame that he didn't pick up little gold man #2. As for the winner in the other Screenplay category, while I haven't seen the movie, having to hear "Precious . . . . . . Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" forty-five thousand times proved tiresome. Please, next time, find a better title! (or at least one that doesn't sound like a drag queen's lamaze class play)

Another BIG surprise was The Secret In Their Eyes beating out both Un Prophete AND The White Ribbon for Best Foreign Language film. Does the Palme d'Or mean nothing in America, people? Forget that. Did the Academy voters not realize that Michael Haneke is the guy who directed The White Ribbon? Have they never seen one of his films before? Did they not know about the crazy/twisted/sick stuff he thinks up for characters to do to each other in his movies? Have they installed new security systems and hired armed guards to stand watch outside their homes to protect themselves? Let's hope so.

Finally, I can't let the direction of the actual telecast off the hook. It was HORRIBLE with a capital AWFUL. If I was made to count each questionable choice . . . man, I'd run out of fingers real quick. Worst gaffe (besides all of the times the viewer saw stuff that we were never supposed to see): cutting to a super wide angle shot right after Bigelow won. Come on, she was sitting right in front of Cameron. Everyone wanted to see the two of them. Would he shake her hand? Would they hug? Would they speak at all? Instead, I was left to yell at the screen, calling out instructions to the guy at the switchboard who, sadly, couldn't hear me from so many miles away.

For my second and last finally, I have to point out the sheer strangeness of the so-called "tribute" to the nominated scores. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to have a bunch of performers do an interpretive dance to the music? Oh yeah, whenever I hear the music from Up, I immediately think "Hey! Let's get a guy to do the robot!" Oh no. What is this? Are we back to the tap dance tribute to Saving Private Ryan? Some things are better left alone.


As for our scatterbrainededness and hornswaggling over everything that we write about . . . well, we like it that way. Besides that, we've done pretty well up to this point. That's just how it goes. Besides, every so often, it just so happens that we all think the same way, and that always ends up feeling so good.

This year, I think I'm going to read more thoroughly when I'm online. How about it? I think I'll watch Redacted before the year is up, and then read Zanzie's blog. ALL of it.


Chris W said...

While I haven't seen PRECIOUS either (It's sitting here in a Netflix envelope waiting to be opened) I totally agree Tarantino should have won for Best Screenplay, that was easily the most masterful writing of the year. Having said that though it was THE HURT LOCKER that beat out INGLORIOUS BASTERDS not PRECIOUS. PRECIOUS won Best Adapted Screenplay beating out I feel the very deserving UP IN THE AIR, IN THE LOOP or DISTRICT 9. THE HURT LOCKER and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS were nominated for Best Original Screenplay and while I thought THE HURT LOCKER was very well written it still didn't come close to matching Tarantino's achievement. As for the Monique "politics" comment she was actually refering to the "politics" of Oscar campaining not a racial thing. Apparently she refused to do any campaining or promoting during the awards season. I thought the same thing as you until they explained in Entertainment Weekly.

Adam said...

Oh, great scot. I have committed quite the blunder, have I not? It's now been corrected. Thanks for having my back.

Thanks for explaining the Mo'Nique situation.

Adam said...

And please let me know your thoughts on Precious. I'm very curious.

Adam Zanzie said...

Martin and Baldwin's hosting was a huge disappointment. Roger Ebert was writing on his blog about how it was, yes, an inspired idea to have them host the show together. But having them read their one-liners off the teleprompter was a mistake (though I got a kick out of that "motherload" jab at Cristoph Waltz). And it didn't look like Baldwin was having much fun onstage; Martin, however, seemed to be enjoying it. Maybe Baldwin's recent family problems have been eating away at his peace of mind a little?

Regarding the whole thing with the race factor at the Oscars, one thing I remember about Foxx and Freeman winning for 2004 was something witty that Chris Rock said, about how "it's like Def Jam Oscar night". lol. But other than that, yeah, that telecast didn't have much hype around the race politics. Mo'Nique's dedication to Hattie Macdaniel also wasn't all that necessary considering that Whoopi Goldberg had already won that same Oscar two decades before Mo'Nique did. And Goldberg's win certainly was not born out of politics (Ghost isn't all that good a movie, although she was excellent in it).

I was hoping for A Serious Man, my favorite movie of the year, to win Best Original Screenplay- but then again I knew right away that the film was going to go home empty-handed. I think that Avatar, Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Locker are all good movies, but I decided not to favor any of them because I didn't want to get bogged down in the frenzied politics surrounding each of them. Though, like you, I was outraged that we didn't get to see whether or not Bigelow and Cameron were communicating after Streisand had announced that she was the winner.

And thanks for the shout-out, Adam! Although, I can't promise you that you're going to admire Redacted as much as I do. You might have to familiarize yourself with De Palma's career a little more, first- that helped in my case. At the same time, if you've read those argumentative comments between me and the folks over at Cinema Viewfinder (back when I wrote about the film for their September blogathon), even some of the most rapid De Palma fans take issue with the film. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.