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12 March 2014

15 Things About the Oscars

Yes, it's Saturday Wednesday and I am talking about a show that aired the Sunday before last Sunday. But, in the words of my high school history teacher when I turned in my fourth paper of the semester: "And it's not nearly as late as your other papers!" My "other papers" in this comparison being drafted blog posts about things that happened in November.

The 86th Academy Awards
  1. The show was not shorter than other Oscars telecasts. In fact, it was on the long side. I kept saying the next day: "I can't believe how short that was!" But it wasn't short. I was just drinking a bottle of Prosecco. And we were at a friend's house for the party/telecast. When my time wasn't being used to work to hear the broadcast above the din, I was participating in the din. (Another side-effect: less following-along on Twitter, sadface.)
  2. There were too many montages. (I know. EVERY YEAR.) Near the end of the broadcast, Bonnie and I were saying "There weren't even that many montages this year! Just the death montage...and the 'heroes' montage...and that 'animated films' montage..." Yeah, thanks Prosecco. I will drink you for Oscars every year. But Oscars does need less montages. Honestly, what do you need, other than the Death Montage and the Honorary Oscar montage? WTF was the point of the 'animated films from other years' montage? The mostly white and male 'heroes' montage? To take up more time?
  3. Ellen is terrific. Other than her surprisingly mean jibe at Liza Minnelli, she was funny and charming and subtlely subversive toward Hollywood. I don't care if the selfie was a Samsung plug, IT WAS ADORABLE.
  4. My tender emotions for "Wind Beneath My Wings" are mostly nostalgic and cruelly accentuated by a copious amount of Prosecco.
  5. Gravity didn't deserve all of those awards. I hate awards show pile-ons. They're so boring and lazy, and they deprive other worthy films of recognition. Yes for Best Director, for Alfonso CuarĂ³n, because he's an amazing filmmaker and always has been. But Cinematography? For a movie that relies so heavily on FX? What? (Same-same for Life of Pi winning this award last year.) Best Original Score? I don't remember ANY music from Gravity, but the music in Her was an integral to the moods of that film. Why didn't Her win the award? (With a pile-on situation, the academy will toss out a crumb in a deserving category and then give up awarding the film anything else, with the justification that "'Her' got the award for Best Original Screenplay, after all!")
  6. Please stop airing the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing awards. NOBODY CARES. And while I don't have much objection to Gravity also winning in both those categories (because those awards are boring and NOBODY CARES), it would have been nice to recognize the great-but-mostly-ignored Inside Llewyn Davis for Sound Mixing. If you're going to make us watch those award presentations, anyway.
  7. Before Midnight deserved Best Adapted Screenplay. But maybe not? Over the winner of that award, 12 Years A Slave? I don't know. I wish there could have been two awards for this category. If "All of The Awards Are Decided By Amanda," I'd give it to Before Midnight since 12 Years gets to be Best Picture. A caveat to this declaration, is that the film is most effective and emotionally resonant to audiences who also watched the previous two films in the (ostensible) last of a trilogy: Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. After viewing Before Midnight last June, I didn't immediately feel the same passion that I'd felt for the previous films. Before Sunrise is about new love and new ideas about life and existence, and Before Sunset (my favorite of the three) is about renewed love and grappling existentially with the end of youth and idealism. Before Midnight, on the other hand, is darker. (So why didn't I love it right away? Because buzzkill.) The film is sometimes angry, somewhat sad, but poignant in its expression of...resigned hopefulness. Because without hope, what else is there? And while these characters are cushioned by white, educated, Western privilege, it's the tenuous grasp on connection to another person that rings as universal. It's about how knowing someone can make you feel less alone, and about how fearing losing that connection, not knowing, fearing their face becoming just a wall, can make you feel alone again.
  8. The Act of Killing should have won for Best Documentary. Dirty Wars is important and depressing. And I loved-loved Cutie and the Boxer (watch it, it's good!). But The Act of Killing (though also depressing) treated us to murderers re-enacting their murders and then having them pose as their victims of said murders in additional reenactments. What the fucking fuck. The concept alone - the hubris of it - deserved an award, although the film is also well-edited, emotionally compelling, and historically important.
  9. Haha, American Hustle was shut out. I enjoyed American Hustle a lot, but it had to be punished for Silver Linings Playbook, which wasn't as good, and didn't deserve any of the Oscars that it won (or was nominated for) last year. Also, David O. Russell: Maybe stop hiring 22-year olds to play married housewives? The best thing in Silver Linings Playbook was a frigging montage, and that was only because it was set to Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash's "Girl From The North Country." (Though I also enjoyed the scene where Jennifer Lawrence yells at all the men in the living room, and the scene where Bradley Cooper trashes A Farewell To Arms.) If anything, American Hustle deserved an award for the hair and costumes and sets (which a reviewer ripped as "stolen from sets of 'Boogie Nights'"), because they were the reason I wanted to see the film in the first place. But I wouldn't deny The Great Gatsby, which was filmed by Baz Luhrmann with more love of film than cynicism (seriously, what has happened to the creator of Three Kings and I ♥ Huckabees?!), its awards in those categories.
  10. Jonah Hill not winning Best Supporting Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street makes me think there might be a God after all. Or it at least cancels out my despair over Jonah Hill winning Best Supporting Actor for Moneyball. (As Bonnie pointed out "Jonah Hill has more Oscars than Leonardo DiCaprio!") Jonah Hill is a JUST ALRIGHT actor, people! What the hell is wrong with you??
  11. Lupita N'yongo was the best thing about the Oscars this year. Her beautiful speech ended with my favorite words of the night: "no matter where you are, your dreams are valid." Her dress was gorgeous and perfect. She shimmied with Pharrell! Her performance in 12 Years A Slave was gripping, and deserving of an Oscar. And it warms my intersectionally feminist heart to see people/women of color being recognized for their achievements.
  12. Nasty comments on the Internet about Kim Novak's plastic surgery did a nice job of proving why Kim Novak felt compelled to try to look forever the co-star of Hitchcock's most overrated film rather than an 81-year old woman.
  13. Cate Blanchett said my second favorite thing of the night when she won Best Actress for Blue Jasmine: "For so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people." Amen, sister!
  14. Unfortunately it came after she said this: "And me, I’m here accepting an award in an extraordinary screenplay* by Woody Allen. Thank you so much, Woody, for casting me. I truly appreciate it." There's debate over whether Blanchett ought to have accepted the award in the first place. But if you land in the "her work doesn't have anything to do with alleged crimes of the director from over 20 years ago" camp, she's still a purported Feminist. She's still a woman. Thanking this controversial personage on air, in light of the ongoing discussion of assault and rape culture, is a political act. Considering Woody Allen's unsavory history, and that a comparably powerless victim has virtually nothing to gain but derision for accusing a rich, powerful man, I rather believe Dylan Farrow. It doesn't mean I don't love Annie Hall or Crimes and Misdemeanors, but it does mean I don't feel good about giving my money in exchange for watching his films. (*Also, Blue Jasmine is basically a remake of Streetcar Named Desire. It was Blanchett's performance that made the film, not the screenplay.)
  15. YAY! For 12 Years A Slave winning Best Picture. Academy voters were sufficiently concerned about looking like racists; good for them.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

5. I think Best Original Screenplay is the only category where the Academy ever really rewards a wildcard. For instance: Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Lost in Translation, Her.

Otherwise, they like to pile awards on the same old, staid old Hollywood Oscar-bait.

6. God YES. Banish these categories to the technical Oscars where they belong.