Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hoo-ray for Ho-ho-hollywood

After having lived through Apocalypse Now losing to Kramer vs. Kramer and Raging Bull losing to Ordinary People so many years ago, I find it hard to get worked up over Oscar grievances. It's more a pleasant surprise when a movie like No Country for Old Men or The Hurt Locker or even The Departed win, although I'd say Unforgiven is more of a Best Picture-perfect choice than any of the others. While I expected the very solid The King's Speech to win the big prize, it was a little disconsoling to have the repeatedly brilliant David Fincher lose to first-timer Tom Hooper. Like Scorsese to Redford or Scorsese to Costner, but I've heard that older Academy members found The Social Network confusing and had one gush to me about The King's Speech, so there's the answer for anyone who felt aesthetically gypped on that score.

Those older Academy members were home watching with friends, not in the room, so you could tell that the air went out of the Kodak Theater when Fincher lost. Nothing against Hooper, who did a fine job and made a success out of unlikely material, but it was reassuring vs. hip, and hip lost. I have yet to view The Social Network a second time, enjoyed it plenty the first, just wondering if it is as deep as all that, but then again, what was? Maybe Winter's Bone? (Now that would have been an admirable upset.)

The best time I had at the movies last year, engaging for my mind and emotions, was Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. I have yet to see Inside Job but hear it is the real deal, great stuff, loved the mention in the winner's speech about how not a single financial exec has gone to jail, so bravo. If only Banksy had been one of the ten Best Picture nominees. Alas.

As for the telecast, lackluster is the most I can summon. The hosts were non-entities, much better in their movies. The lack of any historical movie montage seems to have drained the evening of substance. The use of the final speech from The King's Speech under the Best Pic nominee montage seems like a calculated insult of all the others, a way to bolster the stature of the all-but-crowned winner in advance. Kirk Douglas was the ghost of celebrity future, god love him, Billy Crystal showed how it's supposed to be done and Bob Hope (in clips the Academy has run waaaay too many times) seemed like yet another way to show-up the current hosts, as if the producers had challenged each other to come up with better more far-reaching disses.

With so many of the winners having given speeches on other awards shows leading up to Oscar night, this round was anticlimactic. Christian Bale in particular was much more interesting at the Golden Globes. So I give Natalie Portman credit for (to my mind) the best speech of the night. It wasn't a rehash of her earlier speeches, it seemed completely sincere, she thanked back the first director to have hired her (Luc Besson) and gave proper tribute to her Black Swan director, Darren Aronofsky. Best presenters were Robert Downey Jr. with a surprisingly fun Jude Law.

So all in all it was a bummer Oscars. No great Best Song or even mediocre but by an electrifying star. No great long-time cult heroes winning big for the first time. Another post-cinema Oscars, with the main redeeming quality being the ten Best Picture nominee number, now in its second year, which at least lent legitimacy to pix like 127 Hours, The Kids Are Alright, Winter's Bone and even Inception which, since Christopher Nolan was stiffed out of a Best Director nomination, evidently might have been left off a five-title limited list.

Other than that, the fizz had drained out of the champagne long before the foregone conclusion was announced.

On to 2012.


Erika said...

Agreed on all counts, Netter. Also, happy anniversary to Nettertainment!! What year does this mark, Mark?

I also enjoyed Tom Shones' wrapup on his blog:

Mark Netter said...

Now that you mention it, Erika, my first post was occasioned by Crash winning Best Picture, dated Sunday, March 05, 2006. So that makes five (really?!?) count'em years of Nettertainment.

At least my posts have gotten shorter!