I’m also reminded of the time I was once invited to play fantasy football. It was with some friends, including Kevin Ketchum and Bryan King, and someone had tweeted that it was going to be “film critics vs film fans”. In my naiveté, I thought that suggested that we would be picking actual film critics and film people to play football against one another. I was imagining Richard Roeper and Peter Travers being pummeled and thinking it would be “warm and likeable” to experience. Signing up to begin playing was kind of how I imagine the shoot for The Revenant to be, if I am to believe the press tour. Arduous, stressful, dirty, and bloody. (I gave myself a papercut.) But, in the spirit of making fantasy picks for things that are as foreign to me as heterosexuality, and also an awards show I just suffered through, here are my ideal picks for awards things. Read the rest of this entry »
Hey, I don’t know why I’m bothering with this either. We all have our faults. But for picky cinephiles like myself, the Oscars are more of a burden than a joy, and doing all those predictions and watching the telecast are in direct opposition to the order your doctor gave to you to lower your blood pressure. They are that way because we do care about film and about the recognition our favorites do or do not get. But, hey, I wanted to shine a light on some of my favorite things from the past year that, were I Oscar omnipotent, would get recognition. Oh, but I changed the rules, and everyone gets a placard and win win for all y’all imaginary winners, woo! Read the rest of this entry »
“I don’t know whether I want to write about the Oscars on my blog, because I would hate to give the impression that I care.”
I tweeted this about a minute before I started writing this, and it made me realize something. I do care, at least a part of me does. I think we all do, whether we want to admit it or not. I think that there were so many vocal and vehement reactions to the nominees is indicative of that. For as much attention as I’ve been paying to the race the last few years, and that’s been almost none besides early scrolls through nomination lists and peripheral chatter about the nominees, I still care about the Oscars. I’ve certainly, at this point, come to terms with the fact that the Academy Awards are, by no means, the sole metric of worth or quality on which to judge any movie, but at the same time, there’s something that aches in me about the Oscars. It sounds kind of silly, I know, but at the core of where my heart should be, I’m a tried and true cinephile, someone who wants to share this art with the world and everyone I meet (I’m great at parties!). And the Oscars have been, for as long as I’ve been paying attention to them (since Crash won Best Picture), always extremely frustrating. Awards by their very nature, I suppose, are meant to be that way.
This year, on the one hand, it seems to have been an extremely conservative list of nominations, filled with white people and very few women. On the other hand, I’m kind of vaguely impressed that smaller and/or artier films like Foxcatcher, Boyhood, and Whiplash are getting recognition, as well as cinema like Two Days, One Night, Mr. Turner (hey dad!), and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. But, nonetheless, there’s still the issue of representation. Such a blisteringly white year, and so male.
So, I care about the Oscars because I care about movies. It’s not the other way around. I know, the tedious methods by which people nominate and vote for the Academy Awards is a complicated affair (fun fact: we studied a bunch of voting methods in one of my university math classes; I thought one particular method was beyond ridiculous, only to discover that AMPAS uses it), and that old white people dominate the Academy. But, that won’t make me stop caring, at least partially.
So paradoxical is our, or rather my, relationship with awards: we dismiss them as worthless when the things that we love and admire don’t get support or recognition, but we root for the things we do care about or use things that have won as proof of greatness (sometimes). It’s a form of validation, to some degree, and there’s little reconciliation between the two.
As my friend David Neary said, to observe the Oscars is interesting to gauge what kind of taste the industry has and therefore what they’ll lean towards making in the future. But, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want the Oscars to be better. More flexible and open and open-minded. And if the Oscars are somehow indicative of Hollywood as a whole, I want the industry to be more open and diverse. That many important works seemed to be overlooked, seemingly, is disconcerting, but I want those works to be elevated by other people (hey ho, critics!) and for audiences to pay attention to them a little bit. I want great filmmaking to be championed regardless of its Oscar chances and for audiences to recognize that the Oscars are not the sole metric of worth. I want audiences to expand their entertainment palettes.
I know I’m asking for a lot, something nary impossible. But, I just want the Oscars and viewers and the industry to be better. Because I love movies. Who doesn’t?
I haven’t really been paying attention to the race this year (long story), and I honestly didn’t remember who was nominated for what, and I haven’t seen half of the films nominated, but here are my two cents on some of the bigger categories at the Oscars this evening.
Something that any movie buff will have to come to terms with eventually and probably never will is that the Oscars will never be able to satisfy everyone. Partly because it’s natural to be unable to please legions of cinephiles, and partly because we have old, white, not-even-Oscar winning voters making the decisions here. It’s like a more dramatic, though less important version of the electoral colleges.
Nevertheless, they are the night for me. I don’t watch sports, but this is essentially my Super Bowl or World Cup or whatever. Granted, though, after having watched and read so much Woody Allen, always a no-show at the Oscars, I’m starting to kind of hate them. Same reasons: “Why award one thing over the other and call it the ‘best’?” I think there should be some sort of large panel for each category, and each memeber of each panel lists off their favorites, and then they send out certificates for those of whom that were listed. Yay, win win for everyone!
I spent my pre-Oscar weeks prepping by finally watching The Tree of Life and then watching Midnight in Paris another dozen times. I had planned to watch Moneyball the a couple days before with my friend, who understands baseball jargon much better than I do, but we got caught up in watching Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Drive, just before people arrived for my party. (And then we watched Pulp Fiction and it was the best day ever.) The following day, Oscar Night, I ended up going to a friend’s house to watch the ceremony. It has, I suppose, become somewhat of a tradition. Cory June Vigants, one of my best friends, has an Oscar party at her house every year (now), or at least her parents do. I met her in my freshman year of high school, and her parents are unbelievably kind to me and invited me last year as well.
By the time the red carpet was on, I had my laptop open, my iPod by my side, and I was ready to live blog the night away. Granted, though, I did not live blog anything about the Red Carpet. I’m a strictly ceremony guy. And come 8:30, I was as ready as I ever would be. So, here are my thoughts on Sunday’s Oscar telecast:
- I’ve never actually been a huge fan of Billy Crystal. He was great in the TV sitcom Soap and I love Nora Ephron’s/Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally…, but I’ve never loved him that much. Therefore, I didn’t have high hopes for him anyways. Regardless if he’s hosted the telecast nine times, he just seemed too corny for my taste. Granted, I’m probably the only person who kind of enjoyed James Franco and Anne Hathaway floundering at last year’s ceremony, but so be it. It has nothing to do with me being younger; I just don’t care for Crystal’s brand of comedy.
- The beginning montage. Didn’t see that one coming.
- Billy Crystal singing. Didn’t see that one coming.
- The only presenters I enjoyed were Emma Stone and Ben Stiller (for Emma Stone), Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow (for Robert Downey Jr.), Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper (for Tina Fey), Chris Rock, and Angelina Jolie and her leg (for her leg).
- I’m glad Sasha Baron Cohen thinks he’s funny. It must be lonely at the top.
- The Cirque du Soleil thing was cool. I guess.
- I was most impressed with the way the Original Song nominees were presented. Nice animation.
- My favorite part of the night: Scorsese shots!
- The In Memoriam was very tasteful this year. That, like, never happens.
And now some bitter comments about the winners, things you’ve probably already heard and are already tired of:
- So, The Tree of Life lost Cinematography. Everyone can go to hell now.
- Hugo was basically this year’s Avatar.
- And, boom, Drive loses its only nomination. Thinks to self, “Okay, why am I still watching?”
- Christopher Plummer’s speech was cute.
- When The Artist took Original Score, I thought I could hear Kim Novak screaming.
- The highlight of my night was Woody Allen winning Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris, basically the only think I was happy about.
- Meryl Streep wins her third Oscar after three decades. As happy as I am for her, I’m just surprised that it was for this movie.
- I guess I need to see The Artist now.
- Honestly speaking, I wasn’t wowed by the Best Pic nominees this year in general. As much as I love Midnight in Paris, I don’t think it deserved Best Picture. Out of all nine, I would have said Tree of Life, The Artist, or (I guess) Hugo. Would have liked something like Drive, Melancholia, or Shame to be in there. They were very safe picks this year.
All said and done, I found the ceremony kind of boring, the winners pretty predictable. I managed to get 18 out of 24 correct. Hopefully next year’s ceremony will be a bit more interesting and especially funnier.