Those of you who know me, know my love of movies and, to the annoyance of most, how generally I have an opinion on everything, I imagine it’s the main quality that has kept me single for quiet so long (thats probably more to do with the fact I’m a jerk or something but ignorance is bliss). I like to spout my two cents, sometimes for good but mainly for the bad. You see; I’m a cynic. Generally in film things are bad, really bad, like, ‘My word, how was this made?’, ‘Who is giving these people money and what’s worse, WHY ARE PEOPLE WATCHING THIS!?’ If people don’t pay heed to these horrendous monstrosities then they wouldn’t be continually made but the very fact the people go to watch these movies has the big wigs in Hollywood thinking, ‘Yeah, this is what the people want, get me Adam Sandler, I want him to do blackface in his next role and I’ll pay him through the nose for it too’. It is wrong! Anyway, as I said, I love movies, that’s why whenever a good one comes around, I actually get excited. People think I’m too harsh on films or television, they say they’re supposed to be escapist entertainment, zone out for an hour/hour and a half and relax, and yes, that is the case BUT why not actually be entertained while watching a film, why not be caught at the edge of your seat, heart in mouth, no one else in the room gripped by a movie. Don’t settle for a basic film and say, ‘Yeah, it was grand.’ You shouldn’t have too, there are beautiful pearls out there and they are being pushed aside for the sake of ease and a quick buck.
Ever since 1927 a group of stuffy old folks have gotten together to honour the brilliance of the moving image.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, informally known as the Oscars is a time to celebrate the year in film, they have honoured some of the most loved and well-known films over the years. Braveheart, Schindlers List, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Godfather and yes, even the legendary Rocky, have all been bestowed the privilege of Best Picture, the most coveted award of the Academy Award ceremony. This year saw The Academy Awards being held for its 84th year, Oscar is truly an old man… and with old age comes an addled mind as it was surely one of the most annoying spectacles I have ever seen… and I stayed up till 5 in the morning to watch it live, now I really feel like a chump, but I do love a good live tweet trending platform.
Billy Crystal was back in the driving seat for the 9th time as host… well, they said it was Billy Crystal but with the amount of work the guy has had done it could have been Joan Rivers (you can use that one Billy, yes, his jokes were about on a par with mine). Don’t get me wrong, I like Billy Crystal but he’s a bit too old school for a worldwide event like this. In fairness he couldn’t have done a worse job than James Franco and Anne Hathaway from the previous year… or so one would think.
The whole spectacle was just weak, the opening skit didn’t even make sense, Billy Crystal segwaying into films from the past year but not linked at all, it was literally Billy Crystal in one film then Billy Crystal in another film with no reason or connection between cuts, it could have been written by a child. This is the biggest event in the Hollywood calendar, there are writers galore who kill for a shot at being associated with The Academy Awards but they left it to a bunch of ghost writers who just threw out the first ideas that came to mind, the crowning moment of which was Billy Crystal doing black-face as Sammy David Jr., which isn’t to be construed as racist because he used to do it all the time in SNL… and that makes it OK apparently. Following on from the hot collar opening routine, Crystal followed up with a great opening number which was actually pretty decent, working through all the nominations for Best Picture, particularly pleasant was the Scorsese piece done to the beat of That’s Amore, harking back to his gangster movie days. Throughout the night Crystal played it fairly safe, he didn’t have any skits and relied heavily on pre-recorded VTs, which again were just safe.
The idea for these VT’s were for famous movie stars to tell the world what they feel about film and how film has effected their lives… but in fairness, who wants to know what Adam Sandler thinks of movies, the only thing he’s gotten nominated for (and lost) was for his serious role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002)… although, I have a very good feeling that he will sweep the boards at this years Golden Raspberry Awards where he has been nominated some 13 awards ranging from Worst Actor, Actress, Screenplay, Picture, Remake-Rip Off and Ensemble (we’re hoping for you Sandler!). All in all the whole broadcast was textbook safe, the only points of contention being Crystals black-face and a following up racial joke about the proximity of black women to Beverly Hills… all in jest, one would hope. However, not only was the show safe in performance it was also safe in awards and nominations.
As stated previously the point of The Academy Awards is the honour the best in film from the year just past but that is definitely not what happened this year. All of the Best Picture nominations were again harmless, feel good movies that wouldn’t dare push the envelope of entertainment. The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, War Horse and how in a fictional deity Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close got a nomination I will never know. The only film that in anyway threw a curve ball in the nominees was Terrence Mallicks, The Tree of Life; which had no hope of winning because it wouldn’t appeal to a larger audience.
There were some spectacular films out this year that were completely overlooked in all categories. Elizabeth Olsen definitely deserved a nomination for Best Actress for her role as Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene, the film has been killing the festival circuit for the past year, Senna was snubbed for Best Documentary Feature, Tintin ignored in Best Animation, Attack the Block overlooked in Best Original Screenplay, Drive disregarded in Best Original Score, Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography, Ryan Gosling forgotten in Best Actor for Ides of March and arguably Drive also but most of all, Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and Steve McQueen all denied their opportunities for their respective roles (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Film and Best Director) in Shame easily the Best film I saw in 2011-2012.
How were these films ignored and so blatantly as well? One can forgive not winning an award when pitted against good rivals but that wasn’t even the case, they weren’t even nominees, it actually annoys me and further hits home on my position of the Hollywood system of film production, it is about money, popularity and saving face. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed a lot of the movies mentioned above and felt that, yes, the acting ability in a lot of them was up to scratch but in no way was The Artist this years Titanic, The Departed, Slumdog Millionaire, Forrest Gump or Rocky. It was a nice film harking back to a time long since forgotten, not necessarily because it was bad but because we have moved on, the set pieces in it were attractive, it was nice to watch but Best Film, that is simply just not true.
Many of the other overlooked awards were justifiable, Hugo deserved its 5 awards in the production value of the piece and I’m glad Woody Allen got the nod for Best Original Screenplay, Midnight in Paris seeing a return to form for the old master. Also pleasing to see was Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer picking up Best Supporting Actors in their gender categories and who would begrudge Bret McKenzie picking up Best Original Song for The Muppets, ‘Man or Muppet’, even if I did prefer ‘Pictures in my Head’ but on a whole the feel of the Oscars was that of phone it in.
It seems, in general, the rational for being nominated is ‘Who made the biggest films this year’, not the best, ‘lets give these people’, these people who have been in the business for years and can tailor make films to suit any audience, ‘even more of a platform to rise higher above the ignorant middle class masses, they don’t know what they want like until we tell them what they liked’. It’s frustrating and returns me to my original paragraph.
People should scratch the surface of movies, just because its in the local Cineplex doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be any good, just because it cost ¢300 million dollars to make (Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End) doesn’t mean it will entertain you any further, just because it stars the latest hotty does not engross you into the film any further. What really bugged me this year was the fact that, with all the smaller categories, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, a majority of the films nominated in these categories were also nominated in Best Film but just because a film has good sound quality doesn’t make it the best film of the year, it makes it a film with really good sound quality or really good editing etc.
So, my advice is to take a step back and do, minimal, I’m talking absolute minimal, research and see if people are talking about a movie before you go to see it. Minimal for me means, checking out a review website for 10 minutes to see what others are saying about a movie. Half of us spend most of our days online anyway (well, I do, I don’t want to talk for everyone else… I’ve got no life see), what will 10 minutes of casually browsing another website do for us but possibly enhance our entertainment quality ten fold.
In terms of the Oscars, one would hope in years to come the stuffy old big wigs who call the shots will be replaced, unfortunately they will more than likely be replaced by their understudies who will by then be stuffy old big wigs like those they sought to replace. One thing is for sure when the Oscars roll around next year I won’t be watching… live anyway, Ill check out the repeat the following day, cause I’m sad like that.