Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar de la Rant-a

So the 84th Academy Awards happened last night. If that doesn't interest you at all, this post probably won't either. So, for those of you who don't have much interest in the Oscars, here's a funny street sign from White Lake, Michigan.

You're welcome.

Now, let's talk about the Academy Awards. I figure I'll just rant category by category, but only in the categories I actually care about (sorry, Best Sound Mixing in an Animated Foreign Short Film) and I'll mostly focus on the Big Five, considering that's all most people have an opinion on, anyway ("What?? Hugo won Best Art Direction? I wanted Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to win!!"). I will also be using the terms "winning" and "losing," even though The Academy doesn't like that.

So here goes:

Best Supporting Actress - Winner: Octavia Spencer
I figured Octavia Spencer was going to win this one. But I have to admit that I wasn't rooting for her. I was rooting for Jessica Chastain. Don't get me wrong, Octavia Spencer did a fantastic job as the sassy lady in The Help, but she plays the sassy lady in every role. Jessica Chastain's performance in The Help was different from the other roles I've seen her in, and her character was nuanced and deep. But good for Ms. Spencer. I hope this brings her more work where we can see her range. Sidenote: I still think Bryce Dallas Howard should have gotten a nomination for The Help.

Best Supporting Actor - Winner: Christopher Plummer
Once again, I could have picked this one. Christopher Plummer was playing an aging, gay, cancer-stricken, dying man - it's everything the Academy loves. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Mr. Plummer and he seems like a very nice fellow, but I was more impressed with Max von Sydow who could get an Oscar nomination without saying a word. Poor Kenneth Branagh still has never won. Let's just all be grateful Jonah Hill didn't win. I don't think I want to live in a world where Jonah Hill is an Oscar winner.

Best Adapted Screenplay - Winner: The Descendants
I liked how they did the screenplay clips, with the writing on top of the clip. I do have interest in seeing this film. Out of all the nominees in this category, I'd only seen Moneyball, and while I was impressed that they made a movie about statistics and made it interesting, I think this award went to the right movie. Maybe. I'll let you know after I see Bridesmaids (edited) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (edited).

Best Original Screenplay - Winner: Midnight in Paris
No! I'm not happy with this one! The idea of the film was fun, but it was just another Woody Allen movie when it came to the writing. I thought it was a bit pretentious and would only really appeal to Humanities majors. . . .which is probably what The Academy is composed of. Yes, this film is technically a comedy, but it seems The Academy is allowed to break their comedy-snubbing ways when it comes to Woody Allen, for some reason. I have yet to see The Artist, but I'm betting my vote will go there.

Best Director - Winner: Michel Hazanavicius
Good for him. I need to see this movie. I actually wanted to see The Artist before the Oscars, but I couldn't find it in theaters near me. He seems like a humble man (or maybe he's just humble when he has to speak English) and I'm interested in seeing his work.

Best Actor - Winner: Jean Dujardin
Wow. That's going to be controversial. The last time a goofy foreign comedian won, everyone said The Academy was way off base. I actually really enjoyed Life is Beautiful and I'm sure that I'm going to enjoy The Artist. I don't really think the speeches by Natalie Portman were necessary, but I was glad to see the clips, although, once again, they seem to only like to show the drama in films, not the comedy. He seems like a good guy. I don't know if he'll become an American icon, but I think he deserved this Oscar. Don't worry, Brad and George, you guys are still cool.

Best Actress - Winner: Meryl Streep
Yeah, it figures. She's been nominated 17 times, so I guess three wins is appropriate. I was guessing that this one would go to one of the actors portraying an actual person. The Academy seems to love impersonations. Ms. Streep was charming in her speech, though and she is a great actress. If I was choosing a winner, it would have either been Rooney Mara or Viola Davis. I was shocked when I realized that the actress from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the same girl from The Social Network and Viola Davis gave a powerful and touching performance in The Help.

Best Picture - Winner: The Artist
Ok, fine, I'll go see it as soon as I can find it. I think there will be some people upset with this win, but, based on what I've heard, it's deserving of this award. This is one of the few years when I have wanted to see all of the Best Picture nominees. As of yet, I've only seen The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball and The Tree of Life. Out of those, The Help is my choice for Best Picture, but I imagine The Artist will top it. I'm also intrigued by the fact that only one of the nominees this year is rated R. Let's hope this is the starting of a trend.

Final/General Thoughts:
  • Meh opening. It was fun, but it wasn't funny. I also wonder if Billy Crystal in black face is going to draw some controversy. UPDATE: Yup.
  • The first movie I remember seeing in theaters is Follow that Bird. Not exactly an Academy Award winner.
  • The Tree of Life should have won Best Cinematography - it was beautiful to watch.
  • I can't believe Billy Crystal made that joke about Christian Bale - that was awesome.
  • Did Tom Cruise have some plastic surgery done? He looks different. Sandra Bullock, too.
  • I loved seeing the Christopher Guest gang do the focus group skit! I wonder if that was scripted.
  • Can Hugo really be that good?
  • I really need to go see a Cirque du Soleil show live. Those performers are amazingly talented athletes.
  • They really should have an award category for stunt people. It's a shame they've rejected that idea so many times.
  • Why is it that the presenters can banter all they want, but they cut off the award winners? Aren't the award winners who the show is all about?
  • None of the animated film nominees this year were that great. But, of the ones I've seen, Rango was the best, I guess.
  • Emma Stone was adorable, but all of the presenting felt a little forced.
  • None of the comedy bits were laugh-out-loud funny. Maybe this is why The Academy doesn't appreciate good comedy when it sees it.
  • Was there something wrong with the sound where you were watching? There was this annoying feedback/buzzing sound when people would talk.
  • I don't find Zach Galifianakis funny - never have.
  • Seriously? Only two nominees for Original Song? That's so insulting to everyone else who could have received a nomination. I'm glad "Man or Muppet" won. I was rooting for that one. . .out of the two. Did Bret thank Jemaine?
  • I don't find Angelina Jolie that attractive - never have.
  • I get why James Earl Jones would be honored at the Oscars, but Oprah is more in the Emmy realm, I feel.
  • I get more emotional during the "people we lost" montages than I should. I wonder how they choose who gets to be on this list and who doesn't make the cut. And I'm glad they kept the focus on the people who have passed and not on the singers this time.
  • Was A. R. Rahman doing the music when going to break? It kind of sounded like the score from 127 Hours - although that song was by Sigur Ros. . .
  • I get Meryl Streep and Glenn Close mixed up some times.
  • The Academy should nominate more comedies. I've said it many times before, but I truly believe it is harder to make someone laugh than it is to make someone cry.
  • I liked the Best Picture montage.
  • It was good to have Billy back. He truly is much better than some of the previous hosts.
  • I wanted longer clips. The Academy Awards used to show lengthy clips from each movie before they presented the awards and now they only seem to do it for the acting awards. Why? They'd probably say they cut clips to save time, but that can't be the case because, even without them, the show still has an average running time of approximately 4 days, 6 hours and 53 minutes. The talking heads with the short montage were a nice addition, but I don't think it was enough. You can't see the magic of the cinematography in a four-second clip and you can't wonder at the sound mixing with someone talking over the clip. Clips of the movies help the audience connect to the films, especially if they haven't seen them. And, let's face it, most of these movies haven't been seen by the general public.
  • Hollywood sure is pretentious.
  • Overall, I liked this year's Academy Awards.
  • There is a LOT of work that goes into making a film. My thanks to those who have labored and stressed and sweated to create the films that I love.
Phew! Good night!

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