Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Blog II: From the 4th worst film critic in the nation

OK, Oscarcentral did actually post my picks and apparently, I am an idiot and a terrible oscar predictor. Out of 80 oscar pundits nationwide I was 4th worst, but I virtually got 3 more right than were listed down. As I said before, I was thinking Alan Arkin/Forest Whitaker but my main goal was to mix up the 5 locks (the 4 acting spots and the 1 directing nod) and I guess I must have picked a Peter O'Toole/Eddie Murphy combination instead. A red-headed girl named Allison, who I watched the Oscars with, can confirm that I did pick Alan Arkin, Dreamgirls for Sound (according to Oscarcentral, I picked Letters from Iwo Jima, which wasn't even nominated, I don't know who I could've done that) and Forest Whitaker. After submitting my picks, I went over to watch the Oscars at a local movie theater and her and I created our own little oscar pool between us where we wagered on each nomination as they came up, and I did pick Alan Arkin, but oh well. I did push for Oscarcentral to accept my picks at the 11th hour and I am happy to be considered one of 80 "Oscar Pundits" nationwide that they consulted and the credibility to me as a film critic is good, so whatever. I'll write more about that as i told Oscarcentral i would, in another post.

Anyway, I think. I did beat David Spade, which is great because I am a big fan of the showbiz show and think David Spade is one of SNL's most underrated alumni (possibly the most) and that it was cool that he was blogging although it says "The Showbiz Show Crew." I am curious, though: According to Tom Shale's "Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live," Eddie Murphy refused to speak to David Spade after he lambasted him on Hollywood Minute. I wonder if Spade will be writing anything on Murphy tonight, or if he'll stay clear. I plan to go over to his site, but I wanted to transcribe my handwritten notes first without inhibitions of what he might've wrote and seen how my notes compared to his, so here are my thoughts about the oscars:

Here are some notes I have:
-I think Ellen DeGeneres did a reasonably good job. I'm kind of a fan of her but not an 100% Ellen fan and I did think she'd be way over her head. She's a good sketch comedian-type and can be funny in certain situations but someone of that nature like SNL's Maya Rudolph I wouldn't tag to host the Oscars either. I think bigger comic acts like Steve Martin and Billy Crystal suffice and I don't see exactly why they've been avoiding them for the last few ceremonies. I think the Oscars will always be watched by the kinds of people who appreciate good movies and it's crowd is already set. If you're a Chris Rock fan or an Ellen DeGeneres fan and you're not that much into watching ambitious high-concept movies, you probably still won't watch the Oscars, or you'll turn it off after the opening monologue when the comic does their comic bits. After that, they don't completely dissapear but they don't appear often enough for someone to want to sit through the other parts. But, still a few will so, maybe the effect on people who were borderline about watching the Oscars is better.

-Ellen was actually pretty good albeit pretty invisible. Her bits with Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsesee were good and I'm not entirely sure why she didn't do more of those. I got a kick out of her trying to set up Peter O'Toole with her mom, so I thought Ellen would chat with him more. I think her oscarbib wasn't really that funny.

-Best score is a funny category, check this article out:

-In reality, though, it was just a really well-done ceremony that I felt had a complete overhall or something. Like they did with the honorary oscar for Robert Altman last year, they had voiceover for the cinematography awards and the little videos for the five best pictures* explaining a little bit about what creatively went into it. They also read excerpts from the ten nominated scripts which was immensely interesting. Also, they found a way to make the costume design interesting with models appearing on stage. They also mixed up the montages by having America as seen through the eyes of the movies, and a salute to foreign films.

-Best presenters: Jaden Smith and Abigail Breslin, I'm not really into child actors or anything, but those two were sooo cute. Some child actors like Haley Joel Osmont and the Olsen Twins and even Leo DiCaprio when he was young try to act so much like adults. Dakota Fanning also falls into this category. Let kids be kids. Also on good presenters, I think considering how little Jerry Sienfeld is on TV these days, it was definitely a highlight of the evening that they could integrate a Jerry Sienfeld monologue into an oscar acceptance speech

-Best people onstage who had absolutely nothing to do with the ceremony: With Borat refusing to show up to the Oscars this year, Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C Riley were awesome and provided much needed comic relief. I love those guys and Will Ferrell and Jack Black brought down the house with their made-up acceptance speech song "You're Boring." When they did that song, however, they were actually presenting an award and here they were kind of just using up time in a ceremony that went on really, really long. I imagine as a result many reviews of the Oscars will be picking on those guys. What they said, though, rang true. One humongous flaw of the Academy Awards is that they rarely honor comedic performances, when as many directors will tell you, a comedic performance is harder to pull off than a dramatic one. It is ironic though, because Will Ferrell did sell his comedic soul this year to play a serious part this year in Stranger than Fiction and with that role, he had just as much Oscar Buzz pre-release as anyone else, so he did actually have his shot this year at winning an Oscar, but he was just out of his element. While the script was humorous, there wasn't a single bit of humor in his performance (I saw him as more the straight man to Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhall and Dustin Hoffman) and what's the point of casting Will Ferrell if he hasn't got some laughs in his role?

-I thought it was funny that Sherry Lansing wasn't an actor yet she could either remember her entire speech or read it off a teleprompter whereas the actors who won had to bring up a piece of a paper or else they just fell apart when they got onstage.

-One fact that a lot of people in the media have got wrong about Jennifer Hudson was that while she finished 7th, she wasn't exactly the 7th most popular contestant that season nor did Simon or anyone else suggest that she would be a failure. She was considered a dark horse contender to win and wasn't kicked off the show by Simon or anyone else. She was the victim of a phone voting system in which you vote who you want to move on rather who you want to go, that had already elicited controvoursey. She did a good enough job that many people thought the week she was kicked off, that she'd be safe and placed their votes on candidates they thought were on the bubble instead. When she was voted off, Fox was sent a lot of hate mail and accusations that the system was rigged, as mentioned by Ryan Seacrest in the next episde. The point is, she did have quite an impact on the show contrary to what the media is saying.

-So thrilled that Alan Arkin won: I wrote about that in Oscar Blog I.

-I notice that some of the acting clips aren't that long, particularly for the supporting nominees. Abigail Breslin's acting clip just shows her screaming. It's really very unflattering and to anyone who didn't see Little Miss Sunshine, she did more than scream.

-Forest Whitaker won an oscar and he was so nervous up there even though he's had a chance to practice the art of giving a speech at least 3 other times this award season. After Helen Mirren thanked the Queen, I was moderately worried that he might thank Idi Amin or something

-The academy sent a message loud and clear tonight: They don't like Mexicans! When it comes to immigration, they're as conservative as Rush Limbaugh. Of the 7 most critically acclaimed movies of the year, one was made by a Brit, 3 by Americans and 3 by Mexicans, and those Americans who were afraid of having their jobs outsourced made it perfectly clear where they stood by voting down Pan's Labrynth, Children of Men and Babel. I say we start a movement of internet backlash! When will the academy stop being so conservative and accept Mexicans and Gays?!
(by the way, this is a humorous post in response to the partial rediculousness of the backlash of people who felt the academy was anti-Gay for not giving the Oscar to Brokeback Mountain. They did after all nominate the film, give it a best screenplay oscar and the best actor winner was for a gay character, not to mention playing a gay character or a transsexual gives you an automatic edge for an oscar nod)

-Best songs: Thank god, Randy Newman didn't sing. For that alone, I would've given Our Town an award. I actually think, in retrospect, though, Our Town would have been a good choice. People are just not thinking along the lines of what song would make a great radio hit when it comes to this category, which is an excellent opportunity for the Oscars to cross over into the territory of people who like the Grammys. Exceptions to this are generally the rap songs, as with "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" and "Lose Yourself." Beyond that, I don't think Melissa Ethridge's Inconvinient Truth song would be as popular of a hit as "Our Town" which I could see killing on country music stations. I think Counting Crows "Accidentally in Love" might have had a longer shelf life than the Motorcycle Diaries song, and the same to one of the Cold Mountain songs over "Into the West" from Lord of the Rings. I did a whole rant on this under my post "10 biggest Mistakes of the Decade"

-When William Moynahan got up on stage, I said "wow, William Moynahan is ugly" to which Allison pointed out "that's why he's a screenwriter." I don't know, I think there are plenty of handsome screenwriters out there, but then again Cameron Crowe isn't exactly easy on the eyes.

-"It's too bad Peter O'Toole didn't win" said Ellen, but doesn't the honorary oscar count? Kirk Douglas got to join the 75th Anniversary Oscar Commemoration in 2002 when, in reality, he only won an honorary oscar.

-The academy awards had some softer gentler music this year to let the people know when there speeches were done, did anyone notice that?

-Syd Gannis in under a minute: I absolutely loved that.

-When Martin Scorsesee won, there was a great moment of elation within myself and with everyone in the theater. It felt like when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series: Like we were witnessing something previously thought of as impossible. The truth though, is that it was entirely quite possible for Martin Scorsesee to win an Oscar, and it's not like the Academy was refusing to vote for him out of some dislike for him. You might say that Ordinary People beating Raging Bull was a travesty, but other than that, I think the winners were perfectly reasonable. There was no way in hell that Scorsesee was going to win an oscar for Last Temptation of Christ, and Roman Polanski in 2002 and Clint Eastwood for a second oscar in 2004 were both reasonably good choices. Kevin Costner made the brilliant Dances with Wolves in 1990 that beat Scorsesee's Goodfellas, but quickly dispelled the notion that he had any other brilliant movie ideas by making Waterworld. As for Goodfellas, which is ranked by the AFI's top 100 list as his 3rd best film (behind Taxi Driver and Raging Bull), its loss to Kevin Costner has helped turn it into a cult classic.
But, it was good of the Academy to wait until Scorsesee was really the best in his field this year.

-One of the few things that I officially got right was "Departed" for best editing. I thought it was obvious that Thelma Schoolmaker (hopefully i spelled her name right) would win best editor, on the basis of the fact that she's the most recognizable name of any editor in Hollywood, for her collaborations with Martin Scorsesee, and editing was one of The Departed's strong suits.

*Those videos they made for the pictures were really good. Why don't they use THOSE as trailers. Also, those videos would look good on youtube and would help promote the picture more.


Marti said...

"not to mention playing a gay character or a transsexual gives you an automatic edge for an oscar nod"

4th? I'd say the worst, because your commentary isn't much better than your picks. Can you name another movie nominated with a transsexual main character?

So much for your theory.

Shoot for the stars...maybe next year you'll make the worst list. You're already there in my book.

OKonheim said...

Listen, you have to make a good movie, first. A movie with a transsexual character did land Felicity Huffman a nomination last year but there's no way that that movie should have been in the top 5 of the year, and it would be silly for them to give Transamerica a best picture nom just to appease the transsexual crowd. A movie about 2 gay characters won 3 oscars (Brokeback Mountain) because it was a good movie. Transamerica was a good performance, not a good movie.

A partial list of actors and actresses who have earned oscar nominations for playing gay and transsexual characters:
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Jake Gyllenhall, Brokeback Mountain
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Selma Hayek, Frida
Ed Harris, The Hours

Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls

Hillary Swank, Boys Don't Cry

Greg Kinnear, As Good as It Gets

Alison said...

Hey look, I'm in a Blog! Also, Marti, you really set yourself up with that. If you can't remember back to when "Boys Don't Cry" the critic's darling, other people do.

I was really impressed with your commentary (and I don't just say that because I'm in it). My only beef was that you assumed Ellen and Chris Rock fans have below average movie tastes. I see no connection.

Matthew Lucas said...

I wouldn't say that the Oscars were anti-Mexican this year. They didn't ignore "Pan's Labyrith" by any stretch of the imagination. They obviously loved it, it won 3 awards...the second most of the night. It even upset frontrunner "Children of Men" (also by a Mexican director) for Best Cinematography.

The reason it lost Best Foreign Language film is because it was not voted on by the entire Academy. If the entire membership had voted, it would have won in a landslide. It probably barely missed being nominated for Best Picture.

Between them, "Pan's," "Babel," and "Children of Men" had 16 nominations. Yes all three deserved Best Picture nods, but saying that the Oscars are anti-Mexican for ignoring them just isn't the case at all. It was a very good year for Mexican filmmakers at the Oscars...the best ever. And with the Three Amigos riding at the height of their talents now...we certainly haven't heard the last of them.