Saturday, March 01, 2014

My Oscar wish list

Dear Oscars,

First off, I'd like to thank you for:
1. Nominating Leonardo DiCaprio
Despite being a three-time Oscar nominee, DiCaprio gets overlooked quite a bit. DiCaprio's role in Wolf of Wall Street is not just another great role indicative of the best actor of his generation (I can't speak from personal experience) but one that has been sparking water cooler discussion as well
2. Nominating Amy Adams and Christian Bale in American Hustle
While I'm not a huge fan of Cooper or Lawrence's performances, Adams and Bale are both phenomenal in their categories. I see Amy Adams in approximately 2-3 films a year (not intentionally. It just so happens she's in everything) and I've never seen these sexy and vulnerable sides to her. Christian Bale completely transforms into his role as well.
3. Snubbing Oprah for Best Supporting Actress
She's a talk show host who doesn't need an acting award. The five people who were nominated in place of her all act for a living and would likely benefit from it more.
4. Nominating guys like Pharell, U2, and Arcade Fire in the music categories
At the Golden Globes, with Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and U2 all being nominated for best original song, we had that category alone having more twitter followers than all the other categories combined. Three of those artists got left off but I won't really miss them. We now have music producer and all-around cool guy Pharrell Williams and Arcade Fire nominated for Oscars in addition to U2. Great to see popular music artists at the Oscars.
5. Selecting nine solid films
This is somewhat subjective but I think this is the first year I can remember where I'm actually excited to see all nine films. I've seen six (seeing a seventh tonight) and have nothing but positive things to say about all of them and the other three look promising as well.


1. Choose a good host for the Oscars ceremony
This one has already been botched. Ellen DeGeneres is a wonderful personal success story having risen from gay pariah from a less tolerant era to America's favorite talk show host. But that was ten years ago and being gay or lesbian should be no big deal. I'd argue she's no longer the funniest lesbian comedian (Wanda Sykes is) or the most adorable out actress named Ellen (hello Ellen Page) anymore. In other words, we should be at the point where Ellen DeGeneres should be awarded or denied something as prestigious as the host of the world's most viewed television event on the basis of her merits. While she's great at certain things, I don't believe hosting an Oscars telecast is one of them. Her whimsy observational humor consisted barely registered the last time she hosted the Oscars in 2007 and this is even more of a travesty when there are so many gifted comedians who would kill at this gig.

2. Give Bruce Dern a solid chance
If you told me two years ago that Matthew McConaughey-- who has spent fifteen years as a poster boy for acting mediocrity -- would have a string of good roles in 2012 that boosted him to even better roles in 2013 including one that would land him an Oscar, I would have thought you were insane. Before I saw "Dallas Buyers Club", I spent much of this Oscar season thinking McConaughey's winning streak was shameful considering he was such a lousy actor for so long. I now understand what the buzz is about: McConaughey walking away with the Oscar wouldn't be a travesty as it's a capable performance. The thing is Dern also blows you away. Comparing Dern's performance to McConaughey's performance is like apples and oranges but I hope voters are giving Dern a solid consideration. After all, McConaughey's been a great film actor for two years, Dern's been at the top of his game for a period nearly twenty times that long.

3. Allow the performers to sing. Show some decent clips.
There are so many opinions on what works and what doesn't  in the "Oscars." I think most can agree that montages tend to be excessive. Personally, I think a short clip for each film and a film for each performance are most welcome additions. It even becomes somewhat of a parlor game among Oscar buzzers to guess which clips will be shown for which nominees so don't deprive them of that.
The Oscars tend to play with the format for score and song quite a bit. This is a year where we have some great musical artists so not letting them play during the ceremony would be a mistake.
4. Don't award Jennifer Lawrence a victory
Not only is she not that good in her role, she just won last year and is only 23 years old. Two-time Oscar winners are a rather elite club: There's no need to let her in prematurely. Of course, the Oscar should be decided on merit but let me point you to that "not that good" part of my argument above.

5. Give the original screenplay to "Her"
There seems to be some sense that David O. Russell is owed something because he's been nominated three of the last four years in the picture and director categories. That's simply not true. Being nominated three times is humongous for someone like David O. Russell who isn't yet idolized in film schools and doesn't have an amazing commercial reputation. We can afford to give the screenplay to the best candidate in this scenario and that would be "Her" by a mile. It's innovative, it's delicate, it's well-paced, and it's both depressing and inspiring. Besides,  Russell didn't even write "American Hustle" the way you saw it on the screen with all the ad-libbing and scenes that were entirely thrown in at the last minute. Russell deserves more credit as a director this year and unfortunately better candidates have that slot locked up.

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