Monday, February 27, 2012

Gilding the Silly

A couple of quick thoughts on last night's Oscars:

1. Billy Crystal has fulfilled his destiny and finally become the full-on Borscht Belt hack he once parodied.

2. The Help was a God-awful piece of artificially sweetened revisionist hokum. That said, Octavia Spencer is a fine actor and she was as good as she could've been in the film, given the source material. But when she won the Oscar for Best-Supporting Actress and got a standing ovation before even opening her mouth, it looked like exactly what it was: white, liberal Hollywood heaping smug congratulation all over itself. It's not about whether the winner deserved the win, but only about the added honor of a standing ovation. Christopher Plummer got one for a lifetime excellent work. Octavia Spencer got one, seemingly, because she happens to be black.

3. About halfway through the show, I actually said something I didn't think anyone was capable of saying: "Brett Ratner would've done a better job."

4. When Christopher Guest and Company showed up, it provided at least a small spark of genuine humor. But on a night in which a group of movies were rewarded that almost no one saw -- and considering the state of the movie business in general these days -- I'm not sure Hollywood should've been making fun of its audience.

5. The only truly memorable moment of the evening happened before the show even started -- when Sacha Baron Cohen dumped an urn full of "Kim Jong Il's ashes" all over a very visibly pissed-off Ryan Seacrest.

6. There are only two reasons The Artist wasn't put in its proper category as a foreign film: No one spoke during it* and Harvey Weinstein said it wasn't. In the end, another love letter to movies won the day which again shows who Hollywood thinks is truly important and just how out-of-touch it is with everyone else.

7. I'm sorry, Oprah? Again?

*Updated: Given how many people have given me shit and accused me of not seeing the movie, yes, I know Valentin says two words.


em said...

Well, dude, it's not like Oprah has her network or anything that allows her the ability to show how selfless and awesome she is 24/7. Oh wait...

I also thought it was crap that Octavia Spenser got 2 seconds for her speech. I didn't see the movie and have no intentions of supporting "Crash Part 2: Hollywood Doesn't See Race" in any way, but seriously - unfair.

Anonymous said...

Clooney was robbed. Honestly, The Descendants was one of the few movies I've ever watched where every moment was riveting. It wasn't action packed, there was no gratuitous sex, just full on human drama. I never thought I would be moved to tears by a George Clooney performance, but there you go. He was outstanding. The Artist was cute. That's all.

JohnF said...

I loved The Artist but it's a very easy movie to make fun of, if one was so inclined. I can't deny the effect it had on me. I was actually worried that The Help might pull off a Crash-style upset at the last minute, which would have been truly vomitous.

Matt Osborne said...

I lost all interest in the Oscars when I saw that The Last Mountain didn't even get nominated for Best Documentary. If you haven't seen it, I can guarantee you will enjoy it about 100x as much as Billy Crystal.

Brian Brookey said...

Nice of them to fly Crystal out from the Catskills. What a hack.

The Artist was a wonderful movie and a worthy Best Picture winner, although I think Hugo was actually better, and more moving.

As for Octavia Spencer: we have seen variations on that character for decades. Melissa McCarthy brought something new and outrageous to her role. It would have been fantastic if she had won!

countryjoe said...

On a different note, does anybody know who the musicians are that were in the balcony playing when the show went to commercials? They were fantastic. Would love to have some of their music.

Chez said...

That would be Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams.

Villemar said...

Don't forget Sheila E on drums!

pea said...

Chez, dude, seriously. Bigger isn't necessarily better.

First, there are no rules against foreign films being nominated for a Best Picture award, in fact it's been done quite a few times over the decades. Not much, but it's not exactly an anomaly. Should the last two nominated, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Letters from Iwo Jima have been shunted out of the Best Picture race? Into an internment camp with them! And fuck Clint anyway.

And why stop there? Fuck Ang Lee getting a Best Director nomination. AMERICA FOR AMERICANS! Get that Oscar back from that goddamned Canadian Christopher Plummer before they affix his nameplate. In fact, let's just have a whole separate foreign language awards show - oh wait, that's called Cannes. Goddamned Frenchies.

Second, while only the people involved in each specific category can vote for the individual(s) eligible for that category, everyone in the Academy votes for Best Picture. I can assure you from personal experience that Harvey Weinstein has no pull in my household, or that of any other Academy members I know.

Third, The Artist may have had a primarily French cast, but it was shot right here in Hollywood, and (sorry, SPOILER) the only spoken words heard in the film are indeed in English. Or perhaps you think "Silent" is a foreign language. Maybe you're right - it's often foreign to you. (that means you rarely shut up)

Fourth, I wouldn't mind your bellicosity so much if you'd actually seen the fucking movie, or, in fact most of the movies that were nominated. But at this point I imagine your mind's already made up.

You wouldn't posit about politics with an uninformed opinion. That would make you a Republican. Why do you feel perfectly comfortable to do so with modern cinema?

You know I have a healthy disregard for the industry, but seriously, aim your poison arrows elsewhere, or at least come up with a better argument than FREEDOM FRIES. You're better than that.

FabMax said...

@Brian: But then they would had to give the Best Actress Oscar to Viola Davis. And they can't nominate a demon playing Meryl Streep without giving her an award! That would be outrageous!

Chez said...

Oh, Pea. I love how two sentences out of me led to you spending however-many-minutes banging out an indignant response at your computer. I'm touched. My work here is done.

Look, admittedly The Artist wasn't technically a foreign film, but we can quibble over that for hours and this is a relatively inconsequential subject so I'm just not gonna do that.

The bigger issue I have actually has nothing at all to do with whether it was foreign or domestic or even whether or not it was an excellent movie. (And I watched a screener yesterday afternoon, wise-ass, and I did it was quite good, though a trifling thing that'll be forgotten in no time.) The issue I continue to have is the fact that movies about movies are always lauded by the Academy, whether they deserve to be or not. The easiest Oscar bait you can create out of the thin air expelled from Harvey Weinstein's prodigious ass is a decent film that's a love-letter to what Hollywood believes films are to everyone. Of course I don't want to see the Oscars become nothing more than a popularity contest -- God help us if The Help would've won -- but likewise I love movies and I'd rather not see them become completely irrelevant like, say, the Grammys.

In your own parlance, they're better than that. Or at least they were.

pea said...

To be fair, Chez, it was your repetition of those two lines several times that got under my skin.

There are hundreds of movies about the movies that the Academy ignores, just like there are movies about politicians, or couples on a killing spree, or war, that the Academy ignores. Living In Oblivion didn't score an Oscar nomination, and didn't even win best picture at the Independent Spirit Awards the year it was released - a movie about a suicidal alcoholic trumped it.

So, despite your protestations to the contrary, the last time a movie about the movies won Best Picture was, um, never (unless you count things like Shakespeare in Love, or All About Eve, which were technically movies about the theatre). As much as I love Singing In The Rain, it didn't even get a Best Picture nomination. A movie about the circus won that year.

In the past eighty-some years, however, close to a dozen movies about war have won (and I'm not even counting things like Casablanca or Best Years of Our Lives or Gone With the Wind or any of the other legions of movies that have had war as a backdrop).

Let's just list the last decade's winners:

King's Speech - about a king, but there's war in there too
Hurt Locker - uh war
Slumdog Millionaire - poor people - I guess you could somehow rationalize that the Bollywood sequence is about movies
No Country for Old Men - psycho killer
The Departed - good cops and bad cops
Crash - who the fuck knows
Million Dollar Baby - lady boxing and euthanasia
Lord of the Rings - some fucking nonsense
Chicago - a musical about murderesses
A Beautiful Mind - science and schizophrenia

With all of this, you know what? I'm happy as all hell to have a sweet, clever, and deserving tribute to a bygone day.

Chez said...

Actually, I kind of do count Shakespeare in Love because it was truly a love-letter to drama and acting.

That said, let me get this straight -- you were pissed at something I said two days ago while we were all pretty intoxicated and you decide to bring it up now, here. You know I love you and think you're the coolest, but for fuck's sake come on.

hilz said...

In film school there were two subjects we were specifically told to avoid:

1. Scientology
2. Films about films

Go figure