Oscar in Review

Last year I decided to take some interest in Oscar coverage mainly because  I had seen all the films nominated and a good number of the nominated films were in my top 25 including the number one spot (the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece A Serious Man). Sadly this year, only one film was good enough to include in my top ten (Pixar’s fabulous Toy Story 3) but it wasn’t high enough to make me care to cover the whole show. But there was still enough in me to actually watch the event. So I’ll began with what I thought was bothersome about the night:

The Hosts:

While I think James Franco and Anne Hathaway are fine at acting, I don’t think they had the necessary comedic chops to actually make the jokes work. It started with the lazy opening sequence that basically just edited together scenes from the nominated films in a “humorous” way rather than actually making an enjoyable parody. The jokes were far too conservative especially compared to the edgy and brilliant work done by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes. However James Franco’s facial expressions did make me chuckle only to sigh, remembering that the fact Franco accepting hosting duties might as well be the Academy (and him) saying out loud that hes not gonna win. To bad because he gave a good performance.

Memoriam:

While I enjoyed the Lena Horne section but, as a film enthusiast, I would have saved Dennis Hopper and Arthur Penn for last. Both were instrumental in the arrival of New Hollywood and one could argue that they were responsible for the two most important films to jump-start the movement (Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider). Again I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but it would have been a stronger way to go. Also where was Corey Haim?

Director:

One change which I though was just downright stupid was lacing the the Best Director spot before the Best Actor and Actress. I will not accept this. The Director should always be before Best Picture because the Director is the highest on the food chain; they are the artists of the piece (I’m sure this will be disputed by some but I stand by my opinion). Its disrespectful to the director and I hope to see it changed for next year.

Godard:

I was already disgusted by the change of having the honorary Oscar presentation taken place outside of the ceremony but I had a full year to get over it. While I was excited that they wrote their wrong of finally giving Jean-Luc Godard the Oscar he deserves, it was a little deflating to see clips from the Governor’s Ball. It was even worst to not even see a picture when they showed the three other participants on stage. Well anyways he didn’t have a comment to spare for the Academy either.

Winners:

I didn’t think the King’s Speech was actually gonna win the top spot going in, but the Oscars did a terrible job hiding their decision during the ceremony (especially the final movie montage with the monologue from the film playing over it). I guess I didn’t have much to yell about with the film taking the top spot even though I thought Toy Story 3 was by far the best film of the ten with the Social Network being the runner up. I still thought it was disrespectful to have that montage playing and all the other signs of Academy love for the King’s Speech.

Fincher:

I remember back in 2000 when Gladiator took home all the top prizes outside of the director’s spot. While I despise Gladiator as a film and believe it to be one of the worst winners ever, I felt it was even worse to see Ridley lose. If you’re already going to award the cruddy film all the big award, why not just give Ridley Scott a Best Director Oscar? Did Steven Soderbergh do such a brilliant job directing Traffic that he needed to get the Oscar over Scott that year? If I remember correctly it was Ang Lee who got the most praise for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by the critics. Hell I thought Stephen Daldry did the best job of the five (or four because Soderbergh was nominated twice for some reason). But no, Ridley lost yet another chance at an Oscar because the Academy believed that Soderbergh deserved the trophy more for some reason or another. Now I know how the Academy works and I know they aren’t above giving a great director (or anyone at that matter) an award as a sort of life time achievement for a film that is obviously not his/her best work. Ridely Scott might not be considered a great filmmaker in some people’s eyes (if anyone reads this blog or knows me knows that I’m not one of them) but I believe he has made enough great films to at least be worth a phony Oscar; And if you don’t want him to award him that then give it to a director that’s worthy of the award. I personally felt this was the case for David Fincher this year. The Social Network was not a bad film at all and in no way deserves to be compared to the tragedy that was Gladiator (I cant say the same for his Oscar winning Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but it was in no way as good as the filmmaker’s other works. I hold his work from the nineties like Se7en and Fight Club (which was in my top ten of the Allan Fish’s nineties poll) at such high regard and believe Zodiac to be one of the greatest films ever and easily the best serial killer film since M. His last two nominations really don’t exemplify the director’s best work but if I was to see Fincher win an Oscar I would have rather liked to have seen it with The Social Network. Seeing Tom Hooper win instead brought up the same feeling that I felt in 2000 and has made me feel that Fincher is in the same boat as Ridley Scott; A director that will most likely never get an Oscar.

Now that all that’s all taken care of, its time to talk about the good of the night:

Sorkin:

Aaron Sorkin wrote one of the wittiest and best structured scripts of the last ten years and deserved the win. Sometimes its just nice seeing someone writing dialogue that is actually smart and no one does it better than Sorkin. Its the sharp writing that made A Few Good Men and The American President memorable and that made the West Wing one of my favorite shows. With the Social Network, Sorkin was able to work with a director far more talented than Rob Reiner and produce a film that was one of the strongest American films of the past year. It was also great to seeing him give a wonderful speech that was, really, the highlight of the night for me.

well that’s gonna be it for my Oscar rant for the year. Please comment!

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One Response to “Oscar in Review”

  1. Well Anu, you made some terrific points. I noticed that they telegraphed their final decision with the playing of Beethoven’s Seventh, but the Oscar for Best Picture was a foregone conclusion after the PGA, DGA and SAG chimed in. This was the most shocking turnaround in Oscar history, when you consider THE SOCIAL NETWORK was cited by virtually every single critics group in the USA and the UK going in. Like you I also loved TOY STORY 3, and would have loved to see it win, we know they would never consider an animated film for the top prize.

    I completely agree with your argument on the Best Director being named ‘after’ the lead actors. This didn’t happen, and it also tips off the Best Picture a few awards too soon, though again, the final results here were well understood months ago. That said, for me THE KING’S SPEECH was one of the year’s ten best films, so I have no problem with it winning here.

    I completely agree with what you say about Sorkin, and show’s hosts, and the blasphemy of having the honorary awards outside the ceremony.

    Great assessment!

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