Reflections on The Oscars

Oscar 2013 Jennifer Lawrence accepts the award for best actress

After all the hoohah has died down. What did the ceremony amount to? (Ok I know I’m rather late on this one but I’ve been rather busy volunteering at the Lesbian & Gay Film Festival lately as well as doing life stuff, so sue me. I will be blogging about this Festival later). Well a lot of self-congratulatory patting on the back as per usual.

I mean Argo for best film? Yes it’s a decent seat-0f-your pants piece of entertainment with some pretty good performances (especially from Alan Arkin and the ever reliable John Goodman). But it’s pretty ¬†average still, not the kind of film I’d see twice as David Sexton of The Evening Standard remarked. And there are problems such as over-egging the saved at the last minute narrative cliche, yes it’s fine to have dramatic license on a true story but really how many times does the audience need to be manipulated into a state of tension? And also the agent that Ben Affleck portrays, Tony Mendez, is a Latino man which makes me wonder why they didn’t just hire a Latino actor, looks rather self-indulgent. But then Hollywood would reward a film that celebrates the American film industry as saviours.

Credit due though to Affleck’s quickfire speech which showed his humility and graciousness in thanking all those who helped him when he was down and out, and could’ve easily just left him floundering. While his tribute to his wife Jenifer Garner was sweet and touching, providing a down to earth ¬†insight into how tough it is to make marriages work when your both in entertainment, but how it’s the “best” kind of work . ¬†Hollywood as commentators have said do like an underdog making a comeback, which goes to show that it mostly really isn’t about the quality of the films more what those films represent.

I was glad that QT got Best screenplay for Django Unchained, being full of great dialogue and set pieces such as the hilarious pillow-case ¬†Klu Klux Klan scene, or almost anything that Dr. Schultz says. ¬†And QT was typically cool and calm in accepting the award and thanking the actors helping him to create truly memorable characters. And that said Christoph Waltz was also a deserved and gracious winner his charismatic and spot on interpretation of QT’s challenging swathes of dialogue is truly a tour de force.

Aside from that I haven’t seen Amour yet (and I really must see this film) but it was perhaps a shame that Emanuelle Riva didn’t win on her 86th birthday. Still I thought Jennifer Lawrence’s gutsy performance as a damaged widow in Silver Linings Playbook ¬†was faultless¬†(kudos too to Lawrence’s humble and sweet speech after tripping up on the stairs)¬†, and it ¬†was good to see that film also win Best Adapted Screenplay. It was a funny and moving film with some great¬†characterisations¬†of mental illness which didn’t trivialise it. It also contained one of Robert DeNiro’s best performances, a¬†definite¬†return to form after appearing in so much unbecoming dross, so nice that he was also nominated.

Oh and isn’t Daniel Day-Lewis bloody funny, first of all his portrayal of Lincoln was typically brilliant that’s a given, but if there’s an award for acceptance speeches he’d steal it. First he brings down the house at the BAFTAs by self-deprecatingly¬†sending up his serious method actor rep by dead-panning that he has been¬†practising¬†the part of himself for the last 50 years and made up mini replicas of the BAFTA set. Then he steals the show again by joking that he was meant to be play Margaret Thatcher and Meryl Streep was meant to play Lincoln, and that he had to convince Spielberg not to shoot it as a musical. As if you didn’t like Day-Lewis already, I certainly like him more after that anyway, and it just shows that he doesn’t take himself too seriously (Russell Crowe and Christian Bale take note). ¬†Somebody put this guy in a good comedy. I mean he outshone actors who do comedy for a living , ahem Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy (How awkward were they).

And thank god Les Miserables didn’t win anything that significant. But I can give them Anne Hathaway’s performance as it was the saving grace of an otherwise relentlessly melodramatic and sentimental mess of a film (and what was with the disorientating bits of documentary-style shaky camera-work Tom Hooper?).

As for the controversy of host Seth McFarlane, I thought he did a reasonably good job. Ok he probably shouldn’t have made that¬†inappropriate¬†joke about Chris Brown and Rihanna ¬†and the Mel Gibson joke certainly wasn’t very well judged, neither was the George Clooney paedophile ¬†joke. But I thought there was many that did work, I¬†particularly¬†liked the Best Actor award joke about doing what a 9 year-old can do, and any chance to get William Shatner involved is a bonus in my opinion. The highly maligned ‘Boob Song’ I also found actually pretty funny, and I consider myself a feminist. ¬†It ¬†really was a knee jerk reaction to label it¬†misogynist¬†when McFarlane was clearly just taking an ironic dig at what actors are expected to be able to do for a film.

And that Jaws theme sure was awkward, especially when cutting out heartfelt speeches of struggling people in the film industry. Only done to the poor techies of course, god forbid they cut the speech of an actor.

Oh well until next year, and if the rumours are to be believed I really do look forward to the double-whammy of  the hilarious Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey hosting.

Highlights of the Oscars

It was Sean Penn’s¬†turn¬†to give an example of how to accept an Oscar, much as Mickey Rourke did with the Baftas opening with the ironically funny: “You Commie homo-loving sons of guns” , adding some Rourke-like modesty: “I know how hard I make to appreciate me.”

And finally making a heartfelt speech worthy of Milk himself on the “shame” of those who voted against gay marriage and the right of equality for all. While also paying homage to expected winner Rourke himself, who he described as “courageous” in “rising¬†from the ashes” and his “brother.”¬† Spoken like a true gentleman and deserved Oscar winner.

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Slumdog Mania

Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (Salim), Photo: Pathé/Guardian

Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as Salim Photo: Associated Press/Guardian

So¬†Slumdog seems to be¬†hotly tipped to win the Oscar and while it is quite an involving film (was going to say entertaining but would that be right?) and Boyle directs with his usual breezy authority and how-did-he-do-that visual wizardry. And the gameshow as trigger to episodes in Jamal’s life was quite a clever concept if not original to the film.

There was still much that made me like David Cox at The Guardian hesitate to call it the best film of the year. And were news of the world actually watching the film ‘feelgood film of the year’!? I mean it had a happy ending but acid being poured onto a child’s eyes does not produce a pleasurable all is alright with the world sensation. (Or are you meant to feel good that it’s not you, therein lies the moral haziness, but more on that later).

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Mickey Rourke Vs Sean Penn

 

Sean Penn in Milk, Photo: REUTERS/Focus Features

Sean Penn in Milk Photo: REUTERS/Focus Features

                                          

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Photo:Fox/Everett/Rex Features

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Photo:Fox/Everett/Rex Features

So the best actor Oscar nominations are:

Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”

Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”

Sean Penn, “Milk”

Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

So the best actor Oscar is really between Rourke for The Wrestler and Penn for Milk. No disrespect to Frank Langella who I ‘ve heard gives a brilliant and imaginative interpretation of Nixon. Or the others: Richard Jenkins is a fine actor and has long-deserved to get recognition. Brad Pitt? Fine actor too but the film does look rather silly and whimsical let’s be honest. IAltough I¬†admit¬†I have yet to see it.

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