Monday, March 06, 2006

And the Oscar goes to...HUBRIS!

What a glorious year for Oscar. This year every movie nominated made a statement. This was an Academy Awards night that made everybody in Hollywood feel good about patting themselves on the back. Even Jack Nicholson, who appeared drunk when he presented the award for best picture, can bask in the glow of self-righteousness. You've all earned it. Good day at the office.

Never mind that I don't want to see any of these movies. Look, I'm not some conservative Christian who thinks that watching Brokeback Mountain will force me to reconsider my choice to be heterosexual, I just don't like romance movies. Brokeback Mountain is a chick flick with no chicks. Eventually I'll see it when it shows up on Starz but I don't pay good money to see anybody kiss. Not without an "X" rating anyway.

I'm surprised that Heath Ledger didn't stand up and scream when Best Picture went to Crash. Frankly, I'm surprised Spike Lee didn't do the same. Surely Heath was thinking about Oscar the whole time he sucked face with Jake Gyllenhall. Why else would you do that? His heart probably sank when that fat pig Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who played a gay guy not involved in a love scene, waddled up to take the Best Actor trophy, but he held it in because he might have taken one for the team. Best Picture was the payoff, right? besides, Russell Crowe kind of screwed things up for Australians acting surly. Can't embody a stereotype right? And that stocky jerk isn't even Austrialian! He's from New Zealand. Where does he get off? When Jack opened the envelope and read Crash, Ledger must have been ready to kill somebody. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I KISSED A FREAKING DUDE!!! A DUDE!!! GIVE ME MY OSCAR, YOU SCHEMING BASTARDS!!!! Good job on keeping cool. Give the kid an Oscar for class.

Spike Lee had to be stark raving mad because Crash was only every movie he ever made. It was like Do the Right Thing without Rosie Perez. Where's his Oscar? A couple of white folks rehash his genre and you can't wait to honor them, but let a brotha make a movie and it gets snubbed. OK. I admit I didn't see Crash, but through the previews I was able to get the gist of the movie and I took the liberty of jumping to conclusions. Besides, how good could the movie be? Matt Dillon was in it.

Ironically, Crash was a movie about racism and prejudice, but didn't Hollywood put on one of the whitest Academy Awards ceremonies in recent memory? Sure, they gave 3-6 Mafia an Oscar for best song, but didn't that have TOKEN written all over it? Yeah, I know a couple of years ago Halle Berry and Denzel Washington claimed Oscars for best actress and actor respectively, but anybody who endures a sex scene with Billy Bob deserves something for their trouble and Denzel's wasn't an award for his over-the-top performance in Training Day, it was a payback for screwing him out of the nod for his performance in Malcolm X (Spike Lee, again). Still doesn't make up for snubbing The Color Purple now does it?

It was obvious this year's awards were carefully considered. Normally you've got one good movie amidst a bunch of garbage but this year there were so many heady offerings. Everybody had to be honored.

Best Picture went to Crash because of it's prolific use of black characters and poignant social commentary. It was a life lesson with beautiful people. An after school special with talented performers. A humanities class you pay $7.50 to see. Brokeback Mountain edged itself out of the running because one of the male leads was not black. Had Ang Lee opted to throw race into the mix with the homosexuality, the movie would have swept every important award. As such he fell short.

Best Director was Ang Lee. Partly because people like saying his name but mostly because his father died recently. Nothing spells gold like giving a Hollywood insider a chance to dedicate an Oscar to his dearly departed.

Best Actor: The portly Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It's likely people simply got confused and thought he was actually Dustin Hoffman who is due for one of those lifetime achievement nods they hand out periodically. They tried to sneak one of those in for the brutally aged Judi Dench, but the sympathy votes were split between her and Felicity Huffman and that opened the door for perpetually perky Reese Witherspoon to win Best Actress for what had to be an easy roll in Walk the Line. Does anybody know anything about June Carter other than the fact that she was married to Johnny Cash? Of course not, so how hard could it be to get into character? Cop a southern accent and yell a lot. Easy.

For the record, Felicity Huffman would have wonthe award if she wasn't a regular on a current television show. The Silver Screen bluebloods don't take kindly to those who make a living on the small screen. Playing ugly always scores points (Just ask Charlize Theron) and Huffman worked the freakshow in Transamerica, but it wasn't enough to overcome Desperate Housewives. But she gets to see Eva Longoria naked backstage so there's a trade off.
I'd take a steady paying gig and access to naked Eva over a golden statue anyday.

Do you like how I tied those two categories together? Efficient, wasn't it. Too bad The Academy can't do the same, eh? Do we really need three and a half hours of blah?

Supporting Actor went to George Clooney for his work in Good Night and Good Luck, which was artfully filmed in black and white. Yes, Syrianna was the film he was nominated for, but that's just a technicality. He won for directing Good Night and Good Luck. Nobody watched Syrianna. I don't even know if I'm spelling it right and I'm not going to check because I know that nobody will catch it if it's wrong. Hollywood simply can't ignore a film that reminds everybody that Joe McCarthy tried to destroy everything the Academy stands for.

Supporting Actress went to Rachel Weisz of Mummy fame. Apparently she's a good actress but you wouldn't have known it watching The Constant Gardener which was really a Ralph Fiennes vehicle. She was in the movie featured in flashback sequences that actually made the film hard to watch (You see, I actually watched this one! I was tricked by the DVD jacket and a couple of previews that made me think it was exciting. It wasn't.) Here's the rub: She was nominated for Supporting Actress which leads one to believe that some other actress had a more prominent role in the movie, right? Well that's not true. She was the lead actress but she gets killed early and the whole movie is about her husband trying to figure out what happened. It wasn't the cyanide pill that English Patient turned out to be, but it still left something to be desired.

Why did she win? My guess is that The Academy doesn't like the rest of the nominees. Frances McDormand already got an undeserved Oscar for Fargo and Catherine Keener made the mistake of starring opposite Steve Carrell in The 40 year-old Virgin. She's officially blacklisted for that one. Worse than being on TV. The other nominees weren't important enough to garner Academy love, so Weisz won by default. Besides, she English so that kind of makes up for Dench not winning her "Boy, is she still acting" award.

Here's a category that confuses me: Screenplay. They have two. Adapted Screenplay means that somebody took the idea from a book and created a movie script. Original Screenplay is when somebody makes a movie from scratch. It's just a nifty little way Hollywood honors both writers and plagiarists.The Movie business has a long tradition of lacking orginality. Remeber Deep Impact and Armageddon were released in the same year? Tombstone and Wyatt Earp battled for box office love. Not much going on in the creativity department. Brokeback won for adapted screen play, while Crash won the award for being original, or as original as you can be when you steal Spike Lee's career. It's really not that important because the big award is Best Picture. That's the pinnacle. Nobody except the writers care about the screenplay nods. That's why they start pushing the wrters off the stage as soon as they get their hands on Oscar. You got your trophy now go home!

It's the redundancy of the awards that is interesting. What does it say about a director when a movie wins best Picture but he doesn't get Best Director? You'd think that was the end of the road. That's got to be the biggest slap in the face. The Academy just lauded every aspect of the movie you directed but snubbed you. It's like saying that the movie was great in spite of you.

And what does it say about the cast and crew if a movie gets the Oscar for Screenplay but failed to take home best picture? Isn't that a coulda woulda shoulda award? Does that mean Brokeback Mountain would have swept the awards if Phillip Seymour Hoffman had been the lead over heath Ledger? How would Jake Gyllenhall felt about smooching the pudgy PSH?

When you think about it that way, you have to pin the blame of Brokeback's failure on the cast. Ang Lee won for Best Director. The plagiarists...I mean writers...won for best adapted Screenplay. Nobody from Crash won any acting awards so the difference had to be Ledger and Gyllenhall. They must have squandered the brilliant direction of Ang Lee and the careful adaptation of the writers.( Notice how I, a writer, refuse to give them their props? It's because I have no idea who they are. I think Larry McMurtry helped out but that's all I know.) How else do you explain it? Unless the whole thing is a premeditated sham. HMMM.

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