Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thoughts On This Year's Oscars

By Alec Horowitz

The set to the Oscars was puzzling this year. They tried to make the set look smaller and less glamorous. The opening number by host Hugh Jackman openly acknowledged this. He used what looked like paper cutouts to show to show the Oscars where going to be toned down and Hollywood was more in touch with America. Ok, let me just say this. If the Oscars wanted to look more in touch with America, than they minus will of just took ‘The Reader’ out of the best picture category and replaced it with ‘The Dark Knight’. Come on, this is the Oscars. I don’t want them to be in touch with the unglamorous picture painted by a speech by President Barack Obama on the economy. I want my Oscar’s big and glamorous. I want to feel like I’m sitting in a movie theater during the great depression, as I forget my troubles, and the biggest problem in the world is Gene Kelley needs to find a way to make rain fun.

There where some lovely moments, though. Heath Ledger’s family was lovely. They weren’t overly ghoulish, and they didn’t break out into tears. They where moving about the way they spoke how Heath would of liked to be honored by his peers. Though, most of this night was kind of a disaster. The idea of having each presenter take us through how a movie is made wasn’t a good idea. I mean, the truth is movie buffs already know this and those watching for escapism don’t care. I did like having each actor or actress say something about each nominee. I thought it was wonderful to see long shot Richard Jenkins get nominated. He looked slightly uncomfortable sitting there in the audience, but for me, that’s part of his charm. His performance in ‘The Visitor’ was wonderful. Though, I was surprise to see Sean Penn win the Oscar for Best Actor, because of all the hype that was surrounding Mickey Rourke. Rourke gave an over the top and wonderful performance in ‘The Wrestler’ but Sean Penn gave the performance that deserved to win.

Also, it was nice to see ‘Frozen River’ nominated for best original screenplay. I was happy to see ‘Milk’ win for best original screenplay as well. Best improvement over the overrated indie clich├ęd filled script that won an Oscar last year (do I even need to say it?) Though, this was clearly ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ night and rightly so. While there where other wonderful films nominated that year, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was unique. The night, though, wasn’t very good. The feeling of the Oscars just didn’t feel like the Oscars. There’s nothing wrong with escapism, and the Oscars are the ultimate escapism. Go over the top, Oscars. Be distasteful, and I encourage the Oscars to discard good taste with regard to the rest of the nation. This is why people go see movies. While the rest of the world is falling apart, at least we can be told stories, and that’s wonderful.

So, next year, take my advice, Oscars. Go over the top. We watch to escape. We don’t watch to be remained. Though, there are some important points made during the Oscars, as the point made by Dustin Lance Black about the unacceptable treatment of homosexuals in America. It’s a perfect example of why the escapism is important, because sometime’s it's possible to escape but also learn something as well and that’s important. The crop of Oscar nominated films this year where socially aware. When was the last time you thought about India? Homosexual rights? Or illegal immigrants? (Frozen River and The Visitor, the two indies nominated this year) It’s painfully important. Stories are important. Never forget film is important.


pierce said...

I thought the Oscars were actually good this year. Their slightly toned down approach made it much better. I hope they continue like this. They probably will. I mean, the ratings were higher. artly due to Slumdog but still.

We have the actual films themselves for escapism. I don't think we need award shows for that. Watching rich, famous people get awards from other rich, famous people just makes me sad.

Were you really surprised that Sean Penn won? Doing a biopic is basically asking for an Oscar.

alecwriter said...

I choose to think it's honoring creativity. I don't think it's just rich people getting awards from rich people. There's also the behind the scenes people who aren't rich and the indepedent filmmakers who aren't rich. It's the Oscars. Why not let them be escapist? Tomorrow I'll watch CNN, but people going down the red carpet is escapism and so is a overblown awards show. Everyone was saying Mickey Rourke was going to win, because this was his comeback and his proformance was very iconic. Though, I am happy Sean Penn won and felt he was the right choice. The ratings where higher because the movies where good this year. Ebert's claim that "this was the best Oscar show he's every seen" does kinda baffle me, but I'll let it pass because I love Roger Ebert.

pierce said...

That's fair.

I really wanted Mickey to win. I really liked Milk and I thought that Sean Penn was exceptional but I think it is much more rewarding to see an actor craft a character from nothing rather than see someone be another person. Both take skill but I think one is just more impressive.

I'm going to agree with Roger Ebert and I'm not even that big a fan of him.

John Purcell said...

I don't think I believe in awards given by committees. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. If it was the best Oscar show was still not enough to really grab my attention. Then again, it is not really my thing to begin with.

I do have to agree, the Oscar's to me are rich people giving other rich people awards. They are already the winners of the American dream...I think that is the only award they need.

alecwriter said...

I have to once again defend the Oscars. As Michael Moore said after he made his 2002 speech, accepting Best Documentary for "Bowling For Columbine", "What's more American than the Oscars?" he said to a reporter. First of all, I'll said it again. The Oscars isn't just rich people giving awards to rich people. Is the Oscars a bit of nonsense? Yes. Filmmaker Woody Allen has been nominated 20 times and didn't ever show up, expect just once to mock the Oscars and pitch New York City as a great movie town after September 11th. I understand the scrion againist the Oscars, but still why have a cynical attutitude againist the Oscars. Why criticize it and why downplay it? It's the Oscars. The movies and the stuff that surrounds the movies has gotten America through a ton of stuff. John and Pierce, if you want to watch a great movie about the disconnect between the escapism of film and the reality of troubling times, I suggust you see Woody Allen's 1985 fantasy "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and Preston Sturge's 1941 film "Sullivan's Travels". Both movies will shine a light on what you two feel is wrong with film and escapism.