…and the Oscar goes to…

…and the Oscar goes to…

Feb 28, 2011
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Oscar mania is over for another year and I’m sure there are many a hung-over celebrity sprinkled throughout the hotels of Hollywood today. But the show must go on and I must blog my thoughts on it all. Let’s start with the theme and production of the show. First off, health Franco and Hathaway were pretty good hosts. I thought them an odd pair when I heard the announcement weeks ago. And while they definitely had a slow start (awkward pauses, sale jokes that the crowd didn’t laugh at, illness etc…), they were pros, picking up and carrying on with genuine enthusiasm for the night. It was obvious from the outset that the show’s producers were definitely aiming at attracting a younger demographic this year. While I think that’s great (the Academy certainly can use a boost of youth), it came off as desperate and uncomfortable at times. For example, interviewing groups of young people on the streets of LA, Justin Timberlake pulling out his iPhone saying, “I think they have an app for that”, ending with an inner-city kids choir, etc…Overall, I think the youthful approach was effective, just heavy-handed at times.

I was surprised at how quickly the night seemed to move along. Again, the beginning had a slow start. The first 3 award winners, babbled and paused and were just plain painful to watch. But once we got past those goombahs, the rest of the night was filled with many thoughtful, well-spoken and classy speeches. The ones that stick out the most were David Seidler and Tom Hooper, writer and director for The King’s Speech respectively, Melissa Leo, only because she dropped the F-bomb on LIVE primetime television (loved it!), Lee Unkrich, for Toy Story 3 and the shaggy-haired Luke Matheny, director of short-film winner, God of Love. And having the iconic Kirk Douglas present one of the awards, at first, seemed in poor taste. The man is 94! He hobbled to the microphone with a cane, he was as pale as a ghost and I had to strain to understand each word of his stroke-effected speech. But, he proved to be one of the best elements of the night. He was funny, bright and classy. No doubt, his mind is as sharp as ever. It was just sad to see such a strong Hollywood legend up there looking so physically frail.

Enough of that though. How about those winners! Huh?! Well, I must say, I was quite happy with the winners of the night. The only major upset, in my mind, was Best Music (Original Score). Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece for Inception was perfect. That movie wouldn’t have been even remotely the same without that score. The music drove and built and made you sit on the edge of your seat as cities curled up on themselves and well-dressed bodyguards fought in rotating hallways. Seriously. It was the best score of the year and maybe even the decade. But The Social Network won??!?!?!? Seriously? I mean, it was good. The music was right for the time period and the emotional undercurrent of the story. But I didn’t remember it. It was definitely inferior to Inception’s soundtrack. And yes, I’d be happy to tell that to Trent Reznor’s face.

Other than that, I felt the awards were handed out in predictable and rightful fashion. The King’s Speech (as I wrote in my last posting) was the obvious winner for Best Picture, Director and Actor. Natalie Portman was the only choice for Best Actress. And Christian Bale was unbeatable as Best Supporting Actor. I urge you to watch those movies simply for the acting of those winners. Seriously, this year’s movies shone with powerfully rich and deep performances.

That said, I have one huge beef with the Academy this year. And I believe it’s because of the recent “10 nomination” feature in the Best Picture category. Half of the films (True Grit and Winter’s Bone, for example) landed in a large number of categories but took home diddly-squat. Do you know why they didn’t win anything? BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T DESERVE TO BE NOMINATED BEST PICTURE! But because the Academy needed 10 nominations in the Best Picture category they extended their reach beyond the truly great 4-6 films out there. And once the voters were exposed to those other “great-but-not-amazing” films they wrestled with giving them nods in other categories. Sure, the Coen Brothers are genius film-makers. But what they directed in True Grit was not outstanding in light of this year’s other films. In fact, I was SHOCKED that Christopher Nolan was denied a Best Director nomination while his brilliant “Inception” was nominated for 8 other awards including Best Picture! Every winner who went up and gathered a golden statuette for Inception last night gave explicit props to Nolan, as the reason they were able to deliver so well in their area of expertise. And that’s what a great director does. He/she empowers the team to do their very best and fully realize the director’s vision for the film. Inception had 8 nominations and 4 wins…but no nomination for Nolan. Meanwhile, True Grit gets 10, count ’em 10, nominations and walked away with a big, fat cup of jack squat. The Coen Brothers are amazing directors. So, I have no doubt they were nominated over Nolan simply because they are the darlings of the Academy — not because they did such an amazing job with True Grit. And while Inception was a far superior film, the Academy voters just couldn’t manage to find room on the ballot to nominate Nolan. Hmmmm…If the Oscars left the Best Picture category at 5 nominations those films this year would have been The King’s Speech, Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter and The Social Network. In my mind, they were the strongest films of the year. Last night’s show proved that they were the strongest films of the year. They all walked away with awards. The rest (Toy Story 3, excluded) all walked away with memories of nominations; many undeserved, frankly.

So, another year in film is wrapped up. The shining stars have been acknowledged and Hollywood has already moved on to another year of film production. As always, I eagerly anticipate the rare movies that get the heart pounding, move the soul and make ya think. So, if you resonate with my thoughts and opinions, please keep checking back frequently and get the inside scoop from Craig the Critic.

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Craig the Critic

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