Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscarama 2008

Yawn and stretch. Stretch and yawn. The Oscar broadcast, perhaps prematurely deflated by weeks of “what if” speculation before the writer’s strike was resolved, rolled out as bland, as unexciting, as padded, as superfluously lengthy as it has ever been. Even Jon Stewart, in full smarty-pants mode, didn’t get much past an ironic stare and a few self-chuckles, despite some witty one-liners and a few neatly improvised bits; he looked like a guy in the top row at a one-sided sports event with sleet blowing down his neck. The surfeit of clips from the past (prepared in the eventuality of an actor less strike show) only further emphasized the funeral glaze of the proceedings, outside of the occasional refreshing reaction (Marion Cotillard), no one seemed truly inflated by the ritual, and the best patches of chemistry all night were undoubtedly glimpsed in the by-rote scripted exchanges between Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen or Josh Brolin and James McAvoy.
Personally, I went down for the count as an Oscar handicapper, hitting only 12 out of 24, breaking a five year streak of 20 or more, and missing a walloping two (went with darling Julie Christie for Best Actress and Chameleon Cate Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress) in the money categories. Sure, there has to be a lot divined and said about an Academy year so reflective of the societal fissures at play. A year when four out of the five Best Picture entries (Juno, in both spirit and subject matter, doesn’t get an invite to the Zietgeist party), included an old-fashioned epic about the power of lying and the fallout of warfare (Atonement), an old-school fable about corruption, morality, and lawyers (Michael Clayton) and not one, but two, hardscrabble tales about the great American void at the end of the blood drenched rainbow (No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood) were the last movies standing. But, hey, I’m way too brain dead after staying up and watching the broadcast until the bitter, fizzled finale to be the guy volunteering for that duty.

1 comment:

mdoggie said...

Well, I watched the Oscars in my usual lackadaisical way, kinda like I watch most sporting events, so I'm not too tuckered out.

did OK with my picks, but missed the big ones. I did not think the Academy would go for the gloomy, dismal and doomed worlds offered up in the 'Blood' and 'No Country' universes. The one Oscar contender I hadn't seen, "Atonement", I thought had all the earmarks of an Oscar winner, but I was wrong.

I didn't see "Atonement", but just assumed it would offer some sort of definitive resolution if not exactly a"happy ending". I don't know if it actually does offer a more upbeat resolution than the other contenders (excepting "Juno", of course). Perhaps it leaves one lying all alone in the darkness of "the power of lying and the fallout of warfare"

Anyways, I misjudged the Academy's need for sunshine this year, they were happy to descend into the dark.

I picked the best actress, actor, and supporting actress but missed Javier 'cause I refused to go along with the pre-Oscar certainty that he would win. Again, thinking his character was "too dark", and choosing instead the more uplifting and personal performance given by old timer Hal Holbrook. Maybe wishful thinking...

I scored the Editing and Original Screenplay winners, and missed adapted for the screen by assuming this Oscar would go with the Best Picture one. I was right about that principle, anyways.

I did give the Directing Oscar to the brothers Coen, but wrongly guessed that "Scaphandre et le Papillion" would steal best cinematography away from "There Will Be Blood". I thought the innovation and imagination shown in filming from the point of view of a one-eyed paraplegic would trump the darkly detailed dirt, oil, and sky of "...Blood".

As far as the evening's entertainment value goes - I think I have a remarkable if irritating ability to tune out what is inconsequential and would only notice if something truly remarkable occurred.

The only notable occurrence for me was Jon Stewart's call-back of Marketa Irglova, co-recipient of the 'Best Song' award, to deliver her acceptance speech. Her words about low budget art and artistry were perhaps the most insightful and inspiring of the evening.