Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Oscars have come and gone...again....

I wrote earlier that the Oscars are, first and foremost, a popularity contest. David Kahane (a nom de cypher) has more to say on that, and on this year's Oscar show.

I grew up watching the Academy Awards (Oscar) show. Honest. It was the one time a year that Dad never objected to eating in the living room. In fact, he insisted on it. My children almost inherited the habit, as the ex and I made it our annual exception to no-eating-in-front-of-the-TV rule.

But I haven't watched an Oscar show for a few years. I think I gave up after a work of fiction won for best documentary. Then I just stopped watching television. Well, now I'm back, all advertisers can cheer, and I watched the Oscars this last Sunday night. I even managed to stay awake, no mean feat.

Were they always this dull? Was there a special notice put out this year that said to all presenters and nominees, "Thou shalt not be controversial"?

I wonder what's going on. Hollywood is flagrantly left-leaning, and you could sense a bit of that here and there. But the Usual Suspects were absent, or at least kept off camera. Lacking any nominations, did Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, et al opt simply to not attend? I thought Moore would be there, since a work of science fiction was so prominently nominated for best documentary.

I liked Ellen. At worst, she was tolerable. The job of being host/hostess is rather thankless, but, for the most part, she performed well. Some of her jokes were funny, most were flat, but I blame the Oscar writers and not her.

Much ado was made of this being a "green" Oscar ceremony. Nothing was said about the private jets, lavish living conditions, or extravagant after-ceremony parties that are far from green. Unless you count those suffering from alcohol poisoning. It's a stretch to say "hypocrisy", but not much of one. (And I do love the news about Algore's energy consumption habit, a beautiful description of which may be found here.)

Coming from an industry that currently appears to love skewering faith and religion, I found an early number, where a choir comes out and sings halleluiahs at the nominees, vaguely annoying. It wasn't well done and reeked of self-importance and pretention.

It also appeared that the only people allowed to acknowledge the central role of God in their lives and achievements are black; that is, Jennifer Hudson and Forrest Whitaker. Well, God bless them for doing so, and doing so made them the stand-out winners of the evening. Only Helen Mirren's elegant (and well-practiced) acceptance speech came close.

I clapped everytime Pan's Labyrinth won; it earned all three statutes it took home, and I'm inclined to believe that Javier Navarrete should have received the prize for his beautiful and haunting music. Overall, Pan's is an example of craftsmanship that Hollywood seems either incapable or unwilling to create.

I liked hearing Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman actual voices. Will someone let them act in a film without having them affect an accent? Her voice exceeds her physical beauty by several orders of magnitude. (And I'm talking about when she was a redhead; this blonde phase must end.) I also got a kick out of hearing her say, "And the winner is..." rather than the currently correct, "And the Oscar goes to...." Good for you, Nicole!

Martin Scorsese's gangster film took the top two prizes (plus a couple of bonus statues), which is more a reflection of the pool of nominees than a sign of how good the film is. Scorsese was quoted as saying that The Departed was the first film he made that had a plot. I've already voiced my disappointment with it, but have to add that I found it hilarious that it won for best adapted screenplay.

Look, though: The Departed emerged victorious over films that had overt political intentions. The Academy, with the notable exception of the new category of documentary work of fiction, eschewed such things in favor of rewarding craftsmanship. It was amazingly conservative list of nominees, and an even more conservative list of winners. About the only undeserving winners involved "global warming" and penguins (who were concerned about "global warming").

Gives me something to be both happy and sad about.

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