Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Brief Oscar Impressions
First off, I see that the average post rate for the blog has dropped a tad. Sorry about that- I've been in L.A. since last Thursday, and didn't really have time to write. Don't worry, I picked up some cool stuff worthy of review while there, so March should be big.
Anyway, while in L.A., I saw the Oscars. At somebody's apartment over in the Valley, and on Tivo because I went to my brother's improv show at the UCB theater, mind you, but I saw them in full and didn't know the results and was only really an hour behind. Time-shifting is very very fun.
I'm very cool with THE DEPARTED winning. As you know, it didn't really make the Top 5, but I just plain didn't see the other nominees, nor do I feel hugely inclined to- it was a dull slate to start with, full of Important and Respectable pictures (plus one indie comedy about a Quirky Family that also criticises Mainstream Culture) that might be worth seeing at some point, but aren't going to make cinema history. Neither is THE DEPARTED, but it has one thing going for it that a lot of films, including other Oscar winners, don't- it's fun. It's a violent and brutal and hugely enjoyable genre picture, which happens to have strong characters and themes and a rich atmosphere. It's worthy, and Scorcese has been in top form lately, so his Oscar was not only long belated, but richly earned in itself.
On the downside, CHILDREN OF MEN, the actual best movie of the year, was completely and utterly shut out. I blame this not so much on the Academy, but on Universal Pictures, who gave this film no push, no buzz, no heat whatsoever. With proper promotion this could have been the first science fiction film to win Best Picture- instead it wasn't even considered.
PAN'S LABYRINTH also deserved more than it got, but it was at least thrown a few bones. The awards were spread around pretty evenly, which is always good, and I was very pleased to see victories by Alan Arkin, Forest Whitaker, and Helen Mirren (as inevitable as that was). It is to my shame that I have not seen THE QUEEN yet, because unlike some of the other Important movies this year it's something that actually interests me.
Ellen Degeneres was amiable as the host, not as memorable as some, but still always likable and sweet. Her interaction with Scorcese and Eastwood was particularly amusing, the topper being when she asked Spielberg to take a picture. There was a good sense of fun at the ceremony when all was said and done. The "Comedian at the Oscars" number was also a highlight.
Writing was well-represented in its way; the montage showing writers at work was more enjoyable than most, and the novel idea of the presenters for both the original and adapted awards reading out the direction managed to successfully convey that screenplays are about more than dialogue.
So, it was a better ceremony than most, with no huge disappointments. The Oscars are never really about the best movies or the most deserving craftsmen, but they can be a nice celebration of the medium itself. As they were this past Sunday.