Saturday, December 25, 2010
An Untitled Academy Experience
My obsession of award shows began in 2007, with the 80th annual Academy Awards. The beginning of the event consisted of honors to things I didn't really care about then, like Visual Effects and Cinematography. I was eleven at the time, you wouldn't expect me to be at the edge of my seat for awards that were unknown to me! Anyway, when the important awards arrived, like Best Actor, it was around 10:00, so it was lights out for me. It was a school night after all. The morning after, however, I rushed to the computer to see the results. No Country for Old Men had been bestowed the honor of Best Picture. I had never watched that movie (yet, thankfully) so I simply shrugged. Sorry Juno. No Country was not the only unfamiliar movie of that year, I hadn't seen, or even heard of. There Will Be Blood (Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis) and Atonement (Best Picture nominee) to name a few! Then again, I was a little girl who hadn't crossed the border of PG-13 just yet. That Oscar ceremony marked my birth into the life of movies, officially. The introduction to true cinema was bittersweet, though.
After hearing all the buzz on No Country for Old Men, I decided to have my dad rent it, so we can enjoy the best movie of 2007. Instead, we watched, and fell asleep to, one of the most boring films of the decade. The first thirty minutes of the movie had Josh Brolin taking a bag full of money, and hiding it; the rest of the movie showed him searching for it, while a stern sheriff (every one's favorite robot, Tommy Lee Jones) and in the presence of a sadistic serial killer (Javier Bardem, in an Oscar winning performance). Boring as hell. Although, Bardem was excellent in the portrayal of a twisted killer, which was a heavily deserved Oscar. (Better than the other competition for Supporting Actor.) But I digress.
That horrible experience, and waste of two hours of my life, made me think "Did I watch the wrong award ceremony? Was it really the 'Worst Picture of the Year'?" And no, I was tuned in to the right program. The anti-Oscars are called the Raspberry Awards, or "Razzies". (You all know my detest for them already.) But their decision of the Worst Picture is understandable. Their amateurs. The first ceremony was held in some one's basement for crying out loud! (Yes, I use that phrase. Don't hate.) The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, however, is a professional organization! You can tell by it's long title! So, I just expected a bit more pizazz from it. Too much to ask? I think not.
Moving on, I started watching the Best Pictures of the previous years, like The Departed, Crash, and Chicago (to start). And they were are exemplary films, deserving the honor they received! So, I didn't understand how the Academy went from esteeming those great movies to No Country. Then, the 2008 ceremony arrived.
At that time, I was twelve, so I stayed up as late as I could. (Partially because I was home alone, too.) Prior to the event, I watched most of the nominees that year, including Milk, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Now, I didn't watch Slumdog Millionaire all the way through, because it was just too fucking boring. Much like No Country actually. And guess who won? The movie that put me to sleep. Again. How coincidental that two boring movies win two years in a row! I was so pissed at their decision that I shut off my TV and threw the remote down the stairs. (Oh yes, my angry side.) I couldn't even fall asleep, furious at their verdict. I was fine, even pleased, with the other winners, like Sean Penn and especially Kate Winslet. I was thrilled, yet not surprised, that she won for her performance in The Reader as former German concentration camp guard Hanna Schmitz. She was long due for that Oscar, and she should have gotten it for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, her best acting, in my opinion. The Reader was okay, but nothing special. The Academy, honestly, just honored her as if to say "Oh let's just give her the damn thing already." I'm so crushed at that truth, for Kate is such a wonderful actress! Much better than her competitor (that year for Sunshine) Hilary Swank, who won that year for Million Dollar Baby. 'Tis be the truth. Anyway, another disappointing year for the Best Picture honor, tainted with unappealing movies.
Once again, I went back to watch more Oscar pictures, and they were all fantastic! The 1990s, especially, had the best pictures of the year, perhaps ever. American Beauty topped my chart of best movies of all time, being a movie of elegance and a pure delicacy. Kevin Spacey's best performance, most definitely in the list of all-time, as well. Forrest Gump, Titanic (cliche, I know), and Shakespeare in Love to name a few. I also added Best Picture nominees to my movie diet: Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, L.A. Confidential, As Good As It Gets, Jerry Maguire, Scent of a Woman, and Bugsy were some of the best, of the 1990s alone! As I grew more mature, understanding the nature of life and what not, I began curious, once more, of why two such tedious movies were deemed Best Picture. Then, one nominee of 2005 provided me with the reason.
Since I was such a Heath Ledger fan from 10 Things I Hate About You and Knight's Tale, I wanted to watch a little film called Brokeback Mountain. My daddy, graciously, warned me otherwise. He told me, "If you watch this movie, you will cover your face with a pillow all night". With thoughts of what-could-possibly-go-wrong, I started watching it alone. Starting slowly, apparently leading nowhere, I continued just a bit more, maybe there will be a "bang". And a bang there was. With the two leading men, in a tent, in the mountains. My reaction was that of watching "Two Girls, One Cup". Okay, close to it anyway. It was just such a shock! Out of nowhere, these two cowboys start making out! I shut it off right away, regretting every second of it. If you haven't figured this out already, I'm a tad homophobic and don't particularly care for the image of two guys sharing spit. It's just skeevy: my word for "never want to witness, ever".
Okay, back to my realization. I noticed a suspicious increase of movies that pleased certain organizations/groups during the mid-2000s, like Brokeback Mountain. And Slumdog Millionaire fits that category as well, since it was about an unfortunate Indian being discriminated out of his well-earned money because of his race. Now, this was just a theory of mine: the Academy seems to be honoring movies all based on politics, not the overall quality of the movie. My only proof was a movie centered around a gay romance and a movie about mistreatment towards Indians. But, my theory was successfully proven fact (in my eyes) at the ceremony of the most recent ceremony.
With ten nominees for Best Picture, reviving the Golden-era's tradition back in the 1930s, I'd expect a fair winner at last year's 82nd Academy Awards. Movies of excellent quality that year were Inglourious Basterds, The Blind Side, and Up in the Air, while others were decent like An Education. Although I enjoyed Up immensely, and I am happy it won Best Animated Feature, I don't believe it should have been nominated for Best Picture. That's why the Academy created the Best Animated category, specifically for great achievements in cartoons. So, they should be confined in that category only. Don't migrate to the other, official side! And A Serious Man, from the makers of No Country for Old Man, was just flat-out weird and totally pointless. Definitely did not need a nomination. District 9 was awesome and insane, but absolutely not Oscar material whatsoever. The rest of the nominations were justified, I suppose, though I was only a hardcore fan of one. Inglourious Basterds.
The film was without a doubt Quentin Tarantino's best, and such a tastefully made film, from cinematography to acting. Oh, the acting! This movie marked the debut of an Austrian actor into American cinema. His name is Chritoph Waltz, and he is one of the most superb actors of this millennium. He played Colonel Hans Landa, known as "The Jew Hunter", which his character gleefully ravished; he was so skillfully cunning and so gracefully sadistic. When he spoke, his words entranced me in such a profound way, I was hooked on his every movement. Waltz's performance was the absolute best of that year, no question, and even the best of all time. And to be immigrating abroad, this being his first American-speaking movie (besides his character speaking German and French) and he played it marvelously. The amazing director of the film, Quentin Tarantino, had much to do with Christoph's acting and overall appearance in the movie. Thanks to him, we now have an extraordinary actor to be featured in many future films.
Based on its major success, ranking number one in the all-time box office worldwide, I predicted James Cameron's massively pricey sci-fi Avatar to win. Therefore, I wasn't expecting such a huge shock that had my mouth agape. At the end of the night, the winner was...The Hurt Locker. The second-lowest grossing nominee, behind A Serious Man. The movie directed by Cameron's ex-wife. The movie about the war in Iraq. Now, tell me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this qualify as a political movie? Doesn't this count as more proof towards my unofficial theory? Well, I don't care what you think, so suck it? But, yes, I was immensely shocked at the verdict. And Kathryn Bigelow's acceptance speech, with her clutching her breast area and hyperventilating, was just annoying. That, though, did not irritate me, even if it lost to Tarantino's masterpiece. What really pissed me off was that Inglourious Basterds lost its more-than-well-deserved Best Original Screenplay award to The Hurt Locker. Its called Best Original Screenplay for a reason! How many movies are there about the war in Iraq? Or movies about wars in the Middle East in general? Too many to handle. Quentin's Basterds was beyond original, all his movies are! Of course, there are many adaptations on World War II, but not one where there is a new twist to the death of all major Nazi leaders! Just plain aggravating to me, all the unfairness.
Now, back to where we started: this year's Oscar contenders. The Golden Globe nominations. This awards ceremony never gets me infuriated, to be honest, so that's why I respect its choices more. And it separates the Best Picture into two categories: Drama and Musical/Comedy. This way, we appreciate the fantastic hilarities of the year. Last year's Best Comedy went to The Hangover, which literally had me jumping for joy. (I expected it to get a Best Original Screenplay nod, but I guess it's too obscene for the fancy, pretentious Oscars.) Plus, the previous host was the witty, wonderful Ricky Gervais. I absolutely adore that man, and how over-the-edge he gets with everything. My role-model. And he's hosting this year's Golden Globes, too! Anyway, this year the nominees, and major Oscar contenders, are: The Fighter, Black Swan, The Social Network, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, and Inception. Like I said before, I'm totally fine with all these choices, which is really surprising! And I'm sure you would agree, considering my particularities with movies. However, like last year, there will be ten nominations for Best Picture, which means four more movies need to make the cut.
Based on public demand and critics' choices, I'd have to say True Grit, 127 Hours, The Town, and Toy Story 3 will get the remaining nods. Those are my predictions anyway. And I know how much the Academy loves nominating animations for the huge award, just to irritate people like me. Any movie with Jeff Bridges is a favorite of the Academy, as well. Personally, I despise the drunken-like actor, who is often used in the Coen brothers' productions. They made True Grit, actually, as well as A Serious Man and No Country for Old Men. I guess you could say I dislike them altogether. 127 Hours will definitely be nominated because 1) it's based on a true story and 2) it is directed by Slumdog's Danny Boyle.
The Town is just a guess, considering Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is starring, and a front-runner for Supporting Actor. Fortunately, he most likely will not get it. I say fortunately because I still resent him for being a part of the government-endorsed Best Picture of last year, beating Inglourious Basterds. Christian Bale is the front front-runner for his supposedly (I haven't seen it yet) marvelous performance in The Fighter. Geoffrey Rush is another Oscar hopeful for his portrayal in The King's Speech. Newcomer Andrew Garfield is a major possibility, as well, though he probably won't receive the honor based on the fact that he's brand-new. However, Christian Bale seems to be the one to win because he had never gotten honored by the Academy before and he just needs to have that on his record. "Oscar Winner Christian Bale" appearing in future trailers with him, stuff like that. As I said, I don't mind him winning because I adore him altogether. Michael Douglas's nomination for the sequel to Wall Street is just a fluke, but I'm surprised he was honored as "supporting". (Just want to say that I hope he beats his cancer because I don't think I could handle yet another fine actor leaving us.)
Moving on. I have absolutely nothing to say about the Supporting Actress nominations. Only that I hope Helena Bonham Carter wins because I am Team King's Speech all the way! Best Actress contenders would have to be Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) so far. There is are also more hopefuls like Nicole Kidman (Rabbit's Hole), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), and an unknown Jennifer Lawrence. Which brings us to our next topic.
Critics are raving about some movie I never heard of called Winter's Bone, which might be the only thing that's pissing me off this year. The Academy just has to nominate a movie people have never heard of, right? Crazy Heart. Slumdog Millionaire. Those movies are known now because they won, but I still consider them "unknown flops". Jeff Bridges's biopic only made a mere $14.5 million prior to its Oscars! Anyway, I desperately hope Winter's Bone does not win anything. I'm a sadistic person, yes. Can you blame me for wanting an indie to lose? I'm sure you will.
For Best Actor, we have an outstanding Colin Firth for The King's Speech, which is the front front-runner this year, I believe. And the man I'd like to win the most, thank you very much. Others include Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network, James Franco for 127 Hours, Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter, and who can forget Jeff Bridges for True Grit. Fucking fantastic. As much as I despise Danny Boyle, I love James Franco and what he's doing with his life. He's like this year's Renaissance man: going to various colleges, starring in soap operas and more movies, and being extremely attractive, of course. Jesse Eisenberg was great in The Social Network. I always love a fast-talking cynic. (Robert Downey Jr., to name one.) A massive snub was given to Leonardo DiCaprio this year. Twice! Once for his mentally sick turn in Shutter Island. Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. What, the Academy had enough of the prolific director? And another snub for mega-blockbuster Inception, where he played wonderfully in dreams within dreams within dreams. Another reason for me to hate the Academy! They have never honored the extraordinary actor! He can literally play any role anyone throws at him. Oh, that's right. The Academy only honors movies that stir social conflicts and include a drunk/mentally challenged/gay/insane/transsexual/anything-to-do-with-politics plot/actor(s). My bad.
Now, to wrap up this super-ultra-mega post, I just have to say that the Academy really decayed over the years. From awarding delicacies like The Apartment and Gone With the Wind and American Beauty to even mentioning movies like (exploited deleted). It's simply tragic. I bet past filmmakers, such as Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock, are rolling in their graves. (God, I miss them.) This year, the year of 2011, is the last straw. If I even cringe at an announced Oscar winner, I'm shutting the entire thing off, out of my life for good. I cannot take anymore undeserving winners, I just can't. From that point on, I'll have my own award ceremonies, right here on this very blog. If the event turns out to be immensely disappointing, be ready to greet my own award ceremony. For now, I'll call it "The Untitled Honors". Get it? My blog is called "Untitled Criticism", so the awards are called "The Untitled Honors". I amuse myself sometimes.
Anyway, that's my story on my experience with the Academy Awards. To be continued, of course. I'm sure i offended some people, and for that I apologize. Don't like my opinions, find another blog to follow. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! And most importantly, Happy Festivus! And to all a good night!
*Apologies to any of those who are offended. That includes homosexuals, mentally unstable folk, and all ethnic groups. To all those who love the movies I trashed, I have no sorry for. My opinion and I'm not apologizing for it. Happy Holidays.