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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dream in Gold

Greetings one and all. The title of this post refers to the "catchphrase" of this past Academy Awards ceremony. It certainly provides a pleasing visual, especially at the conclusion of the ceremony when a mass of gold confetti drowned this year's Best Picture producer-winners. I will try to stay on task here and discuss only the 2016 Oscars and nothing else. Here, you will find my thoughts on everything about the ceremony, primarily the winners and snubbed nominees. What I will not be discussing is Chris Rock's performance as the host. Why, you may wonder? Well, this entire year for the Oscars was shrouded in controversy and scandal, coined by the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. I will not comment on this issue because it is an extremely touchy subject. What I will say is that centering the race issue on the Academy Awards is absurd because all actors in question (i.e. Will Smith and his wife who started the buzz) are successful, wealthy individuals. This issue should be addressed in areas where racism actually affects individuals. Sorry, but getting snubbed for an Oscar does not tarnish the golden wealth they already possess. That's the end of my thought. Every year, when awards season rolls around, I feel the delightful bliss of a holiday approaching, and that holiday is the Academy Awards. No matter who is hosting, no matter who is nominated, I always look forward to the Oscars with an unwavering ecstasy that rivals those who anticipate the Super Bowl. For my father and I, the Oscars is a massive celebration that demands undivided attention and untainted vision. That is to say, until we watch the Oscars, we avoid all media and social contact to avoid being spoiled with the results. Call us weird, antisocial hermits, but that is our devotion to the Academy Awards. Anyway, here is an organized paragraph-list of the highlights of the evening. Ready, set, let's begin.

The Big Short fell short - I hope that caption isn't too repulsive of a pun. Or whatever that is, whatever I just did. This thing I did with the caption refers to the performance of The Big Short at the Oscar ceremony, for it received, regrettably, only one Oscar. I recently watched The Big Short, just in time for the Oscars, which is extremely fortunate because it gave me my tentative frontrunner. Not only was the film phenomenal overall, but the Guilds Awards over the past few weeks gave the impression that it was, indeed, in the front-running. Allow me to give a brief review of The Big Short. Directed by the Wall St. skeptic, Adam McKay--whose previous film, The Other Guys, featured an illuminating presentation that showed the excessive greed of Wall St. executives and CEOs--guides the film with such remarkable agility. The mechanics of Wall St. and the economy are notoriously regarded as being impossible to understand for average people. I believe the system is challenging to comprehend because that's exactly how those grimy executives want it. If the system is complicated, people will not bother with trying to understand, giving those executives indirect permission to continue doing what they're doing. What are they doing? To paraphrase, they are swindling the American people and using the government as a puppet to accomplish this more effectively. This topic may be the only politically-centric topic I feel comfortable and not at all ashamed for discussing. I am bold enough to discuss this because (1) having conversations about this will hopefully expand my knowledge on the subject, and (2) I believe it is the crime of the century and the culprits are getting away with it.
The end of The Big Short features narration by Ryan Gosling (he narrates the film throughout, just to clarify) and, once the financial bubble pops, he explains what became of the Wall St. executives who were part of this scheme. Basically, all the executives were prosecuted and new laws were created to combat the possibility of another crisis on Wall St....just kidding. No, according to Ryan Gosling and my own belief, Wall St. executives faced no charges and actually received a $700 billion bailout from the government. They were rewarded for their outrageous blunder and given leeway to restart the cycle of financial thievery. I call it financial thievery because they do not directly reach into the pockets of people and steal, but they utilize mechanisms to achieve their wealth. Again, my knowledge on the subject is limited to what I saw in The Big Short and various documentaries. (Capitalism: A Love Story is a great one, explained profoundly by Michael Moore.) I feel I jumped into talking about the evil of Wall St. as opposed to discussing the film itself. That's exactly what I did. One-sentence review: The Big Short was directed/written in a way that appeals to average audiences who do not understand the economy. Despite the complicated terminology involved on Wall St., Adam McKay managed to engage viewers, luring them to root against Big Business yet revealing to them what caused the economy to crumble. My dad, for example, watched the film with aching bewilderment. While he loved the movie as much as I did, it was painful for him to examine the smugness, the conceited disregard, that business executives expressed during their scheme. Right before the 2008 crisis, my dad bought a house with my mom, an investment that, as the movie demonstrated, would prove to be unwise and heartbreaking. Other externalities aside, this crisis injured my dad greatly. These pompous executives kept making shitty deals involving synthetic CDOs (which I still do not understand) and their greed caused lives to be ruined. Not their lives, of course, but the lives of people who were not even involved in these sinister machinations. They had no idea what was happening, and the shock and consequences fell on them and they were devastating. It's honestly painful even to write all this out. It's sad that The Big Short received just this one Oscar. I was really hoping it would win Best Picture because it gives a message that it is a relevant and ongoing issue today. What's happening behind closed doors led to the 2008 financial crisis and it's still going on. As seemingly insignificant as the Oscars may be, I hope that this single recognition might open the country's eyes to the corruption occurring--and I feel confident in saying this--on Wall St.

Leo - This caption defines this past Oscars, and I'm sure everyone can agree with me on that. Sure, Mad Max: Fury Road can be coined the catchphrase of the Oscars as it won award after award; however, Leonardo DiCaprio owned the night as he won his very first Academy Award. Although I disagree with the movie that accompanied his honor, I cannot help feeling bliss at the event itself. Leo finally won an Oscar. True, I hated The Revenant just as much (or even more than) Birdman. Calling Leo's win a glorious event may make me sound like a hypocrite in that sense because I hated the movie he won for. Here is my rationale for being happy for Leo: Fuck the director. As crass as that may appear, it justifies my happiness for Leo. No apologies, I hope that director never returns to the Oscars. Also, two Best Director wins in a row? Fuck that. Anyway, back to Leo. As the evening approached the Best Actor category, the room was abundant with anticipation. It was pretty much a sure thing that Leo would be accepting the statuette, yet even viewers at home felt the tension. This was not the year to snub Leo yet again, though Oscar history has shown that they are a dick to Leo. Fortunately, Julianne Moore was able to announce his name with joy as literally every single person in the theater jumped up for a standing ovation. Watching Leo's acceptance speech truly was an historic moment. (Note: I hesitate in saying "an historic" as opposed to "a historic" because elementary grammar has taught me to use "an" only for words beginning with a vowel. Yet everywhere I turn, people write "an historic." Moving on.)  His speech was as dignified as anyone can imagine from this long-awaited victory. Leo's speeches throughout the awards season were gracious and humble, so it is logical that his Oscar speech would top them all. What made his speech absolutely remarkable was his politically-charged conclusion where he acknowledged the threat of climate change. Usually, these comments make me cringe because they feel provoked by political bribes. You know, "mention this important issue and we'll give you money," sort of like sponsoring or in-movie advertising. I shouldn't make any additional political conspiracy observations after the previous paragraph, right? Knowing Leo's active activism, however, makes his cogent comments incredibly admirable and, most importantly, genuine. He used this precious, momentous occasion to bring to light a significant global issue, and that is simply astounding, in a good way. In case the message hasn't gotten across, I could not be more ecstatic for Leonardo DiCaprio. A long overdue congratulations is in order, for sure. Cheers, Leo.


Three-legged Race to Best Picture - Not a very clever caption, I realize. My intention was to highlight that there were three films in the running for Best Picture. This happens every year, of course: a few films are at the top while the remaining films nominated are simply happy to be nominated. This year was an anomaly however, as there were three major contenders. This made predicting the winner difficult. I started those last three sentences with "this." In a previous post, I declared that The Big Short would win because it triumphed at the Producers Guild Awards and because I loved the movie. Well, in time, I hadn't watched it yet, but the topic was enough for me to root for the film. Sadly, if you read the first caption, The Big Short disappointed. Actually, the Academy disappointed and pissed off viewers such as I because they failed to honor the best picture of the year. Fortunately, The Revenant did not shine either, despite winning for Best Actor and Best Director. The winner of the evening--the individuals lucky enough to be showered in gold confetti--was the Spotlight group. Here is an instance where I am pleased solely because it surpassed a film I disliked. This is not how winning should feel. One should feel inner bliss at hearing a film they truly loved win the bestowed honor. (Bestowed?) I was relatively happy when Spotlight won just because it was not The Revenant. And that just makes me a bitter, hateful person, doesn't it? (Ennio Morricone won his first Oscar for Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight.) Anyway, Spotlight does not deserve the Best Picture title either, even though it was slightly better than The Revenant in my opinion. Nevertheless, standing alone, Spotlight was not an impressive film. I was honestly looking forward to watching it because I have an interest in journalism as well as a sick curiosity in the Catholic Priest Scandal. (All caps.) However, the film fell well below expectations. As I said, The Big Short deserved that Oscar, making me upset that Spotlight did win, even if The Revenant didn't. I just stated the three Best Picture contenders there because I realized that I didn't state them clearly in the beginning. Anyway, despite the disappointment, this entire Oscar race was indeed very intriguing to follow and predict. It sort of mirrors a certain other race occurring in the United States at the moment. Not really.

Here is the part where I apologize for the sheer, unforgivable lateness of this post. The Oscars were on February 29, and here I am, two months later, posting this. Shame on me. I do love writing, please never forget that. For those of you who actually read this, (1) I'm sorry for the gaps between posts, and (2) I'm sorry for alluding to how few people read this. I'll end things here for now. Until next time. Hopefully soon. Cheers, everyone, especially Kate and Leo.

The Big Four
(Should have been Kate Winslet next to Leo)


1 comment:

  1. No need to apologise, your posts are always worth waiting for!

    ReplyDelete