Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Oscar Night wrap up

It's me! It's me! I like to thank all the oscar articles which handicapped this year's oscar race and gave me the edge on our annual oscar party contest.

I won picking 17 out of 24 catagories correctly. In second place was John with 14. Last place was our friend, Shelley who got 10 right (actually our 2 year old, Lewis got 9 right -- picking Movies and people who should have won). People were bitter about the fact that I studied for this event. Let them stew, victory is mine. Bwahahaha.

I won, even though I have only been able to see four nominated movies so far, Revenge of the Sith (bad movie), Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit (good movie), Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (bad movie), and Batman Begins (decent movie).

While many sites gave the Best Picture to Brokeback, I was intrigued by a possibility of an upset that I read on a few sites. This morning I am reading discussions on why Brokeback lost. There is much talk of homophobia, which I cannot say that it doesnt exist, but doesn't really seem to be the case.

Gene Stone claims, "60-year-old straight white men who compose most of the voting." Then why did "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" win over Dolly Parton? If there is this monolithic old white boy's club in the Academy, wouldn't Dolly Parton have won? George Clooney would have won for Best Director over Ang Lee.

The academy honored the film for what they thought was exceptional, the director Ang Lee and the writing. What I think is the more compelling reason is that
it lost in the sea of Oscar campaigning -- the world of buzz and peaking. Some say Brokeback just peaked too soon. There was so much hype and interest in the movie as a phenom that all the surprise or curiosity of the film dried up.
It got to the point where there were too many jokes and too many quotes from the film that it was hard to take it seriously as a film.

Perhaps if the film was viewed as just another great movie about forbidden love, Brokeback would have done better. Gay themed film will do better when it is no longer a big deal, and merely movies about human affection, attraction, and relationships. I understand that Gays and Lesbians face great societal scorn and injustice. I have fought on various public forums for their right to marry, adopt, and enjoy the same rights as all other citizens of this country. I just don't think that it was about the discomfort about homosexuality as much as too much hype and too much wrong hype.

I have not gone to see it because of all the jokes and spoilers that are out there have basically threatened my enjoyment of discovery of this film. The hype was about homosexuality in film rather than the merits of the storytelling skills of the film.

Additionally, I make it a policy to see movies well after oscar season to clear the palatte, so to speak, and see a movie sans the hype. Overly hyped movies almost always seem to disappoint.

My wish is that films about gays and lesbians become just part of a body of film about the human condition in recognition that there is a full spectrum of human experience.

People who are miffed about the Brokeback/Crash upset, should really check out what the religious right has to say.

"Not only are the Oscars out of touch with the vast majority of Americans, they have indeed become an "atheistic pleasure dome" ruled by neo-Marxist liberals and cultural pimps who hate the traditional American family and its Christian values." - Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of MovieGuide and Chairman of Christian Film & Television Commission.

Bottom line is that it is best not to take Oscar night or Hollywood very seriously. The voting often has more to do with the timing and nature of the studio campaigning than the merits or demerits of films themselves.

It turns out that the biggest theme of this Oscar night was to encourage us to go to the theaters more and reject DVDs and downloads. So,
Hollywood is not about liberalism or hedonism, but more about good, old-fashioned capitalism.

Jon Stewart

I tend to agree with the mixed reviews that Stewart did on whole an okay job. After reading Andy Dehnart's article, Stewart may have done better than it seemed. The reason it seemed that he had a tough time, and many comedians have a tough time is that it is an audience that cannot laugh or see the how puffed up they are. David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer talks about the no-win situation facing Jon Stewart. If the audience at the Kodak can't take a joke it can look like the comic is bombing when he is actually hitting the mark. It makes one think that what might please the audience at home may not please the audience at the Kodak theatre.

Anyone who isn't Billy Crystal is just going to pale in comparison with Steve Martin who is in somewhat distant second place. Billy Crystal is an ideal host for the Oscars since he is embued with Vaudeville spirit and old school skill sets needed to host the Oscars. He is the new Bob Hope and Steve Martin is kind of a new Johnny Carson, but with musical talents in his back pocket.

Whoopi Goldberg is a strange creature. She seems to be embraced by Hollywood, while I never found her work on the Oscars particularly entertaining, even though I do like her and her off-Oscar work.

It is not enough to be smart and funny. It is not enough to be likeable. This is proven by the long line of smart, funny, and likeable yet hosts like Chris Rock, David Letterman, and now Jon Stewart. In any other forum these people are brilliant and highly entertaining, but Oscar night does something to them. They either have to mute or tone down what we love about them and risk boredom or risk having what we like about them seeming crass and ill-suited to the event.

Billy Crystal can sing, dance, tell jokes like a Hollywood insider, and he has this smile that blasts sunshine even when he is making jokes at Nicholson's expense. He has the pixie dust about him, and that is why when somebody other than Billy Crystal does the Oscars there is a sense of doom laced with hopeful optimism.

I thought the opening with Billy Crystal, former Oscar hosts, Halle Berry, and George Clooney was hilarious. The Bjork joke worked in his current favorite object of ridicule, Cheney's markmanship.
"I do have some sad news. Bjork couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her."
I loved his comment after a montage of clips about issue films, "And none of those issues were ever a problem again."

"Tonight is the night we celebrate excellence in film. . .with me, the fourth male lead from 'Death to Smoochy.' Rent it."

"not all gay people are cowboys — some are effete New York intellectuals."
"There are women here who could barely afford enough gown to cover their breasts."
Just when you start wondering how the antics on The Daily Show could intersect with the Oscars, you get rather clever send ups of Oscar Campaigning and infamous political campaign ads. These ads included claims that Charlize Theron was “hagging it up” in her quest for Oscar glory while Keira Knightley bravely acts “with cheekbones so improbable, they may well be flecked with God dust.” Thanks to Steven Colbert for great voiceover.

Our oscar party laughed out loud at Tom Hanks being assaulted by a trombone and the rest of the orchestra. Given the orchestra's history of aggressively cutting award winners off, you know they they are capable of battery if necessary.

Bottom line is that it wasn't the best oscar show ever because Bill Crystal wasn't there, but it wasn't the worst oscars because Jon Stewart was there.

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