Monday, 28 February 2005

Grouching about the Oscars

As most everyone anywhere near a TV set or newspaper know, last night the 77th Annual Academy Awards were held. For me, at least, the Oscars held no real surprises. Indeed, the Oscar for Best Picture was awarded as I predicted it would be in Friday entry. I was pleased with some of the awards. Others, well....

As usual, I was pleased that some won awards and displeased that others did. I was very pleased that The Incredibles won Best Animated Feature Film. While I love Shrek 2 dearly, I think that The Incredibles may actually have been the better film. In fact, I was rather surprised that it won--I thought that the Academy might give the award to Shrek 2, which made more money. I was also very happy that The Aviator took away awards for Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, and Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett, who was wholly convincing as Katherine Hepburn). It was also good to see Jamie Foxx win Best Actor for his performance in Ray; seeing him on screen it is hard to believe it isn't Ray Charles.

As to the Oscars awarded that displeased me, I have to say that I am shocked that "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" (from The Motorcycle Diaries) won best song. Quite frankly, in any language the song is just plain unlistenable. I cannot see how anyone could have thought that "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" was better than "Accidentally in Love" (from Shrek 2). As to the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, I'm not too happy with some of the nominees, let alone with Spider-Man 2 winning. The effects in Harry Potter and the Prince of Azkaban and Spider-Man 2 are spectacular, but to some degree they are also nothing we haven't seen in the previous Harry Potter and Spider-Man (beyond Dr. Octopus, anyway). I do believe I, Robot deserved to be nominated, but the movie with the best effects wasn't even nominated--the spectacular Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I suppose the fact that it wasn't nominated was punishment for not doing great box office...

Of course, as might be expected, I am not happy that Clint Eastwood won Best Director for Million Dollar Baby. Here I must emphasise that I have always been a Clint Eastwood fan from childhood. I not only admire him as an actor, but as a director as well. His film Unforgiven is a true classic. But this year I am convinced that Martin Scorsese did a much better job of directing The Aviator than Eastwood did of directing Million Dollar Baby. It should come as no surprise, then, that I am not happy that Million Dollar Baby won Best Picture instead of The Aviator. To me Million Dollar Baby is simply a standard Rocky story with a novel twist attached. The Aviator is the epic tale of one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century. Siskel and Roper maintain that Million Dollar Baby won because it has "heart," because viewes could identify with Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) as an underdog. I disagree. To me one of the great things about The Aviator is that it humanises Howard Hughes. The movie draws in the viewer to the point that he or she finds himself or herself sympathetic to Hughes and even identifying with his struggles. Perhaps because the plot of Million Dollar Baby is somewhat cliche, I cannot say that the same thing about that movie. Don't get me wrong. Million Dollar Baby is a great film, even if parts of it seem to have been painted by numbers. But it is nowhere near as great as The Aviator.

As to the ceremony itself, I was happy with it. I thought Chris Rock was very funny and did a very good job. For the most part the speeches were brief and to the point. I can't recall anyone droning on for minutes at a time. I also like the fact that they got to the awards very swiftly--I do believe I prefer a shorter opening. As to the acceptance speeches, I thought Jamie Foxx gave the best. It was very touching and he seemed very sincere to me.

As to the fashions, well, I am not going to talk about the fashions. This is one of the things that has annoyed me about the media come Oscar time. I sometimes think they spend more time discussing who is wearing what than who won what. Quite frankly, it would not matter to me if everyone attended the ceremony dressed in T-shirts and jeans.

Anyhow, that is my review of the Oscars this year. For me at least, the wrong movie won Best Picture and the wrong director won Best Director. But then that is not uncommon at the Academy Awards. I suppose that I can only hope that my favourite Best Picture nominee wins next year....

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