The Oscars are on Sunday, aka, The Night Leonardo DiCaprio Will Finally Win The One Popularity Contest That Has Eluded Him. This has been the tightest race in recent memory, with very few sure things. Best Picture is still wide open, the Supporting Actress race is closer than Alicia Vikander would like it to be, and the technical/craft categories are going to be an all-out brawl between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.
An article is running on The Hollywood Reporter’s website today, with comments from members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, aka, the people who hand out Oscars. You can read the full article here, but the gist is that many members of the Academy are upset at being called racists because once again—and despite having a lot of actual, solid options this year—the Oscar nominations are a virtual white out. Some films made by people of color, like Creed and Straight Outta Compton, only got nominations for the white people involved (Sylvester Stallone and the all-white screenwriting team, respectively). Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is the lone non-white filmmaker nominated, and all twenty acting nominees are white. #OscarsSoWhite is trending once again.
Before we go any further, just a reminder that this is your average Academy voter:
Well, it was better than last year, anyway. At least I didn’t want to punch the host. I did kind of want to ask Ellen DeGeneres if she rehearsed or what, because there was a lot of awkward in her bits, but she landed more jokes than not and the selfie heard round the world was cute or whatever, so okay. It was a mostly harmless Oscar telecast where, despite cutthroat competition in most categories, there really weren’t any surprises. I did pretty alright with my predictions, going 20/24. My major whiffs were calling Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress and American Hustle for Best Original Screenplay. In both those cases, though, my “should wins” took it (played out the same in editing, too, as “should win” Gravity won over Captain Phillips). So I’m kind of 23/24. I should really trust my instincts more, is the lesson there. Continue reading “Best & Worst of the Oscars 2014”
Man, I thought last year was tough. Well, this year is just as bad. Maybe even worse because at least there year there are some really obvious films that ought to walk away with a lot of awards (12 Years a Slave for all the big stuff, Her for stuff like writing, production design and music, Gravity for technical categories), but because Her is “weird” and 12 Years doesn’t pat white people on the back for ending racism in 1962, what should be obvious becomes occluded. Last year, the politics of campaigning mattered. This year it’s less about that and more about the sheer arbitrariness of taste. Continue reading “Handicapping the Oscars: Too close to call”
That show felt really, really long, right? In actual running time it was average (around three and a half hours) but it felt like it took all year to watch. I’m putting it down to the horrible direction. That was a really, truly, terribly directed telecast. No sense of rhythm or pace and not nearly enough cutaways to the audience to make it worth our time. We watch for the cutaways as much for anything else. We want to see George Clooney’s face when someone makes a joke about his younger girlfriends. We want to see Joaquin Phoenix bitchfacing the host to death when he hopes Phoenix is “on his meds”. I, personally, wanted to see some cutaways to Academy bigwigs when Robert Downey, Jr., plainly annoyed, snapped, “Biggest movie of the year, but only got one Oscar nomination”.
The last couple years I’ve actually done fairly well with my handicapping, but this year I am not at all confident in my picks. Too many races are too close, but there’s also a wide disparity between the movies that will win versus the ones that should win. I enjoyed Argo, I like Ben Affleck as a filmmaker and I think he’s developing into one of the most consistent and entertaining American directors, but Argo was not the best movie of 2012. It won’t even go down as the best movie of Affleck’s career. But the politics, they matter this year, even more than usual. With no clear masterpiece to lead the field and critical tastes too evenly spread over too many movies (primarily Argo, Lincoln and Life of Pi) and with Harvey Weinstein shoving Silver Linings Playbook down our throats like it’s something other than a rote, if well-acted, romantic comedy, the Oscar race turned into a dog fight. But it’s almost over. The Oscars are on Sunday, so it’s time for final predictions. Continue reading “Handicapping the craziest Oscar race in recent memory”