Friday, February 27, 2009

Overdue Oscar Musings

A little late, but I'll give a few thoughts on the Oscars and a response to the following comment by Great White Bear:

"okay, I am impatiently waiting to see your Oscar thoughts!

I eventually saw all the best picture nominees except "The Wrestler" My thought.... Clint Eastwood got jobbed! Gran Torino was easily better than any of the nominated films, and Changeling was better than all but Frost/Nixon.

And Frank Langella's Nixon was better than Penn's Milk!"

Best Picture - I saw all the Best Picture nominees except The Reader. We're going to see that tonight for our anniversary (15 years ... yay!!). I did see one of my favorite actresses, Kate Winslet, in her other big movie this year, Revolutionary Road with Leo DiCaprio. That movie was good and very representative of the suburban malaise of that period (and this period, for that matter) but maybe just a tad depressing. It reminded me a bit of the movie The Ice Storm, also set in suburban Connecticut, which hit upon the same subject but was set in the 70's instead of the 40's and 50's.

I didn't get to see The Wrestler, Gran Torino or The Changeling but want to see all of them.

Frost/Nixon was great and it was my pick for Best Picture until I had seen Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog had everything - setting, music, anguish, redemption, fresh faces. I wholeheartedly agreed with all the awards it took in.

Best Actor - I do agree that Langella was better in Frost/Nixon than Penn in Milk but I cannot fault Penn's performance at all and I think he's owed an Oscar or two. His acting is consistently great and this is such an un-Penn-like role that he pulled off. He got jobbed big time last year for directing and Best Picture with Into the Wild.

Langella truly transcended in that performance and you don't hear a lot of people giving credit, but I thought Michael Sheen as David Frost was fantastic.

Overall, I think it was a great year for Best Actor nominees. I would have had no problem with any of the nominees winning, save Pitt. And that's not a knock on Pitt. I thought he was fine, but the other four nominees gave the performances of their careers.

Best Actress - I saw none of these movies but I'm happy to see Winslet win. I'll let you know what I think of her in the Reader this weekend.

Best Director - I think Danny Boyle had the most complicated job of any of the nominated directors - A couple of countries, iffy working conditions, non-English speaking non-actors, an unconventional narrative. And he pulls it off. Plus I dig him because he directed one of my favorite movies of all time - Trainspotting.

I also like the subtle directing job of Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon.

Music - The Academy consistently fucks up the nominations in this category and slightly redeems itself with the winners. Last year, they didn't nominate any of the songs from the best soundtrack of the year, for Into the Wild, but the winner from the good movie Once slightly made up for it.

This year, Springsteen didn't get nominated for the Wrestler song. I mean, WTF? Why were only 3 songs nominated in this category? All that being said, I liked the noms and win for Slumdog and I always like Peter Gabriel.

Best Supporting Actor - I saw 4 of these performances. I've already ranted about the advanced screening of Tropic Thunder that I saw. I love Robert Downey but did not like this movie. Nuff' said.

I really like Josh Brolin in Milk and felt that Emile Hirsch and James Franco could have easily been nominated also. Brolin is turning into quite the character actor the last few years (No Country, W, Milk) and is at the top of his game. But this category was going to go to Ledger, and rightly so. It takes quite an original performance to make you forget Jack Nickolson's portrayal of the Joker.

Best Supporting Actress - I only saw Henson in Benjamin Button and she was good.

As for the telecast itself, I thought it was fine. I like how they have several former winners present the acting awards. But, I'm a sucker for awards shows, so my threshold for being impressed might be lower than other people.


Sadie Lou said...

Thoughts in no particular order:

1. Tropic Thunder being mentioned at the Oscars was a joke. Poor Robert Downey Jr. he looked embarrassed.

2. Yay for Kate Winslet! I love her. I have a woman crush on her.

3. Sean Penn playing a gay man? I feel bad for anyone who was nominated against those odds!

4. Why did Benjamen Button win for special effects against Batman??!! How funny was that when Will Smith did the intro for that category and talked about action films and then Button wins the award?

5. Where did the like 5 minute snippets from the nominated films go? I love that part of the Oscars! I wanted scenes from the performances that were nominated too! I thought the little speeches by previous winners was cool--but not cool enough to take the place of the clips!

6. Poor Sophia Loren and Goldie Hawn--someone should tell them to age gracefully and not pretend to still turn the heads of 20 year old boys!

7. Loved the speech by the young man that wrote the screenplay for Milk--so sad and heartbreaking and sweet and TRUE!


dbackdad said...

Hey Sadie,

Just saw The Reader tonight. Very good and Winslet was great ... as usual. I've got every kind of crush on her.

The special F/X award for Benjamin Button was for the manner in which they superimposed Pitt's face on to a different body and the relatively seemless manner in which they did so. I agree that it's a more subtle use of technology but maybe that's the point. The weakness of the last three Star Wars films was that the F/X seemed to be the point of the movie instead of a story. In Button, F/X were just a tool to tell the story.

I agree about Hawn. She's a bit freakish. She's heading for Joan Rivers territory.

The speech by the Milk screenwriter was great. My favorite of the night.

*hugs* back at ya.

greatwhitebear said...

I agree with most of what you have to say, cept that Slumdog was better than Frost/Nixon. Although I did very much enjoy Slumdog.

I certainly agree with your comment about INTO THE WILD. But Oscar voters, like NHL or NBA referees, should not be allowed make up calls!

I liked Tropic Thunder! And Iron Man. But I thought Downey's best performance this year was as the alcoholic single father HS principal in CHARLIE BARTLETT (apparently released some places in 2007). They should have given an achievement award to both Downey Jr and Kat Dennings, both in three films this year, and excellent in all three.

I liked THE READER, and have no complaint about Winslet's win.

I do believe that Michael Sheen at the very least deserved a nomination for his portrayal of Frost. I couldn't have argued against him as best actor. Still thought Langella was just so spot on as Nixon it was scary.

And yes, my love for off beat teen oriented flics goes on unabated! Why no nominations for CHARLIE BARTLETT or NICK AND NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST? Where was PINEAPPLE EXPRESS? Why no best picture nomination for HAIRSPRAY last year? I am outraged!

dbackdad said...

lol. I'd have skipped all of those teen-oriented flicks, but your recommendation has made me find the error in my ways. I'll be renting all 3.

Jeff said...

I was happy with most of the awards given out. Slumdog was a fantastic movie, and I have no problems with it winning at all. I would have liked to seen Gran Torino get some nominations, and especially Eastwood, because he played the role amazingly. Also, I agree, wtf, why wasn't Springsteen's song even nominated? I mean they couldn't add it in as a fourth song!