Another year, another underwhelming Oscar ceremony. Sure thing The King’s Speech cleaned up, as expected, winning four of the Big Five. Inception did well with the tech awards, but as it is a genre picture (and thereby considered only slightly above pornographic movies in the eyes of the Academy), it was otherwise snubbed. Here’s a breakdown of the awards that I had particular gripes about, or was wholeheartedly behind. (WARNING : Enormous shitstorm about Inception’s poor performance ahead. Proceed at your own risk.)
Best Art Direction : Alice in Wonderland
If you read my piece on this film (in the April/May 2010 Issue), you know how I feel it film and anyone involved in its creation. If you haven’t, here’s the short of it: Motherfuck all of you. But speaking about the art direction in particular, this was easily the most visually underwhelming and outright godawful looking of Burton’s films. You know, the director who made his name crafting visually striking films? I dunno if I blame the art department or Burton for putting them on a leash; either way, this was far from award-worthy.
Best Cinematography : Inception
Absolutely no complaints here. Goddamn beautifully shot film.
Best Supporting Actress : The Fighter (Melissa Leo)
Complete upset for me. I felt sure that Hailee Steinfeld had this one in the bag. No slight against Ms. Leo; she delivered a great performance, but Steinfeld stole the show right out from under Bridges and Dammon in True Grit, and for a fourteen-year old newcommer, that’s quite the accomplishment. Regardless of this loss, I expect nothing but good things from this little lady in the future, and look forward to seeing her grow as an actress (there was absolutely no way to say that without unintentionally sounding like ten tons of pedo-creepy, believe me, I tried).
Best Screenplay : The King’s Speech
And so the bitching commences. Lemmie get things straight before I proceed. I didn’t hate The King’s Speech. I felt it was an all-around well made movie. It just did nothing for me. It was just too safe. Too, at the risk of sounding immature and uncultured, boring. That said, David Seidler did an adequate job with the script. It’s just that neither the script, nor anything else about the film seemed all that remarkable. More to come on that later. My hopeful was of course Nolan, but it was clear long before the actually ceremony that there simply wasn’t a chance in hell of that going down.
Best Supporting Actor : The Fighter (Christian Bale)
Christian Bale is one of the finest actors working in Hollywood today, and I’ve personally felt he’s deserved an Oscar ever since American Psycho (that was never gonna fucking happen). What other actor would drop down to 120 lbs. for a role (The Machinist) then pack on a hundred pounds of muscle to play the Goddamn Batman? This guy’s devotion to his craft is astonishing, and while his portrayal of Dicky Eklund wasn’t my absolute favorite of his career (that is, and likely always will be Patrick Bateman), he sure as shit deserved this award.
Best Original Score : The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Aticus Ross)
Absolute bullshit. Hans Zimmer lays down his most visionary work yet, a score that is as much a character in the film as Cobb or Mal, and you go ahead and hand the award to something the poor man’s Nivek Ogre did on his down time? A fucking sin. Also, Daft Punk doesn’t even get a nomination for Tron: Legacy? The fact that the film itself was a stinking hunk of shit in no way invalidates the fantastic work this duo did on the score, and its a shame they were ignored.
Best Visual Effects : Inception
I think I would have lost my shit completely had Inception not snagged this one. Most people don’t realize that, aside from digital mattes, compositing and Ariadne’s dream manipulation sequence, most of the effects in this film were achieved by practical means as opposed to CG. It’s to the effects crew’s credit that well-traveled techniques like the “revolving room” gag can be used to craft one of the most original and stunning fight sequences of the last two decades. Though, as above, Tron: Legacy’s lack of a nom is puzzling. While Inception used effects in a more sophisticated way that serves the story, as opposed to Tron, who’s story is driven by the effects, there’s no denying that it was a damn good-looking film and shouldn’t have been ignored for its technical feats simply because the story blew.
Best Director/Best Picture : The King’s Speech
I consolidated the two, since I don’t feel like saying the exact same thing twice. Once again, The King’s Speech is a good flick. No denying it. I also understand it was not made for someone of my tastes. British period dramas aren’t really my bag, but if I objectively thought it was a better film than Inception, I would damn well say so. I don’t. I think Inception got the shaft because the Academy doesn’t take sci-fi, fantasy, or horror films seriously, with the exception of The Return of the King, and I’m still scratching my head over that one. Even If you like the LotR films (personally, I loathe them), you have to admit it was the weakest of the three, and it just seemed like they gave the Best Picture award to the biggest orgy of special effects they could find.
And Inception, unlike so much of mainstream genre cinema, wasn’t conceived around a series of special effects, although it certainly uses them to stage some excellent action sequences. It’s easily the most emotionally engaging of Nolan’s films, (which previously have been known to be a bit cold and detached) and offers a highly entertaining, well written heist plot wrapped in a cyberpunk veneer. Add to that one of the best ensemble casts assembled in recent memory and you’ve got a classic. Granted, I’m biased. I’ve watched this movie roughly 20 times since I got my hands on it and I simply cannot tire of it (such was the way I enjoyed Nolan’s Dark Knight; I’m still dusting that one-off for a viewing with an unhealthy frequency). But it’s not just my personal fandom that made me root for Inception getting the Best Picture award (it didn’t even get a Best Director nomination, which is in and of itself an insult), its understanding that this film was the culmination of Nolan’s directorial aspirations. The guy has been waiting to make this movie since he was in his late teens, and eventually made the Batman films as a way to hone his skills to the point where he could pull off an epic big budget film, as well as secure the financial backing required to make it. Which is not to say that Nolan made The Dark Knight series as a director-for-hire per se; to quote Batman Begins, he approached them with a “you’re practice” attitude. And though he did not receive the recognition of the Academy, Nolan is an artist, and I’m sure he’s pleased enough to have gotten his baby made at all (the millions he made off of it and the critical acclaim it received probably helps), but it would have been nice to see the Oscars do the man justice. Then again, I also don’t hold the Academy’s opinion in very high regard so, well, fuck ’em.
That’s about all I have to say about I’ve got to say about the awards themselves, but since this is the Oscars and all, a few quick notes about the ceremony itself :
– James Franco, my heart goes out to ya. You’re a funny guy and a damn good actor, but the Oscars doesn’t give you the chance to be edgy, so like Stewart before you, you were dead in the water.
– Anne Hathaway, let’s just be thankful you don’t have to be funny to play Catwoman. We’d all be fucked.
– Who the fuck stuck Kirk Douglas up there? The poor guy’s had a stroke and can barely speak, and you give him an award to present?! And Christ, did he milk his stage time. Like he was aware of how uncomfortable everyone was and was feeding off of it. Granted it was funny, but I’m pretty sure I was laughing for all the wrong, morally reprehensible reasons.
– Melissa Leo, nice F-bomb. I too am classless, and can appreciate your casual vulgarity.
– Good one, David Seidler! Queen! Tower of London! I get it! Schmuck…
– My hat’s off to Aaron Sorkin. I’ve never seen someone try and finish the last minute-and-a-half of their acceptance speech AFTER the music’s begun playing who wasn’t senile.
– Auto-tuning was already dead as a respectable music production tool. That cute little re-cut musical montage just raped its corpse.
– Adam Rosina