Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar critics are out of touch

So, I understand why people don't really like it when the Oscar winners are for little indy or niche films that hardly anybody has seen - you root more for the movies you've actually seen and when it's this random person you've never heard of, it can be irritating and you start saying that the Academy is out of touch with the people. And that's exactly what they're saying. There was a very similar article in the Metro this morning as well. Yes, it's true people are going to care more about the Oscars if they've seen the movies that are nominated, and yes it's true they'll care more if the people nominated are very well known and popular. But come on! The Academy should nominate movies that are popular so there's more of a buzz and more people are interesting watching? I don't think so. The Academy votes on the movies that were released this year, and if the best performances happen to be indy or niche movies, then so be it. This is why I made the decision (this was the third year now) to see all the major Oscar nominated movies (Leading Roles, Supporting Roles, Director and Picture). That way, I can watch the Oscars with a really good idea of how everyone did, root for my faves, but if they don't win, I can understand how well the winner actually did.

And I must say, my fave pics this year (with the exception of one category) perfectly lined up with the winners. As depressing and dark as this year's Oscar movies might have been, I must say in the past three years, it has been the best quality collection of nominees. As to the winners:

Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood). I was rooting for him, but didn't feel very strongly about it. He did an incredible job in the movie and certainly deserved the award. I would have been happy with Viggo Mortensen or Johnny Depp too. There Will Be Blood was a very looong movie and I can't say as I really enjoyed it (though I did quite like the ending), but the acting was definitely worth an award.

Best Actress - Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose). If she hadn't won this award, I think I might have thrown something at the television. I honestly think that all these women deserved an Oscar - Laura Linney and Julie Christie both gave wonderful performances in their movies and I would have grudgingly accepted those wins. I didn't have to though, since the Academy recognized Cotillard's breathtaking portrayal of Edith Piaf. When I saw it, I had to keep reminding myself that it was Cotillard (who was also in A Good Year), because she had so immersed herself in her character that it was hard to recognize her (think Jaime Foxx in Ray).

Best Supporting Actor - Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men). Ditto above. My hands down favorite. His portrayal was so so creepy that I felt like I had to check every corner in my car on the drive home. And what was even more amazing is that he turns out in real life to be Denny's (Grey's Anatomy) Spanish doppelganger.

Best Supporting Actress - Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton). The only award I didn't agree with. I think my voice shrieked up a couple octaves with my "what?!" I didn't have a really strong preference in this category (I was leaning towards Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Bob Dylan), but Swinton was probably my least favorite of the bunch (except maybe the girl from Atonement).

Best Director/Best Picture - No Country for Old Men. Is it something subconscious that I just typed "No Country for Old Mean" instead of Men, then corrected it? Anyway. I loved this movie. Freaky as hell, yes. But since it's the Coen Brothers, it's not the same old Hollywood crap you always seem to get, and it's got an interesting ending, an intriguing plot line. Very happy that it won (though I think that the shorter Coen brother could have come across as a bit less patronizing and superior).

All in all, I'm very happy with the Oscar picks. Can't wait until next year's Oscar season (though I'm not unhappy to be able to take a break from seeing 2-3 movies a weekend!)


Gopi Rajaseharan said...

The Oscars were originally designed for mainstream Hollywood fare. I get the feeling that it is out of some sort of "obligation" that Hollywood includes foreign/indie movies. This is why whenever Indian filmmakers vie for an Oscar or Indian actors talk about winning Oscars through India's version of "musicals", I am always amused :)

The only movie I watched from your list was Michael Clayton and I have to agree with your comments on Tilda. That role was not a stretch for her although I have no idea how she matched up to other actresses in that category. I think that I better watch "No Country For Old Men" then.

The Lethological Reader said...

The problem with having it as an award ceremony for just mainstream Hollywood, is the problem is figuring out where that line is between mainstream and indy. Some movies are clearly obscure (In the Valley of Elah), and some are clearly Hollywood (Atonement), but what about some that might be in the middle (I'm Not There)? So they have to include all movies, just to be fair. But if they're including all movies, and there are smaller movies that really are better than the blockbusters, they can't really in good conscience ignore them, can they? Well, I suppose they can, but they shouldn't.

I think that it's good to have a mix of big Hollywood movies and small indies, like we had this year. It encourages people to go see movies they might not otherwise have seen, movies that aren't just the same old formulaic crap that Hollywood churns out. This Oscar season was definitely good for non-formulaic.

Definitely see No Country for Old Men!

Crabby McSlacker said...

I love the typo--No Country for Old Mean.

It was kind of a mean, weird movie. But I agree, it was refreshingly different from the usual trite Hollywood crap we've seen a hundred times before.

The Lethological Reader said...

Exactly, Crabby! It's not a movie I think I'm going to have to see again, but I appreciated that it was different and uncliche or Hollywoodized. Now if we could just get some non-depressing movies like that....