RECENTLY RATED MOVIES #14 (PRE-OSCAR CATCH-UP)

We are trying desperately to catch up on the Oscar-nominated films still in theatres at this time. Why? I guess it's mainly because we want to have seen most of them before the ceremony comes on television. You know, that time of the year that the news media spins crazily overboard reporting on the nonsense (and also overprojecting the amount of people actually watching it); Barbara Walters grunts out another log of half-bakedly "sincere and probing" questions to another quartet of people, three of whom we likely won't give a nod to in five years time; and idiot runway reporters, most of them D-list celebs or most likely models who would never get work except for the fact that they are supposedly "perty" even though most of them wear waaaaaaayyyyyyyy too much makeup and are probably troll-like underneath (unlike Mena Suvari, who is troll-like both with and without makeup), stalk the red carpet at the ceremony drooling over anything that anyone is wearing, no matter how much of a schlub their target actually looks to the rest of the audience. Oh, yes... they will dish on the crappy clothes once the target has walked off. And, oh yes, many of the wrong films will win in many of the categories.

That said, I love the Oscars. It is my Super Bowl (especially now that the Super Bowl, and the sport that it represents, are now basically unwatchable, and unwatched by me. Even the commercials, an excuse that even non-football shooting junkies could tout as the reason that they go to the overrated parties, have become unwatchable, though this is due mainly to the declining talent pool and shrinking imagination of the marketing industry.) I don't necessarily need a Super Bowl, but this is the one that I have got, and I'll stick with it. People say that it is overlong, and I disagree with this; it is Hollywood's annual tantric orgasm, so sit back and enjoy it with the rest of the hoi polloi. And, you never know... Sting might come out on stage and tell you exactly where to place that finger to prolong it even further.

People (idiots I might add), like to get all up in the grill of any host that isn't Billy Crystal, and I disagree with this, too. Billy was fine, and even excellent the first few times, but even Billy knows that it has run its course. He is a seasoned performer, and he knows when to cut off the encores, and also when it is time to make another entrance. (By the way, Jen just saw him live onstage in 700 Sundays, and she was highly underwhelmed by him in person.) He needs some time off of the chore, because that is what it is, for the most part: another job, albeit an amazingly high-profile one. Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, even the much put-upon David Letterman did just fine (Martin is actually my personal favorite); and Chris Rock did exactly what Chris Rock does: call it like he sees it. You should know what you are getting when you hire the man to do the job. The fact that he got a rise out of the usually staid, politely-clapping audience was a bravura moment for the Oscar telecasts. On a night when every celebrity dreams of being coddled, it was great that a few of these pampered nimrods were kicked in the pants.

As for Jon Stewart, his Daily Show is the brightest thing on television night in and night out, and it is no surprise that The Road to the Sublimely Funny currently leads right to his door, with both The Office and The Colbert Show (one featuring TDSw/JS alum Steve Carell (more on him in a bit), and the other produced and co-conspirated with Stewart and crew) racking up the yuks with pinpoint precision each and every show. I have nothing but absolute certainty that he is going to do a fun and witty job. Even if most of the Hollywood goons won't get a lot of it.

However, I keep thinking (as with Rock) that this is exactly what the Oscars need to shake things up and loosen the ol' necktie of the boring ol' ceremony. I don't understand why a group of people notorious for partying like mad whenever they are not on the set (and some of them that do on the set) get into the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion or the Kodak Theatre or wherever the thing is being held this year and practically sit on their hands and glower at the cameras as if they are being forced to watch their own young being fed through a meat grinder. I know that there is an attempt to make this a high-class event; after all, they call it The Academy, so naturally they would like to imply a more hoity-toity professorial tone to the proceedings, but come on! Loosen it up a little! Have some fun! Don't just put on your fake smile and laugh after the host cold-cocked you with a reference to a film that you probably have a very fuzzy memory of making, if you remember making it at all through all of the booze and painkillers. That said, here are a couple changes that they should make to the Oscars right now, though only a one of them is actually an atmosphere-changer:
  • ADD ALCOHOL: Steal some of the fun from the Golden Globes. There, people whoop it up, pull all kinds of wackiness with their speeches, stumble from their tables, run off to the bathrooms at inappropriate moments, and, if you are Ryan Phillippe, practically knock your wife (Reese Witherspoon) across the room when slapping her on the back in congratulations for winning Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. (I remember I laughed my ass off all the way through Walk the Line.)
  • ADD A "BEST CAST ENSEMBLE ACTING" AWARD: There are some people who think this will cheapen the main acting awards by allowing a full cast from a film to rake in a boatload of Oscars, and then "3rd Officer Worker" in scene 27 will be able to put on their resume that they won an Oscar for their work. Bullshit. The Academy can determine which actors in a cast should be up for the honor (the number can vary from film to film), and the cast can be given smaller versions of the Oscar, just like they used to give to the 7 Dwarves back in the 30's or to Shirley Temple. It's not like the Oscars have always been immune to evolution. The ceremony has changed in countless, small ways over the 75-plus years of its existence. Why not try something new?
  • ADD "STUNTWORK" TO THE AWARDS: Absolutely, since most of the dreck coming from Hollywood these days involves crazed and outrageously dangerous stuntwork, why shouldn't they get an Oscar? Why is Oscar hiding from these people? Here's how you solve this problem: tell the stunt coordinator that they have won an Oscar, but have another award, perhaps called the Yakima (after Mr. Canutt), that sort of looks almost like the Oscar but has the wrong haircut, and perhaps a cast on its leg, and have it stand in (on a crutch) for the Oscar. That way, the stuntguy gets to hang with his people, and Oscar didn't give out a precious Oscar to "the wrong people". These people are putting their lives on the line for Hollywood, something real "actors" rarely do... unless they are named Vic Morrow.
  • ADD "MOST SHOCKING CAMEO" AS A CATEGORY: This is only on here so I can talk about Anne Hathaway's breasts. Of all the "shocking" things that I have heard bandied about regarding Brokeback Mountain, no one told me that Anne Hathaway's took her titties out in the film, let alone informed me she was even in the film. Maybe then, I could have at least thought maybe she would get nekkid. Michelle Williams was in the film, and I was pretty damn certain that she would bare 'em at some point... BUT ANNE HATHAWAY? The Disney-appearing, Princess-Diaries-1 AND 2-acting goodie-two-shoes-seeming girl? She's in a car with Jake G. and they are making out, and I am expecting only some PG-rated necking and then a jump-cut to their wedding day, but then PAH-WANG!!! Off comes the bra, and there they are, poking your eyes out: ANNE... HATHAWAY'S... TITS! I'm not judging on quality, though they are fine; I'm going for shock value. I knew that going in to Brokeback Mountain that there was going to naked man-ass and various other male body parts flappin' about in the breeze; I was prepared for that... BUT NO ONE EXPECTS ANNE HATHAWAY'S TITTIES!!!
  • Biggest of all, ADD "COMEDY" AS A CATEGORY, OR START VOTING FOR COMEDIES AND COMIC ACTORS: I know that the Academy is afraid of marginalizing their awards ceremony, but since they generally refuse to vote for comic actors or take the genre of comedy "seriously", perhaps it is time for them to take the plunge that other awards shows have and break the awards up into categories for dramas and comedies, at least for the acting awards. Nothing is more egregious than the Academy's snubbing of Steve Carell in The 40-Year Old Virgin, a smart, moving and funny performance in a smart, moving and funny film. It happens time and again that comic brilliance goes unrewarded in Hollywood, at least at the Oscars; this year, they even snubbed Virgin in the Screenplay category, where I felt for sure its creators (including the multi-tasking Carell) would be honored with at least a nomination. Whatever you do though Academy, don't make it "Comedy or Musical", because not all musicals are comedies, as I previously mentioned about Walk the Line (which isn't even really a musical) or as you should take from the examples of say, oh, Cabaret, Chicago or Rent.
None of this means that I will ever stop watching the Oscars; it just means that I will badmouth and personally marginalize the awards as much as possible until the Academy has its walkers kicked out of its liver-spotted hands.

Tomorrow night, we are going to go see Munich, the last of the Best Picture nominees that we need to see before the ceremony. Most people go hoping they will see a dynamic, thought-provoking well-directed Steven Spielberg picture; I'm going to see if Eric Bana has more than the one dopey "I'm serious" expression that he wears on his face in every scene in which he has ever acted. Even the "romantic comedy" that I saw recently in a test screening that I swore I would not talk about until it was properly released. And I'm still not talking about it; I am only talking about his face and its one expression. I swear, if he ever won an Oscar, I'm going to think that there is a Comedy category, because, just like Keanu Reeves, I can't take his "I'm serious" face seriously...

THE LIST:
Winchester '73 (1950) (TCM) - 8; Capote (2005) - 8; How to Draw A Bunny (2002) (IFC) - 7; After the Sunset (2004) (DVD) - 5; The Constant Gardener (2005) (DVD) - 7; Shura-yuki-hime: Urami Renga [Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance] (1974) (DVD) - 6; Koroshiya 1 [Ichi the Killer] (2001) (DVD) - 6; Sahara (2005) (DVD) - 5; Wonder Man (1945) (TCM) - 6; Brokeback Mountain (2005) - 7; The Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Film (2000) (DVD) - 6; Cinderella Man (2005) (DVD) - 6; Hustle and Flow (2005) (DVD) - 7.

Comments

Matt Fosberg said…
Very nice post, dude, and that Mena Suvari thing was milk out the nose funny.

Matt

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