Movies - The Oscars postsSunday February 26, 2017
What 'The Oscars Always Get It Wrong' Gets Wrong
My friends Andrew and Vinny alerted me to this piece in The Washington Post, titled “The Oscars always get it wrong. Here are the real Best Pictures of the past 41 years.” That's always a fun topic. It's written by Dan Zak and Amy Argetsinger, two Post journalists who talk knowledgably about movies, but the point of the piece is discussion. We're resolving nothing. The opposite, really.
And it turns out hindsight isn't always 20/20. More accurately, there is no 20/20 when we're talking favorite films. Or favorite anything.
Where do I disagree with Dan and Amy enough to say anything?
- 1976: I go with “All the President's Men,” which I can't stop watching. But something tells me if their choice, “Network,” had won the Oscar, they would've opted for “Rocky.” (See: 1981.) That said, this is such a strong year, before “Rocky” and “Star Wars” changed the way movies were made, that it's hard to make a wrong choice. Although “Bound for Glory,” a good/not great biopic of Woody Guthrie, would've been a wrong choice.
- 1978: “An Unmarried Woman”? Seriously? Maybe I have to watch it again. Mostly I remember the SCTV parody of this and “Norma Rae” called “My Factory, My Self,” in which the Michael Murphy character keeps breaking down and crying.
- 1979: “Apocalypse Now” is the obvious choice. I'd make the unobvious one: “Breaking Away.”
- 1980: I like the split here: “Raging Bull” vs. “The Shining.”
- 1981: At first I thought: “'Raiders of the Lost Ark'? Really?” Then I saw the competition. Hmmmm...
- 1983: I'd go “The Right Stuff.”
- 1985: I like the “Back to the Future” pivot. It's fun. Despite the movie's race-fulfillment fantasy: the white kid teaching the black pros how to rock.
- 1989: “Field of Dreams”? It's not even in my top 10 baseball movies. I believe “Do the Right Thing” came out that year.
- 1995: Agree with Amy here: “Apollo 13” is underrated.
- 1996: Again, with Amy: “Fargo.” Darn tootin'.
- 1997: Hey, they went with “Titanic”! I love that. I probably would've gone “L.A. Confidential” but I like the ballsy choice.
- 1998: “The Thin Red Line,” people. It's not even a question.
- 1999: “The Insider,” people. It's not even a question.
- 2002: Love me the musical, but not “Chicago.” Should be “The Pianist.”
- 2004: No mention of “Eternal Sunshine”? Surely that's in the running.
- 2006: “United 93.”
- 2007: Not “Michael Clayton.” Either “No Country” or “There Will Be Blood” (whose fans remind me of Bernie supporters: a little too rabid, and too willing to ignore the film's flaws).
- 2008: Amy loses it here: “Twilight”????????????????????????????????????????????? “The Wrestler”'s not a bad choice. But to me “Iron Man” > “The Dark Knight.”
- 2009: “Up.”
- 2010: With Amy again: “The Social Network.” Or maybe “True Grit”?
- 2011: “Moneyball”! Nice!!! I'm fine with that. My love of “The Tree of Life” is still there but dampened by Malick's recent output. 2011, btw, was a great year for American movies.
- 2012: “Skyfall”? Not a chance in hell. Boring Bond. 2012, btw, was a bad year for American movies.
- 2013: “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Take that, Vinny!
- 2014: Between the two Bs, “Birdman” and “Boyhood,” there is no wrong answer.
- 2016: They mention three movies but not “Manchester By the Sea”? That gets my vote.
'La La Land' Lands 14 Nominations for 89th Academy Awards
A movie about movie people in L.A. is celebrated by movie people in L.A.
My main concern last night was that Oscar would follow the lead of BAFTA, which gave “Nocturnal Animals,” one of my least-favorite movies of the year, an astonishing nine nominations earlier this month. That didn't happen this morning. Tom Ford's pointless exercise in ennui and horror came away with a measly one nom, for Michael Shannon in supporting.
The big story is the 14 nominations “La La Land” landed. Only two other films have ever received that many noms: “Titanic” in 1997, which wound up winning 11, including picture and director; and “All About Eve” in 1950, which wound up with six, including picture and director. Does that mean we're done? Is “La La Land” getting this thing? Should director Damien Chazelle, who just turned 32 but looks 12, make room on his mantle? Probably, and it's not just the sheer number. Think about how much movie people in L.A. love movies about movie people in L.A. What sprawling historical epics were to the '80s (“Reds,” “Chariots,” “Out of Africa,” “Last Emperor”), movies about movie people in L.A. are to the 2010s (“The Artist,” “Argo,” “La La Land”). Take note, future filmmakers.
I haven't been paying attention much this Oscar season, but I was surprised by the love for “Hacksaw Ridge,” which came away with six noms, including best director for Mel Gibson (hello, you), and the lack of love for “Loving,” which got one: Ruth Negga for best actress. I don't like the word “snubbed” as it relates to Oscar, since we're talking a finite number of slots for a huge amount of talent, but if anyone in the acting categories got snubbed this year it was Joel Edgerton. His performance as Richard Loving was one of my favorites.
Meryl is up gain, for “Florence Foster Jenkins”: She has 20 nominations now, a record in acting. No one's close. (Jack Nicholson and Katherine Hepburn are tied for second with 12. Twelve. Meryl is the Yankees of actors, except we still love her.) Octavia Spencer got nominated again. Apparently she's the first African-American actress to get nominated after winning an Oscar. That's a sad little fact. Dev Patel, supporting for “Lion,” is the third Indian actor to garner a nomination. Viola Davis, meanwhile, for a supporting nod for “Fences,” became not only the most-nominated black actress in Academy history, but, according to Nathaniel Rogers at Film Experience, the most nominated black woman ever. She has three. She wasn't won yet? Yeah, that'll change this year.
Here are the best pictures:
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”
I still need to see “Hacksaw,” “Hidden” and “Lion,” but my vote would go with “Manchester by the Sea,” which sadly seems all-but-forgotten now. Go see it, if you haven't.
You can find the rest of the nominations on Nathaniel's site. Or pretty much anywhere.
One thing we won't get this year is an #OscarsSoWhite controversy, which was the furious social-media focus last year. This year was much more inclusive: seven of the 20 acting noms were for people of color, while nearly half of the best picture noms focused on their stories, while more than half (three of the five) documentaries focused on racial matters: “I Am Not Your Negro,” “OJ: Made in America,” and “13th.”
What's less inclusive this year? The White House and Congress. Win some, lose everything.
The Oscar ceremony is Sunday, Feb. 26.
Post-Oscar Quote of the Day II
“As an aside, I thought Chris Rock was really good as host (though the girls scout cookie thing dragged a bit), and I thought Louis CK's presentation for Documentary Short was the highlight of the night. But I will say that the way diversity so overwhelmed the Oscars broadcast was a bit disconcerting. It's obvious that the Academy utterly embarrassed itself by not nominating even a single person of color, and yes it was something that the Oscars would have to face head on. But we are also in the midst of an incredible (defined as: impossible to believe) election, and to think that there was barely a joke or word all night about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tells you that maybe we're not paying attention.”
-- Joe Posnanski, “Oscar Predictions 2016,” Are asides more interesting than the point of the piece? Sometimes.
Post-Oscar Quote of the Day I
“Finally, it's worth another raspberry for the producers' use of Ride of the Valkyries to 'play off' winners who went on past the 30-second mark. I've always argued that the thank-you speeches are much more interesting than the scripted shtick and that straitjacketing people at perhaps the apex of their careers is both cruel and stupid. But it was particularly outrageous last night — especially when Wagner was invoked to drown out the Hungarian Jew who'd won an Oscar for his Holocaust movie, Son of Saul.”
-- David Edelstein, “David Edelstein Looks Back on the Uneven But Memorable 2016 Oscars,” on Vulture.com. Damn straight. I'm seriously tired of this shit. My favorite Oscar speeches, such as Dustin Hoffman in 1979, require a little room. Give it to them.
My Oscar Picks
Every year we have an Oscar pool, and every year friends tell me they can't do it because they haven't seen enough (or any) of the nominated movies, and every year I tell them the same thing. You're better off that way. You don't have any opinions. You can vote with the head and not the heart.
The picks below are heart picks; they're what I want to win. Your mileage will vary—particularly if you like “Mad Max.” (See Nathaniel at Film Experience, who inspired this post):
- PICTURE: “The Revenant,” but I'd be happy with “The Big Short” or “Spotlight.”
- DIRECTOR: Alejandro Inarritu, “The Revenant.”
- ACTOR: Leo, damnit, for “The Revenant.” One, he's most deserving; and, two, let's get this over with already and move on.
- ACTRESS: Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years,” although I'm not passionate here.
- SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies,” although Sly makes for a better story, and let's face it this is a stacked category.
- SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Rooney Mara, “Carol.” If she'd been nominated in lead, I would've picked her there, too.
- ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Pete Docter, et al., for “Inside Out.”
- ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for “The Big Short,” a book that no one, including its author, could envision as a movie. These guys nailed it.
- CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmaneul Lubezki, “The Revenant,” but I'd be happy for the oft-nom'ed, never-won Roger Deakins winning for “Sicario.”
- FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Theeb,” yo! Sadly, haven't seen any of the others, even though three (“Son of Saul,” “Mustang” and “A War”) are currently playing in Seattle. Who wants to go this week?
- ANIMATED FEATURE: “Inside Out,” although I haven't seen most of the others.
- PRODUCTION DESIGN: Adam Stockhausen, et al., for “Bridge of Spies.”
- FILM EDITING: Hank Corwin, “The Big Short.”
- COSTUME DESIGN: Sandy Powell for “Carol.”
- VISUAL: Andrew Whitehurst, et al., for “Ex Machina,” although I'll take “Star Wars.”
- MAKEUP AND HAIR: Lesley Vanderwalt, et al. for “Mad Max.” I'll give them this one since there are only two other options, and “100 Year Old Man” should not win.
- ORIGINAL SCORE: No skin in this game.
- ORIGINAL SONG: Blech. Worst category, year after year.
- SOUND MIXING: I don't know enough about this to have an opinion.
- SOUND EDITING: Seriously, what do I know?
- DOCUMENTARY: Wow, I haven't seen any of these! When was the last time that happened?
- DOC SHORT: Someday I have to get off my ass and see the shorts before the Oscars.
- LIVE ACTION SHORT: See above.
- ANIMATED SHORT: See above.