Movies - The Oscars postsSunday March 18, 2012
Quote of the Day
“When I arrived in L.A. [in 1974, to receive an honorary Academy Award for his lifelong contribution to film and film preservation], I thought that the Oscar was like our Legion of Honor. But it's much more important than that because everyone and his brother gets one of those eventually. An Oscar is truly a serious matter. I didn't realize how much it meant. It's comparable to being chosen as a master craftsman by one's fellows in the time of the guilds.”
--Henri Langlois, in the documentary "Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque” (2004). Langlois, who is considered the father of film preservation, the auteur theory, and the Nouvelle Vague, took film more seriously than the Academy. He took the Academy more seriously than the Academy.
The 2011 Academy Awards - Postmortem
At the start of the evening I said I wanted one thing: pleasant surprises. I didn't get any and won my Oscar pool—or at least split it four ways: with Mr. B, Mr. P and Jayne. If Viola had won I would've won it outright. But how can you not love Meryl? And her speech? In 2005, I wrote an MSNBC piece on which performers were overdue for an Oscar, and brought up her name even then:
An argument could be made that the actress most-due is Meryl Streep. Yes, she’s won, twice in fact (lead and supporting), but not since 1982. Since then she’s been nominated nine times (eight lead, one supporting). Time to get her out of her seat already.
Even so, this was the wrong year. Should've been Viola's year.
So what were the surprises--pleasant or otherwise? That “The Artist” won? Dujardin? Davis? “Midnight in Paris”? “The Descendants”? That Billy Crystal was funny? It seems we have the Academy figured out. Too bad.
I guess the big surprise for us was that Uncle Vinny left early. What the hell, dude? I kept looking for you to share something and found you gone.
The line of the night, at our party, came from David, who, after Penelope Cruz said something innocuous like “And the winner is...,” but in her dynamite accent, and of course looking like she does, David, after a pause, asked, “Can we rewind that?”
Our 2012 Oscar party.
Mr. B raises faux-Oscar high after tying with three others for first place. But he gave a helluva speech.
Woody Allen at the Oscars 2002
I saw this video clip on Slate.com today of Woody Allen's only Oscar visit in 2002. It was great seeing it again. I realized what a terrific person he was, and how much fun it was just listening him. And I thought of that old joke. Y'know, this... this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken.” And the doctor says, “Well, why don't you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about my relationship with Woody. It's totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd. But I guess I keep going through it because ... I need the eggs.
Lancelot Links: Oscar Edition
- The most interesting piece I've read this Oscar season is the least-surprising. Three reporters at The LA Times, John Horn, Nicole Sperling and Doug Smith, finally break the cloak on anonymity that has always surrounded the Academy and give us exact numbers ... and it's pretty much as we always suspected: Oscar is old, white and male. Specifically, he's 94% white, 77% male, and with an average age of 62. I once compared the Academy to Gordon Jump on “WKRP in Cincinnati” and it's not far off. The surprise? I always assumed the Academy was made up of past nominees and winners but 64% of its members, including TV stars Erik Estrada and Gavin McLeod, have never been nominated. So how did they get in? We don't really get that from the Times. We don't get a sense of who gets invited and why. Apparently women and non-whites are still vast minorities in terms of even new membership. At the same time, I don't think this kind of rash action is doing anyone any good:
“People of color are always peripheral,” said veteran African American character actor Bernie Casey (“Under Siege”), who said he recently quit the academy because he was disenchanted with its racial makeup.
- The audio of my recent turn talking Oscars on “Karl Show! (Starring Jason)” is up. Love the “Citizen Kane” gif they gave me. What am I trying to get the masses to applaud for there? “Young Adult”? “Tree of Life”? CRITIC LUNDEGAARD FOUND IN LOVE NEST WITH “FILM.”
- “Kids Re-enact the Oscar Nominees” is a cheap laugh but I laughed out loud for the “Moneyball” version.
- More kids: Guyism.com's Ryan Jones interviews kids on the upcoming Oscar ceremonies. LOL line: “What's the favorite movie you've seen over the last year?” “'Dolphin Tale.'” “'Dolphin Tale'? How does that compare with 'The Tree of Life'?”
- Nathaniel Rogers temporarily leaves his Film Experience site to pen an interesting piece, over at Slate, in which he breaks down who and what gets thanked, and when, during Oscar acceptance speeches. Basics: God beats Oprah but loses to Meryl Streep.
- Slate also has a piece, by Elbert Ventura, about how sneakily profound “The Descendants” is, but he doesn't say anything I didn't in my review last November. Oh, except that the movie is as existential and profound as “The Tree of Life.” Because it's not.
- Via the eagle-eyed Uncle Vinny: Dave Weigel breaks down “The Iron Lady.” Cleavage and all.
- A Harvard freshman, Ben Zauzmer, has created a mathematical formula for predicting the Oscars, although—caveat!—he says it's not foolproof. His method would've predicted correctly 19 of 20 in 2009 but only 16 of 20 in 2010. Still, he offers his 2011 predictions. Let's hope he's wrong about Meryl. (So odd to be rooting against Meryl.)
- Meanwhile, FilmJerk.com's numbers cruncher makes his own predictions. And yes, Virginia, there are differences. Jerk goes Clooney over DuJardin, Davis over Streep, Bejo over Davis. Oddly, among his formulations, “hotness” isn't a factor. Which, with the average Academy member, it totally is. I'd stick with the Harvard kid.
- The Seattle Times' Moria Macdonald makes her predictions (and lets her wishes be known) in the eight major categories. For what it's worth, she agrees with young Ben on everything but, well, Meryl.
- Via Le Monde, Césars 2012: le triomphe de “The Artist.” Peut-etre a Hollywood aussi? Question: Why do they use the English version of the title (“The Artist”) in a French newspaper? Do they call it “The Artist” in France? Not “l'Artist”? FWIW: Dujardin lost out on meilleur acteur to Omar Sy, but Bejo won meilleure actrice. So Gordon Jump is alive and well and living in France.
- David Denby has a nice homage to silent film in the latest New Yorker. To which everyone should be subscribing.
- Then Denby goes through the looking glass with fellow critic Richard Brody to talk about silent films via a silent film. Fun.
- Oh, don't forget this: My Oscars page.
- Finally, in 2005, I wrote a piece for MSNBC on who was most due for an Oscar. Among my choices? Martin Scorsese, Jeff Bridges, and Glenn Close. Done, done, and... probably not.
No live-blogging tonight kids. Oscar hosting. But I'm sure I'll have an opinion or two when the night is through...
Oui, vous est tres jolie. Je t'aime, vraiment. Mais... meilleure actrice?
From 'Godfather' to 'Crash': My Rankings of Most Every Best Picture Winner Since 1927
That's what surprised me most. Not that I loved or hated most of the best picture winners since 1927 but that I didn't have much feeling one way or another. “The Departed”? “The English Patient”? “Rain Man”? “The Deer Hunter”? “In the Heat of the Night”? “From Here to Eternity”? “Lost Weekend”? Did I even see “Lost Weekend”? What do I really remember about it? Maybe better put that in the NOT SEEN group. Only fair.
In his discussion yesterday on the New Yorker site, critic Richard Brody said the switch from five best picture nominees to 10, or 9, or what have you, was a good thing, because it inspired passion among moviegoers. Which is something the Academy is generally good at tamping down. These films are sometimes an example of that.
I certainly have passion for my top 10. I have a different kind of passion for my bottom five. But the middle took a lot of rejiggering and soul-searching. How to rank this movie? By my feeling upon first watching it? By my feelings now? By how much I'd like to watch it again? By how deep it is, or how well it tells its story, or exemplifies its genre?
I wound up choosing an awkward mix of all of these criteria and it was still tough. I kept going back and forth. Am I putting this one low because so many people like it? Am I putting this one high because so many people don't? It's hard to separate your feelings from society's but you give it a go. In the end I thought “Would I rather watch 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King' right now or 'Driving Miss Daisy'?” I may be the only person this side of Bruce Beresford who would answer the latter. Probably not him, either.
Revelation: I like big and boldly drawn: “My Fair Lady” and “Gone with the Wind” and “Patton” and “Titanic.” Yes, “Titanic.” A friend of mine, a songwriter, always runs across contemporaries who disparage middle-of-the-road work, but he says that's what he strives for. He thinks of it like a mountain, where the middle is the highest point, and the hardest to attain. Some of these big movies do that.
Lesser revelation: I dig the '70s. It was the glory period of American filmmaking, easy riders and raging bulls and all that. It was also the period I first became aware of the Oscars. I was coming of age then. The Academy seemed important then. Maybe it was. Maybe it honored more important movies. And even when it didn't, as in '76, choosing “Rocky” over “All the President's Men,” “Network” and “Taxi Driver,” well, its choice was still a good movie. “Rocky” is another boldly drawn story but finely defined along the edges. It has patience and grit. It tells its tale really, really well. It's not its fault it had so many awful children.
Sometimes the titles get in the way. They're so storied, I think, “Shouldn't this be higher?” Then I think about what the film is, what it lacks, and go, “Meh.”
But, really, you can make your argument for No.s 25 through 60 and I'll probably buy it. To do this properly, I'd have to watch all of these movies again but who wants to do that? They're only best pictures.
Final note: I've also included a column on the greatest disparities between my opinion and the mass opinion on IMDb. No surprise: The movies I love and they didn't tend to be musicals. There's a +63 variance for “An American in Paris,” +41 for “West Side Story,” and +35 for “My Fair Lady.” The next one is “Titanic,” which feels like a musical. On the other side of the equation, movies they loved and I didn't, we have the recent and the blockbusty: “Forrest Gump” at -57, “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” at -52, and “Braveheart” at -50. We agreed on exactly two: “The Godfather” and “Cuckoo's Nest.”
Enjoy. Your results will vary.
||MOVIE||IMDb RANK||IMDb RATING||IMDb VOTES||ME v. IMDb|
|1||The Godfather (1972)||1||9.2||535,083||0|
|2||Annie Hall (1977)||25||8.2||87,916||23|
|4||The Godfather, Part II (1974)||2||9.0||336,575||-2|
|5||One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)||5||8.8||300,314||0|
|6||On the Waterfront (1954)||12||8.4||52,369||6|
|8||Lawrence of Arabia (1962)||11||8.5||98,407||3|
|9||All About Eve (1950)||12||8.4||43,955||3|
|10||An American In Paris (1951)||73||7.2||11,808||63|
|12||My Fair Lady (1964)||47||7.9||35,262||35|
|13||Gone With the Wind (1939)||25||8.2||106,428||12|
|14||The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957)||12||8.4||76,003||-2|
|15||No Country For Old Men (2007)||25||8.2||274,692||10|
|16||West Side Story (1961)||57||7.7||37,371||41|
|17||The Sting (1973)||12||8.4||85,891||-5|
|19||The Silence of the Lambs (1991)||6||8.7||344,094||-13|
|21||The Sound of Music (1965)||47||7.9||68,810||26|
|22||The Last Emperor (1987)||54||7.8||33,160||32|
|23||American Beauty (1999)||10||8.5||389,392||-13|
|24||Schindler's List (1993)||3||8.9||375,193||-21|
|26||The French Connection (1971)||47||7.9||42,667||21|
|27||All Quiet On the Western Front (1930)||34||8.1||28,205||7|
|28||The Deer Hunter (1978)||25||8.2||117,540||-3|
|29||Midnight Cowboy (1969)||38||8.0||42,805||9|
|30||It Happened One Night (1934)||22||8.3||32,375||-8|
|32||The Apartment (1960)||12||8.4||49,785||-20|
|33||Dances With Wolves (1990)||38||8.0||94,144||5|
|34||All the King's Men (1949)||62||7.6||5,597||28|
|35||A Man For All Seasons (1966)||38||8.0||14,614||3|
|36||Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)||57||7.7||40,353||21|
|38||The Hurt Locker (2009)||57||7.7||137,683||19|
|39||In the Heat of the Night (1967)||38||8.0||26,928||-1|
|40||Rain Man (1988)||38||8.0||165,428||-2|
|41||Driving Miss Daisy (1989)||66||7.4||30,411||25|
|44||Million Dollar Baby (2004)||25||8.2||204,335||-19|
|45||Slumdog Millionaire (2008)||25||8.2||269,582||-20|
|46||Chariots of Fire (1981)||73||7.2||20,114||27|
|48||Terms of Endearment (1983)||70||7.3||21,085||22|
|49||The English Patient (1996)||70||7.3||72,322||21|
|51||You Can't Take It With You (1938)||38||8.0||10,500||-13|
|52||Shakespeare In Love (1998)||70||7.3||97,391||18|
|53||The Departed (2006)||9||8.5||368,308||-44|
|54||The King's Speech (2010)||25||8.2||155,972||-29|
|55||The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)||3||8.9||501,289||-52|
|56||How Green Was My Valley (1941)||47||7.9||8,993||-9|
|57||Ordinary People (1980)||54||7.8||20,192||-3|
|58||The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)||22||8.3||21,793||-36|
|59||From Here To Eternity (1953)||47||7.9||19,141||-12|
|60||A Beautiful Mind (2001)||38||8.0||202,651||-22|
|61||Gentleman's Agreement (1947)||66||7.4||5,688||5|
|63||Forrest Gump (1994)||6||8.7||446,991||-57|
|64||Out of Africa (1985)||76||7.0||25,363||12|
|65||Going My Way (1944)||66||7.4||4,143||1|
|66||Tom Jones (1963)||77||6.9||4,857||11|
|68||Around the World In 80 Days (1956)||80||6.8||9,129||12|
|69||The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)||81||6.7||5,186||12|
|HAVEN'T SEEN||IMDb RANK||IMDb RATING||IMDb VOTES|
|Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1928)||12||8.4||15,384|
|The Broadway Melody (1929)||82||6.4||2,466|
|Grand Hotel (1932)||62||7.6||7,300|
|Mutiny On the Bounty (1935)||47||7.9||9,276|
|The Great Ziegfeld (1936)||77||6.9||2,583|
|The Life of Emile Zola (1937)||66||7.4||2,376|
|Mrs. Miniver (1942)||57||7.7||6,058|
|The Lost Weekend (1945)||34||8.1||14,287|