February 22, 2009

Oscar? I Barely Know Her!

As I've already said, I'm not watching the Oscars this evening. I so rarely agree with the winners these days that it would just be an exercise in frustration. I've tried to watch all of the films with any kind of buzz around them, and got through all but The Reader. I had planned on writing a long diatribe about my picks for the major categories, but this morning my motherboard crapped out on me.

Since I'm borrowing time (and a computer) to write this, I'll have to make it brief:

I really hope that Mickey Rourke wins for The Wrestler. Not only was that the best performance, I think it was the best picture, even though it wasn't nominated. I'm one of the few people who aren't rooting for Slumdog Millionaire. Not only do I not think it was the best film of the year, I wouldn't have even nominated it. Hell, I don't think I would even put it in my top ten of the year. I honestly can't understand the push for this movie to win. (Of course, I couldn't understand The Departed winning either. I still think it's one of the worst films ever to win.) The characters are barely developed, the acting isn't that good (you'll notice none of them are nominated), the score quickly becomes irritating, and the direction--more specifically, the camerawork--is so "in-your-face" and obvious that it obscures what, at times, is an interesting story. And speaking of the story, I also felt that it couldn't decide what kind of film it wanted to be. If any of my students had turned in something like that, I would have called it "unfocused."

Don't get me wrong: It's not a bad little film. I just don't think it ranks up there with the others. I would gladly have replaced it with Gran Torino if I could. I never felt a connection, a care, or even a worry about the characters in Slumdog. Every time I thought I might, they moved on to some other aspect of the film. The Wrestler, Gran Torino, and many of the other nominees? I got into the characters; I felt moved by the stories. One of the ways I judge a film is how often I look at my watch, or how quickly (or not) the time flies by. I've had three hour films (such as The Shawshank Redemption) that seemed over before I knew it, and eighty minute films that seemed interminable. I checked my watch more than a little while watching Slumdog.

And I don't have anything against foreign films, or films with socio-political undertones, as anyone who knows me will attest. I thought The Visitor was a better film than Slumdog. (And even though I want the Mickster to win, I won't shed a tear if Richard Jenkins wins--he was great.)

Well, the ceremony is almost here, and I'm certain later tonight, or tomorrow, when I hear the winners, I'll be disappointed, but not that disappointed, as I've come to expect so little from the Academy.

There's always next year...


  1. The Visitor was great (minus the overtly stupid political message) - I would have loved for Mickey Rourke to win, alas the academy is enthralled with straight men playing gays I guess. I haven't seen Slumdog, but loved Grand Tarino (although the kid was a pretty bad actor - Eastwood was awesome).
    The Oscars always disappoint - ever since Titanic won I no longer care who wins the best picture.

  2. What's really disheartening is that everything I found wrong with Slumdog Millionaire they won awards for: direction, cinematography, screenplay, and score. The only other thing I mentioned was the acting.

    I just felt so involved with Gran Torino and especially The Wrestler. It was a slow-moving film that just sucks you in and beguiles you. It's one of those pitches by Bugs Bunny that moves so slowly that none of the players can hit it. You know, "one...two...three stikes, you're out!" And Slumdog was a fastball thrown right at my noggin.