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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Hooray for etc. 

Well, tonight's the night.

We've been saturated with stupefyingly inane stories ever since the Oscar nominations came out last month. You've probably heard or read them by now: "Hollywood" is "out of touch" with America because the Best Picture nominees aren't the highest-grossing movies of the year... as if that has ever been the nomination scheme in design or stated intent. Tiresome, also, is the constant reference to "Hollywood" as a singular organic entity with a hive-mind agenda, especially considering how many of the Best Picture nominees were turned down year after year for production. Let's recognize this year's nominees for being what they are: a refreshingly diverse collection of artistic voices turning in work of inspired passion.

And of course everyone's wondering if Jon Stewart's going to make George Bush jokes. I've been following this guy since the days of his talk show on MTV, and I can say one thing: he'll be fine. Just sit back and enjoy the fucking show already.

But everyone's fascinated, despite shoot-from-the-hip cynicism so openly displayed by entertainment journalists who, for some reason, don't want to appear unhip to their peers for actually giving a good goddamn. Even the Indie Spirit Awards seems like an also-ran award ceremony; the prize list pretty much tells us who's not getting an Oscar tonight but deserves some kind of recognition.

Whatever. It's the Oscars. Everyone that's been nominated should have been, and ridiculous nitpicking aside, this is a hell of a horse race.

As for predictions:

BEST PICTURE
What Will Win: Brokeback Mountain.
What Should Win: Brokeback Mountain. Save your tired rhetoric. This is a beautiful, brilliantly composed movie that rings not a single false note in any frame. Every shot is gorgeous without being showy, and every player doesn't "perform" so much as compose a new, fully-formed identity.

BEST DIRECTOR
Who Will Win: Ang Lee.
What Will Win: Ang Lee. I'm not actually that big a fan of the guy's work; I think a lot of it is pedantic and frankly uninteresting. But Brokeback is something else entirely, a testament to the complexity and depth of feeling underlining even the most tight-lipped, "simple" love story.

BEST ACTOR
Who Will Win: Heath Ledger.
Who Should Win: Heath Ledger. Phillip Seymour Hoffman deserves accolades for so fully recreating what was so attractive, and off-putting, about the real Truman Capote, but it's a much showier role than Ledger's Ennis. Ledger excels in the most formidable of acting tasks: showing a lot by showing very little.

BEST ACTRESS
Who Will Win: Reese Witherspoon.
Who Should Win: Reese Witherspoon. Make no mistake: Walk the Line is her movie. I'm frankly a little confused at the praise thrown Joaquin Phoenix's way, despite my admiration for his abilities. He's very milquetoast and just a little pathetic as the Man in Black, and the movie would fall flat without Witherspoon's energetic and wise rendition of June Carter. (This also points to the accomplishment Jamie Foxx made in Ray: While the Phoenix-Cash role could not sustain a movie by itself, Foxx carried Ray on his shoulders from start to finish.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who Will Win: Jake Gyllenhaal.
Who Should Win: William Hurt. A scene-chewer of a role, but what a scene. Hurt's character is absolutely essential in defining for the audience the kind of manic, frantic life Mortensen's character left behind to live a quiet, idyllic life, and proof positive that an actor doesn't need a whole lot of screen time to illuminate a complex story.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who Will Win: Very tough call. Conventional wisdom says Rachel Weisz, but I suspect that "conventional wisdom" is based almost entirely on her being the most recognizable name in the bunch. Let's go with Catherine Keener.
Who Should Win: Michelle Williams. In terms of screen time, a small role. In terms of story impact, as completely and necessarily vital as the two leads. A tragic love story is nothing but angsty wankery if it doesn't show the impact the thwarted love has on the people surrounding it, and both Williams and Anne Hathaway bring full dimension to all that can deteriorate and go bad when love isn't allowed recognition.

BEST ANIMATED FILM
What Will Win: Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
What Should Win: Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The creators of Wallace & Gromit are no strangers to the Oscars. Really, I have no horse in this race; I'm just glad no piece-of-shit pop pap from Dreamworks was around this year to stink up the place.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
What Will Win: March of the Penguins.
What Should Win: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Though the Oscars are relatively progressive this year, I just don't see AMPAS passing over the chance to crown March with the cherry on top of the doc's already stellar year. Whatever. I guess penguins are cute.

BEST FOREIGN FILM
What Will Win: Tsotsi.
What Should Win: Paradise Now. Please don't let neocon morons who have no business critiquing movies shy you away from this one. This movie operates from the trailblazing concept that people, even people who consider committing horrendous acts, are actually human and not a bunch of mustache-twiddling villains. The stakes are real and quite familiar; I'm a bit upset this one didn't make it into the Best Picture category.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
What Will Win: Crash.
What Should Win: Match Point. The Screenplay categories are typically in the "compensation prize" category, giving awards to films that didn't quite make the grade in the "higher" categories. Crash simply can't be ignored, and so being shut out elsewhere gives it the award here. Certainly, the Academy admires Paul Haggis. But Match Point is the real star of the show, and Woody Allen deserves recognition for this shot fired directly from his artistic core. (I talk a bit more about MP and another comparable work by Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors, right here, if you're curious.)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
What Will Win: Capote.
What Should Win: A History of Violence. I know, I know: I'm a comics geek. But you ought to read the source material shortly before (or after) you see the movie. What's translated to screen (and, perhaps more importantly, what isn't) is deeply instructive. Josh Olson performs that rarest of tasks: Finding further truths and meanings than what is already plumbed in the source material.

Time to pop the popcorn and see how I do.

UPDATE: 6 out of 10 correct. Dreadful showing by yours truly this year.

Doesn't it seem like there wasn't much of Stewart, but a whole fucking lot of commercials?

Anyway. Tomorrow begins the beating-the-dead-horse bit, pretty much all of which I'll be ignoring. Jim Emerson, a writer and editor I admire, has already (and rather predictably) begun explaining why this or that joke did or didn't work. Best of luck to him on that.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ringwood: Hero or Menace? 

I've been exchanging e-mails with Brian Wood today, and it took him all of one honest and sincere paragraph to make me realize what an ass I was being. For yesterday's post, Brian, I apologize.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Too good to pass up. 

Just a quick aside here:

This makes for some entertaining downtime reading. You can find context here, but the Brian Woodness stands on its own. The only context necessary there is knowing who the guy is.

this is the sort of petty online crap that i used to love to get wrapped up in before i started acting serious about my career - and two years later i'm still working to correct the public's perception of what kind of a guy i am.

my advice, Vito, is to shut up now, ignore people who want to start shit with you, and move forward. don't rise to the bait, don't worry about correcting other people's assumptions about you. we're all on blogs, and blogs really don't matter much in the grand scheme of things, and you can let it go.

-bri


Thanks, "Bri."

There are... let's see... yeah, one word in every three that amuse, amaze, or infuriate me. That's a hell of a ratio, really. Props for that.

There's so much casual backhanded contempt for comics blogging present, which is a little confounding to me. Back in the day, we were pretty good to the guy. Remember this? I do, and I should; I was one of the people responsible for it. I don't know. I guess we haven't kissed his ass enough since then, and now it's coming back to haunt us all in some guy's LJ comments area.

As to "correcting the public's perception" of him, there's only one person to blame for that, m'boy: Yourself. No one made you engage critics in such a flamboyantly adolescent way but you. Any halfway competent professional will tell you to never argue with your critics, that the proper response is to thank the person for their time and move along.

But you made a pretty good run at arguing like crazy with a bunch of people who "didn't get it." It made for good unintentional comedy. It couldn't last; as you so candidly note right up front, that sort of behavior is the mark of a complete fucking amateur.

But the obvious, unsolicited venom cited above is a clear sign you have matured and grown past your antics of old. Please continue to fight the good fight of blog discrediting; your LJ peeps are so much more sophisticated, and we should be reminded of this as often as possible.

In short, I'm so glad to see how much you've grown.

By the way: Good luck on the new book. I haven't picked it up, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it's probably about a punky teenage girl defying the Man after an early life in complicit servitude to Him. I'm also betting there might be a scene or two with the girl in her underwear, because that's "real."

Golly, doesn't that sound familiar?

(But I'm sure that shit kills with the kids who've just discovered Bukowski and the Sex Pistols.)

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