One of the more bitter-sweet (emphasis on the bitter) award shows in recent memory
This year's Academy Awards showed how politics are always in the mix, and I don't mean with America's current situation with Iraq. What I mean is that there seems to be an (unintentional?) fix with two particular movies of the evening- Chicago and Gangs of New York. Chicago went away with six, SIX Oscars, for being merely an over-rated re-tread of dumb, glitzy, Hollywood (Hollwood the key word) musicals, where there are occasionally catchy scenes- terribly brought down by the need for Richard Gere and John C. Reilly to try for big performances and can barely manage mediocre. Gangs of New York, on the other hand (a personal favorite from last year), which was the film with the second most amount of nominations (Chicago had 13, Gangs with 10), walked away with none, NONE. This isn't the first time this sort of syndrome has happened to a great movie (The Insider in 99, Psycho in 60, Clockwork Orange in 71), but this was a tad ridiculous.
Does the Academy feel a certain dis-affection towards the man, Martin Scorsese, and his little gem of a history lesson? I can respect that Roman Polanski got the Oscar for The Pianist, as it did deserve it in many respects (certainly the best European direction, and as the Palme D'Or at Cannes last year it was a clear choice over the numb flamboyancy of Rob Marshall's Chicago); however in all honesty, why give the Oscar to someone who isn't allowed in the country to receive it personally, when the guy who deserved it for best AMERICAN direction, anyway, looses? Is there a curse upon Scorsese that any year he makes a picture worthy of at least ONE Oscar, even outside of direction (i.e. Dante Ferreti's production design is some of the finest and most original ever, loosing to Chicago, which won basically for an adaptation of a design from the musical!). Only time will tell...
Having said that, I did enjoy some parts of the show when it wasn't filled with the usual fodder of montage-adulation, and the song in the background as the winner walking up being "all that jazz". Steve Martin did a respectable, pretty funny job, not to the absolute caliber of the first job, but with some fresh jabs at the industry (the two best being with Nicholson and Borgnine). Michael Moore getting a definitely deserved Oscar, said things in his speech that made some "boo", but really, it made a sense in its audacity. Claps go to Almodovar, Kidman, Cooper, Eminem (what was with the guy who presented, gold chains and all?), the late Conrad L. Hall, Brody (Nicholson and Day-Lewis were equally worthy), and for ol' Peter O'Toole...
And yet, outside of that, I felt a little uneasy watching the awards ceremony, as I probably do watching past ones. With this one though, I just got the feeling that there was a very slight rig in the works throughout. Of course I realize this is the name of the game on such a night, but the fact that most of the films that won for the headline factor of the film instead of the films themselves is eerie...then I remember that in the overall scheme of things in th e industry the Oscars count for very little. For example, years from now, or even now, how many people remember specific images and emotions and scenes in Ordinary People? Not too many, I can guess. But Raging Bull, "that's entertainment"!
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