Alan Rickman’s Absurd Lack of Oscar Nominations

This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Click HERE for a list of the other posts for Week 2: The Oscar Snubs.

I’m just going to throw this out there because I want to shut down, once and for all, the notion that Academy Award nominations have much to do with “merit”:

Sylvester Stallone has TWO Oscar nominations (in acting categories).

Alan Rickman died with ZERO Oscar nominations.

Continue reading “Alan Rickman’s Absurd Lack of Oscar Nominations”

Advertisements

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Child Actor Nominees/Winners

papermoon

This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Click HERE to see more posts from Week 1: THE ACTORS.

I remember so clearly when Tatum O’Neal won Best Supporting Actress at the tender age of 10. I was around 12 years old at the time, had seen the film, LOVED it, loved her in it. (It remains one of my favorite movies and performances to this day.) My parents were very strict about sticking to my designated bed time when I was a kid, but for some reason were always lenient on Oscar night. I think they knew they were raising a budding cineaste.

I recall watching the ceremony on a little 9 inch black and white TV in my bedroom and jumping up and down on my twin bed when her name was announced.

She was a kid–like me! AND SHE WON A BIG AWARD! THE BIGGEST AWARD IN THE UNIVERSE! (I was probably not aware of the Nobel Prize at the time–or, at least, not cognizant of its importance relative to the Oscar.)

Continue reading “31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Child Actor Nominees/Winners”

Go Home Oscar Nominations, You’re Drunk

Inside-Llewyn-Davis

Before I go off on a rant about this year’s Oscar nominations, let me say this:

2013 was a pretty good movie year. I went to the movies more often than in the previous few years, and left the theater smiling way more than scowling.

Good stuff from both mainstream Hollywood and independents. Some great performances that will probably stand the test of time. It was also an amazing year for movies with female leads, with movies such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Heat, Gravity and Frozen showing that stories focusing on female characters can really rake in the bucks. In fact, Catching Fire currently tops 2013 in domestic box office.

So an array of great movies and performances means that OF COURSE there were going to be some big Oscar snubs. But, boy, a few of them really got my goat.

Continue reading “Go Home Oscar Nominations, You’re Drunk”

Oscars, I Can’t Quit You

Oscar-2013Another year, another Oscars show. (Did you notice we’re not calling it “The Academy Awards” anymore?  I think probably because some focus group told them it made the show sound like it’s for old people.)

Yay for Argo—I watched the movie for the first time just before the Oscars aired and LOVED it. Of course, this made me even madder that Ben Affleck was snubbed in the directing category. I was also thrilled to see Jennifer Lawrence win, even though I am no fan of The Silver Linings Playbook.

But, boy, did we all have to slog through a lot of tedious crap to get to most of the good stuff.

Clearly, the choice of Seth MacFarlane as host was yet another attempt to capture a younger demographic. But as with other hosts culled from the supposedly cooler strata of pop culture—i.e, Dave Letterman, Jon Stewart, Anne Hathaway and James Franco (?), the show has a way of sucking the coolness right out of them.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon, really.

I enjoy MacFarlane a great deal in other contexts. But in the context of the Oscars, he deflated. I’m not even going to get into the supposed offensiveness of the jokes he told, because, come on, you had to know going in that those were the kind of jokes he was going to tell. But funny or not, offensive or not, many of them just kind of . . . died. The opening did have its moments—I loved the sock puppets—but mostly the jokes were sort of meh.

I think context is the key. When you stick a youngish, edgy host in the middle of an old, stodgy format that had hair growing on it back in the 1960s, it’s not going to do much besides emphasize the weaknesses of both the host and the format.

I stayed and watched to the bitter end, as hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide did.

That’s the real problem with the Oscars. Though they lust after younger demos, they know they have a ginormous audience that will sit through every tedious monologue, every absurd dance number, every lame bantering joke by presenters, every boring speech by technicians nobody ever heard of. (They did try to curtail this by playing the theme from Jaws whenever anyone went over time—which seemed a tad boorish, putting the audience on the side of the boring speechmakers for a change.)

We keep watching because we want to know who won. (Admit it, we also want to be there in case someone falls down on the way to the podium. This happened this year to Jennifer Lawrence, who recovered from her stumble with remarkable grace and humor.) So they know we just can’t quit the Oscars. This gives them absolutely no incentive to fundamentally change.

Let’s say they were open to change. Let’s say they might ask me for advice. (Stop laughing.) Here are a few thoughts on how they could vastly improve the Oscars telecast:

1.  Broadcast it from New York City. I know what you’re thinking: how could Hollywood have their biggest night of the year anywhere but Hollywood? But there’s a method to my madness. I guarantee you a big reason why the show rambles on for close to four hours every year is because they’re on West Coast time. This means they get out of there at 9:30 PM, which is still kind of early to start the partying. While those of us on the East Coast have to limp into bed at 12:30 AM or later with our alarm clocks set for 5:30 AM to get to work the next day.

It doesn’t have to be from New York. Anywhere on the East Coast would work. I’ll bet anything they would find a way to get out of there in less than three hours so they would have enough time to hit all the after-parties.

2. GET RID OF THE FRICKIN’ SONG AND DANCE NUMBERS! Yes, I AGREE—the performances this year by Shirley Bassey, Jennifer Hudson, the casts of Chicago and Les Miserables, Barbra Streisand and Adele were all phenomenal. But they were a big reason the show went on and on and on . . . this isn’t the Grammys or the Tonys. (Both of those shows still manage to move faster than the Oscars.)  Worse, because they spent so much time with OTHER musical numbers, two of the nominated songs didn’t get a live performance.

Did you notice they cut the Honorary Oscars segment? And yet the show still ran way too long. It’s the song and dance numbers that are to blame. And also . . .

3. GET RID OF THE FRICKIN’ TRIBUTE VIDEOS . . . except for the in memoriam tribute.  Besides the memorial for those who died over the past year the tributes generally stink. The tribute to James Bond movies was a case in point, except for the aforementioned performance by Bassey. Not ONE line of dialogue? Really?

I love classic movies and can understand wanting to give a young audience some exposure to them. But the tributes take up a lot of time and they are almost always poorly done. Get rid of them.

4. Move some of the smaller awards to a different ceremony. I know the sound technicians and filmmakers of short films will hate me for saying this, but besides their family members and those who have entered an Oscar pool, no one cares. These are the people who are also most likely to go over time giving thank you speeches to everyone they ever met, starting with the doctor who delivered them.

5. The fewer presenters per award, the better. Having more presenters means more asinine banter. The Avengers and the Chicago cast were a bit painful to watch. I get that they have to cram in as many stars as they can over the evening, but keep it down to two per award. One is even better.

(BTW, isn’t Scarlett Johansson one of the Avengers? Please tell me she was left out because she was engaged elsewhere, and not because she’s, um, a girl.)

6. Hollywood, make more great movies that appeal to wider audiences. You can do it, Hollywood. You used to on a regular basis. Remember, Star Wars, Jaws, and Raiders of the Lost Ark all were nominated for Best Picture. Even with nine Best Picture nominations, many people under the age of 50 hadn’t seen most of them—some hadn’t even see any of them. Popular movies with major nominations mean a bigger and younger viewing audience.

7. Seriously, make better movies.

The Oscar Nominations – Snubs & Flubs

ben-affleck-argo-director-600x400Sometimes, the Oscar nominations depress me. Well, it’s not just Oscar nominations, but the state of the movie industry in general, which I addressed in a recent post. And what better reflection of this state than the Oscars nominations, which were announced this morning?

Don’t get me wrong–a lot of fine films, filmmakers, actors and technicians were nominated. But certain things made me want to scream. (Which I almost did in my cubicle at work as I watched the nominations streaming on my phone.)

First, the snubs:

Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck: The way the nominations are set up now, snubs in the directing category are a yearly event because there are more Best Picture nominations (up to ten) than Best Director nominations (only five), but I can’t recall two more absurd snubs.

Kathryn Bigelow directed Zero Dark Thirty and was the first woman to ever win Best Director (for The Hurt Locker). Either the academy feels like they gave her one so she’s done, or some of the political fall-out concerning the film impacted her negatively. However, the political issue didn’t prevent the film from being nominated in several other categories.

It would be tempting to blame the fact that Affleck is an actor for his snub, except that many actors have not only been nominated, but won in the Best Director category in the past, including Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson.

What gives, Hollywood? Affleck has directed other films that were also received positively by the critics (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) and he’s already an Oscar winner as a screenwriter (for Good Will Hunting). It can’t be that you still haven’t forgiven him for Gigli, can it?

I don’t begrudge the lesser-known directors their nods (Michael Haneke for Amour and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild). In my opinion, they should also expand the directing category to up to 10 nominations. It’s hard to make the argument that a movie is among the best of the year if the director does not also get recognition for his or her work. (Same goes for the writers.)

Other snubs that bug me:

How come Leonardo DiCaprio is a shoe-in for a nomination every time he makes a stuffy biopic, but he gets snubbed for a deliciously villainous role like the one he played in Django Unchained?

Was hoping John Hawkes would grab a nod for The Sessions. Have adored John since he played Sol Starr in the HBO show Deadwood. He’s one of the best character actors in Hollywood right now. I hope he gets recognition for that soon.

Cloud Atlas. Yes, I know it had zero chance for a major nomination, but it was absolutely robbed by being shut out of the technical awards, especially make-up and special effects.

Same for The Hunger Games–zero chance for a major nomination, and while the special effects were disappointing (they didn’t budget enough for them) it certainly deserved one for Ve Neill’s fantastic make-up, including the now-iconic beard she created for the character of Seneca Crane.

Nominations that made me go, wha—?

So many for The Silver Linings Playbook. I recently wrote a review about why I didn’t like it. However, the acting WAS uniformly terrific, and I kind of love that little-known Australian actress Jacki Weaver was nominated.

If Bigelow and Affleck hadn’t been snubbed, I might have been able to bear that David O. Russell got a nod, even though the direction was just O.K.

Here’s my big problem with all the nominations it received: it has the Weinstein Oscar machine behind it, which means it may waltz away with a Best Picture win, whether it truly deserves it or not. The Weinstein Company has managed to score a lot of Best Picture wins for their films, including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Artist. I wish the Academy could find a way to rein in the Weinsteins, because though I love many of their movies, their Oscar campaigns often result in better films losing out.

Not to pick on little kids, but I kind of wish Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) had not been nominated. When I was ten years old I thought it was awesome that Tatum O’Neal won for Paper Moon, but now I don’t like it when kids that young get nominated. It’s tough enough for adults to handle all the Oscar media madness.

Don’t get the Best Picture nomination for Les Miserables, considering it did not receive directing or writing nods. How can it be a best picture if the director and screenwriters are not among the best in their categories?

So what did I like?

The acting nods all seem deserved.

It will be fun to see if Joaquin Phoenix shows up the night of the awards, after bad-mouthing them.

Seth McFarlane and Emma Stone’s announcement of the nominations was great–they were both funny and breathed a little life into a usually staid occasion. It bodes well for the Oscar telecast, which may actually be watchable this year.

It’s nice that several movies nominated were movies people actually went to see. Or movies people have at least heard of. That’s a small step in the right direction.