Monday, February 25, 2008

Post-Oscars Reaction

As movie years go, 2007's crop of hopefuls aren't going to remembered with some of Oscar's best over the years.

I watched last night's broadcast, rushed because of the strike, with some trepidation, especially knowing it was going to be a big night for the awful "No Country For Old Men," and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Jon Stewart did a very capable job with short prep time, and the pace of the show was fairly brisk, though I found the segments celebrating 80 years of Oscars with past clips to be redundant after a while. At least Michael Moore didn't win, so we were spared a controversial acceptance speech.

A few highlights:

NICEST MOMENT: (Tie) The troops in Iraq presenting an award (Best Short? I'm drawing a blank) and host Jon Stewart bringing back best song winner Marketa Irglova to say a few words after the orchestra cut her off when her partner, Glen Hansard, ran a few seconds long.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Tilda Swinton. I figured the Academy would go with Ruby Dee in Best Supporting Actress as a sort of lifetime achievement award even though Dee only appeared for about 10 minutes in "American Gangster." The always-terrific Swinton was phenomenal in "Michael Clayton," and it was nice to see her recognized.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Speaking of lifetime achievement awards, I find it remarkable that Hal Holbrook only got his first-ever nomination for "Into The Wild," and having just turned 83, he might not get too many more chances to win. He was much more the supporting actor than Javier Bardem, who was basically the lead in "No Country For Old Men."

BEST PRESENTERS: Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan, and their "I'm Halle Berry" bit. Fortunately, neither of them gave any of the award winners an Adrien Brody-type kiss.

WORST DECISION: The Academy's choice to honor "No Country For Old Men" with four Oscars, including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor. This is one of the most overrated movies in recent memory, and pretty forgettable I thought. It had no ending and the inciting incident to get the ball rolling was one of the most insipid in movie history. I admit I've never read the Cormac McCarthy novella, so I don't know how true it was to the source material, but as a movie, it just plained sucked.

BEST DECISION: Diablo Cody's win for Original Screenplay with "Juno." My gal Diablo (OK, I met her for 30 seconds, but still) has become a rock star among screenwriters.

What were some of your notable Oscar moments?

After the broadcast, I caught some of Jimmy Kimmel. Normally, I'm not a huge Kimmel fan, but this running "feud" with Matt Damon has been hilarious. First, Kimmel's girlfriend Sarah Silverman said they were "breaking up" because she was now with Damon. You can catch the brilliant music video on YouTube. So Kimmel retaliated last night by announcing he was now with Ben Affleck, complete with a "We Are The World" type video with the likes of Harrison Ford, Don Cheadle, Josh Groban, Robin Williams and others. It was insanely funny.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: The Lorraine Hansberry classic play "A Raisin In the Sun" (ABC, 8 p.m.) has drawn about as much critical praise as anything I've seen this year. The TV movie version reunites the Tony Award-winning cast, including Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, while Sean "Puffy" Combs has met with a lot of success in a role originated by the great Sidney Poitier. The play deals with a struggling black family in the 1950s that suddenly comes into some money from a life insurance policy, then debates how to spend it to improve their lives.

On "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles," (Fox, 9 p.m.), the good cyborg (Summer Glau) takes a ballet class. I'd like to see Arnold Schwarzeneggar do that. Seriously, I would.

CBS has new episodes of "Welcome To The Captain" at 8:30 p.m. and the terrific "Old Christine" at 9:30 p.m. On NBC, "Medium" is new at 10 p.m.

On cable, both "Kyle XY" and "Wildfire" are new on ABC Family.

Finally, the coolest program of the night may be the season premiere of "Top Gear" (BBC America, 8 p.m.), which has Oscar winner Helen Mirren as its guest driver.


Zodin2008 said...

"Michael Clayton" was an excellent movie and in fact, my wife & I decided to watch that on DVD rather than watch the 3 hour + love fest for an overbloated, overrated movie such as "No Country".

So, I too was happy for Tilda Swinton but was sad about Tom Wilkinson losing who I thought was more powerful as the controversial attorney.

If I were nominating 5 films, these would be my five choices: Gone Baby Gone, Michael Clayton, Ocean's 13, The Bourne Ultimatum, and American Gangster.

As I have states repeatedly, if the Oscars would actually nominate movies and performances people have actually seen or wanted to see, they would draw higher ratings and it would coincide better with the public mood.

I don't know 3 people who have seen "There Will be Blood" or "Atonement".

And as I have stated before, they should move all the dance numbers and film montages and technical awards to Saturday night or a separate, Sunday afternoon broadcast, and shorten the show and replace with nominations for comedy films.

How is a "Juno" supposed to compete ever with an "Atonement"? But put together a comedy/musical category (like the Globes) and they could also recognize "Juno" along with brilliant humorous stuff like "Superbad" and "Knocked Up".

Anonymous said...

I thought the show was dull. The movies selecter were typical of Hollywood taking itself too seriously. "Charlie Wilson" should have been nominated but was not politically correct. Stewart was not a great host. Where is Billy Crystal when you need him ? The ratings were awful. Perhaps the Oscars will go thw way of "Miss America" !!!
What a lousey way to spend Sunday night!!!

Phillip Ramati said...

Wow, not a lot of love for the Oscars here. Looks like the majority of the country agreed with you -- this looks like it will be the lowest-rated telecast in history. (I'm wondering if DVRs are being factored in, however).

I thought Stewart was solid with little prep time to work with.

And Zod, rare is the day when popular blockbusters will ever beat out more artsy films for nominations and statues.

Some of the more overlooked films out there included Gone Baby Gone (especially star Casey Affleck and director Ben Affleck); 3:10 to Yuma (stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, directing, acting and cinematography); American Gangster (Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, directing, screenplay); the Simpsons Movie (best animation) and so forth.

Of course, the Academy is never going to satisfy everybody, but I'm calling the emperor's new clothes on No Country.

Anonymous said...

to zodin2008: nominating movies or performances based on their commercial success might be the world's worst idea. who cares how many people have seen the movie. either it's great or it sucks. and ocean's 13 as best picture? sell that bulls**t somewhere else.

to anonymous: get real. the oscars worse than miss america? what a lousy 10 seconds I just spent reading your blog entry.

to phillip ramati: Call it, friendo.

Phillip Ramati said...

C'mon, guys, everyone play nice. Remember, there are no wrong opinions, but mine are the only right ones. :-)

I don't think box office should be a factor in the Oscars, either. Certainly, I enjoyed the likes of Ocean's 13, Bourne and Superbad, etc., but they aren't Oscar-type films.

On the other hand, some commerciality should be taken into account. There was very limited box office appeal for things like No Country or There Will Be Blood, the artsy sort of things the Academy loves. But then, you can make an argument with that logic against Michael Clayton, which I felt was deserving of its nominations.

Oscar has had the best of both worlds in the past, everything from The Godfather to Lord of the Rings to, God help me, Titanic.

What voters should be asking themselves is, does the movie have staying power? Will people be watching this movie in 20 years or 50 years.

Casablanca remains as great today as it did back in 1943. So does Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, High Noon, and many others. And, of the later films, my grandkids will be watching The Godfather and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

It's getting harder to define greatness these days, but then I suppose half the fun of the Oscars in the first place is the debate that goes with it.

Jonathan said...

My favorite moment, and this award would make my favorite moment for the first time ever, was the "Best Song" going to "Once." It also garnered the best quip from Stewart: "That guy's really arrogant."

And while I didn't find "No Country for Old Men" as terrible as you did, I wouldn't have given it anything close to Best Picture. As usual, the book is a hell of a lot better.

And while I can't see putting "Oceans 13" up for a Best of Anything Nod, it did have one of my favorite subplots of the year when Casey Affleck, in one of his three great performances of 07, led a group of Mexican workers on strike.

And, Phil, please don't make your grandkids suffer through "Lord of the Rings." Over nine hours of people walking; I didn't get it. I know I'm alone with Kevin Smith on this feeling, but I just didn't get it.

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