Friday, February 20, 2009

Oscar Preview -- Best Picture Edition

So let me begin by pointing out that the Oscars are a silly affair because judging art is like appreciating class action law suits on a personal and subjective basis, but since the Oscars do provide us with an opportunity to focus on something other than the vapidity and purposelessness of life, it's not like they're evil or anything. And well, since I have an opinion and too much time on my hands I'd thought I'd give you, the American people, my much sought after take on the best picture nominees.

Slumdog Millionaire -- I could write pages of righteous indignation about this movie, so I got to be careful to be as brief as possible, and not come off as too hateful and repulsive of a person. My first point is that nominating this movie reminds me of the worst decision the Academy ever made, when it chose Crash for best picture, since the only rationale I can figure that make either of these movies appealing to the limousine liberals I imagine constitute the Academy is that the Academy members can say, "Oh, I love poor people and hate racism so if a movie depicts these issues using broad stereotypes I'll eat it up since the only personal interactions I've ever had with either of these groups was that one time my driver made a wrong turn in downtown L.A. and I threw some change at 'em out the sun roof." I just could not have been more disappointed when I saw this shiite. This is really just a formulaic movie but since its topical – “My God, when I call customer service I get an Indian person! This movie has its finger on the pulse!” – the immature love story and complete lack of character development are ignored. Like, really, the asshole older brother just totally changes tack without any inclination as to why and then he wants to die in some transparent symbolic method that your high school English teacher would give you a C for by inexplicably bathing in a tub of cash and then the lead boss decides to be the first one through the locked bathroom door so he gets shot providing us with that cathartic knowledge that evil is always punished, and all of this after Daisy Buchanan left security and money to go for love, but wait Daisy doesn’t have to worry about money since her lover answered all the questions on a game show, a game show that all of India wants to be a contestant on but our protagonist just happens to have a secret for calling at the exact right moment, and oh yea, he just happens to know the right answer to every question? Get a job Slumdog. Like really, get a job, because this movie wasn't all bad. Like when we saw how hard that kid had to scam to get by in life, that was touching, and when 99.99% of people in his circumstances would not bag the really hot girl or have any meaningful chance of social mobility and have to stay in the menial but dignified work-a-day world then well...I mean...I don't get why we Americans like it. I could see how this movie is some sort of escapism for poor Indians who dream of winning the lottery but that's not what a best picture makes. But probably the worst part of this movie has got to be those corny ass flashbacks at the end. Are audiences really that sappy that they get nostalgic for scenes that they just saw? Hey, there she is at the train station being whisked away by the bad guys for the 7th time in the last 15 minutes!! All I’m saying is maybe this movie is better than Fool’s Gold, but best picture? C’mon!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
-- So yes this movie is like Forrest Gump but I say so what? Forrest Gump rocked. I can see that movie anytime and anywhere (provided there's an outlet) so what do I care if the sequel starts Brad Pitt? At least this love story felt somewhat believable since it wasn’t some fairy tale garbage about how Jay Gatsby gets Daisy Buchanan after she banged his brother. (All I'm saying is that if Daisy Buchanan leaves Tom for Jay then we move away from high art into Fool's Gold territory, and when we start celebrating story lines that do that then I understand why F. Scott Fitzgerald drank himself to death.) And Benjamin Button is in another league than Fool’s Gold and Slumdog, and it's probably even better than the English Patient. But I haven’t seen the English Patient so I can’t be sure.

Frost/Nixon
– Now we’re getting into the perilous territory of nominated movies I didn't exactly "see" or "watch" or "pay to see" or "sit all the way through" because they weren't that "interesting" or "playing near enough to my home" and because I don't own a "car" I have to see movies within biking distance. Anyways, this one is the didn't "sit all the way through" category, as I was in the theater for 25 minutes before leaving because the major dramatic tension wasn't enough to keep me from returning to my dark, empty and lonely apartment with the internet as my only friend. I mean, really, the major tension is whether this goofy-not-really-a-journalist guy is going to win in this head-to-head confrontation with Nixon? And then, during the first 11 of these two-hour interviews Nixon just creams this guy’s clock because the interview subjects are substantial policy issues that this would be journalist never seriously considered? But then, oh man, when we get to Watergate, then the protagonist studies really hard and shoves it in Nixon's face! Win for the good guys! But I mean, umm, yea? Wouldn't any monkey without a speech impediment been able to accomplish that? You have Richard Nixon spending two hours where he can't run away from the camera explaining stuff like why he directed $500,000 cash dead drops for Watergate burglars and like why did he decided to lie to the FBI, since he's on tape talking about lying to the FBI. I guess you had to live it, but if this wins best picture I’m going to be annoyed.

Milk – I didn’t see this one, but I did see a documentary on Milk’s life in college, and every scene I saw in the trailer for this Gus Van Sant version looked to be ripping off a scene from that documentary, and I know that documentary made me cry and hate people who don’t like gays, or kill gays and then serve like 5 year prison sentences. I hope that documentary wins best picture because it told an incredible story of a man who changed the world for the better and a world that wasn’t ready for him. But if Milk wins, I'm going to be annoyed that you can just rip off a 20 year old documentary and get an Oscar.

The Reader – I didn’t see this one either, but I have a feeling this one is the best of the bunch. That shouldn't matter, though, since we all know that the Academy loves them a Holocaust movie, and so the cynic in me worries the people who make these movies are doing so imagining all the awards and the income those awards will generate once the movie is done. And that irritates me, since you have to try really hard to tell a Holocaust story that won't touch and move the audience in a profound way. I mean, a 13 year-old girl’s diary is considered one of the finest books of the 20th century. So in the question of judging art and saying what’s better than the rest, these Holocaust movies just have an unfair advantage. They should be a special category, where Holocaust movies are only compared with each other and there’s one Oscar for all of them and the question is whether this particular Holocaust movie is better than the last one. So the real question, then, is the Reader better than Schindler’s List? And I can't answer that because I haven't seen Schindler's List since I was 14 and like I said I haven't seen the Reader at all but now that I think about it why is the Academy passing the buck and asking me to compare Holocaust movies anyways? Do your job Academy and I'll do mine thank you very much.

Oh yea, and I got a good Holocaust knock knock joke I learned from my friend:

Knock knock
Who’s there?
The Holocaust
(The other person here either refuses to continue the joke, or does so haltingly, expecting something repulsive to come back at them.) The…Holo-caust…who?
(Shake head disapprovingly) So you’re one of those?

2 comments:

rananda said...

My first point is that nominating this movie reminds me of the worst decision the Academy ever made, when it chose Crash for best picture, since the only rationale I can figure that make either of these movies appealing to the limousine liberals I imagine constitute the Academy is that the Academy members can say, "Oh, I love poor people and hate racism so if a movie depicts these issues using broad stereotypes I'll eat it up since the only personal interactions I've ever had with either of these groups was that one time my driver made a wrong turn in downtown L.A. and I threw some change at 'em out the sun roof."

So true. I love the term limousine liberals as well. Might be better than champagne socialists.

Sir Fantastic said...

I'm not familiar with that term but have met a few people in my time who meet that description. Yea, people are ridiculous. Not me though.