I love movies, but I don’t like watching the Academy Awards ceremony. For the three hours it drones on, it seems to suck the joy I feel toward the medium right out of me. I feel this way even if something I love is picking up a lot of awards. This year, I used various feeds and watched other blogs to pick up the news as it happened, then posted a slew of status reports on Facebook and commented on my friends’ observations of Oscar’s progress. I especially had a good time slinging around quips with T. L. Bugg of the Lightning Bugg’s Lair. I think I did more Facebook posts in three hours than I have the entire year and a half since I signed up for the service.
This weekend I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lawrence of Arabia in 70 mm prints in famous old cinemas. This distorted my view of this year’s Oscars, honestly. But you’ll hear more about this in my upcoming Black Gate post.
My observations on the awards for films actually released last year:
A very unsurprising pack of wins. One of the least surprising in my memory. Hurt Locker had it sealed up back at the DGA Awards, and the moment it took Best Screenplay tonight, which most pundits thought would go to Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds, I knew the lock (ahem) was in. Tarantino should have gotten the statue in that category, but Inglourious Basterds ended up with nothing except Christoph Waltz for Supporting Actor, and that was a Near Sure Thing. And Herr Waltz deserves it. Commence jokes about Bingo now.
I like The Hurt Locker. When I finally get my Favorite Movies of 2009 list together in a few weeks (still a couple of flicks I want to see before I finalize the list), The Hurt Locker will be on it. It’s an excellent film. But . . . I think that Up, Inglourious Basterds, and District 9 are much better. Particularly District 9, which managed to win nothing. It should have walked away with Adapted Screenplay, but nope. At least the winner was a film I can support, and the director somebody I can admire. The first female Best Director winner gets the award for a gritty, brutal, tense war drama . . . I think that’s quite amazing and beautiful.
And no question in my mind that The Hurt Locker deserved Best Editing.
Sandra Bullock, future footnote: “Widely considered one of the least deserving winners in the Best Actress category.” Less said about this, the better. Speed 3 is certain now.
But meanwhile . . . Jeff Bridges has an Oscar! One of my favorite actors of all time, and he at last gets his due recognition for a killer career. Not only a great actor, but an all-around awesome, cool fellow. And this means that Tron Legacy is headed toward major hit status, with Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges reprising one of his classic roles. Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges!
Up won Best Animated Film. No surprise, but even though this was a “boring” win because everybody knew it was going to happen, Up is genuinely one of the great movies of the last ten years. It’s the film from 2009 that I will probably re-watch more than any other. It also picked up Best Score, giving Michael Giacchino his first win. Giachinno is one of the most talented people working in the post-Goldsmith film music biz, and this is the first win in this category in years that I think is 100% deserved. And for some reason, Disney never released the score to CD, only to digital download. Time to release the CD, Disney. Because the music just won the Oscar, okay?
A Star Trek film won an Oscar! Wow!
Anything else? Oh, yeah, Avatar. It won Best Visual Effects. And some technical awards. And mysteriously stole the Best Cinematography award from the amazing Robert Richardson for Inglourious Basterds. But in general I think that Avatar suffered from backlash and envy and therefore walked away with nothing spectacular—except $750 million. I think Cameron can live with that. I know I can: I enjoyed the film as theatrical experience, but I don’t think it’s Best Picture caliber.
Nobody seems to have enjoyed the horror movie montage. I’m glad I didn’t have to watch it and bristle at all the films left out.
Okay, the Oscars are over, back to normal life watching and loving films. And if I ever feel bad that something I like didn’t win, I can always remind myself that not only did the following movie not win Best Picture in 1968, it wasn’t even nominated . . .