Predictable, Boring, and Montages everywhere
As usual, these thoughts come to you immediately following the Oscars, and are being written from a bedroom of my brother's condo in Las Vegas. Definitely some interesting scenery over here tonight....
Well, Oscar season has come and gone. We're at the end of the journey for 2017's year in film, and this year the journey itself ended up being far better than the destination. While I never expected anything to top last year's Oscars, this year's felt very safe and predictable, as almost every favorite took home their respective categories. Don't get me wrong: I loved The Shape of Water. It was in my top films of the year. But winning over films like Get Out and Lady Bird and Call Me by Your Name and Phantom Thread (though I'll admit that last one is there solely because it's my personal top film of 2017).....really? That's what we're going to go with? The Shape of Water? OSCAR. That's really going to be 2017's poster child film? Is that right? Ugh.... There's very little doubt in my mind that 20 years from now we'll look back at this year's Oscars and do nothing but scratch our heads. The Academy had a real chance to show that they were changing through and through by giving this award to something like Get Out, and it let it slip out of its fingers. Hey: at least it wasn't Three Billboards, right? Don't look at Oscar....he's still mad The Greatest Showman didn't get a Best Picture nod. Ha.
I almost feel bad that I'm dissing The Shape of Water so much. It's an amazing film, don't get me wrong! But.....it just hits all the right notes for the traditional Academy voter, and for a group that is trying to convince people that it's not just a bunch of old white dudes that are out-of-touch with society, handing Best Picture to that film will not go about solving those issues. Is it a more interesting choice than usual? Sure. But we had a very unique list of nominees this year with a lot of films that broke new ground, so within this list outside of the obvious Oscar-bait of something like Darkest Hour, picking something like The Shape of Water feels like a "crowd-pleasing" choice. However, compared to some of the other awards given out, Best Picture seems saint-like. There were two TERRIBLE and out-of-touch decisions made by the Academy Oscar Sunday that were incredibly frustrating, especially in the wake of the #TimesUp movement: Gary Oldman and Kobe Bryant. Two men accused of SEXUAL ASSAULT in some shape or form can now proudly say they've won an Oscar in the height of what's supposed to be a new era. While Dear Basketball was almost laughed at by critics for being nothing but an ego-stroking animated short, the major star power behind it still allowed it to topple the Pixar dynasty and win best animated short, despite Kobe's sketchy past. And Best Actor. UGH Best Actor! WTF are you doing, Oscar?? All the great names in that category, and still you give it to freaking Gary Oldman for his quintessential Oscar-bait performance, all while ignoring his equally sketchy past? Give me a break, guys. That's like Bruno Mars winning Album of the Year at the GRAMMYs over the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Lorde. Oh waaaaaaaait......
I'm also a little frustrated that Lady Bird, the symbolic representation of the #TimesUp movement, walked away empty-handed but I couldn't really figure out a way to incorporate that into the previous paragraph so here's me complaining about it now.
That said, there were some bright spots. Frances McDormand EASILY won the night with her powerful acceptance speech. She wasn't my choice for the category, but asking the women of the audience to stand and be recognized and get their projects financed was extremely powerful. (Equally powerful? How few actually stood) It was the highlight of the night for sure. And, once again, the "In Memoriam" was terrific, and Eddie Veddar's cover of Tom Petty's "Room at the Top" certainly gave me some chills. (Pay attention, GRAMMYs) The original songs were all pretty darn good. Sufjan Stevens easily won the night here with his chilling rendition of "Mystery of Love." Though of COURSE his song got cut for time while "This is Me" got to do whatever the F it wanted. Figures. Mary J. Blige and Andra Day were awesome, too. I just wish Common didn't have to rap over Andra Day. Yes, I appreciate his relevant cultural messages, but he is SO pretentious. Day is singing her heart out and then Common has to come in and be all like LOOK AT ME. WHEE. I laughed at Jimmy Kimmel's bit in heading over to the Chinese Theater, (that dude mispronouncing Tiffany Haddish's name was the best part of it) but a LOT of people on social media were rolling their eyes there, so that joke didn't land with most. I can understand why: the Oscars went almost 40 minutes over time, so having a long joke like that didn't help things.
Though, speaking of going over time, I get that this is the 90th Academy Awards, but did we really need 37 film montages? That really seemed excessive, and by the Best Actor/Actress montages, even I was rolling my eyes and yelling at them to get on with it. Many (myself included) just look at that as ego-stroking from the Academy, (they can hide it behind "thanking the moviegoer" all they want, but that's all it was) and making up for it by cutting off the acceptance speech of the Best Picture winner (I couldn't tell which producer that was that got cut off, but boy was he mad that he couldn't say anything worthwhile) is not the way to cut down on time. Cut off a few montages, and let the winners have their moment. (I wasn't a big fan of that Jimmy Kimmel bit about giving a jet ski to the shortest speech, either.) Though, I will say, that #TimesUp tribute was the best moment of the night that wasn't Frances McDormand. Let's get more of those interviews and fewer montages, shall we?
Let's talk about a few of the winners I was happy about. ROGER FREAKING DEAKINS. That man FINALLY won his first Oscar! Only took the legendary cinematographer 14 tries to do it, but I will not lie I stood up and cheered when his name was called. I was also really happy for James Ivory, who was behind the wonderful screenplay for Call Me by Your Name. Fun fact: James Ivory became the oldest person ever to win an Oscar when he took this award home. And, of course, I was equally happy to see Jordan Peele walk home with an Oscar for his Get Out screenplay. It is so nice that we can now say "Oscar winner Jordan Peele."
I do have to take a second and express disappointment with some of the choices in the technical categories. I was REALLY hoping that Baby Driver would topple the behemoth known as Dunkirk, but at least it lost to one of the best films ever made from a technical standpoint. I was also disappointed with the Original Score category. I loved the score to The Shape of Water, (it was a top 5 score for me) but it was nowhere near as good as Johnny Greenwood's score for Phantom Thread, as well as Hans Zimmer's score to Blade Runner 2049, represented in the category by Dunkirk. But, hey! At least "Remember Me" beat out "This is Me" for Best Original Song, so there's that, right? Finally, we have to talk about possibly the biggest disappointment of the night that isn't controversial: Visual Effects. Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME? Yes, Blade Runner 2049 had some marvelous effects. (Particularly surrounding the character Joi-her sex scene apparently took a year to produce because of the effects) But.....once again, the Planet of the Apes franchise reboot, which is pioneering the art of motion capture right now, walks away without a visual effects award for its efforts. How has that trilogy gone 0 for 3 at the Oscars?? It's mind-boggling to me. Then again I thought Dunkirk had the best visual effects of 2017, so what do I know right?
There's really not much else to say about this year's Oscars. It was just kind of there, and overall it was pretty boring. It was the lowest watched Oscars ever, and frankly I can understand why. However, I'm excited about the future of the business in Hollywood. The year's list of nominees were awesome, and they'll continue to get better. Someone like Greta Gerwig may have walked away empty-handed this year, but there's no doubt she'll be back. As will people like Timothée Chalamet, Daniel Kaluuya, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Morrison, Johnny Greenwood, and Kumail Nanjiani/Emily V. Gordon. They all represent a new wave of talent in Hollywood that the industry hasn't seen in a while. They may not have had their talents recognized this year, but as time goes on this new wave that represents acceptance and diversity and bold new ideas will start to outnumber the old farts that have sat comfortably in their seats of power, voting for the easy and predictable choices for these categories, for years. There's no doubt in my mind that the east wind of new Hollywood is upon us. It's time to bundle up, Academy.
My Number: 4/10
And with that, another year comes to a close. It's been a wild ride here at Enter the Movies. Overall, I felt like 2017 was the strongest year I've seen for film since I started my blog in 2013. I'll be thinking about films like Phantom Thread, I, Tonya, Dunkirk, Call Me by Your Name, and Lady Bird for years to come. As for right now, though, it's about 1:30 AM on the east coast (it doesn't sound as dramatic when I remind you that it's merely 10:30 PM in Vegas. Don't forget I write this immediately following the Oscars ceremony) so my most immediate thought is about how nice this bed I've been leaning on for the better part of 2 hours looks. So, once again, thank you SO MUCH for joining me on this wild ride, friends. Can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. DEUCES!
https://media.giphy.com/media/3o6Zt59VpAzKf1r7zi/giphy.gif (Greta Gerwig gif)
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