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February 26, 2007

Oscar Night

I should probably start this post by admitting that I didn't actually watch the Oscars last night. In fact, I haven't watched them since 2003, not for any good reason, just because David and I can't watch television at home, and I haven't had an invitation to watch them anywhere else. In 2003 I was at my friend Christina's in New York visiting grad schools, so I watched with her. In 2005 I was in London on Oscar night and wasn't about to stay up all night to start watching at 1am. This year I actually did have an invitation: my friend Allison had an Oscar party, which I missed for three reasons:

  1. The lateness of the hour. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I always forget that the Oscars start three hours later here than they do there. I was totally geeked to go to Allison's until I found out that the ceremony wouldn't even be starting until 8pm. On a work night.
  2. The weather. It had snowed quite a bit on Saturday night, and they were predicting more snow and freezing rain on Sunday night, so staying in seemed the safest option.
  3. General lameness. This is really just a summary of the first two reasons. I'm embarrassed to have even listed them because they make me sound like I'm about 80 years old, which I'm not, though I guess sometimes I act like I am.

In absentia, I was rooting for Little Miss Sunshine. David, on the other hand, doesn't "root" for the Oscars. He goes totally crazy over college football, but somehow can't get behind giving awards for movies. As an erstwhile Angelina, in my family, the Oscars are the Super Bowl. I reminded David that my mom was a good sport when she was here for the Rose Bowl (yes, she came from Pasadena to Ann Arbor and watched it with us on television), rooting for UM against USC, but he still couldn't quite bring himself to express support for Little Miss Sunshine.

This morning, however, when we heard on NPR that The Departed had won Best Picture, we were both a bit surprised. David thinks it was awarded as a recognition of lifetime achievement for Martin Scorsese because, while we both liked it, it wasn't that good. Certainly not better than Little Miss Sunshine! We were both pleased that Forrest Whitaker won Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland and, of course, bummed that Abigail Breslin didn't win Best Supporting Actress for Little Miss Sunshine.

We were also both disappointed that they didn't announce the winner for the Live Action Short Film category on NPR this morning. Granted, they didn't announce it because most people could care less about the short films, but David and I cared because we had actually seen them. On Saturday we joined our friends Josh and Sara at the Michigan Theater to watch the five Oscar-nominated short films. Some of them were really good -- Josh, Sara, and I liked The Saviour, while David's favorite was Eramos Pocos -- and a couple were pretty bad. We were all amused by West Bank Story, which did win the award. It was a hilarious musical takeoff of Westside Story, set at neighboring (and rivalrous) falafil stands on the West Bank: Kosher King and Hummus Hut. David predicted that it woud win because it would push all the right buttons among the Hollywood crowd, and he was right.

I was particularly bummed to have missed the Oscars this year because I had actually seen so many of the nominated movies. Maybe next year I'll be a little less lame. And maybe one of these years they will stop having the thing on Sunday nights!

Posted by eklanche at February 26, 2007 07:37 AM


"David doesn't 'root' for the Oscars," she quotes me as saying, and then goes on to blow my cover by reporting all of my predictions and favorites. OK, OK, I admit it. I was rooting for Little Miss Sunshine too. As far as Scorsese movies go, even "Cape Fear" was better than "The Departed."

Posted by: dmerch at February 26, 2007 08:49 AM

I'm sure you're right about Scorsese. Allison kept saying last night that she hoped he'd win just so we wouldn't have to keep hearing about how he hadn't before. I was wondering at the end of the night whether I ought to see Departed, but David has convinced me I don't. I was guessing West Bank Story, but Josh was sure it'd be Bindi. I still liked Saviour best, but politics trumped artistry, I guess.

It was treacherous driving out there last night....I wish spring would come already.

Posted by: sbfirst at February 26, 2007 10:41 AM

Much as I love movies, I have to admit that there's no industry so bent on self-congratulation as the entertainment industry. Back in the day, we had only three awards: the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Tonys. Now, we've got the Golden Globes, the People's Choice Awards, the Spirit Awards, the VH1 Awards, the SAG Awards, the BAFTA Awards, the New York (and Los Angeles) Film Critics Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and so on and so on. Of all these new ersatz awards, the only one with any real significance is the Golden Raspberry Awards "celebrating" the year's worst films and performances ("Basic Instinct 2" swept all the major categories, I'm happy to report). At least it serves a sort of mild corrective for an industry, many of whose members are already quite well compensated for their labors, that has developed a serious OCD over passing out statuettes.

Besides, its all marketing anyways - the studio moguls created the Oscars in 1927 simply in order to promote their films and generate additional revenue with re-releases. And its all rigged to boot. Wasn't it a bit strange that Coppola, Lucas, and Spielberg were all there to present the Best Director award to their colleague, Martin Scorsese? Do you really think *all three* would've agreed to be up there if there was any inkling that Inarrtu or even Stephen Frears might win? Its quite savvy - you spend 6 weeks generating lots of useless speculation - but, in the end, you give the audience what they want: a long-neglected director finally gets his due surrounded by all his esteemed colleagues; the "American Idol" second-placer gets a Best Supporting Actress award handed to her by none other than George Clooney; and all the talented technicians, editors, art designers get even less speaking time than before in order to allow a fifth-rate comedian one last chance to revive her career through a series of insipid routines as the putative host (photographing herself with Clint Eastwood? handing a script to Scorsese? vaccuuming in front of PĂ©nelope Cruz?) I hope next year they get Seinfeld to host the damn thing - his two-minute routine before awarding "An Inconvenient Truth" the Best Documentary Award was the highlight of the evening.

Yes, the more the Oscars resemble a train wreck, the more I love them. At least you can argue over the winners the next day: seriously Dave do you *really* think "Cape Fear" was better than "The Departed?"

Posted by: khgarner at February 26, 2007 11:48 AM

The Oscars may be rigged, Hollywood might be filled with self-congratulatory millionaires who make themselves feel less guilty by cozying up to liberal democrats and "greening" their awards ceremony rather than changing the inherently elitist structure of their own industry, BUT I am a sucker for what they're selling. I love movies. I love their power to move people, to convey emotion with an image or a smart turn of phrase. And though I don't find every film year equally exciting, when it comes to the Oscars I think there's something to be appreciated about all that vision and creativity gathered together in one room. There are a lot of negative things to be said about the Hollywood elite but you can't deny that many of the narcissists are also very freakin' talented. Or maybe I just have a weakness for artists.

As for The Little Miss Sunshine vs. The Departed debate: I own and love my copy of Little Miss Sunshine and I've seen The Queen three or four times already, but I think that The Departed was the most brilliant of all the Best Picture contenders, including Babel. I'm not Scorsese's biggest fan and I haven't seen all of his movies, but out of the ones I've seen, The Departed was my favorite. The entire cast gave great performances, the writing was some of the best I've ever heard, and the plot was gripping and complex. Even Scorsese said that it was the only film he's made that had a real plot. If he didn't deserve the award this year, then he never deserved it.

Tiffany (peeking in on Emily's blog)

Posted by: tdmcclai at February 28, 2007 12:10 AM

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