Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Oscars 2005: It’s All Over But the Cryin’

Posted by CinemaPsycho on March 1, 2005

I’ll skip the preamble and get right to my random thoughts:

Who the hell does Martin Scorsese have to blow to get himself an Oscar? Seriously, man. I thought the poor guy actually had a shot this year, but that may have been wishful thinking on my part. I was hoping they’d just …give it to him! You know, I like Eastwood, loved Million Dollar Baby, and I can’t say it’s an undeserving film. But I honestly think that, in the years to come, The Aviator will be recognized as the superior film. Just like Raging Bull is now considered better than Ordinary People (another film that I actually like quite a bit) and GoodFellas is practically film canon whereas Dances with Wolves is all but forgotten (again, liked it too, but come on). The same thing’s going to happen here, I’m sure of it, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Give it 5 or 10 years, and people are going to wake up and go, “hey, Marty was robbed! Dammit!” I really admire Million Dollar Baby, but I think it’s one of those films I won’t feel the urge to revisit time and time again throughout the years. Especially with that trick ending, once you’ve seen it…you’ve seen it. The Aviator, on the other hand, if the DVD came out tomorrow I could watch it again. Just my opinion. But at least he didn’t lose to, you know, Spanglish or something.

OK, we all know Sideways had no shot at Best Picture or Director. Didn’t expect it to. But I was really hoping they’d throw it a bone here and there and maybe give Virginia Madsen and/or Thomas Haden Church a nod. Again, wishful thinking, and I certainly can’t say Blanchett and Freeman weren’t deserving. In the end, Sideways got nothing but Best Adapted Screenplay – exactly what I predicted it would. Go figure. At least “the girl from Candyman” and “the handyman from Wings” now have careers again. Good for them.

I didn’t even realize Morgan Freeman had never won an Oscar before. Funny, I guess I’d just assumed he’d gotten something by now! Some film geek I am, huh?

I think Chris Rock is a brilliant stand-up comic, but as an Academy Awards host he was mediocre at best. His opening monologue wasn’t bad, but he just got more and more grating as the show went on. OK Chris, you’re black…we get it. A lot of his routines showed a startling hypocrisy and ignorance of the movie industry. It’s one thing to make jokes about how lousy movies for black audiences generally are (“Barbershop, that’s not a movie, that’s a location”) – point taken. But then he turns around and does that segment from the Magic Johnson Theater where he interviews “average moviegoers” who haven’t seen any of the nominated films. Never mind that he essentially spit in the face of every nominated person in the audience (people would rather watch crap like White Chicks than the great work you’ve done). If anything, that segment just revealed what mindless sheep most of the general moviegoing audience (black and white) truly are. Of course these people haven’t seen Sideways or Finding Neverland – those movies don’t have black comedians in drag or rappers flying airplanes. Chris, if you want better movies for black audiences and better parts for black actors, tell those people to stop buying tickets to obvious crap. They’re the problem, not Hollywood. Better yet, buy them all tickets to see Hotel Rwanda – you can afford it. That would’ve been a great way to end that segment, actually.

Look, it’s one thing to take playful jabs at the industry – that’s expected. But do it with some taste and class, for God’s sake. And try to sound like you know what the hell you’re talking about. Yeah, Jude Law is no Clint Eastwood, but Chris Rock is no Johnny Carson, OK? Let’s get real. Rock is more suitable to host something like the MTV Video Music Awards or maybe even the Grammys. That’s his element. They only hired him because they wanted “the kids” to watch. So if you want to lower the demographics (but not the standards) how about someone like Jon Stewart or Will Ferrell next year? They can rein it in and still be consistently amusing. I’ll give Rock a little credit though – he was better than Whoopi. Then again, Jar Jar Binks would be better than Whoopi.

I’m not saying at all that Jamie Foxx didn’t deserve his award (hell, I would’ve given it to him for Collateral), but I have to wonder if Don Cheadle would’ve gotten the same kind of support if Foxx hadn’t been nominated. Let’s be honest here – Foxx’s win is a victory for Jamie Foxx, and maybe his agent and publicist. No one else. He wasn’t the first black actor to win in that category, and he won’t be the last. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with black actors being nominated. My problem is with the black pseudo-celebrity sycophants like Oprah, Star Jones and even Spike “I wish I were Scorsese” Lee, who insist that a black actor MUST win if nominated, or else all black people everywhere are being “robbed”. I can’t wait until an Asian-American, a Hispanic-American, a Filipino-American, an Indian-American and even a Native American finally win some acting Oscars, so we can all just get over ourselves and focus on who gave the best performance. Did we hear a collective cheer from poor white people who live in trailer parks when Hilary Swank won? No? Didn’t think so. It’s really too bad that the great Don Cheadle’s nomination was completely ignored by the media while they tripped all over themselves to congratulate Foxx months in advance. Maybe next year, Don. If Tommy Davidson doesn’t get there first.

Making the nominees line up on stage like a second-rate beauty pageant just SUCKS. Announcing the winners from the middle of the audience and not letting them take the stage is even worse. The message here is obviously that some awards (and by extension, some jobs) are more important than others. Screw that noise. I don’t care if it “moves the show along”; the awards are the whole point of the damn thing. Notice that they don’t make the actors get herded like cattle – they’re more important than the people who actually WORK on films, right? The Academy apparently thinks that the audience can’t be bothered to spend a goddamn minute watching the “little people” without whom the industry wouldn’t exist. God forbid. Maybe some people don’t care about who wins Best Animated Short Subject or Best Costume Design – but why are those people watching the Oscars anyway? These artists have worked their whole lives to be where they are. Let them have their moment in the sun, god damn it. Is this about celebrating excellence in cinema or is it just another celebrity ass-kissing event? Make your minds up.

Speaking of celebrity ass-kissing, the half-hour “red carpet” show is a complete waste of time. Start the show at 8 and get things rolling – then maybe it won’t bother people so much if it runs a little long. Save the fashion show for the likes of Entertainment Tonight and the E! Channel. We can all see what people are wearing during the actual program. And if you actually care, I feel sorry for you.

I’ve never understood the need for the annual “tradition” of the pre-Oscar Baba Wawa special. Seriously, what sets this woman apart from all the other narcissistic, self-promoting celebrity journalists out there? I just don’t get it. No matter who she’s talking to, it’s all about her. When she kicks off, they’ll probably give her spot to Oprah, god help us all. I might feel differently if she were actually interviewing more than one of the nominated actors in any given year. I like Will Ferrell and Teri Hatcher, but what the hell do they have to do with this year’s Academy Awards?

Who elected Beyonce this year’s Oscar mascot? Why was she called upon to sing no less than 3 of the nominated songs? I’m sure the singers and musicians who actually PERFORMED on those songs would’ve been more than happy to be featured on the show. What, Minnie Driver isn’t “hip” enough for the MTV crowd, but Antonio Banderas is? Come on. Strangely enough, it seems Beyonce can actually sing – I can only wonder why that ability isn’t reflected in her own music. And why was Puff Daddy even allowed in the building? What has he ever done that wasn’t direct thievery of someone else’s work and talent? Christ, I guess I should be happy that they didn’t ask Paris Hilton to introduce Best Cinematography. (There’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’m not going near it. I have a little too much self-respect.)

Am I the only one who grasped that Sean Penn was trying to take the opportunity to pay a compliment to Jude Law, his co-star in the upcoming All the Kings’ Men? Misguided as it may have been at the time. OK, maybe Penn really doesn’t have a sense of humor, but I thought Rock embarrassed himself much more than he did. “My accountants want to talk to you?” That doesn’t even make any fucking sense. Penn was just trying to pay someone some respect, and picked the wrong time to do so. Let’s get over it.

I honestly believe that the audience should hold their applause during the “death list” until the end. I think it’s really offensive that the most famous actors get the most vocal appreciation upon their passing, while the “little people” who worked in the industry get stony silence. Once again, some people are just more important than others, right? Only Hollywood can turn even death into a popularity contest. Why can’t they hold off for a goddamn minute and then give everyone their deserved applause? Sometimes I’m really, really glad I don’t work in the entertainment industry.

Overall, I thought the show was pretty lousy, but it has nothing to do with the awards themselves and who won them. See, I’m old enough that I remember when the Oscars used to really mean something. They weren’t just another awards show – they were THE awards show. It’s not supposed to be about demographics and star-fucking. The Oscars used to be about celebrating excellence, and doing so with class, elegance and most of all, respect. It seems like those elements have been slowly eroding as time goes on, and that’s a really sad state of affairs.

I don’t give a flying fuck if the show takes 4 hours and bores the audience to tears. It’s not about “the kids”, goddammit – it’s about the nominees and the films. It’s THEIR special night, and they deserve to be treated with a lot more respect than they were given this year. Everything about the show, from the host to the presentation to the lack of reverence, practically screamed, “Nobody cares, and why the hell should they!” I’m not saying the Oscar shows have ever been perfect. But I really, really miss the days when the film industry, at least for one night, seemed to actually give a damn about quality. Maybe they still do, but it sure as hell wasn’t reflected in that show.

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