So the Oscars are over and, as expected, it was nobody’s night. Awards were distributed evenly, which confuses news organizations and reporters because they love to splash across their headlines “IT WAS MOVIE X’S NIGHT!” Gravity won some. 12 Years won some. But nobody dominated. Were there surprises? You bet. American Hustle didn’t win a single award! And Barbrie Fontuno lost for Best Documentary Animated Short for the third year in a row. When is that guy going to finally get his statue!?
Which reminds me… Poor Leo continues to sit in the loser’s chair, despite playing more Oscar-friendly roles than any other actor in town and working with the best directors in the business. I don’t know what it is about Leo. He’s a good actor, but I don’t know if he’s a great one. He commands the screen. But there’s something in the back of his delivery that makes you aware that he’s acting. If he can figure out how to overcome that, the little golden statue may yet be his one day.
I was shocked that after Cate Blanchett won for Best Actress (which I think she deserved) she thanked every single person on the planet EXCEPT for Woody Allen. I don’t know if that’s because she doesn’t like Woody Allen or she’s afraid to give credit to a media-appointed child molester and deal with the backlash. But by omitting his name from the acceptance speech, she’s probably going to draw more attention about the director than had she just said his name.
In the director category, there is really no question that Alfonso Cuaron deserved to win. I’ve loved his stuff ever since that Ethan Hawke one-take running shot in Great Expectations, and then those amazing super-takes he did in Children of Men. But with Gravity, he topped them all. I mean, if you’re freaking inventing shit to make your movie, you get the Oscar. This guy invented the technology to make this film. That’s pretty awesome.
Matthew McConaughey for the Best Actor win. This was one of the only shoe-ins of the night. If there’s one thing that’s clear about this win, it’s that if you’re a good looking actor who loses 50+ pounds to look really skinny in your role, you increase your Oscar chances by 80%. This is a KNOWN FACT, and seemed to work for co-star Jared Leto as well. I think Matt had one of the funnier speeches of the night. With his confidence and that southern drawl, you’re captivated and believe everything the guy’s saying. But if you really listened to Matt, you may have noticed he was just babbling a bunch of nonsense. Somebody you look forward to? Somebody to be on top of? Somebody to call your hero? What??? I think at the end, Matt told the world that his hero was himself. Which is pretty much Hollywood acting in a nutshell.
So what do I think of 12 Years A Slave winning best picture? Well first of all, I haven’t seen the film. Let’s start there. Why haven’t I seen it? Two reasons. First, I think Steve McQueen is a self-indulgent filmmaker who doesn’t care about story. He just wants to get in there, shoot, and play around with the actors. “Shame” is one of the most unneeded stories ever to be written. It was a complete waste of everybody’s time except maybe Michael Fassbender. After that debacle, I decided I was never again going to watch a Steve McQueen movie.
Second, from everything I’ve been told about the film, it’s as if it was created specifically so that I would hate it. It’s over the top. It’s depressing. It’s more history lesson than film. I don’t have anything bad to say about the people who like it. But I go to the movies to be entertained, at least on some level. And this film has no interest in entertaining. Yeah, I get it. Sometimes movies are meant to challenge you. But it seems like the message of this film is one I already know. Slavery was really really really bad. I mean, if you guys can convince me that there’s another reason to see this that I’m not considering, let me know. But I just don’t see myself excitedly sitting down to watch 12 Years A Slave with a bucket of popcorn any time soon.
Which brings us to the only thing that matters about the Oscars – the screenwriting categories! Now in my newsletter, despite not feeling like there were any true contenders, screenplays that we would look back at in 10 years and go, “Oh yeah, that was an amazing screenplay,” I thought I could pick the winners. In the Adaptation side, we had…
12 Years A Slave
Wolf of Wall Street
I knew Captain Phillips had no shot. It’s basically a bunch of shaky cam with a Somali pirate occasionally saying, “Look at me! I’m the Cap-tun now.” Wolf of Wall Street was a copy and paste job from the book. And Philomena was way too small of an idea. That left 12 Years A Slave and Before Midnight. Since I had not seen 12 Years A Slave, I was making an educated guess. But from what I’ve been told, 12 Years A Slave was all about the acting and the directing. Of those three elements, the screenwriting was supposedly the least impressive of the group. On the flip side, Richard Linklater is known for being a kick-ass screenwriter, with the industry adoring the fact that Julie Delpy pitches in and helps write these “Before” movies. So I thought the Oscar would go to Before Midnight. But alas, 12 Years a Slave won.
But! The story is not over. For those of you conspiracy theorists, you may have heard a few days ago that Julie Delpy RAILED on the Academy, calling them a bunch of old white men who hadn’t done anything in forever, and who therefore needed money. So to win an Academy award, all you had to do was slip them some “presents” and you had their vote. She then went on to say that she could give two shits about Hollywood and the Academy and that she thinks almost everything that Hollywood makes sucks.
Wowzers! This is why I’ve always kept Mrs. Delpy an arm’s length away. You can see that, sort of, contained rage behind her eyes. You get the feeling that she just hates everyone and doesn’t appreciate what she has or the chances she’s been given. I think that’s why she was never really accepted into the Hollywood community. But either way, even though that only happened a few days ago, after the voting was in, I would not put it beyond the Academy to change some votes around to avoid this vitriolic woman coming up on stage and calling all of its members elitist criminals. So she may have done herself in and prevented herself from the opportunity to make a few more personal indie movies.
That leaves us with the Original Screenplay Nominees…
Dallas Buyers Club
I thought this race was between American Hustle and Blue Jasmine, both of which, I believe, were better screenplays than Her. American Hustle had a weird story and took chances, mixing humor with drama in a way that was unpredictable and entertaining. It was not only different (which is easy to do), but it executed its “different” approach almost flawlessly (which isn’t easy to do). Blue Jasmine was masterful in its character creation (this woman who was going nuts), in its situational setups (the repeatedly tough moments it placed its hero in), and then in its dialogue, which, with Woody Allen, is never stilted, always feels natural, and has that heightened lyrical quality to it, almost like you’re listening to two characters take part in an aural dance.
But upon reflection, I understand why Her won. It took the biggest chance of all. It created a romantic comedy without one of the key components of the genre – the girl! I mean, sure, there’s a girl, but we only hear her voice. To pull that off for an entire movie and keep us interested is a magic act. I just didn’t think Spike NAILED it, which is why I didn’t think it would win. But in a year of weak contenders, I guess a lot of people thought it was unique, and that was enough to elevate it against some flat competition.
Oh, and finally, I thought Ellen was great. She’s an awesome host. I want to eat pizza with Ellen and take selfies with her. How bout you? How was your Oscar evening? Did your picks pan out?