February 1, 2007

Oscar The Grouch

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America’s most beloved tradition involving gilded naked men has heralded the season of glamorous self-congratulation since 1927. Many non-entertainment business followers do not know the other side of Oscar, the bronzed, well-sculpted backside: in and around the Los Angeles Mecca of movies, there are shady, smoke-filled rooms that the fat cats (literally in the case of the Harvey and Bob Weinstein) use to peddle their contenders in order to make some bank come nomination season with cinematic dilettantes like us college students.

If that’s not enough to get your panties all in a bunch, unlike all the myriad other awards season ceremonies and back-patting brigades, the Oscars do not have a clear electorate. The Screen Actors’ Guild, Directors’ Guild, and Writers’ Guild, most notably, have members of their own voting on compatible categories. The Golden Globes employs the supposed experts of the foreign press to kick off the awards extravaganzas. And Oscar? Who even knows? The makeup artist from Men in Black probably voted for whatever three movies she saw this year. Nobody regulates the votes with screenings nor do they categorize the votes by area of expertise. Which leads to the inevitable Oscar handout to whichever movie rules the box office in a given year, or every so often to the big name director with the “itty bitty blockbuster that could.”

Best Picture
The big controversy of 2006, of course, is the lack of respect for the seeming shoe-in Dreamgirls. Though the critics and the audiences generally concurred that this pic rollicked for a solid two onscreen hours, three cheers for the academy not picking the most overtly formulaic picture of last year’s bunch. After all, why not reward originality? If you want to follow the trend, and you make a good film, you’ll make money. But maybe it’s a good thing that it doesn’t guarantee you every accolade. Dreamgirls was the pre-nomination favorite to take home the coveted figurine, but now those producers will go home naked man-less.
On the other hand, Letters from Iwo Jima? Just because Clint Eastwood is old and got serious, it doesn’t mean you need to throw him an Oscar nod every time he steps up to the plate. Good picture, yes. Top 5 for the year? Another matter entirely.

Best Actor
Okay, here’s where the defense charges the field. STOP HATING ON LEO. Seriously, give the guy a break. First of all, if you didn’t see Blood Diamond, do that post haste. Then you’ll realize that the producers kind of a little bit made a big fat glaring mistake by splicing the worst clips of the whole film together for the trailers. Leo is getting tons of crap for his fake-sounding accent, when in actuality he blended in superbly with the authentic South Africans. He DOES deserve this nomination. He won’t get the award; they might as well just announce Forest Whitaker already has it on his mantelpiece. But go see Blood Diamond and then shut the hell up.

On another note, is the mysterious Academy electorate the inhabitants of the Santa Monica Center for the Old and Feeble of Humor? Why do they consistently overlook comedic excellence? No one inhabited a role better than Sacha Baron Cohen, and that’s the undeniable truth. Someone needs to tear gas the Academy with nitrous oxide.

Best Actress
Meryl Steep and Judi Dench: the perennial copouts of the tuxedoed masses. If you see their names in the nominations, you know that the female acting awards were decided on towards the end of the workday (right before their 11 a.m. tee off times) and the nominators just didn’t care to contemplate the existence of other actresses.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress
The thinly-veiled sideshow of the Academy. To cover up their tracks on having bestowed nominations on the most predictable of actors for the major awards, the Academy shoves the names of every extraordinarily old or young actor in to a hat, sprinkles in names of minority actors, throws in at least a few no-name (better if they’re physically unattractive) actors, shakes it around a little, and pulls out ten names. For your consideration, this year’s nominees are pigeonholed into their respective categories: Alan Arkin (geezer,) Abigail Breslin (preteen,) Jackie Earle Haley (who? …Man, he’s beat) Djimon Hounsou, Eddie Murphy, Adriana Barraza, Jennifer Hudson, and Rinko Kikuchi (“diverse.”) Hey, throw in Marky Mark Wahlberg for some reformed beefcake spice and you’ve got yourself some entertainment!

Best Director
Give it to Marty.