25 February 2007

It'll Be A Tragedy! (Unless It Happens During A Dance Number)

UPDATE: 11:42pm Sunday: Oh my God, it's endless.... Midnight's almost here, and they still haven't done any of the top four awards.

UPPERDATE: 12:20am Monday: O'Toole lost; the graceless churls. Especially since Whitaker won for a supporting performance only slightly larger than Alan Arkin's. Go figure. Pfft. Something should have blown up during a dance number-- or one of those annoying tableau-silhouettes.


Chances are, millions of people tonight will be wearing down their remotes, alternating between their preferred Sunday programming and catching bits of the Oscars during the commercials. It's seldom the other way around, else households everywhere would end up re-enacting Beckett, clodding and mugging about and saying, We're waiting for Best Actor! ("What do you expect, you always wait till the last moment.") I've already made my speculations about how things will turn out, and there's little I'd add to them, except these points I'd make to contradict some of the faux-buzz out there:
  • Little Miss Sunshine and Babel are not going to win Best Picture. Babel won't win because it looks too much like Important-Oscar-Movie, and because of the Crash-backlash from last year. The Academy won't want to look entirely awash in liberal seriousness. Little Miss won't win for a completely different reason. It's an indie film (relatively) and indie films just don't win the top prize; they never have. Check the history and then modify whatever wagers you've made accordingly.

  • Apparently Best Director will be presented by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. Translation: Scorcese has this sewn up tighter than William Shatner's girdle. The optic is crafted: to put the four most influential American directors of their generation on the same stage at once. It's going to be Scorcese's formal investiture into the ranks of the Great. Or, in Scorcesean terms, he's gonna get Made.
But, in case all of my conjecture goes balls-up, I thought I'd remind some of you of some of the most mystifying, and sometimes most infuriating, Award winners. Some of these are just enough to remind you how wide-of-the-mark the Academy can be, especially when sentiment gets the better of it:
  • 1941: How Green Was My Valley defeats both Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon. You tell me how that happens.
  • 1951: A Streetcar Named Desire, with a Brando performance people are still aping fifty-plus years later, loses. To An American In Paris, no less.
  • 1952: Cecil B. DeMille's dreadful circus epic The Greatest Show on Earth defeats High Noon.
  • 1964: My Fair Lady inexplicably defeats Dr Strangelove --- and Mary Poppins.
  • 1968: Oliver! begs a little more than Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and The Lion In Winter. And 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn't even get nominated.
  • 1976: Rocky defeats Taxi Driver, All The President's Men and Network.
  • 1977: For all its flaws, its pure invention and scope seemed to have Star Wars as a lock. It lost to, of all things, Annie Hall. Marshall McLuhan might have said something interesting about that.
  • 1979: Kramer vs Kramer defeats Apocalypse Now. And Dustin Hoffman wins Best Actor.
  • 1988: Rain Man defeats Mississippi Burning and Dangerous Liaisons. And Dustin Hoffman wins Best Actor. Hmmm.
  • 1990: Dances With Wolves defeats Goodfellas. You know the Academy still regrets that decision.
  • 1994: Much as I loathe it personally, Pulp Fiction's loss to Forrest fucking Gump still pisses a lot of people off. Rightly.
  • 1998: Shakespeare in Love denies Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.
  • 2000: Gladiator slays Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Traffic.
  • 2005: Crash wins.
Never underestimate the Academy's capacity to get it All Wrong. But take all this, as the saying goes, For Your Consideration. Me? Maybe I'll watch Naked Gun 33 1/3 tonight. The real Oscars would be so much more entertaining if they had Leslie Nielsen barfing into a tuba.


Paul said...

Please do yourself a mixed-blessing favour and go see Blood Diamond which is so terrible, in the Biblical, sense that no one mentions it. The diamond companies have an inapprehensible influence in this matter, I'm sure, rewarding the portrayal of a megalomaniac African dictator, and brushing a revelatory epic tragedy under the red carpet.

Dr J said...

Hi Paul,

I did see Blood Diamond, and was generally quite impressed by it. Don't know about any sort of diamond cartel influence regarding the awards, but it's certainly not beyond the pale; after all, those actresses have to get their loaner-jewels from somewhere....


Dr J said...

P.S. Forgot to respond to your "Just One Book" list a bit ago. My apologies. I have done so now. Cheers.

RK said...

’41 – a year for Serious, not Smartass.
’51 and ’52 – people wanted Entertainment. The war was over, everyone wondered if WW3 was going to start any moment, Korea had started: cheer me up!
’64 – My Fair Lady is more fun than Dr Strangelove, Audrey H (though she couldn’t do Cockney to save her life) is prettier than Peter Sellers, and Rex Harrison and Wilfred Hyde-White are much, much better than Slim Pickens.
’68 was a very odd year, in life as in Oscar.
’76 and ‘77 – see ’51 and ’52. Vietnam was finally over.
’79 – Apocalypse Now is one of the most truly horrible movies I’ve seen. It’s genuinely obscene.
’88 – every now and then Hollywood gets the Sundance virus.
’90 – I wasn’t crazy about DWW, but Goodfellas was, and is even more now, a hideously overrated film. Also, see ’88.
’94 – you can’t have it both ways. Having fought off the Sundance virus, they laureated what I thought was a lovely little spoof and sendup [NB: not a satire!], the whole of which is explained by its title.
’98 – not a word, not a single word, against SIL. Joyous, funny, ecstatically Paltrovian and stuffed with Stoppard. And even doe-eyed Joe for once managed to act. A separate bit-part Oscar should have gone to John Webster.
2000 – see ’68.
’05 – haven’t seen, so can’t say.

I never, never watch the Oscars.

Dr J said...

41: Serious not Smartass, then it goes to a movie with Greer Garson and Roddy McDowall? Natch!
51-2: DeMille made anyone cheer up? And Leslie Caron? Oh my.
64: Love Rex and Wilfrid, but the movie was for 12 year-old girls. George C Scott and Sterling Hayden win any day; there was much more fun in the war room.
68: No kidding. I was minus 5.
76 and 77: Exactly why Star Wars should have won, theoretically. But Network?!?! C'mon, RK, you have to love that movie if only for Peter Finch's hysteria.
88: Sundance or Hoffman virus? Or, "watch how Tom Cruise does the movie he's going to do for the rest of his forking life."
90: Oh, RK, how we disagree. LOVE Goodfellas. It entirely redefined the generic template.
94: Gump was hackneyed, manipulative, and sufficiently sucrose to cause epileptic seizures. You saw spoof, I saw annoying series of gimmicks.
98: I'll worship SIL this side of Stoppardatry, adoring the wit as I junk the triter chunks (including Gwyneth, and 70% of the romance).
00: Ok. This should have been Ang Lee's year.
05: Anything deserved to win against Crash. Even Cannonball Run Redux: One Last Dollar, Please.

I only half-watch the ceremonies themselves, and do the math later. You did, however, miss a few good moments this year, including a song by Will Ferrell and friends about going home with Helen Mirren. Will post it here when it comes up on youtube.

sylvia said...

I conked out pretty early on (about 11:30, I think) -- you don't get to sleep in on Sundays when you have a four-year-old, and I was knackered. DH and I had seen not a single movie (OK, OK, I exaggerate: he had taken Miss Turkey Strudel to see both Happy Feet and Cars), yet he (weirdly, creepily) managed correct predictions at a rate of something over 85%.

What I did see was profoundly uninspiring, except for the Helen Mirren song, which inspired me so much I very nearly wet my knickers (as Helen Mirren might say if she were really, really drunk).

I also noticed that long, straight blonde hair is In.

Vixen said...


Here's the link to the comedy number mentioned. I agree, it was one of the few redeeming points this year. Although I liked the fact that a movie named "West Bank Story" was nominated.

sylvia said...

Although I liked the fact that a movie named "West Bank Story" was nominated.

And won its category yet!!

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