Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happy Oscars to all and to all a good night!

Now that it's been a couple days and I've had some actual sleep, perhaps I can be more coherent about the Oscars. Then again, maybe not. Well, I always say, a little rambling incoherence never hurt anybody.

It has come to my attention that some of my friends think I'm disappointed in this year's Academy Awards. Au contraire! I loved them! I hearted them majorly! Sure, it would have been nice if Adriana Barraza had pulled a Marcia Gay Harden, but I wasn't really expecting that on any level. Nor was I really expecting Leonardo DiCaprio to upset Forest Whitaker. I was just happy Leo was nominated for Blood Diamond; that, in my opinion, was one of the Academy's few rational responses to The Departed.

And on that note, don't get me wrong about The Departed, either. I am overjoyed for Martin Scorsese, and I'm not all that upset about it winning Best Picture. I just don't think it WAS the Best Picture. But that's never stopped a film from winning before, if the mood was right. I do wish that Babel would have won that category as well as the one it almost always pulls along with it, provided the Best Picture winner is nominated in both, and that's Film Editing, but I gave up the fantasy relatively early in the evening. (And I MIGHT have still had a chance in the Oscar pool had I trusted my love for the wonderfully witty and touching The Lives of Others and not thought Pan's Labyrinth would inevitably triumph in the foreign film category.)

Adapted screenplay, now that irks me a bit. Notes on a Scandal was a phenomenal screenplay (the best thing about Notes, I daresay) and I actually thought it might win, but other than that, there wasn't much competition. Borat? I personally would have been OK with that, because I'm the one who insists that movie was way more scripted than most people believe. Children of Men? Visionary, bizarre, unsettling, but not so much because of the screenplay. (And, hello, how much does Michael Caine rule? Seriously. I also just watched him in The Prestige...more on that later...) As for the Little Children, ugh. Some "adaptation"--wasn't it largely voiceover of paragraphs from Perrotta's book? Leaving Notes... aside, the real problem with this category wasn't The Departed's win, but that Thank You For Smoking wasn't nominated.

Now let's get to Melissa for a second, by way of Leo. Leo DiCaprio and Al Gore, side by side, bringing me joy. Could I have predicted this moment? No, but what a gem it was. I just love that Al Gore was all over the Oscars. It's so in-your-face to Bush, if one wants to take it that way, which I certainly do. And yet, it's also not about that, because as Melissa Etheridge (and Al) pointed out, global warming and the related issue of our disastrous energy policies are neither a Republican nor a Democrat issue, but a human issue.

While we're reflecting on Melissa's speech, which is officially my Favorite Oscar Speech By a Lesbian With Guitar, can I just point out that she thanked her wife, and no one batted an eyelash? I love it. Remember all the whoop-te-do back in the early 1990s when such a big mainstream star Tom Hanks dared to play gay and get an Oscar for it(Philadelphia)? I like progress. Which, coincidentally, was also her theme, that progress and hope are possible and real. She is so triumphant! Go, Melissa, go!

Actually, here's an interesting point to ponder/debate. A cursory Internet search has shown me that some people out there did in fact bat an eyelash, so maybe my perception of no one being bothered by that comment was influenced by my being in New York City, surrounded by film-loving twenty- and thirty-somethings at an Oscar party in Park Slope. A friend from Middle America texted me the next day that he'd be more impressed when that comment got no upset reaction in Kansas. Well, Kansas? How did it play there? Are you proud of your hometown girl, or did you throw bloody diamonds at your TV and cry, "Silly woman, wives are for men!"

I don't think An Inconvenient Truth was the best documentary. I think it was a great science lecture, but so not a film. I thought Who Killed the Electric Car? was the far superior film of the year with regards to our willful disregard of the destruction our oil consumption brings, but that wasn't even nominated, shockingly. As for the nominees, I was a true believer in Jesus Camp, and I thought for sure anyone who had seen it would feel the same. I thought it was sure to be like 2004, when everyone was all about Super Size Me, but only until they saw Born Into Brothels. I really thought Jesus was going to triumph like the Brothels did. Alas, no.

As for "too long," I will never say those words about the Oscar broadcast, because I love it. I always want it to last a long time. I want to revel in it and luxuriate in the wit and the speeches and the surprises and the tension and the seat fillers and the whole thing. But even for the less enlightened folk who think it should end in time for them to watch their 10 o'clock news or whatever, come on! This production was awesome! And Ellen is my hero. Her bits with Scorsese (giving him a script) and Eastwood (having Spielberg take a picture of them "for Myspace") were genius. Tom Hanks is a genius ("You bet, Chris. More fun!" as he escorted Valium-laden William Monahan off the stage) and Emily Blunt/Anne Hathaway playing their characters as to who-got-Meryl's-coffee? were fun, too. And can we talk about Clint Eastwood presenting Ennio Morricone's award and translating -- sort of -- his speech? And Scorsese asking his trio of director presenters to "double check the envelope"...I love it! I love it all!

Ahhhh, there was just so much goodness. It was a good, good year. The New York Times the next day said, among other things, "Oscar night is the new Christmas." They didn't really mean it in an entirely flattering way, throwing around other words like "bloated," I believe. But I stand by that statement, and I mean it in a fantastic way. The anticipation...the prizes...the wonder and awe...the spectacle and decoration...it was even red AND GREEN this year!

Before I go, back to Babel for one (figurative) second. I urge you to do yourselves a favor and watch this film (now on DVD) (need I say it? really? OK, here: Netflix). It's challenging, it's disturbing, and it captures humanity's capacity for redemption and transcendence. All those words are true on about five different levels, too. Gustavo Santaolalla won Best Original Score for that film's music, and I rejoice in that choice. His was an overlooked speech, but he said something quite nice in it: "In our soul rests, I think, our own true identity, beyond languages, countries, races, and religions."

Viva Oscar!


Brian said...

Don't you forget to mention the unmistakable genius of Messrs. Ferrell, Black, and Reilly that was showcased in their delightful song and dance number - they should have an annual act in the production.

linda said...

Glorious! Ooooh, I'm tingling just imagining them having an annual act. Hey, only about 360 shopping days until the next Oscars...