Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Oscar season in full swing

It has been a few days since the Oscar nominations were announced. Let's check in and see where we are. (Oh, wait, you mean, you don't have regular check-ins with yourself to chart your progress during Oscar season? What's [not] wrong with you?)

On Thursday, when the nominations were announced, this is basically where I was at.  I had seen 13 out of 16 of the multiple nominees, missing only The Revenant, The Big Short, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, all of which I will surely see, but in good time as I do not like to see movies during their first couple of weeks because too popular = too crowded in the theater. Of the 13, here is my rough order of how much I enjoyed them: Steve Jobs, The Martian, Spotlight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Room, Ex Machina, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, Inside Out, The Danish Girl, Carol. Basically, the first ten I just listed were good, then Inside Out was fine (I can see its charms, absolutely, but just don't get quite as blown away as some do), and then The Danish Girl and Carol are both big ol' snooze fests that are completely self-aware as Oscar bait/overblown heavy-righteous themes but are partly saved by good performances, mostly from Alicia Vikander. Also, her wardrobe in The Danish Girl is pretty much the greatest and I want to steal every dress she wore and it should win for Costume Design. Other things that should win? Sicario for Cinematography. Can we just award that right now? So amazing. So well done. The second I walked out of that movie, several months ago, I said, "Cinematography Oscar." I just don't know how The Revenant will compete.

Of the single nominees, I had seen Joy, Trumbo, and Amy, and have since seen Creed (that is a whole lot of one-word titles; fun fact: the first names of the women but the last names of the men) and Cartel Land. No judgment from me yet about whether Amy or Cartel Land is better; they are two VERY different documentaries, but both do really well at depicting aspects of a situation without telling you what to think. Joy is overrated and Creed and Trumbo were both fine for what they were. Sylvester Stallone is on the almost-a-sure-thing track like The Revenant right now, though. I've got a bunch of the other one-off noms stacked in my Netflix queue and a few others, like 45 Years, Boy and the World, and a couple of the Foreigns are coming to some theaters around Chicago. And by the way, I would just like to gratefully acknowledge that right now I do have some major budget constraints but am luckily, very luckily, mightily luckily, able to have access to some gift cards/free movie tickets at several very awesome theatres, allowing me to see a bunch of flicks I would otherwise not be able to right now, for which I am profoundly grateful.

The shorts will be making their way to theaters as always, and I hope to get a chance to see those.

Really, I will end up being able to see everything, except Fifty Shades of Grey, which is nominated for one of its songs and which I will steadfastly make a point of not seeing.

Oscar complaints:
*Yes, they are so white. This is a problem. It's a pervasive problem in the industry, and I can't blame the Oscars for reflecting it. In fact, maybe we ought to be grateful to the Oscars for drawing attention to this problem when no one seems to pay attention to it during the rest of the year.
*Get it together, Supporting Actress category. Neither Alicia Vikander nor Rooney Mara belong there. Both played leading roles. Maybe you were thinking of Alicia V. in Ex Machina. Maybe you meant to put Charlize Theron from Mad Max: Fury Road...who was also kind of a lead, in a way...
*Keeping in mind that I haven't seen The Big Short and The Revenant yet, I look at the Directing category and think Danny Boyle for Steve Jobs should have been in there, maybe over Tom McCarthy?
*The score of Carol was so boring and derivative -- trying to imitate Philip Glass' awesome music from The Hours, were you? Sigh. I can appreciate the technical achievement of that movie but it just did not move me at all. And viscerally, I loathe it--I really can't stand that fetishizing of the 1950s and early 1960s. I just can't. It's why I don't enjoy things like his previous film Far From Heaven, or Happy Days, or Grease, or Mad Men. When I watch Mad Men I just get the howling fantods, and the feel of it, so similar to the feel of Carol, is why. Not my cup of tea.
Other comments:
*The Sound Editing category is full of amazing work.
*I had never heard of Racing Extinction before nomination day.
*The Foreign nominee from Jordan, Theeb, was actually playing near here in December the week before Christmas when I was swamped with work, holiday planning, Christmas, all that jazz. I had the flyer for it and wanted to see it but missed it. Have any of you had the chance to see it? It might be one of the few I don't see before Oscar night, waiting for Netflix to get it.

So, Oscar season is off to a great start. I'll check back in as I continue to work through it. What about you? What are your favorites so far?

No comments: