Arranged to have tonight off so I could watch the Oscars and maybe do a little live blogging, but I've got a feeling I'm going to wind up watching the second half of Oliver Twist on PBS---and I didn't much like the first half.
I'm sick and I'm grumpy and I want cheering up and it's been a long time since an Oscars broadcast cheered me up. When was the last time Billy Crystal hosted?
Doesn't help that I've only seen two of the movies nominated for Best Picture, Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon, none of the performances nominated for Best Actress, one for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Penelope Cruz in Vicky Crsitina Barcelona, which was a bad movie, and yes, I got the joke, it wasn't funny, made worse by Cruz's cliched performance), one for Best Actor (Frank Langella), and one for best Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger who should win it going away but not because he's gone away, which is why he's likely to win---if he hadn't died, he wouldn't have been nominated), and two of the movies that got their directors nominated for Best Director (Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon again. Didn't think Frost/Nixon was especially well-directed. But, hey, it's Ron Howard.) There have been years when I saw few of the nominees and still enjoyed the Oscars.
This year, though, instead of it being the case that I didn't have time to get to all the movies, it was the case that I didn't want to see most of them. This is the most joyless, earnest, and pedestrian group of nominees I can remember. Not an epic, not a comedy, not a happy movie in the lot, except Slumdog Millionaire, which hasn't fared well in my memory. It's beginning to feel phony.
When I say "happy" movie I don't mean a movie with a happy ending or a sunshiny story. I mean a movie that makes you happy to have seen it, a movie that makes you feel the fun the cast and filmmakers had making it.
Compare this year to last year when the Best Picture nominees included No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Juno, Atonement, and Michael Clayton. Three epics, a very original comedy, and good old fashioned thriller.
The year before the Best Picture nominees were Babel, The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima, The Queen, and Little Miss Sunshine.
These weren't all great movies, but, by God, man, they were movies!
Yeah and rock and roll has been all downhill since Buddy Holly died.
I am sure that all the ones I haven't seen---except for The Changeling---are good movies. But none of them struck me as great examples of movie making. They are issue movies and character movies, with lots of dialog and lots of acting. Movie stars are almost always at their most unbearable when they are acting. And whenever a movie is about the actors acting, the directing is usually a matter of pointing the camera and letting it roll.
When I watched the trailers for Milk, Doubt, The Reader, The Changeling, and Frost/Nixon, I had the impression that I wasn't being shown anything I couldn't have seen done and done better on television in the 1970s. Well, except for the parts of The Reader where Kate Winslett gets naked.
All I'm saying is that I have no rooting interests tonight. And, no, I'm not rooting for Melissa Leo just because she's been around and paid her dues and isn't it great that a non-glamorous real actress is getting the recognition she deserves.
But like I said, I'm sick and I'm grumpy. Tell me how wrong I am about all this.
8:33. Ok, Hugh Jackman's doing a great job of cheering me up.
And Anne Hathaway always cheers me up.
8:47: Penelope Cruz. Shows what I know.
8:54. No! I want to hear about Steve and Tina's invented religion!
But I like the script to scene clips.
Would have been a very different Oscar night if more of the Best Screenplay nominees had been Best Picture Nominees too.
9:04. Just a note, the thirteen year old is enjoying this Oscar show immensely. And Jack Black is one of his favorites!
Angelina is looking at Jennifer with such fondess.
Do you think Tina was falling in love with Steve? He probably knows the look.
9:16. Revolutionary Road nominated for art direction. "Which looked like anything but the prison it was." Yeah. The American suburbs in the 1950s. Proto-Gitmo.
9:23. The thirteen year old and I are officially united in rooting against Benjamin Button for anything.
9:25. Great. A salute to mush.
Were WALL-E and Eva and Bruce and Betty really the only true romantic couples in movies last year?
9:34. Ben Stiller's doing a better Joaquin Phoenix than Joaquin Phoenix did.
10:04. Josh Brolin doesn't need an Oscar. He's going home with Diane Lane.
10:09. Heath Ledger wins it. The thirteen year old is contented. He's off to bed.
10:22. Rob Farley makes me sorry I haven't seen The Wrestler.
10: 27. The thirteen year old came back downstairs to watch Will Smith give the award for Visual Effects to Iron Man or Dark Knight. He threw a pillow at the TV when Will gave it to Benjamin Button.
10:56. Where do the dancers who appear on the Oscars work the rest of the year?
Oh, come on, let the stars of Slumdog up there to do the final dance!
11:10. My least favorite part of the Oscars. The obit call. It levels every body and every achievement. Heston and Newman deserves 15 minutes all to themselves. Richard Widmark too.
11:22. Susie Bright's having more fun doing this than I am and has things to say. Plus she's joined our We Hate Benjamin Button Club.
The floating head montages are really spooky.
Also, this eulogizing the nominees by past winners has a bit of the attending one's own funeral feel to it.
Richard Jenkins was in Stepbrothers, Burn After Reading, and The Visitor last year. Now that's an actor's resume.
One of those Oscar mysteries we'll never know the answer to. Did Sean Penn win the Oscar or did Harvey Milk? And if it was Penn, did he win it for being good at playing a gay man, or did he win it for being a straight man playing a gay man? But that's like asking if Heath Ledger won for being great or for having died?
11:52. Slumdog Millionaire. The only happy movie won.