Monday, March 24, 2003

oscars 2003: mixed bag with thrills, spills and sour milk

Steve Martin is not a good choice for hosting the Oscars -- unless the Academy is looking for a goodie-goodie inoffensive personality who can at most get you to crack a smile (but mostly groans). My first complete before-the-TV Oscars in the US had some cool surprises and some rather unpleasant upsets (my P.O.V of course). Everytime Martin returned to the dias, I had to twiddle thumbs waiting for him to finish. The overall mood of the proceedings was rather funereal and subdued, contrasting the fact that this was the 75th anniversary of the industry's biggest moment of self-congratulation. Perhaps it was the war. Perhaps the war was just an excuse for people to pout and look glum. Except for the Chicago song, I liked the Best Song performances -- Paul Simon, U2 and most of all the song from Frida. If you count carefully, that's only 4 out of 5. The fifth nominee was Eminem's song from his acting début 8 Mile. Wonder if it was the lyrics or prior engagements that prevented this performance. But Mr Mathers capped it all by taking home the Best Song Oscar (ironically trouncing the musical Chicago). Michael Moore walked to the stage to a standing ovation when his name was called out for Best Documentary (Bowling for Columbine). He brought along his fellow nominees and then launched into a rant against George Bush that was met with applause and boos. Very brave: "We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons....[to Bush] anytime you've got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against ya, your time is up". Made my evening. And while Steve Martin's post-commercial break joke, "It was so sweet backstage. The teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo." was greeted by cheers from the crowd, a calm composure was going to be difficult for most. The technical awards weren't too surprising with Golem's creators for The Two Towers topping the category. The Pianist's winning the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay got me thinking about the TNR article that explored the liberties taken in the adaptation, but since I liked the movie (despite all the arguments against it and its maker), the minor detail didn't matter to me. Adrian Brody was IMHO the most pleasant surprise of the evening, when they called out his name for the Best Actor Oscar. A great acceptance speech, especially when he told the band to stop playing (a signal that the winner had to leave) saying he had only one shot at this. He noted the topicality of The Pianist and prayed for a friend of his who was in the war right. "Let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution," he said to a standing ovation. Mention of the war popped up in other speeches too, but Moore took the cake (at least my cake) for the most effective lashout. And thankfully there were only hopes for a swift resolution, and no gung-ho militant spiels. Peter O' Toole had the next great acceptance speech, as he accepted his Honorary Oscar (marking him as another nominee-but-never-a-winner who had to settle for this token). The British wit gave the proceedings something it really needed -- good humour. Roman Polanski won for Best Director and there was another standing ovation. Predictably he didn't show up (what with pressing charges of child molestation). Some news reports are sure to tout this as the biggest surprise (I'll get to my pick for that shortly), but I expected (and hoped) he would win. Besides, this gives the Academy another opportunity to take a politically safe (and seemingly strong) stand on art and politics. Pah! Kirk Douglas and son Michael Douglas (great pick) were joint presenters of the final Oscar of the evening -- the one for Best Picture. And this is where my dinner nearly hit back up at my Adam's Apple. While a lot of polls have indicated that Chicago was an expected (and often desired choice) I had hoped (ever so fervently) that the Academy and the industry would not indulge in childish self-congratulation at having revived a dead movie genre. I'm sure everyone associated with the film is glowing (the acceptance speech was tolerable, at best), and the film didn't do so badly, winning less than half (6 out of 13, yes I plead floating-point leeway) the awards it was nominated for. The Academy continued in its tradition of placating people who were snubbed in the nominations (getting the lead actor from Y Tu Mamá También to introduce the performance of Frida's Best Song entry) and also people who hadn't or wouldn't (Julianne Moore who suffered from two nominations in two different categories for roles that despite her strong performance could be clubbed as being the same) win. The deserving Ms Kidman and her nose (I must admit, I wanted Julianne Moore to win for Far From Heaven) echoed the confusion of the vastly wasted Ms Paltrow a few years ago. And I wonder if Sean Connery was attempting to make a fashion statement when he showed up underdressed to present the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. All in all, not a bad way to kill the waning hours of the day (the live retro introduction to past winners was long but had a few cool moments when you got to compare the present, immediate and distant pasts). The camera seemed to relish displaying Martin Scorsese discomfort (mostly) and happiness (as he applauded winners) -- Gangs of New York came up with nought yesterday night. Wonder if the great faux pas from the Weinsteins (aka Miramax, who also got a few jokes dedicated to them early on in the program) was the culprit. And yes, Steve Martin did put in a plug for his movie Bringing Down the House.

And what Oscar post would be complete without the Razzies?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.