Tuesday, March 07, 2006

oscar's pahaa.Dii crash (scattered thoughts)

Crash's Best Picture win that closed the censored slick soulless 78th Annual Academy Awards show on Sunday, March 05, 2006 has provided ammunition for articles and opinions for days to come. Jon Stewart remained unfortunately too restrained to be consistently effective. He's much better as his unfettered self on The Daily Show. Bring back Billy Crystal. The funniest part of the show was the montage of old Westerns with a "Brokeback Mountain" hint. The set design this time mimicked the old theatre with the nominations and names of presenters appearing on the marquee. The performances were dull, the performance of the winning song featured bleeps, the "X for nominee" ads were nice, George Clooney wasn't as abrasive as I had hoped he would be, and Steven Spielberg's Munich had to be content with 0 awards and being fodder for a fairly amusing joke about a Jewish trilogy. Stewart's "Three 6 Mafia 1, Scorsese 0" was a sad pointer to another gifted talent being shunned by the Academy. Looks like a Lifetime Achievement Award is the only thing he'll get. Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep managed a good dig at the trademark overlapping dialogue in Robert Altman films before the man himself arrived to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award. Then followed a segment of quiet dignity with his acceptance speech. Lauren Bacall looked like a ghost of her former self and while the film noir montage she presented was marginally interesting, it wasn't so nice to see her forget her words and fumble. Buried in the tiresome opening sequence depicting the search for a show host was a faux promo in Yucatec Maya for Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. Aishwarya fans got their thrills with her L'Oreal ad popping up in one of the breaks. Manoj Night Shyamalan did a 2 minute-long ad for American Express that referenced stuff from his films. Given that films in the competition covered subjects as diverse as homosexuality, racism, the McCarthy era, literary journalism, terrorism, and the attempts of a Memphis pimp to become a successful rapper, this was just about as dull as it got. All in all, lotsa icing, stillborn cake.

Raja Sen does a nicely written job of his reactions to the results:

I fear the Oscars, like our desi award shows, have begun to play it safe, distributing their awards to all the 'major' nominees, spreading them thin so that while the Film goes home happy, the Director won't complain too much either.

The most famous desii award show happens to be the Filmfare Awards (this year's edition concluded recently). The Oscars might seem like they're getting more disappointing, but a retrospective will yield lots of interesting stories. People are analysing patterns, indulging in speculation about motives. Despite the elaborate attempt to be fair, these awards, like all others, are a result of subjective thought. They represent an opinion. You don't have to agree with the results; you can use the results to augment your Netflix queue; you can debate the choices over several idle evenings. What will continue to endure is the slick presentation of the affair, although I sense an increasing detachment over the years. The Filmfare Awards show can never get to this point. We'll continue with the self-congratulatory cheap tamaashaa for years to come (and we're getting worse faster than the Oscars are perceived to be).

You can find more theories on why a film about racism trumped a film about homosexuality in an article by Jack Matthews.

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