Monday, February 29, 2016

My Take on the 88th Academy Awards

     I actually think it was a fun show, and it achieved what the Academy Awards are meant to achieve.  Stars were put on display, worthy social causes were promoted, big box office films were recognized and applauded, and a few small films got some needed attention. 
     Chris Rock did a great job addressing #oscarssowhite by putting things in perspective.  Sure, there's racism in Hollywood, but it's "sorority girl" racism and is nothing compared to lynchings and murders of the past.  But it's still an important issue that needs to be addressed, but maybe not through boycotting a business that rewards stars like Will Smith $20 million for starring in bad films (like Wild Wild West).
Here are a few things I took away from the awards.
     Mad Max Fury Road  deserved every award it got.  It was fantastical, exhilarating, beautiful, scary, ugly, and ultimately very fulfilling.  Technical awards often go to the best sci-fi or action film, and Fury Road was that.  It also deserved costume (which it won) and effects (which it somehow lost!).  I think it's great to see an interesting action film win such big awards.  It's actually reminiscent of how well Star Wars did in 1977.
     I'm surprised The Revenant didn't win Best Picture.  DiCaprio deserved Best Actor (even if he got it for 20 years of work, and not necessarily this picture); Inarritu has developed a style that the Academy loves, even if it may be flash than substance; and the cinematography was definitely worthy of an award.  So why didn't it win Best Picture?  I sense many voters had the same problem with it I did.  I recognized the cinematic mastery of the film, and the strength of DiCaprio's performance, but the movie didn't connect with me on a personal, physical, or emotional level.
     The film that did that for me was Room.  I'm glad Brie Larson was recognized for her performance.  That film had me on pins and needles throughout, anxious as I was for that distressed mother and child.  But the film wasn't BIG enough to win best picture.  What else connected with people on a deep level?
     I guess Spotlight made that connection.  It had a great ensemble cast and a serious subject matter, and was emotional enough, and "serious" enough, that it deserved Best Picture.   Mark Ruffalo was the anchor of the film, along with Michael Keaton, and between them there was enough drama to make up for any lack of any on-screen confrontation with pedophile priests.    It's a good film, maybe not a masterpiece. 
     I guess that's the big issue this year.  No masterpieces.  I still need to see The Big Short, and winning performances in Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl move those films up my "to-see" list.  I really liked Brooklyn  and Joy and Creed as well, but were any of them EPIC?  And some of the other films that never roused my interest (Jobs, Straight out of Compton) I will still get around to, now that I'm reminded of why they were nominated. 
     Maybe the most EPIC film I saw all year was Inside Out.  I'm glad it was recognized.  No other film this past year touched a nerve the way that film did.  The other animated films weren't on my radar at all - so they go on my list to, along with the foreign films I missed.  And isn't that the other point of the Oscars?  To get us excited about movies we missed, and movies we now want to see.

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