For many when we consider the Oscars, the backslapping, predictability, tiresome acceptance speeches and dominance of mainstream fare can be a turn off. However this year there are some indicators to give us hope that the beautiful people have some taste.
6: Charlize Theron: This woman gets dowdy and serious for films full of angst and turmoil (‘Monster’- psychotic lesbian killers, ‘North Country’- sexual harassment in mines) but when she turns up for gigs like the Oscars she looks dam fine and exudes the type of sexiness that inspires men, women and cosmetic marketers the world wide (Go Rent: ‘The Devils Advocate’).
Honourable Mention: Reese Witherspoon, for every ‘Just Like Heaven’ and ‘Legally Blonde 2’, this girl has made ‘Election’ and ‘Best Laid Plans’.
5: This is the first of the Award Season shows that have acknowledged ‘Munich’, a spectacle in film making, a story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, my favourite type of story telling. After Martin Scorcese, Spielberg is one of the most neglected Hollywood directors, then again Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar so there are no guarantees. Munich not being considered in the other awards shows throws up an element of much welcome unpredictability.
4: George Clooney, this is the man who after ‘The Peacemaker’ and ‘One Fine Day’ was condemned to lists of stars who failed to make the transfer from TV to movies. After Batman and Robin he was condemned to lists of stars who ended film franchises. Now working both behind and in front of the camera the man’s acting talents, writing and directing are each being acknowledged. I look forward to ‘Good Luck and Good Night’ and ‘Syriana’, much respect is due for his bravery in making a film about real issues and also respect is due for his CV since ‘Batman and Robin’- ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’, ‘Oceans 11’ and ‘Confessions of A Dangerous Mind’. In any other year where a gay cowboy movie had not received 8 nominations, his 3 nominations would be the big story of these Oscars.
3: Philip Seymour Hoffman: I first became aware of this man’s talent in ‘State and Main’ and while David Mamet cannot help but have every line of his scripts be pure gold, Hoffman gave them life playing a charming, funny and intelligent character. Too often his roles (‘Red Dragon’, 'Boogie Nights') are supporting ‘character’ roles so I’m glad that he has been given the chance to shine in ‘Capote’ and even more glad that he has received kudos for it. I am intrigued as to the movies concept of putting context to his novel ‘In Cold Blood’ which is one of those books that will stay with me forever. If time allows read it before you see this movie and watch a star in the ascendant on Oscar night. I want people to talk about Hoffman the way they talk about Spencer Tracy today.
Honourable Mention: Matt Dillon’s Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in ‘Crash’, not since his threesome with Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in ‘Wild Things’ has the man been involved in such an inspiring performance.
2. The greatest surprise in hearing the nominations was the acknowledgement of ‘Crash’. I truly regret not putting this movie on the Top 6 movies of the year post from last year. SPOILER: Only the other day when watching the news and the disheartening developments in the violence following the publishing of cartoons in print media, I thought of the scene following the break in to a family’s grocery store, the break-in is clearly racially motivated, the presumption of the criminal based on graffiti left and of the viewer to this point is that the shop owners are Muslim and the attacks follow on from tensions since 9/11. Of course them we have the gutwrenching revelation from the mother that they are in fact a Hindu family and we realise that these people have been punished because of the colour of their skin and how they dress with no understanding of their belief system. The message resonates through to current events. END SPOILER. Also Paul Haggis, the writer/director (and writer of ‘Million Dollar Baby’) was behind one of my favourite TV shows, ‘Due South’ so I’m glad to see the man hit the big time.
Honourable Mention: Paul Giamattis nomination for ‘Cinderella Man’, the film otherwise has been criminally over looked.
1.The greatest surprise in the organising of the Oscars has been the announcement that the show will be presented by Jon Stewart, presenter and producer of ‘The Daily Show’. All credit to Chris Rock but he sucks, he served as a male Whoopi Goldberg with less lesbian innuendo which is never a good thing. I am looking forward to Stewart’s hosting duties being the only thing anyone will talk about the morning after the show. If you have not seen ‘The Daily Show’ I guarantee you will seek it out the following evening and relish his diatribe. The in your face theatrics of Michael Moore caused nothing but unease and tension 3 years ago, now the time is ripe for the intelligent commentary and humour that this man delivers in spates. This man injects some humour into the ridiculousness of our world, I enjoy that relief.
Watch March 6th.