Its Oscar Sunday. The biggest night in entertainment hands down. Sure the Globes are a little rowdier, but they still do not compare to the Academy Awards no matter what Buzzfeed or anyone else tells you.
Having just screened Nebraska and 12 Years a Slave earlier today I have seen all of the Best Picture nominees except for one. So I could give you a breakdown who I think should win or what will win blah blah blah but that sounds about as boring as Philomena looks (that’s the one I didn’t see). Also if you do want that follow me on twitter, I’ll be posting my picks. Instead I’m going to do what I usually do: talk about exactly what I want to talk about. Sound good? Good.
“Now the tuxedos seem kinda fucked up…”
Seth Rogen’s classic line from Step Brothers can be directly applied to some of the Oscar choices in recent memory. At the time they seemed fine, but as time has passed it becomes more clear that the Academy simply got it wrong. Examples? I thought you’d never ask:
Crash. 2005 Best Picture
There’s a reason why Jack Nicholson was so shocked when he read the winner for Best Picture. Crash is a fine movie albeit a bit cliched that does not hold up too well in multiple viewings. The cast and crew weren’t even expecting to win, Ryan Flippee looked happier than he ever looked when he was with Reese Witherspoon (I guess that makes sense). All of the other nominees Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich are more memorable and impactful films looking back. So why did the Academy go with Crash? I really can’t even think of a real reason, maybe they just hate gay cowboys.
Jennifer Lawrence. 2013 Best Actress
I talk about this one all the time. I met Jessica Chastain while working a press junket for Zero Dark Thirty and she couldn’t have been more of a genuine, down to earth and remarkably lovely person. So sure, that makes me a little bit biased. But in this case its America’s bias towards Jennifer Lawrence that swung this award. We all know she’s one of the coolest and attractive celebrities on the planet right now and that came to the general public’s attention at the perfect time. Don’t get me wrong I really like Silver Linings Playbook but there is nothing outwardly remarkable about her performance. Jessica Chastain performance carries Zero Dark Thirty, it’s as simple as that. Plenty of talented actresses could have played the Jennifer Lawrence role and the movie wouldn’t have suffered that much. I don’t think you can say the same about Zero Dark Thirty without Chastain. The worst part? It might happen again tonight. The unilateral love for Lawrence might be enough to push her past 12 Years’ Lupita Nyong’o. Back to back Oscars for her would be about as ridiculous as the idea of Steve Nash winning back to back NBA MVPs while playing in the same era as an in their primes Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan. Where’s Bill Simmons at?
The King’s Speech. 2011 Best Picture
At the time I was completely on the King’s Speech over The Social Network train. However, I recently rewatched both and can’t believe I ever felt that way. The Social Network is much more of a cinematic masterpiece than it gets credit for, and I don’t think that’s a stretch at all. The King’s Speech is just another Oscar bait movie that got overrated at the right time (like Shakespeare in Love, Driving Miss Daisy or Ordinary People to name a few), its no coincidence that Harvey Weinstein was involved. The Academy was too stuffy to give a movie about TheFacebook its biggest award and so they gave it Best Original Screenplay, which I guess is some consolation.
Well that’s all I got for now. A few passing thoughts I have going into tonight:
1. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gravity will wind up being the Best Picture even though most indications point to 12 Years a Slave. Just a feeling.
2. Do you think Jonah Hill ever thought he’d be a multiple time Academy Award nominated actor when he was filming that period blood scene in Superbad? (“Fuck me, right?”) Speaking of which does Michael Cera ever wonder where his career went so wrong in comparison? Youth in Revolt maybe?
3. A Matthew McConaughey win tonight will prove once again that a great performance can make people forget about countless bad ones. Even though Stewie Griffin wouldn’t agree.
4. How great will that McConaughey acceptance speech be?
5. Seriously. It’s going to be great, let me tell you this the older you do get the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.
Last night marked the eight-fifth year of the Academy Awards, with Ben Affleck’s Argo taking home the Oscar for Best Picture. The ceremony had its first tie (Best Sound Editing for Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty) since 1994, and just the sixth tie in Oscar history. The tie was just one of the many Oscar history rarities included in last night’s ceremony.
Argo was the presumed favorite for Best Picture after overtaking Lincoln in the last few weeks before the show, and it won. However, besides Best Picture, Argo only captured two other awards, for Original Screenplay and Editing. While that’s nothing to slouch at, it is interesting how much the Academy spread the Oscars around this year. Check out this year’s breakdown:
Life of Pi: 4 (director, cinematography, visual effects, original score)
Argo: 3 (picture, editing, original screenplay)
Les Miserables: 3 (supporting actress, make-up and hairstyling, sound mixing)
Lincoln: 2 (actor, production design)
Django Unchained: 2 (original screenplay, supporting actor)
Amour: 1 (foreign language)
Silver Linings Playbook: 1 (actress)
Zero Dark Thirty: 1 (sound editing)
Beasts of the Southern Wild- 0
Since the Academy changed its Best Picture format from five nominees to ten in 2009, there have been one or two films that take the majority of the awards and four films (all three years) who have gotten shut out with zero awards. Here’s a breakdown of those years:
*Best Picture Winner
*Hurt Locker: 9
Inglourious Basterds: 1
The Blind Side: 1
Up in the Air: 0
District 9: 0
An Education: 0
A Serious Man: 0
*King’s Speech: 4
Social Network: 3
The Fighter: 2
Toy Story 3: 2
Black Swan: 1
True Grit: 0
127 Hours: 0
The Kids Are All Right: 0
Winter’s Bone: 0
*The Artist: 5
The Descendants: 1
The Help: 1
Midnight in Paris: 1
War Horse: 0
The Tree of Life: 0
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: 0
Although Argo won Best Picture, it failed to win the most Oscars of the night as Life of Pi won four awards. This has not happened since 2004, when The Aviator won five awards and Best Picture winner Million Dollar Baby only won four. Argo also became just the second Best Picture winner since 1977 to win only three total Oscars, joining 2005’s Crash. Both Crash and Argo failed to win any acting Academy Awards. The similarities do not end there. The last time that the Best Director and Best Picture awards were not given to the same film was also in 2005. You might be asking, well who won Best Director in 2005 then? The same guy who won last night, Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi director, Ang Lee. Hmmm, interesting.
Whether or not the Academy got their choices right is debatable every year, however this year’s results have validated their choice to have more than five nominees for Best Picture. If four nominees are getting zero awards each year then there are too many nominees. However, this year was first time since the switch that only one Best Picture nominee got shut out from awards. While no film is all together perfect, nearly all of the Best Picture nominees had aspects about them that were deemed Oscar worthy, something not seen since the change. This does not speak to Argo’s weaknesses necessarily, but rather the depth and diversity of this year’s Best Picture nominees. The Academy was not shy about spreading the Oscar love this year, except to Steven Spielberg, who is now 2/7 in Best Director nominations, and 1/8 in Best Picture nominations, making him (statistically) one of the biggest losers in Oscar history. Something tells me that Spielberg’s four going on five (five?!) decades of dominating Hollywood is a nice consolation.
Oscar Sunday has always been like a second Super Bowl Sunday for me. While no event can out do the Super Bowl as a spectacle, the Academy Awards are close. I agree the Oscars are a little over the top, perhaps outdated and may not always get it right in the public’s opinion, but there is no higher honor in filmmaking than winning an Academy Award. Here are just a few of the awards that I would give out based on my interest and opinions of Oscar history.
Best Oscar Acceptance Speeches:
Joe Pesci: “Its my privilege, thank you” Simple and to the point, perfect.
Woody Allen: Has not been in person for any of the three Oscars he has won, the only time he showed up was in 2002 for a 9/11 tribute. I respect that.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon: Whether or not they each contributed an equal amount to the script is something people constantly question, however you cannot deny their pure excitement as they accept their Oscar.
Best Reaction to Presenting an Award:
2005 Jack Nicholson: “Crash…Wow”
Terribly Egregious Upsets:
Ordinary People over Raging Bull
Ordinary People is a fine movie, but best picture over Raging Bull? C’mon man. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both picked Raging Bull to be their choice of the best movie of the 1980s, the entire decade and it did not even win best picture in its individual year, ridiculous. Raging Bull is arguably Scorsese’s best film, (Id say Goodfellas) yet this was just one of the many times Marty was overlooked by the Academy until they finally gave him his due in 2006:
Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan
This upset for some reason, I take personally. It a travesty to think a movie like Shakespeare in Love would win over Saving Private Ryan. I’ve seen Shakespeare in Love once and was fine with it, Saving Private Ryan I am willing to watch almost every time it is on. The Academy gave Spielberg the Best Director for Saving Private Ryan, however that does not make up for the fact that his film was head and shoulders better than Shakespeare in Love. You may argue that as two very different styled and themed films that they are like apples and oranges. However, in my opinion its as simple as this, the history of modern cinema cannot be written/discussed completely without mentioning Saving Private Ryan, and Shakespeare in Love is easily forgettable in the same discussion.
1975 Best Director
I know many of you are probably tired of hearing me talk about Jaws, but how is Spielberg not even a nominee for Best Director in 1975? The filming went so overscheduled that he was nearly fired, and he still came up with a masterpiece. That’s its for Jaws and Spielberg, I swear.
Best Years of Best Picture Nominees:
1994:Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, The Shawkshank Redemption, Quiz Show, Four Weddings and a Funeral
Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, and Shawshank Redemption are three movies that are already classics in American cinema. While I believe Forrest Gump to be the weakest cinematically of the three (even though it won), they are all consistently re-watchable, especially Gump. Quiz Show and Four Weddings and a Funeral round out this year as very solid fourth and fifth nominees.
1976:Rocky, Taxi Driver, Network, All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory
Rocky, Taxi Driver, Network, and All the President’s Men are movies that will be remembered for a long time, and thats really all that has to be said. I have never seen or heard of Bound for Glory, however the strength of the other four films make up for that.
2009: Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man, The Blind Side, Up, Precious
This is perhaps one of the most diverse groups of movies ever nominated for Best Picture. 2009 was the first year that the Academy switched back to their old way of having ten nominees (instead of five) for Best Picture, leading to some unique nominations. In previous years, movies like Up, District 9, or The Blind Side would not have been nominated, but I do not think it makes this year weaker. In fact, it makes 2009 strong because of its diversity.
Best Decade of Best Picture Winners:
Without a doubt it is the 1970s: Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather, The Sting, The Godfather Part II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall. The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs Kramer in that order by year. I cannot pick one movie out of this group to be the weak link, thats how good of a field it is.
I see the 1990s as a distant second with: Dances with Wolves, Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love (should have been Saving Private Ryan), and American Beauty in that order by year.
Random Last Thought for the Conspiracy Theorists Out There:
The first Oscar ceremony was held in 1928 and honored Wings as its Best Picture, which was the only silent movie to win. However, this year The Artist became the second Best Picture winner to be a silent film. If the Mayans are correct and the world does end on December 21st, 2012 the first and last Best Picture winners will have been silent films. Random I know, its just how I think.
Thanks for reading.