I actually care about the Oscars. I know they’re an industry award and given on the combined basis of industry politics and popularity more than anything else. And yet I care about them. I don’t know why, to be honest. Decades ago I fantasized about winning one (or several) and I’ve long since given up on that dream. Even so, I care.
The Oscars are a Monday morning show in Hong Kong. Since I no longer work for a movie company, I can’t watch them in the office. I can’t say I’m “working from home” and stay in bed and watch them. I didn’t watch the telecast, I just refreshed my browser to follow along as the awards were handed out.
One reviewer over on HuffPo (sorry, no link), said that the night was a victory for Porky Pig. Unnecessarily cruel? Perhaps. I enjoyed The King’s Speech. Actually, I enjoyed it less after a little bit of research showed how much they’d changed from the actual history to make it more palatable to a mass audience. I hate fantasy presented as fact and this is now the “truth” that more people will “know” than the real story. I remain convinced that it won the awards it did simply because Academy voters think it makes them look better when they give an award to this sort of film. It ennobles them and therefore The Industry. Or so they think. When someone whitewashes history and someone else gives them an award for that, is it truly ennobling? I suppose Social Network could be accused of the same thing, at least according to Zuckerberg, but at least it was much more of a cinematic achievement. True Grit was far more enjoyable and like almost every Coen Brothers film, I believe it will reveal multiple layers via multiple rescreenings. I need to catch up with Winter’s Bone, which I will soon.
Best Director Tom Hooper? Of course most years the winner of Best Picture also gets Best Director but it’s not always a given. Hooper has a way with actors, to be sure, but in terms of photography, editing, everything, I found it good but not especially distinctive. I thought Fincher deserves so much credit for what he did with Social Network. And the Coens, remaking a “classic” film and really doing something with it, improving vastly on the original. Oh well.
Portman was my pick for actress. For actor, I haven’t seen James Franco in 127 Hours (how weird is it that someone who is nominated in a major category was also co-hosting the show?) and as much as I love Jeff Bridges, I’d have to confess that his role in True Grit didn’t carry the picture. I suppose Firth’s as good a choice as any. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were pretty much givens in the supporting categories, as were the winners of the two screenplay awards.
But Wally Pfister for cinematography for Inception? Seriously? For what? Roger Deakins’ work on True Grit is the one that they’ll be teaching in schools for years to come. Editing for Social Network, that one they got exactly right.
And Toy Story 3 for Animated Film was a given, yet I thought How to Train Your Dragon was better and I hear The Illusionist is magnificent, I’ll also be checking that out soon.
So all in all, no major surprises but I do feel disappointed. Because I still care about who wins the Oscars. And I’ll still care next year as well. Though I can’t say why that is.