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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oscar Predictions

Picking the winners for Oscar awards sometimes proves tricky. Some years you can pick 'em without seeing them... either by publicity, box office draw, subject matter, certain actors or directors (or, rarely, films in a series) often get recognized not for the work of the year but for their work in the past.

Sure, much of this can be subjective. However, when movie fans argue that the acadamy's standard isn't very consistant we're pretty much saying that. Oscars used to be a celebration of quality... or at least they respected it more often than now.

Also, time treats some films and some award winners differently. No one can deny that the great Peter O'Toole, always a bridesmaid and never a bride, truly shines among actors... and he's never taken an Oscar home for acting. Hell, he's better than most of the actors who received Best Actor or Supporting Actor honors... or even those who have received more than one. (The Acadamy nominated Peter O'Toole seven times without win... the same as Richard Burton, who also never won. What's more Dustin Hoffman and Jane Fonda were nominated seven times but won twice... and O'Toole's at least three times the actor that they are. I think, and I don't think it's a stretch, that he's even better than Pacino and Nicholson who were nominated more times.)

Another example: Do you remember the film that won Best Picture over Raiders of the Lost Ark? I suspect most folks who enjoy Indiana Jones have no clue what it lost to... and it doesn't matter considering how wonderful Raiders is. (Ordinary People won over Raiders.)

Yet another example: Titanic clearly had publicity, box office draw, popularity, and good will going for it. Also, it clearly did not have brilliant directing, writing, and acting in its corner. (Brewing J, who knows computers and such stuff fairly well, denies that the computer effects in Titanic are anything to be proud of... I should get him to tell me again for purposes of posting.) There can be no doubt in my mind that L.A. Confidential trumps Titanic in quality... yet more folks saw Titanic, more folks saw Titanic multiple times, and more advertisement was done for Titanic. Lots of girls also liked Titanic... and that's not a snarky comment, girls don't go out in droves to see many films. They also told their friends. Even though Oscar didn't smile on Curtis Hansen, time will. Anyone with any sense of judgement already can tell you... L.A. Confidential is a vastly superior bit of film work, writing, acting, etc.

Another example: Two words. Shawshank Redemption. For shame... period. That movie's going to be well remembered beyond Forrest Gump. Probably more than Pulp Fiction.

Yet another example: As cute and fun as Shakespeare in Love was, a great film or a pinnacle of cinema it certanly isn't. Thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan was better. There was more heart and talent in Life is Beautiful. Those films were more than Shakespeare in Love could hope for. All had fairly good casts, in fact most of the supporting cast of Shakespeare in Love is remarkable. (Obviously, I'm not speaking of Ben Affleck... he is distinctly average.) I'd even go so far as to say if you were going to nominate Shakespeare in Love for anything Geoffrey Rush (as Philip Henslowe) should have won.

[I've not seen Affliction so I'm not familiar with the late James Coburn's performance. Having seen none of the other films in the Best Actress category I only wish someone else other than Gwyneth Paltrow would have won. I like Dame Judi Dench, but much better in most everything else... so I can't really get all warm over her Best Supporting Actress performance. As for Best Picture, it was the bottom of the list on my chart.]

Who do I think will win this year? Having seen only a couple of the films (I suspect they were all nominated for music or computer effects or animation) I'm going to run with a theory that Ann Coulter is using for this years Oscars: Whatever film is more gay.

Brokeback Mountain ought to score well with that criteria... followed up with "the new Truman Show" Capote and Transamerica.

Speaking of gay films... why not remember some good work?

Chasing Amy. Probably my favorite Kevin Smith film. Far from perfect, but quite entertaining.

The Full Monty. Entertaining and full of heart... with a nice gay character. Love the scene where the gang are picking up their dole checks after rehearsing their dance routine. Always gets a laugh from me.

Gods and Monsters. I'm embarassed. I haven't seen it... but it's got McKellen and Redgrave in it to start with. Considering it's about director James Whale and I have enough recommendations from friends I respect I'm willing to mention it.

Lawrence of Arabia. A masterpiece of film on many levels. O'Toole plays T.E. Lawrence (El-Aurens) who some consider to be gay. (Nice and vague, huh?) Classic cinema and brilliant performances... not to mention the music. Go. See. It. Now.

UPDATED LISTING: 7:30 PM Sunday March 5, 2006
Peter's Friends. Nearly forgot to add this movie. Kenneth Branagh turns in a fairly good movie... but the his first two that preceeded it (Henry V and Dead Again) as well as his following film (Much Ado About Nothing) are a step or two above it. The cast is largely excellent... especially the very talented comedy duo of Hugh Laurie (from House and Jeeves and Wooster) and Stephen Fry (from Wilde and also of Jeeves and Wooster). Fry plays Peter, who invites his college pals to the estate he inherited from his father, Lord Morton... and he intends to tell them all a bit of important news. Unfortunately, his friends screw up the weekend before Peter gets a chance to begin... a troubled marriage, an affair, a crush, and Branagh drinking to excess.
(End up updated listing.)

Zorro the Gay Blade. Not really a great film, but it is delightful camp fun. George Harrison plays both swashbuckling Diego and his swishbuckling brother Ramon with charm and style and extravagance.

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