Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Academy Awards: I've Seen it All Before

Okay, I'm back. I know, I know, it's been a while since I've written, but now we are in post-Oscars week and I feel it's time to voice my hurt.

Last night I finally saw "The King's Speech." This is what I wrote before I actually saw it: "Speech is a lovely film with stellar performances, a story of triumph, and a friendship of such beauty it could only be fictional, only it's not. I knew I was going to cry at least once going into the film, but was surprised by how truly moved I was." And guess what, it's all true, except for the crying part, which never quite happened. My heart did swell once or twice, though, and I did watch with bated breath and clenched fists as Bertie delivered his final speech, mostly stammer free.

In the end, Speech is like a a charming cafe with surprisingly good cappuccino that you happen upon while strolling with a lover. You didn't expect too much from it and thus are happily surprised to find it so warm and inviting, if just a wee bit precious. Geoffrey Rush is perfection. Everything from the way he performs Shakespeare for his sons to the way his eyes grow still with pain whenever Bertie struggles to get a word out, his is a truly empathetic performance. In some ways, I would have preferred a film about Lionel Logue and his life, a failed actor who achieves his greatest performance as coach, confidant, and mentor to a king.

I also thought it was a beautiful film to look at and am surprised it didn't win awards for best performance by a wall (the aging one in Logue's office we so often see Colin Firth against) or best use of fog to convey a stroll that is about to end badly.

Alas, no, it is not worthy of Best Picture, especially in a year when The Social Network, The Fighter, and Winter's Bone exist. What really galls me, though, is Tom Hooper triumphing over David Fincher. Really? Hooper has one trick up his sleeve, using the microphones and many other props throughout the film, as metaphors for the fishbowl of a world Bertie finds himself in. So often the academy awards people for a body of work so it is even more surprising they went for the 39-year old Hooper whose past credits barely include any feature films, but instead lay mostly in fine television, such as John Adams and lots of Masterpiece Theatre.

I know it is more rare for the right film to win than not, yet still, every year when my choice loses I feel somehow snowed, robbed, bamboozled. I blame Harvey Weinstein.

As for the ceremony itself what can I say except... Oy! Anne Hathaway trying too hard, James Franco barely trying at all. Putting the twenty-eight year-old starlet in dress after dress better suited to my Aunt Ida on my mother's side, putting Franco in drag (um, why? all for that lame Charlie Sheen joke?). They had so little chemistry I felt uncomfortable for them. In fact, I think they hate each other. AWKward.

Corey Haim being left out of the Memoriams.....Hello, has no one in the Academy seen LUCAS?!

When the highlight is a young NYU film student with a fantastic fro winning for Best Short Film you know you're in trouble.

For dresses I am partial to Scarlett Johannson's wine-colored lace number that showed off her awesome throwback figure, Cate Blanchett's crazy-spacey-architectural-with-yellow- appliques/or-was-that-pee-number, and Hallie Steinfeld's- I may only be 14 but I know how this is done better than y'all -ballerina look.

For more on the true nature of the Oscars and someone else's opinions that I agree with check out the New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis' piece :