Sunday, February 27, 2005

Short Oscar Notes

Yes! Charlie Kaufman wins!!!

I haven't been excited about an Oscar win in a long time, but his win brought at least one viewer sitting at home to his feet. Kaufman has, quite simply, written the most outstanding screenplay to be realized on screen in the last fifteen or so years at least. It's great that it's getting some mainstream recognition, if only so Kaufman can continue his unprecedented run unencumbered by idiot producers. "You want me, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, to rewrite the movie's emotional climax, Jeff Bridges tonguing a sock puppet? Well, you can just plant your hairy ass right on my golden statuette, asshole!" (Does the Oscar mean anything? For a cinephile, the putative clout that an Oscar brings is the most important aspect of it all. You want your favorite directors/actors/writers/craftspeople to have some power.)

Plus, he was robbed previously when the brilliant Being John Malkovich and Adaptation screenplays lost to somebody or another. Thought Kaufman was fated to be one of those famous Oscar casualties (Hitchcock, Kubrick, Altman, et al.) -- his work too self-evidently awesome to not get nominated, but too edgy and groundbreaking to be completely embraced by this staid, august body. Glad I'm wrong on this one.

Was watching the telecast on and off, so can't provide a comprehensive rundown or judge Chris Rock. He seemed up for the job. Otherwise, the show was unremarkable and predictable, saved only by the charisma of the award winners.

  • Kinda wished Marty'd won, for sentimental reasons and so he'll stop making epic Oscar-bait flick. Marty did a great job with The Aviator, and as a fanboy, I'd be stoked if he'd finally could deliver the crazy Oscar acceptance speech that he's probably been rehearsing since he was 8 years old, but Clint deserved it. Marty will have a couple of more shots -- the Dino biopic might be his best bet. Please. Give. Marty. An. Oscar. Soon.

  • Justice is served, part 2 (sort of): Clint rules (though so does Marty, in a different way). On stage, the guy exudes such an overwhelmingly quiet confidence that you can feel the room hush (while Marty spits out words so fast the room quiets up just so folks can try to make out what he's saying). Clint's a legend and he knows you know it (though of course Marty's a legend too). And he deserves wholly his best director Oscar for doing the best directing job of last year (but Marty's direction has a grander, more epic scope, which Oscar usually adores; plus he "deserved" to win this award on at least 5 different occasions). Oscar does something right, twice (though would anybody have died if they'd given it to Marty instead)?

  • Watching the Sidney Lumet tribute, it dawned on me that Lumet represents the kind of artist who's an extinct species now in Hollywood: the intelligent actor-centric director doing adult-oriented, mid-budget pictures for studios. Who's doing that now? Barry Levinson? Jonathan Demme? Mike Nichols? You can probably count'em with two hands. As for the presentation, guy's done some good work and I'm glad he's getting some props, but do they need to go through all of his (many) turkeys? Wouldn't it be a better tribute to focus more on stuff he'll be remembered for, like Dog Day Afternoon and Network, instead of 15 seconds from Gloria?

  • Jamie Foxx -- very classy acceptance speech, even moving. The grandma thing always gets to me. But even before the winner was announced, I sensed the television director setting up for cutaways to beaming black people in the audience when Foxx's name is inevitably called. "Camera 2, happy black woman! Cut to Camera 3, happy black man!"

  • And why does Foxx get a standing O while Swank's met with polite applause? It's not as if he's some old fogey getting a lifetime achievement-type of Oscar. Is there a Standing Ovation for Any Black Performer Who Wins Rule that's been instituted?

  • Hottest babes not named Kate Winslet: Catalina Sandeno Moreno, Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson

  • Hotter than usual: Zhang Ziyi...excuse me, "Ziyi Zhang"; Gwyneth; Maggie Gyllenhaal.

  • Not as hot as usual: Beyonce, Charlize Theron

  • If she were anymore "luminous", they'd use her to light Lambeau Field: Cate Blanchett

  • Fashion police alert: Natalie Portman

  • Aging gracefully: Annette Bening, Virginia Madsen

  • Not hot, but awesome: Imelda Staunton

  • Never hot: whichever interchangeable supermodel of the week that Leo is dating.

  • Best time to check on your laundry: the "Best Song" presentations.

  • They left out a bunch'a foreigners in the In Memoriam section. Jus' sayin'. And I will continue my quixotic quest to stop the Oscar audience from clapping after each dead person clip. Stop it, people!