Monday, February 26, 2007

A good show ... with major disappointments.

Last night’s Academy Awards ceremony was a good one. Ellen was very funny (surprisingly clean) and did a great job of hosting the show (starting out with a black gospel choir running down the aisles of the Kodak theater singing “Hallelujah” for the nominees was a neat touch). There were lots of good tributes to actors, directors, and movies in general that were, as usual for the Oscars ceremony, very impressive.

Although the ceremony part of last night was very good, I was disappointed with some of the awards.

First of all, why in the world did The Departed win best picture?! Having seen all the nominees for this category, I think that every other film was better than The Departed in some way or another. The other films are meaningful works of art filled with insight and even one with a few laughs (Little Miss Sunshine). I found The Departed to be an all-too-crude good-cop-bad-cop film that even bordered on cheesy some of the time due to its bombastically overplayed violence and a heavy-handed, over-acted performance by Jack Nicholson. Even though it has its merits (it’s impeccably acted by most of its all-star cast, has some very cool editing, and greatly benefits from the direction of Martin Scorsese), I didn’t like and am very disappointed in the Academy for choosing the entertaining over much better aesthetic achievements.

Cinematography was also a dud award last night. Pan’s Labyrinth won. Yes, it has gorgeous cinematography but the cinematography in Children of Men is absolutely awe-inspiring. They did some things in that movie that were beyond belief and they should have been recognized for it. That was the second biggest upset of the evening.

Best Original Score was disappointing. Although the Babel score was good, Philip Glass’ Notes On A Scandal is a musical masterpiece and Navarrette’s Pan’s Labyrinth has a rare gothic beauty that isn’t heard very often in film scores. This is the second year in a row that Best Score hasn’t turned out the way I would like.

Last night, by any means, was not a total loss. I think I cried when they gave tribute to Ennio Morricone … a tremendously gifted composer who has written over 400 films scores. All of the music I’ve heard from his music conveys such a sense of longing has a rare beauty that I’ve never found in any other film composer. I got sappy when Robert Altman’s name was shown, too. Such a legend.

Although I didn't like his film, it was so great last night to see Martin Scorsese finally get an award for Best Director! It’s long overdue and always encouraging seeing such great talent rewarded by the Academy. The same goes for Alan Arkin … a long-time staple of American cinema and a great actor. Helen Mirren gave a stately, wonderful acceptance speech for her much-deserved award and Forest Whitaker took home a statuette as well for what I’ve heard is one of the greatest screen performances ever (even though it would have made be happy to see Peter O’Toole win after all these years).

By far the funniest part of the evening was Clint Eastwood and his presentation of the honorary Oscar to Ennio Morricone. Poor Clint forgot his glasses and couldn’t read the teleprompter. He ended up calling Morricone a “movie scorer” and fumbling over a ton of his words. I even think he was making up what Morricone was saying in his acceptance speech because he couldn’t read the translation from teleprompter! Hilarious. Poor guy needs to stick to directing.

A few other highlights were the amazing dance troupe, the sound effects choir, George Lucas on the Oscar stage, the mini-musical by Jack Black, Will Ferell, and John C. Rylie, Jerry Seinfeld's little stand-up blurb, and the Dreamgirls performance where Beyonce brought down the house with an awesome vocal performance

I love the Oscars. I think they’re a lot of fun. Since I’m not a sports fan, this is the one night of the year I act like one when the films I want to win … lose. Needless to say, I was very mad when Jack Nicholson opened that envelope to reveal the best picture winner. But, in the words of my friend Joseph, “There’s always next year.”

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