DEATH, TAXES AND OSCAR
They didn't make me sick. That's not something to take for granted because most years the Academy Awards broadcast reduces me to ritualistic flailing and the screaming of epithets at the television.
This year, however, only a few ridiculous actors and one producer tried to tell us what to think about politics while waving their golden statues like scepters. "I'm not just talented - I'm IMPORTANT!" The paucity of "Moore-ishness" this year made for a happily mostly unoffensive evening with only the overuse of the word "AMAZING!" (as in, "Thank you to the most AMAZING cast and crew!" OR "Peter, you are an AMAZING director!") to make my sisters and I sneer. We stopped counting AMAZINGS after eleven in the first hour. ("I don't think you know what that word means.")
The nominations for Oscar should have made this a much more exciting show. They were wide-reaching, in embracing a lot of small movies over the studio projects and big stars. But, unfortunately, the awards were all a 'fait accompli' because at least in the major categories, the Academy voters vote not for the projects in question, but for those individuals whose turn it seems to be. To the amazement of my sisters, who don't live in Hollywood and pore over the trades every day, I predicted every single award all night -- well, except for the doc and shorts but who really cares about them anyway?
Everybody knew going in that this was the year to reward the meandering Rings trilogy. (There was actually a movement in town to award the project an honorary "Thank God It's Over Oscar" in the event the sprawling thing didn't get enough votes to take Best Picture....have to have something for the fans, after all.) Despite the fact that not a single one of the actors was even nominated for best performance, the film had to win Best Picture. Has that ever happened before? To make up for the dearth of strong acting, the film HAD to win every other possible award to justify the foregone conclusion of it winning Best Picture....(yawn...)
I have no problem with this project being rewarded for its scope. I also thought it was a nice touch of Jackson to further celebrate his film by not bothering to wash and comb his hair for Oscar night.
Awarding Penn and Robbins Oscars for Mystic River was disappointingly predictable. The film had won the cherished "important" moniker early on from the industry pundits, so recognizing these two over-the-top performances was fated to be.
Zellwegger was the only somewhat standout thing about the lumbering and expensive Cold Mountain, and the Weinsteins have to get something every year don't they? And besides, everybody likes Renee, so what the heck?
The best part of the night for me was seeing the Coppollas together on stage, and then seeing Sophia get the nod for Best Screenplay. And it's not just because they are Italian. Lost in Translation was the most satisfying and intelligent movie experience of 2003. She deserved a statue.