“The Artist is simply a delight!” Everyone who has seen The Artist.
We’re just a week away from the 84th Academy Awards, so it’s time to talk about the Oscars. It’s the only awards show that really matters to me. It’s the flag-ship, the “Survivor” of awards shows if you will. And hey look! They even have Billy Crystal hosting ever since the producer Brett Ratner quit after making homophobic comments to the media. This prompted Ratner’s host, Eddie Murphy to quit as well. We all got the feeling that Eddie Murphy never really wanted to host the awards in the first place, and that this was a good excuse for him to back out, which is too bad because it would have been the closest thing to an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine in about twenty years. I like Billy Crystal, but he seems like the safe, obvious choice. Don’t you get the feeling that the Academy has been keeping Billy Crystal in a glass box these past few years with a label saying “Break Glass in Case of Emergency!”?
Just so you know, nobody knows how the Academy decides which movies get nominated. They may publish a complicated formula on their website, but it’s all lies. They went from a manageable 5 best picture nominations up to 10 a couple of years ago. This really just meant that movies like “District 9” and “Winter’s Bone” could stick a “Best Picture Nominee” on their DVD boxes. This year, just to fuck with us, the Academy has nominated 9 movies for Best Picture. You can use Roger Ebert’s trick and look to see which Best Picture nominees also have nominations for Best Director. His point is that a movie shouldn’t ever win if it’s director isn’t nominated either. The only movies you need to concern yourself with then, are “The Artist”, “The Descendants”, “Hugo”, “The Tree of Life “and “Midnight in Paris”.
Nevertheless, let’s look at all nine.
Just like last year, I haven’t seen all the pictures, but that sure doesn’t disqualify me from telling you what I think about every one. When you work in a library, you get used to recommending or panning books without ever actually reading them (true story) so why should movies be any different?
Let’s start with the ones I haven’t seen.
I know several people who have seen this one, and none have really come out and said that they loved it. Some people outright hated it, some cried all the way through, and others “quite liked it”. I’m a big fan of Election and Sideways, two of Alexander Payne’s other movies, so I’m definitely interested in seeing this one, eventually. Also who doesn’t love George Clooney? One thing I keep hearing is that the “scenery is pretty” because its filmed in Hawaii. Well, the scenery is pretty in “The Thin Red Line” too but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. Speaking of Terrence Malick films…
The Tree of Life
There is no bloody way you’re going to get me to sit through this one.
I’m sorry, but the wrong Spielberg movie got nominated this year. “The Adventures of Tintin” was innovative and fun and hit all the right notes, but didn’t even get an animation nomination? What DID get nominated? Rango was okay. I never saw Kung Fu Panda 1, let alone number 2, and a couple of weird European movies no one’s ever heard of? Come ON.
Anyway, War Horse is the story of a really smart horse who falls in with a bunch of stupid humans. That horse gets sent off to World War 1 and despite being put in harm’s way numerous times, always comes out safe the other side. Maybe the horse isn’t so smart as it is lucky. Not only that, but after the war ends he enlists AGAIN and fights Nazis in WWII. He then becomes a spy and provides valuable information to the British during the Cold War. He gets sent to Korea and later fights in Vietnam. He then retires to Montana where he gets molested by Robert Redford and Scarlet Johannsen. The horse then COMES OUT OF RETIREMENT and somehow gets beamed up to Mars and helps John Carter and Dejah Thoris fight aliens up there. That is one lucky horse. I used to have a goldfish called “Ish” when I was a kid, and that fish lived for years. My wife think that my parents just kept replacing Ish with a different fish every time it died. I don’t think so, but if that’s true that’s a shitty thing to do to a kid. I kinda think that’s what they did in War Horse. They just kept changing the horse and pretending it was the same one. Especially the one on Mars.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I tried reading the novel on which this movie is based. Although I liked the premise, the book was just too difficult to read. It’s written in the voice of the main character, nine-year old Oskar, who happens to have some ill-defined disability. I gave up on the book around page 70 and have no real desire to see this movie. Plus, everyone knows that “United 93” is the best movie made about 9/11 and we should just leave it at that.
The Artist is a silent movie from France that is sweeping the nation garnering awards left and right. Every one who sees this movie can’t say enough good things about it. The reason for this, of course, is that the movie isn’t actually silent. That’s right. The movie is using it’s silent format to transmit subliminal messages and feelings of “enjoyment” and “contentment” to unsuspecting audience members. The U.S. Army has been working on this for years, but it took the sneaky French to bring it to the masses. This is incredibly unethical and possibly illegal, and so I urge those of you who have not yet seen this film to AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. If you are still skeptical, let me tell you that as I typed this blog-post and imported poster images, the entire blog-post was deleted at the very moment I imported the poster art for “The Artist”. I’ve had to completely type this post again from scratch (the things I DO for you people) and this time I’ve saving it after every sentence. Coincidence? I think NOT.
So let’s get on to the movies I actually saw last year.
I enjoyed this movie about the relationships between black maids and their white socialite employers in 1960’s Mississippi. It’s the type of movie you’d expect to be nominated for Best Picture and definitely belongs in the list. It’s just that there isn’t anything that I really LOVED about this movie. It kinda reminded me of “Fried Green Tomatoes” although this movie sadly does not open with Chris O’Donnell getting hit by a train. You know, every movie should open with Chris O’Donnell getting hit by a train.
Anyone who reads this blog and who knows me at all knows that I love baseball and baseball movies. It’s a cliche to say that baseball is chock full of allegories that can apply to life, but the game just seems to lend itself well to storytelling. When I saw this movie last fall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I wasn’t sure if it would be loved by those who fall outside the “baseball” and “baseball movie” loving public. I’m pleased to see it’s getting so much attention. I love that Jonah Hill is nominated for supporting actor and that he’s up against a bunch of old white guys. Christopher Plummer is the favourite in that category, but I would be so happy to see Jonah Hill win this. It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball, or baseball movies for that matter.
Midnight in Paris
I love Woody Allen. I love Owen Wilson. I love that Owen Wilson was in a Woody Allen movie. I wish science would get it’s act together and clone Woody Allen so that we’d be guaranteed a new Woody Allen movie every year from now until the sun explodes. Lord knows they haven’t all been good, but most of them are watchable and sometimes one comes along that is just so charming and lovely that it rises about the “Woody Allen movie” pigeon hole. “Midnight in Paris” is one of those movies. You just need to see it. And how wonderful is it to see Owen Wilson back in movies, after nearly losing him to suicide a couple of years ago?
Martin Scorsese takes on 3D. Martin Scorsese pays homage to the origins of film. Oh, and it’s also a kid’s movie. I actually put aside my temporary boycott of 3D just to see what Mr. Scorsese did with it, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had read “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” when it came out and marveled at the way it told it’s story through a unique use of words and pictures. Scorsese makes the most of the Paris Railway station where much of the action takes place, and the 3D really felt like it was an important part of the storytelling, not just a gimmick to make you blink. Even though I fear “The Artist” will win Best Picture this year, my heart is with “Hugo”.
How will it all go down?
It’s interesting that Best Picture will probably come down to a showdown between “Hugo” and “The Artist”: two movies that take as its subject the early days of film. One film explores the joy and wonder of movies through the eyes of two young friends who are on an adventure. The other is a gimmicky, manipulative piece of trash that uses subliminal psychotropic methods to force you to love it. Both have well-trained dogs, however. Why not just bring the dogs from each movie out on the stage, Michael Vick style, and see what happens? The last dog standing wins the Oscar. I would totally go for that, because I’m sure Hugo’s dog would totally kick The Artist’s dog’s ass.