Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Nominees are...or should be.

Like many, I like to see who is nominated for the Oscars.  I will likely not watch the awards show, but still I like to see who is nominated and who wins.  There are always a number of movies which get nominated and acting jobs that I have not seen.  There are also always a few I have.  I am frequently amazed at who is nominated, and even occasionally surprised by who "wins" the Oscar.  There is a list of movies that have won, that quite frankly, I think those in Hollywood should be embarrassed by the win.

Now, many or the winners of Best Picture are not bad movies, but they aren't really noteworthy for altering or adding to the film making world.  There is also a wide list of movies that didn't win and probably should have.  I mean think about the fact that Rocky and Titanic won best picture. Both were box office juggernauts, but hardly anything that altered film making.  I liked Rocky but was it best picture?   Titanic was at its core a basic melodrama. As one critic I read put it, all Billy Zane needed was a moustache to twirl. Now I know that some films that went on to become classics really didn't find an audience until much later, and it would be unfair to point to them in hindsight as to what should have won best picture. It is just that popular and money maker does not equal best picture.

The same is true with actors.  Personally, I don't think that an actor who has only one or two movies on the back of their head shot should be nominated. Take again Sylvester Stallone for example.  He was nominated for Rocky.  As one site I read pointed out,  no one realized that Sly basically only played that character in everything.  We don't really know if it's talent or just dumb luck that an actor's first role was the right part, the only part they would ever be able to play.  Same is true for child actors.  Cute is not talent and very few child actors actually demonstrate talent beyond the cute phase.

And so I come to this year's nominees.  I liked Gravity.  It was a nail-biting thrill ride.  It was also little else.  It was a special effects movie.  If you saw Gravity and didn't know that Clooney dies and the lone inexperienced astronaut would survive, you simply weren't paying attention to the preview trailer.  Sandra Bullock's rapid breathing and constant "I'm so scared" grunts and whines were not really much in the way of acting skill. Sorry, but the character was two dimensional and had a back story of about two sentences long, and the plot was exceedingly predictable .  Fun movie? Absolutely.  Nuanced, layered and deep? Ummm, no. Who should be there if not Bullock? Easily it should be  Emma Thompson whose nuanced performance in Saving Mr. Banks of P.L. Travers was absolutely astonishing.

Then there was the lack of nomination for Tom Hanks.  To this day, I cannot get the performance and shear
reality of the shock of Captain Phillips.  It is Hanks that makes the film work.  The name of the movie is Captain Phillips after all.  How a movie can be nominated the character which is the driving force of the movie not be named is beyond me.  I know, he has had his fair share of nominations.  That doesn't mean you stop nominating someone because they turn in one stellar performance after another.  It seems though, with the rare exception of Meryl Streep, it is something of a true statement.  It was an oversight when he was over-looked for Cloud Atlas, and it is a huge one when he is over-looked for Captain Phillips. I cannot comment on Robert Redford not being nominated since I have not seen his movie, but from what I hear it was another over-sight.

The fact is the Oscar award is a product of Hollywood, and Hollywood is a business.  While the oscars occasionally pick correctly, the business end still drives it.  Redford pointed out just yesterday that it was clear his movie had not received the business promotion - the publicity - that would make it a mainstream contender. Like it or not, we can discuss who was included and who was over-looked, but the Oscar is about Hollywood's business and self celebration.  It is not necissarily about extraordinary acting and filming first.