Monday, February 26, 2007

Building it up to break it down

The general consensus of the Oscars last night of some of the liveblogs I hit up and today’s WaPo and NY Times reviews were really displeased with the proceedings. While I’ll admit that they could have easily chopped out close to a half hour by eliminating the Michael Mann “American” montage, the foreign language film recap (seriously, nobody’s seen those movies; let it go) and the Celine Dion song[i], but I think a lot of the stuff people were complaining about is just for the sake of complaining.

Oh, the Oscars were long? Really? Who could have predicted it? Deal with it, people. You know what you’re signing up for. They should have started it at 8:00 instead of 8:30 and they could have easily, as I said, chopped twenty to thirty minutes out, but there was some fun stuff in there, especially the Will Ferrell/Jack Black/John C. Reilly number, which was dreadfully honest about how terrible the Academy is towards comedy. You’re seriously going to complain about the rolling shadow figure gymnasts, who maybe took thirty seconds a curtain, maximum?

Also, quit complaining about every host every year. Chris Rock and Jon Stewart insult the highfalutin Hollywood establishment and they get crickets and lambasted for being too edgy, so they bring in Ellen, who played it safe but still did well as host, although she gets panned. Ellen’s too safe, Rock and Stewart were too controversial, and if Billy Crystal hosts, everybody complains that its Billy Crystal, despite the fact he apparently is the living gold standard of Oscar hosts.

Joel Achenbach of the WaPo complained about the Oscars being too old, which seems rather silly to me considering you had the likes of Leo (literally shown every other segment), Reese, Gosling, J-Hud, Beyonce, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Forest Whitaker (only 45), Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Abigail Breslin. Unless you want twenty-somethings presenting everything, which I’m going to wager has never happened in the history of the Academy, just shut up.

I’d take the time to research, but there’s little doubt there hasn’t been an Oscar telecast that was enjoyed by a majority in a long while. The press just loves to hype it up so they can tear it down come Monday morning, complaining about how boring it is every year before starting to get people excited for next year’s show.


Speaking of next year’s show, why not look ahead to some of the contenders?

1. AMERICAN GANGSTER (Universal Pictures)

Frank “Superfly” Lucas, played by Denzel Washington, was the biggest Heroin dealer on Harlem through the 70’s and narcotics detective Richie Roberts, played by Russell Crowe, was the man who ultimately brought Lucas down. This film, directed by Ridley Scott and written by Steven Zaillian, tells the story of how this happened.

I’m not a big fan of Russell Crowe – he always seems to be sulking and plays a variation on the same unhappy character in every movie – but don’t tell me that doesn’t look sweet.

9. THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (Columbia Pictures)

The divisive but best selling historical novel about the rivalry between the aristocrat sisters Anne and Mary Boleyn gets its first film treatment by screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen) and director Justin Chadwick. The film is told through the eyes of Mary, played by Scarlett Johansson, who always lived overshadowed by her famous sister Anne, played by Oscar nominee Natalie Portman.

The storyline isn’t particularly riveting to me, but Scarlett and Natalie in the same movie? I believe that’s the definition of “eye candy”.

13. SWEENEY TODD (DreamWorks SKG)

Tim Burton directs the long awaited Broadway adaptation with Johnny Depp playing the infamous title character. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen co-star.

A musical about a killer pirate starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Alan Rickman, all directed by Tim Burton? What more could you ask for?

15. RENDITION (New Line Cinema)

A CIA analyst in Cairo witnesses an unorthodox interrogation of a foreigner by the Egyptian secret police in director Gavin Hood’s first Hollywood project. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Alan Arkin.

The storyline seems like something Oscar would like (Syriana, Babel-ish), and that cast is phenomenal. Hood won the Best Foreign Film last year, so there might be a little something lost in his first Hollywood attempt.

16. MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS (The Weinstein Company)

World renowned filmmaker Wong Kar Wai directs his first English language project about a young woman’s road trip across the country to resolve her questions about love and the meaning of life. Singer Norah Jones, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman star.

While I still don’t get Wong Kar Wai, I found Jude Law to be his least reprehensible in this December’s The Holiday, and if you thought Johansson/Portman was great, Portman/Weisz/Norah takes it to another level. Throw in David Strathairn, who kicked ass as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck, and you’ve got my heart’s favorite for the year.

22. THE BUCKET LIST (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Two terminally ill men played by Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they die in the latest film by director Rob Reiner.

Best. Movie. Ever. Made.


TVGasm, and everyone else I’ve talked to, enjoyed last week’s Real World as much as I did. On the quality MTV note, The Hills has cranked out two entertaining episodes in a row, both where something actually happened, while Spencer is actually making J-Wahl look like a half-decent boyfriend. Couldn't be more excited for Wednesday night's startling Real World conclusion.

[i] Does anybody in 2007 think “Do you know what would make this show better? More Celine Dion.” Just stupid. Killed any momentum the show had.

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