Years ago, I sewed myself a Jazz Age Oscar-Night coat, black and gold velvet, swooping to the floor. With my hair in marcelle waves, you'd swear I was Zelda Fitzgerald. I don it for every Academy Awards telecast, with all my best jewels.
But my costume has not even come out of the closet this year; I don't know if I'll make the effort. This year's Awards are a total fucking drag.
Is there a gag rule in force? Does anyone else think this year's Oscar lineup is one of the worst?
I woke up this morning thinking I would catch up on a few weekend matinees, Oscar films in contention that I've missed so far.
But I didn't, I went to see Soderbergh's "Shrinks Gone Bad!" instead, aka Side Effects. —It's very good; I screamed and gasped and licked my lips.
Of course, I didn't want to sit through Lincoln— all my friends who have, tell me they had to dutifully swallow it like Robitussum PM.
I didn't want to see Zero Dark Thirty either— I haven't quite mustered up the mood to be nauseated cinematically by US torture and imperialism for two hours.
Argo's racist hysterics were already quite enough, and though I imagine I'll enjoy the grindhouse theatrics of Tarantino's Django, I don't want to sit and listen to all the rednecks in my local theater while they crack wise about slavery's "good ole' days."
The experts say Argo is going to win Best Picture. I don't get it. Even if you take away the "crazy-Arabs-will-slit-your-throat-on-slightest-whim" meme, it's not deep filmmaking. We're not talking Costa Gravas here. It's a B-espionage thriller; that's it. I had to go directly home and watch Battle of Algiers to remember what life (and film) are all about.
I do like a couple of the nominees. The operative word is: "LIKE."
Silver Linings Playbook is a laff-fest, especially if you're an English Lit teacher or a Philadelphia Eagles fan. Cooper and Lawrence are adorable; De Niro wakes up and acts his ass off for the first time in years. His supporting actor nomination is something for which I might put my coat on.
But! Think about David O. Russell, the director.
This film is a fragment of his powers. If Playbook is Oscar-worthy, then Flirting with Disaster should get the Nobel Prize. It's transcendent by comparison. Even Three Kings, where Russell apparently was nearly murdered by his cast, packed a more memorable wallop.
Playbook is an enjoyable, thank-you-very-much, feel-good comedy, but it is not anywhere near David's best.
You might say the same about Ang Lee. Life of Pi is a beautiful accomplishment. But this is the man who made Brokeback Mountain, Lust, Caution, and The Ice Storm! Crouching Tiger, Where is Your Oscar? I worship Ang Lee, but this isn't his Academy moment.
The other end of the spectrum is Beasts of the Southern Wild. Like everyone else, I am enchanted by Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry's family trials in the apocalyptic Mississippi River watershed. "Who's the Man?" — "I'M THE MAN!"
This movie is the awesome garage punk band that snuck onto the red carpet. But the film is not about mastery of anything, it's about new beginnings and flying by the seat of your pants. To have this picture here, surrounded by all the wretched cynical Hollywood blockbusters, seems the worst of tokenism.
I'm not going to even get into Amour— a little Franco-Austrian death pill we're supposed to grimly swallow and whisper adieu... Why wear an Oscar coat when I might as well crawl into a pine box?
2013's entire Oscar slate can be summed up by the title: Les Miserables— I am miserable, my movie palette has been wasted.Ladle on the death squads and castor oil, it's going to be bumpy night.
Most memorable 2012 features I saw last year:
Magic Mike (and all the youtube videos of women WATCHING Magic Mike)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Next movie I'm dying to see: Cosmopolis