From Mary Burgan. Email her at mary[AT]borderstan.com.
But I do have a moral qualm about my 14th Street Bridge promise in light of Django winning two other major prizes — for Best Original Screenplay and for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Shouldn’t I demonstrate my disapproval of these? A comic-book plot with “scintillating dialogue”? Really? And another award for Christoph Waltz for very similar thespian effects in Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds only four years ago?
I feel excused and consoled, however, that my pick for the best film of the year did win a bunch of major awards. Neglected by the pre-Oscar forecasters, Life of Pi surprised everyone by winning Best Director, Cinematography, Visual Effects, and Music. It should have won for Best Picture.
It seems that Life of Pi didn’t get Best Picture because of politics — both Oscar and national politics. Inside Hollywood voters felt it was time for Affleck to win a big one because he had gone from the unhappy pastures of his youth to the draft-horse work of his maturity. His turn-around story is so compelling: from J.L.o to Jennifer Garner and three children in 10 years!
And then the political correctness of an inventive American rescuing other Americans in captivity, with no disasters — it was a workman-like job. It also offset two other politically awkward front-runners in the Oscar race.
Those movies had problems in terms of political “truthiness.” Zero Dark Thirty suggests that some members of the CIA waterboarded some prisoners to get information that helped in the search for Bin Laden. These suggestions summoned the wrath of some powerful senators — one of whom deserves an Oscar for Sorest Loser. They were offended by the suggestion that something that nasty could ever, ever happen under the supervision of our guys.
And then some representatives from Connecticut — citizens of the Nutmeg State, the Provisions State, the Land of Steady Habits – were upset that Lincoln depicted two of members of their Congressional Delegation voting “No” on the XIII Amendment in 1864. This factual lapse, coming in a movie proud of its research, may have given Academy voters the push they needed to vote against Lincoln for Best Picture.
Lincoln tried so hard for authenticity that it gave Tommy Lee Jones a horrendous black wig to match the hair of Thaddeus Stevens. That authentic hair may have robbed him of Best Supporting Actor Award, handing it over to Waltz — a more graceful and less wrathful foe of slavery, after all.
Now that it’s all over, I do think the Best Supporting Actress Award should have gone to Helen Hunt. Anne Hathaway’s Award-winning performance in Les Mis looks too needy once you’ve seen a marvelously revealing parody of dreaming her dream on You Tube. Very few women could parody Hunt’s tender nudity in The Sessions without a major gym makeover — unlikely.
This season after the Oscars seems to be the season of parody. I wonder whether Downton Abbey can command the affections of American Masterpiece aficionados once they’ve seen Jimmy Fallon’s takeoff in Downton Sixbey. That parody, and several others, is also making rounds on You Tube these days.
I know, I know, Downton Abby is TV. I’m watching more on my little screen post Oscar–renting some of last year’s nominees like Brave (good animation, boring story), trying out recommendations of lowbrow box office smash hits like Pitch Perfect (good singing, boring story), or catching up on Downton.
But then the Sequester may shut down Masterpiece Theater, and I’ll have to read a book!
From Mary Burgan.
There are two unexpected nominations in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories in this year’s list of Oscar-nominated actors.
One is for the role of a hothead foster brother to the hero in The Town — Ben Affleck’s film about a crime family in Boston’s Charlestown. The other is for the role of the sentimental matriarch in Animal Kingdom, a film by the new Australian film-maker, David Michôd, about a crime family in Melbourne.
Each offers some ripe roles for actors, but although both make occasional stabs at probing the sources of familial pathology, neither seems very interested in getting beneath the violence of the crime movie genre.
I don’t want to deny any hard-working actor his or her due, and the supporting actors nominated from each film do their jobs very well. However, I am not sure why Jeremy Renner of The Town or Jacki Weaver of Animal Kingdom should be singled out just for doing their bits in two movies that are so seriously flawed.