Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscars and a look ahead

As the Oscars came to a close Sunday night, my immediate two reactions were "well, they got it just about right" and "man, those dancers, while admirably flexible, were just kinda creepy."

Congratulations, of course, to Martin Scorsese, but more importantly, congratulations to the Academy for rewarding the flick that, to me, had the best combination of box office appeal and critical acclaim. "Little Miss Sunshine" also fits in this category, but "The Departed" is just a more worthy winner.

But, this being America and me being me, there's always something to complain about, of course.

First off, for full disclosure, I haven't seen "The Lives of Others," but it really must just be a masterpiece if it's somehow better than "Pan's Labyrinth." In the closing seconds of Maryland's great victory over UNC, insuring the turtles' return to the NCAA tournament, my brother called and we got in an argument over which was the best movie of 2006. He was pushing "Children of Men" and I stood firmly behind "Pan's Labyrinth." We quickly agreed, however, that they were the best two movies of the year, so it really wasn't much of an argument. "Pan's Labyrinth" certainly won its share Sunday night, but not getting the Foreign Language award was the Webster's definition of a snub.

In less surprising news, "Dreamgirls" won only two awards, the much-expected and well-deserved coronation of Jennifer Hudson and one for sound editing. What happened in the best original song category? I guess Academy voters just couldn't resist the lure of a Melissa Etheridge tune that lets them feel good about themselves and how much they love the environment. I was pleased, though, to see Alan Arkin prevail over Eddie Murphy. Great comedy is always a winner in my book, and Arkin definitely delivered it in "LMS."

But enough with the negativity. Forest Whitaker gave the best speech of the night, and Dame Helen Mirren was, as usual, all class. I also enjoyed Michael Arndt's clearly joyous speech accepting the award for Best Original Screenplay for "LMS."

And that's about all I have to say about the Oscars. Now, let's look ahead. There are some potentially great movies coming out in the next few weeks. Here are some I'm very excited about:

Coming Friday:
Zodiac: The reviews for this one have been stellar. In my mind, I'm already there.
Black Snake Moan: Reviews for this, on the other hand, have just been atrocious, but after "Hustle & Flow" I'll definitely give Craig Brewer a chance.

March 9:
300: Do I really have to say anything to get people psyched for this?
The Namesake: I just love Mira Nair more than almost any other director, and this one looks like it could be her masterpiece.

March 16:
Sunshine: Danny Boyle tries his hand at sci-fi. Even if this is bad, it should be fascinating.

The end of the month looks pretty bleak, but at least we have three solid weeks of promising flicks, and that's good enough for me.

28 comments:

Nell Minow said...

I'm happy to tell you that I think you will find everything you are hoping for in "The Namesake." I am also a big Mira Nair fan. I'm fan of Craig Brewer and loved "Hustle and Flow," but really hated "Black Snake Moan" -- except for the music, which was fabulous. I am looking forward to seeing what you think of it.

FrancesDanger said...

I was over the moon with the wins of both Arkin and Scorsese. I also totally agree with Pan's Labyrinth. Biggest Oscar crime since the 'Crash' win last year.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm not terribly confident that "Black Snake Moan" is gonna be any good, Nell .. Given the subject matter, frankly, I'm a little surprised that it's getting a wide release .. and I'm glad to hear that "The Namesake" didn't disappoint

jeremy said...

I've read some surprisingly good reviews for Black Snake Moan. I still think I'll wait for video. Anyway, the Academy was just about how I imagined it--with the exception of Pan's Labyrinth. And, I know you haven't seen it, but Little Children was definitely in the tops for the year for me. In my mind, it should have won best adapted.
Anyway, I did go see Teribithia. And the CGI stuff was basically what you get in the commercial--around 12 minutes screen time in all. The story, on the other hand, still holds up and even had me a tad tearful when Jesse is reading his note to his class at the end. You could do worse for a kid's movie (a lot worse).

renee said...

I knew you were going to blog about Pan's :-) I thought the 4 nominated foreign films that I saw were all really strong and I would have voted for Lives of Other's over Pan's. I didn't like Pan's as much as you did, so you may still feel that it isn't as deserving, but it definitely isn't a complete rip off for Lives to win. I hope you'll be able to see it soon.

Reel Fanatic said...

I definitely will see it as soon as I can, Renee .. I imagine that it if it's not out on DVD already, it will be very soon ... And I'm glad to hear Terabithia didn't disappoint, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to get to it ... I've already got a backlog started with Breach, and I definitely have to also see at least Zodiac this weekend

Lynne said...

The Lives of Others is popular hear in Portland, OR.
Happy about LMS and Departed because that is basically all I saw. Oh, and United 93
Been seeing preveiws for Zodiac for months now. Looking forward to it.

Lynne said...

Um, here is PDX...:)

lylee said...

I saw "The Lives of Others" just this past Friday night, and while I don't think it was *better* than "Pan's Labyrinth" - definitely not quite as original - it was *very* good. And I'm kind of glad it won because it will probably get more publicity as a result, which it needs more than "Pan's Labyrinth" at this point.

james higham said...

Why were the dancers so creepy?

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm not sure exactly why they wierded me out so much, Mr. Higham .. maybe it was the fact that they were behind a screen, or that it shouldn't be logically possible to make a reasonable facsimile of a VW bus out of human beings .. or maybe I was just irritated because it was something that could have easily been cut from a show that ran so friggin long!

Invisible Lizard said...

How can a man who uses the word "funnest" in his acceptance speech ever have won an Academy award for writing? Sure it was a great movie and I was glad he won, but as soon as that word slipped out of his mouth, I would have snatched that statue back and said, "Nevermind."

Reel Fanatic said...

You are a stern taskmaster, Lizard, but I can definitely see your point .. I guess I just caught up in the moment too much to notice his not-so-bon-mots

Elizabeth said...

I was disappointed by the way the Academy treated "Dreamgirls." It reminds me a bit of the way "The Color Purple" was treated back in the 80s. I didn't see "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Babel" but were they really better than "Dreamgirls?" Frankly they looked stupid, which is why I didn't see them. And for the boring Melissa Etheridge song to win--that was a crime.

Maybe Jesse Jackson was right, and the Academy is too white.

Mercurie said...

I have to say I was disappointed that Pan's Labyrinth lost. Of course, if it was up to me it would have been nominated for Best Picture. And at least it did lose to Lives of Others.


Ultimately, however,it was just damn good to see Martin Scorsese win.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to say, Elizabeth, that the Color Purple comparison seems perfect to me .. Maybe it was just seeing Dreamgirls on opening day in my city of Macon, greeted by standing ovations from the packed house, but the very hideous treatment of Dreamgirls has left the only bad taste from this Oscars season for me

Philip J. Fry said...

The first part of my comments are directed at Elizabeth. Everyone of course is entitled to their opinion. And my opinion is Dreamgirls isn't even one of the 20 best films of the year much less 5 best. Of course I don't think Babel or Little Miss Sunshine are in the top 5 either but at least their in the top 10. And as for best song Dreamgirls problem here was that it split votes between it's 3 songs and allowed Melissa Ethridge to win.

And to the Reel Fanatic himself, my question is where are these atrocious reviews for Black Snake Moan. At this point it is over 80% on rotten tomatoes which is really solid. It is also widely loved on Aint It Cool News the film geek site to rule them all.

The biggest snubs were Pan's Labyrinth losing best foreign film also not being nominated for best picture. Children of Men not being nominated for picture. And United 93 only gaining 2 nominations.

Jen said...

Thanks so much for the recommendations that you left on my blog. I'm eager to see "Stranger than Fiction".

I agree with your take on the Oscar's and Zodiac looks like it is going to be fantastic.

I just subscribed to your blog and I look forward to reading through the archives.

Neel Mehta said...

I saw Black Snake Moan Monday night and reviewed it here.

Generally, I recommend it, but it's not for everybody.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the good word, Neel ... I remember reading two very negative reviews in the trades, Phillip, but those may have been the only ones, so perhaps I was exaggerating somewhat .. Either way, I'm definitely gonna see it this weekend if it ends up in my little corner of the world ... And welcome, Elizabeth .. I hope you like Stranger than Fiction, and please come back any time

Divinity said...

Pan's loss in Best Foreign Film stunned me to no small degree. However, after some thought, I think I figured out what happened... oops, gotta run! Will let you in soon, I promise!

Emma said...

I too was disappointed that Pan's didn't get Foreign Film. I was so sure that it would! Funnily, though, I didn't get too angry! Maybe this shows I've already lost all faith in Oscars.

Reel Fanatic said...

I hope not, Emma .. you're far too young for that! .. I know the show is ridiculous, but I still get pretty excited about it every year

Bill Fitzgerald said...

RF,
Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog the other day. My interest in film is obviously mroe casual than yours, but I enjoyed your commentary. I agree that the Dreamgirls song split the vote, but it was jarring for another song to win after the production numbers from DG brought the house down just moments before. I went 4-6 on the big ones and I thought Ellen DeGeneres was quite capable, comfortable and funny. Way too many packaged pieces at the end though. I love Michael Mann's work, but his "America" montage seemed pretty pointless to me.

Reel Fanatic said...

I agree with you about the montages, Bill, and that's exactly why the song snub for Dreamgirls rubbed me so wrong .. The Melissa Etheridge song is perfectly fine, but what impact did it really have on that movie?

Divinity said...

Right, so my theory on Pan's loss is that this was Germany's third nomination in a row and each of the previous two - The Downfall and Sophie Scholl - was deserving of a win but was beat out by "timelier" nominees - The Sea Within and Tsotsi respectively. Then this year, in the face of competition by a family drama (Denmark's entry), another war movie (France's entry), a Canadian film about India (and, to be fair, we won this category only a few years ago), and a "fairy tale" (Pan's), they saw a chance to reward Germany's consistent showing. I've noticed in recent years, the Academy oftens awards Oscars for a body of work rather than a single feature (eg. Peter Jackson (2004), Clint Eastwood (2005), Renee Zelleweger (2004), and Paul Haggis (2006) to name a few). It's their way of creating a consolation prize but, just like the vanity awards (Nicole Kidman and Charlize So-Wrong), they don't reflect the quality and achievements of the current year of movie-making. Finally, the Foreign Language category is always tricky because it lumps so many films together and only allows for five nominations from ALL the movies made outside of the US production companies.

Anyhow, I probably put way more thought into this than I should but I was thoroughly confused by the outcome on Sunday. Call me full of BS if you'd like... but I'd prefer you didn't :o)

Reel Fanatic said...

That definitely does clear up things a bit for me, Divinity ... The academy does indeed love rewarding a body of work .. I have to say, though, I was thrilled last year when Tsotsi won .. that movie just blew me away

Divinity said...

I was a fan of Tsotsi as well. Saw it on an early screening in the UK and was very glad they kept the original ending rather than the less ambiguous one they thought of giving it for the North American release.
I think that the fact Pan's Labyrinth won three of the six Oscars it was nominated in a year with strong fields in all the categories (and many extenuating circumstances) says a lot for the quality of the film that the Academy did recognize.