Sean K. Cureton

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Oscars 2011: What About the Other Pictures?

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on February 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

It really is too bad the Oscars last night were as disappointing as they were. With all of the fantastic films that could have won, it was simply infuriating that almost every major award went to someone involved with the King’s Speech. Now, this is not to say that the King’s Speech isn’t a great film, but simply that it did not merit getting as many awards as it did. Quite frankly, the fact that it did get a vast majority of the major awards just makes the Academy seem biased towards British period pieces and anything else that is inspired by actual events(The Queen, Schindler’s List, A Beautiful Mind).

Beyond that, the hosts this year were abysmal. Not to blame James Franco or Anne Hathaway, who are both superb performers, but their hosting abilities were simply the worst I’ve seen since Ellen DeGeneres. What the Academy needs to do is go back to having one host again, and also making sure that that host is either A) a comedian or B) someone who is charismatic and can carry the show. Ideally, it would be great if they could get Billy Crystal to come back, or even Chris Rock, but with Crystal’s increasing age, and Rock’s sometimes questionable material, it seems unlikely that the Academy would go back to either of those two. But the point still remains that the host next year should be singular and funny.

WIth The King’s Speech taking almost every major award available, many of the other films nominated that should have been recognized in some way were completely kicked aside and forgotten entirely. First and foremost, Christopher Nolan’s original screenplay for Inception was passed over for The King’s Speech. Why? Why would the Academy so blatantly disregard Christopher Nolan again after passing him in 2008 for his film The Dark Knight? Inception was by far the most original film that was released this year, and as it seemed obvious that Nolan was probably not going to win for director or best picture, it seemed obvious to give him best original screenplay. Instead, by giving the award to King’s Speech, the Academy has chosen a script that could ultimately have been written by anybody, where Inception is clearly a much more original and unique story that could only have been written by Nolan.

The next award that was wrongly given to King’s Speech was best director, awarded to Tom Hooper instead of either A) David Fincher or B) Darren Aronofsky. Ideally, Aronofsky should have won this award for directing what this writer believes to be the best film of the year, Black Swan. Swan was so moving, frightening, and resonant with its images of fear, fragility, and uncontrollable ambition that it would seem that it would be a shoe-in to win Best Director. And if not Aronofsky, FIncher was surely a much better choice than Hooper, with his film that has been heralded as the best movie of the 21st century with its undertones that recall Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane. But no. Instead, the Academy went with The King’s Speech’s Hooper, since they seem to love that film so much.

Finally, we get to best picture, and who should win but The King’s Speech. After all, it has won almost every other major award. But what about Black Swan, The Social Network, Inception, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, The Fighter, WInter’s Bone, or True Grit? They were all fantastic films this year, and quite possibly better suited for the award of Best Picture. In picking The King’s Speech again, one final time, the Academy is choosing a film that is about royalty overcoming all barriers to emerge victorious. I wonder if the Academy chooses its films based on what films resonate most with its own political agenda and social status. Why not pick a film about royalty, when the Academy is in the seat of highest authority when it comes to picking the best of the best in film?

But, for all its faults, this year’s Oscar ceremony did have some great wins for people who truely deserved the praise lauded onto them. First, Lee Unkrich got to accept the award for best Animated Feature for Toy Story 3, a moment that seemed all the more special for the simple fact that Unkrich had never directed a feature film at Pixar before, so it was the first time for him to be accepting an Oscar on behalf of the much beloved animation studio in that capacity. Next, it was really a sweet moment to listen to Randy Newman accept his award for Best Original Song, as he is truly one of the best composers the world has ever known. It was also fanastic that Natalie Portman won Best Actress for Black Swan, which as has been said before, was one of the best fims of the year. And it was satisfying to see Chrsitian Bale and Colin Firth win their respective Oscars for The Fighter and The King’s Speech, as they both did seem to be the best candidates for each of their respective categories.

So, with the close of the Oscars this year, there is a certain saddness in this writer’s heart knowing that the films that seemed to be shoe-ins in their categories lost out to a film that was neither original nor “the best of” when compared to the other films that were nominated. But, it is important to remember that there is always next year, and one can remember that there was that golden year at the Oscars in 2004 when The Return of the King brought home the gold in almost every category, and Billy Crystal reminded everyone how much fun a good host can make this holy grail of film award ceremonies. Until next year, keep watching, keep thinking, and keep believing.