A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, February 26, 2012

That Awards Show

I guess I feel obligated to say something about the Oscars (awards and show). It seemed to me to be as efficient a show as one that has to give out a lot of awards that nobody cares about (shorts, documentaries, tech stuff) can be. I liked the Cirque du Soleil routine more than I expected. The Wizard of Oz focus group was inspired. I'm glad we didn't have to sit through a lot of renditions of nominated songs. And it was nice to be surprised once: when Streep won.

On the other hand, Billy Crystal is turning into Bob Hope, and I mean that in the worst way possible: a comedian who has passed his sell-by date, and is coasting on a residuum of good will. It was a serious mistake to revive the old working-the-nominated-films-into-a-song routine and remind everyone of when it was fresh and funny. Crystal needs to stop dying his hair (if that's his hair) and grow older more gracefully.

But by now we are awards-showed out. The SAG awards, the BAFTAs, the Gilded Globes all told us what to expect, down to which stars will be turning up to present. The Oscars have nothing new to show us, no special revelations about what the movie industry is or wants to be. I don't think it was as bad a show as Tim Goodman does, though he seemed to like the Ben Stiller/Emma Stone presentation shtick a lot more than I did. (All I could think about was: Is he really that short, or is she really that tall?)

But as it happens, the only one of the nominated movies that I've seen is the one that was named best picture. I liked it -- how could you not? But the idea that The Artist now becomes a yardstick by which all future films are to be judged is obviously absurd. It's a one-of-a-kind jeu d'esprit, and nothing more. And I suspect in a few years people will be asking, Really, weren't there any better films that year?

1 comment:

Nicoletta said...

Hello Mr. Matthews,

I am a movie lover myself and I have a couple of questions about this article that I want to ask you. I am writing a paper about the relationship between the Academy's opinion as to who wins Best Picture and critics/movie fans opinions. My questions are:
- You said "The Oscars have nothing new to show us; no special revelations about what the movie industry is or wants to be”. Why do you say this statement?
- You mentioned that the Artist, the winner of last year's Oscar was a film that all future movies will be judged on. Personally, I think it reflects back to the old days when black and white and silent films and the Academy has just gone full circle. What do you think movies should be judged on in comparison to what they are judged on now?
Also my personal interest question is what films do you think have a chance to win the Oscars this year?