Welcome To 2015’s Limp Dick Oscars

21 Feb

No question about it… We got a seriously weak selection for this year’s Oscars. Seriously.

I mean, not that it really matters or anything… But, usually, there’s at least one or maybe two movies you can sort of get behind – whether they win or not is irrelevant because they probably won’t. But, the fact is, you’re at least rooting for them. You’re invested.

Not the case this year.

This year, I’m rooting for ONE PERSON. That’s it. That’s all I care about. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Pleasepleasepleaseplease…..

I’m not saying all the nominees are bad movies. They’re not. Most of them are, in fact, what I would consider good to a little better than good. But they’re just…lame. That’s the thing. No teeth… There’s nothing particularly interesting here. It ultimately doesn’t matter what wins.

Eh… When all is said and done, this is all subjective right? Many people feel Boyhood is a masterpiece. Meanwhile, I thought the best American films of 2014 were Interstellar and Gone Girl. So, who am I to argue? But… In any case, I did go through the trouble of seeing all of the nominees. And I do have a couple of things to say.

So, here we go…

 

AMERICAN SNIPER

Eh…

I think Clint Eastwood is a fine filmmaker. He combines solid, meat & potatoes craftsmanship with no nonsense artistic integrity to produce films that look and feel really good most of the time. And a lot of the time he hits home runs. Many of his films are just terrific… Some of the best popular works of their years. I’m talking about Unforgiven, Letters From Iwo Jima, Mystic River… The Rookie…

Oh yes.

But American Sniper is not one of Eastwood’s best films.

I think on some level, it’s impressive. I love that a guy who is pushing eighty can still get out there and make an action film that has the sort of energy and pulse to it that an action film is supposed to have – with clear geography, crisp photography, sharp and coherent editing… Action sequences where you know what’s going on, who is shooting who, where everybody is and what the stakes are.

I love that this ancient dude can just get out there and show up all the whippersnappers: “In MY day,” he said to the chair…

I want to get in early on whatever flaxseed and kale this guy is drinking because it’s working.

And so, American Sniper has some terrific action sequences.

But it doesn’t have much of anything else. Bradley Cooper put on a couple of pounds and he mastered the art of speaking like someone stuffed a pile of falafels into his mouth, so you never understand what the fuck he’s saying. And that makes his title character enigmatic and interesting. And that’s it.

Because there’s no other way to make Chris Kyle interesting. He was a guy who shot a lot of people in the head, much like John Wick. He did four tours “over there,” while his boring wife and his boring kid stayed at home and she told him to stop going over there because it was tearing their family apart! And then his tours were over and he finally stopped going “over there,” And he finally came home and stayed home and all was well with the world.

And that’s it.

Oh and, by the way, he died one day.

There. That’s the experience of watching American Sniper, outside of its snazzy action sequences.

I just saved you thirteen bucks. You can thank me later.

BIRDMAN (OR THE UNEXECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) … “JEEE-susssss!”


ACTING! …. THE MOVIE!

Again… Nothing remotely interesting going on here, really… Except for the fact that Michael Keaton is a great fucking actor and it’s about time he was finally recognized as a great fucking actor and his time has come… And if this works out, we’re going to get a whole bunch of movies with Michael Keaton from now on, for a few years at least…

And they will be “good” movies. Big, glossy, Hollywood movies that make money and maybe even get good reviews. And, more importantly, people actually go to the theater, buy a ticket and WATCH THE MOVIES. So, it won’t be, like… Some dumb EROTIC DRAMA where his rival is Brendan Fraser trying to give a convincing dramatic lead performance… Or some cheap thriller that premieres on Lifetime, where he looks terrible and the blue screen is terrible and nobody watches it on Lifetime or Netflix or anywhere else… Or some movie from years ago you never heard of that also inexplicably stars Michael Caine… Or a movie he actually FUCKING DIRECTED, which is actually really good, but you never saw it because you never heard of it and the distributor thinks it’s HIS fault and they tried to sue him but he won, because they’re stupid assholes.

Also… He will stop getting “suck my dick” supporting roles in dumb action movies nobody saw or liked… Like that RoboCop remake that wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that good either. Or that car movie where Jesse Pinkman is supposed to be a badass. Or, like, a Herbie remake with Lindsay Lohan. Or this movie where he plays THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, but it doesn’t matter because he’s actually just Katie Holmes’ dad; and that’s what the movie actually is…

Anyway… I hope those days are finally behind him. I hope he gets his Oscar and then, like Johnny Travolta in ’94, he goes on to star in a bunch of high profile hits in several genres. And then, I hope he DOESN’T throw whatever credibility he has into the wind, to make a full length epic adventure epic feature based on The Book of Mormon (Not the Broadway show, the actual book). And then he becomes a walking joke that can’t read the name on the TelePrompTer at the Oscars, like a complete jackass. I mean, maybe he’s dyslexic and they forgot to put the name using a special font or spell it out phonetically or whatever… So it’s not his fault. But he won’t own up to that anyway, and he still looks like a jackass. And there’s a precedent to this, because several interviews suggest that Mr. Keaton (whose real name is actually Mr. Douglas) either suffers from ADD or he smokes a lot of pot…or both. So, anything is possible.

But I hope he wins an Oscar and then I hope he sticks around is what I’m saying. Not only because he happens to be, no shit and I kid you not, my favorite actor; but also because I genuinely think he deserves it and it will make sitting through that whole bloated show worth it if he actually wins. Because it’s the only thing I really care about this year. I want him to win.

So, they didn’t give him his Oscar for Clean and Sober. That was a very good movie, by the way. But he wasn’t even nominated for that one. No. They give it to him this year… For the pretentious art project made by the pretentious Mexican film student who wants to wow you with his technique; and he watched Cassavetes’ Opening Night and Truffaut’s Day For Night and Fellini’s 8 and 1/2… And he figured “I’M the only one who’s seen these movies…(yeah, maybe in MEXICO pal…) and no one will realize I’m just ripping them off and don’t actually have anything insightful of my own to say about acting, or theatre or the creative process or the media or crass commercialism or anything really… And I will be hailed as a genius.”

Fine.

But, really, it’s a pretentious movie. And it has terrific acting. Edward Norton… Emma Stone… Nami Watts… Zach The Daddy Mac Galifianakis… And Michael Keaton. The man who deserves an Oscar.

I enjoyed watching the performances in this movie. So, by all means, give it all the acting awards under the sun if you must. Just, whatever you do… Don’t forget to give it to Michael Keaton.

Seriously… It could win every other award if you want. But, if it wins everything else, and Michael Keaton DOESN’T win…

Well… I’m gonna be pissed.

 

BOYHOOD

A lot of people really loved this movie.

I thought it was okay.

Because, to be honest, life is boring.

Let’s be honest with ourselves and each other and just admit right here and now that our lives are not interesting. They’re not. They’re not interesting to anyone other than ourselves (and that’s only because we, ourselves, are living them so we’re automatically invested in everything that happens). But our lives, in and of themselves are banal, unwieldy things… With no definitive storyline… No ultimate point… And only one clear ending. Spoiler alert: we all die at the end. Here’s hoping your death is cinematic and spectacular. Mine probably won’t be. I hope it isn’t. I hope I just go like Melvyn Douglas in Being There. That’s about as cinematic as I hope it is.

Oh you can be the badass in the room and say you hope to go like Alan Rickman in Die Hard or John Lithgow in Cliffhanger… But, I don’t know. From the outside that looks cool and all. But it also looks painful. I’d rather avoid pain if I can.

Anyway… Life is boring. Because most of us are not archeologists who lead double lives as professors and travel the world looking for mystical artifacts. Most of us aren’t secret agents who work for Her Majesty The Queen and travel the world getting into trouble, fucking everything that moves and killing bad people in novel ways like setting them on fire with a zippo or something. Only a select few of us have done something meaningful, like stood up against “the man,” or inspired the other people who work at that factory to go on strike, or tried to uncover corruption at that power plant and they had us killed but made it look like an accident, or Lowell Bergman thought we were interesting enough to get us on 60 Minutes, which is the HIGHEST RATED, the MOST PRESTIGIOUS TV news magazine… And even Bruce McGill went to bat for us by making Wings Hauser look like an asshole…

Most of us… We are born, we grow up…sometimes we have family problems: Like our parents get separated, and then mom has bad taste in men, so she hooks up with a couple of assholes… So, we end up with shitty stepdads or something. Then, we finish high school and we leave home, go to college and start our lives as adults… Meanwhile, mom stays at home and moves on with her life, and she’s kind of depressed for a bit because she’s put her kids through college and now she’s middle aged, and she feels life has kind of passed her by and maybe she didn’t get to do everything she wanted and her life WAS her children and now they’ve moved on and now she has to figure out what to do with the second half of her life as a frumpy middle aged single mother.

Really? A three-hour movie about that? That’s a hit movie?

Well…

I guess I’m the asshole then.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

And if there’s one movie out of the nominees that actually deserves to win the big one, I guess it’s this.

It won’t win. Absolutely not. Make no mistake about that.

For one thing, I think it came out like seven years ago or something… So, that’s not going to work.

Also… It’s weird and quirky and original and interesting… But it’s not “about” anything. It doesn’t have to do with social issues. It doesn’t have to do with someone’s life. And it’s not some artsy fartsy movie that’s more about how it was made than anything within the actual movie itself.

That’s why, this year, it doesn’t have a chance.

For my money though? Of all the nominees, this is the one that actually feels like the real deal. First of all, it presents a vibrant and fully realized world. That’s something that Wes Anderson excels at I think. More than anyone else of his generation, he’s very meticulous about the design of his films. And so they look and feel very particular… He’s creating his own little alternate universe on film. And that’s, to me, the real power of cinema…when it can transport you somewhere. And, whether it reflects your reality or not, it does feel like a journey of some kind. The best films are the ones that can do that as far as I’m concerned. You get caught up in some great story, or some really vivid world, and just get sucked in.

That’s what happens here. It’s a wonderful amalgam of coming of age personal catharsis and rip roaring cloak & dagger thriller. There’s nothing out there quite like it, and it’s probably the most fully satisfying and entertaining movie Wes Anderson has yet made, with its quirky characters, spicy black humor and unusual action scenes… Yes, action scenes. You get a chase through the snow… A prison break sequence… A shootout at a luxurious hotel… Narrow escapes…

It’s a movie that has it all. And it provides the entertainment value I look for. And it has pretty much every single element that’s missing from all of the other nominees.

And it won’t win.

That’s just the way it is.

THE IMITATION GAME

Sorry Harvey, not this year.

There was a time, I guess, where Harvey Weinstein was waxing so many cars and stroking so many shafts that his movie taking home the big one became a foregone conclusion. Exceptions? Sure. But you gotta admit, it was happening. There was that year – I think it was 96 or 97 – where every single nominee seemed to be a Miramax movie. And now, even post Miramax, which still exists without him and his brother, even though the company is named after their fucking PARENTS… Well, here he is. And, every year he puts out his little prestige picture and shoots for the fences. And, some good some bad, it’s been a while since he hit that home run.

And here we go again…

With the issue piece/historical thriller/biopic/Cumberbatch star vehicle to end them all.

You’ll notice I haven’t named the director of the thing. And I feel kind of bad about that, because of course it’s his movie. Unfortunately, I never heard of him before I saw this; and he has one of those delightful names that’s impossible to spell or pronounce for anyone who is not versed in whatever language the name is written in.

I remember being reasonably entertained by this completely watchable movie. Until it got to that cheesy ending, in which Keira Knightkey informs the audience (well, she actually informs the guy himself, crouching before him and placing her delicate hand on his delicate knee) that Alan Turing is the most important man in human history. That he singlehandedly won World War II… That his invention was the inspiration for every single technological advancement we’ve experienced as a species, since the late 1940s…

Then the film proceeds to tell us that England used to consider homosexuality illegal and people who engaged in that lifestyle were tried for treason and executed or castrated or both… And that is very wrong and very unjust… And we should all feel terrible that a great man like Alan Turing had to suffer this injustice, by the way…

And it doesn’t work.

I want to care. But the movie has to refocus its priorities for that to happen. You can’t be everything all at once for everyone. You can’t be a thriller and a biopic and an urgent mission statement about the injustices committed against homosexuals in England, while also serving as a vehicle for a very good actor that gets a lot of attention and a lot of nerds seem to unjustly hate for some reason…

But I digress. It’s a folly to try and be every movie for everyone at the same time. You end up with things like this. It’s interesting to some degree… It carries the day. And, horrendous ending aside, it’s pretty unsentimental and not corny.

But whatever.

SELMA

It’s too bad really…

Because, given that Mr. Oscar Academyaward already did his civic duty last year to prove he does like black people after all, well… All he could do this year is toss them a little bone.

I think I already made it clear that my pick for “Best Picture” out of all the nominees is that movie about the hotel that’s not actually in Budapest. But that’s because I tend to be weary of typical awards bait prestige pictures taking home the award because they’re “IMPORTANT.”

In all fairness, though, I think Selma is a very good movie. And also an important one, sure. But apart from any of that, it just does what a good movie is supposed to do: it entertains and, in this case, informs…ultimately moving you with its sheer dramatic weight and power. And it does that last one without resorting to cheap parlor tricks. It doesn’t need to. This is a momentous thing that happened… And the film presents the events with accuracy and authenticity. Is there poetic license? Sure. It’s a movie. Does it paint LBJ as kind of a dick? Sure. But, hey, he probably was, you know? If he was your grandfather or something, you might be ticked but who cares? He got to be president, after all. Not everyone gets to do that. So, it’s okay. It’s fine.

I’m impressed at Ava DuVernay’s skill as director, with her clean and powerful staging of the protest scenes… And I’m also impressed with her as a writer. I didn’t know they had to invent those speeches… Because someone else held the actual rights to their content and they couldn’t use them. I didn’t realize that because the words coming out of David Oyelowo’s mouth sure sounded like something Dr. King might have said.

How great is he in the role? He’s fucking terrific. That’s MLK right there man. Sorry. I know he’s a Brit, but it works. He pulled it off.

It’s kind of a long movie but it doesn’t feel too long. And it has a great pace, and you also get Common and Bunk from The Wire. As well as a great fucking John Legend song at the end. Like, it’s really good. I’m serious. I hope it wins best song.

Because that’s the only thing this movie’s going to get. But at least give it that, will you?

And get someone else to introduce him when he comes out, okay? We don’t need another: “And now, please welcome to the stage, the unique and ever so talented NUNU JOHNSON!”

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING


And then, on the seventh day, God invented BORING.

Look… That’s fine. If you really think the best way to dramatize the life of Stephen Hawking is through a cheesy love story then more power to you.

Personally, I don’t care. And I thought this movie was fucking boring. You can throw all the accolades you want at Eddie Redmayne’s feet. I’m not going to argue that what he does is easy. … And, to be fair, I’m on the fence about it being hard. What I mean is: they love to give awards to people for turning a workshop exercise (BE YOUR POWER ANIMAL) into a full length performance. I mean, it’s fine. Give it to Dustin Hoffman, even though Tom Cruise actually carried that movie. It’s fine.

Real actors love this shit. And they love them for it. And Eddie Redmayne did his homework and you buy him as Stephen Hawking.

But who cares if the movie is boring? Stephen Hawking has all these fascinating ideas about the way the universe works… So they made his life a corny tearjerker about a cripple and the woman who loved him.

Come on now.

WHIPLASH

And finally… This year’s feel-good Rocky entry.

About the kid who wants to play jazz and the fucking asshole who won’t let him.

I like these kinds of movies… It’s a winning formula. So, this is kind of like The Karate Kid, except Mr. Miyagi gets up in your face and he screams, and he says fuck a lot… And he’s not afraid to call it like he sees it. He doesn’t go as far as to use the N word I don’t think, but he does call the kid a “Hymie Fuck,” because I guess the Jewish community doesn’t stage as many public demonstrations…

Pardon me a moment.

Anyway… This is a good movie. But that’s it. It’s a very entertaining, fast paced movie with two good performances. One of those performances is so good and so electrifying and so awards ready, there’s no way JK Simmons is walking out of there empty handed. And that’s as it should be. He’s a wonderful actor who’s been wonderful for years. His time has come so give the man his gold.

And that’s kind of my point…

I saw this about a month ago and it’s already starting to fade away. I remember, basically, what it is. And I remember that I enjoyed it. But, most of all, I remember Simmons and all those great lines he has. They’re gonna be quoting him for years like Tony Montana.

But a great performance is all that is.

I think John Houseman got the Oscar for The Paper Chase, didn’t he? But that movie most certainly didn’t win Best Picture, did it?

And here we are again: PAPER CHASE 2014: THE JAZZ MAN.

Enjoy.

* * * *

And there you have it.

Some say Boyhood is going to take home the statue, others are saying maybe Birdman. I could try my best to give two shits about either one but it’s hard. I just hope Michael John Douglas – from Harrisburg, PA – gets what he richly deserves… That’s all I’m really invested in, to be honest.

Oh… And, why not, give one to Julie Moore too. I mean, I think I might have wanted to jump in front of a speeding subway after I watched it, but she was – no holds barred – brilliant in Still Alice. And before you call me a hypocrite for praising that, which some may see as a “full retard” performance, while shitting on Redmayne and his SNL-ready impersonation…  I dunno… It’s just different. I saw a real person up there on screen. I saw a brilliant woman who begins fading away piece by piece, as her most prized possession – her mind – just melts away… And it was brilliant. It was truthful and terrifying and brilliant…

So… Keaton and Moore. Make it happen.

As for the rest… Do whatever you want.

I’m sure I won’t remember by this time next year anyway.

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One Response to “Welcome To 2015’s Limp Dick Oscars”

  1. Raven Z February 22, 2015 at 6:41 am #

    First, I’m rooting for Keaton too.
    Just an observation.
    Sadly, the gimmicks of special/transformed/challenged/deformed character always had dibs on the Oscar.
    But seriously, I wish Keaton wins, and not just for his past roles or the weight of his career.
    I think birdman is a great film.

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