My suggestions for Academy Award fans




My suggestions for Academy Award fans -A Burke Commentary

I was reading these articles attached below from the L.A. Times and Entertainment Weekly regarding the ongoing rivalry between Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin.  If you take a moment to look up these two personalities on imdb, I think their filmographies will speak for themselves.  I bring this up because this year’s Oscar race has basically put The Social Network (Rudin’s production) vs. The King’s Speech (Weinstein’s film).  The two producers have been advertising and publicizing nonstop to get Academy decision makers to vote for THEIR film for “best in show”.

So where does that leave us, the mere audience member?  Does that mean the other nominations don’t matter at all?  If one of these two films is going to win everything anyway, why watch the broadcast?  In fact, why make it a point to see any of the other movies at all?  I have several comments, in no particular order, which I hope will reset your attitudes if you decide to watch the Oscars this Sunday at 8pm (EST), hosted by James Franco and Mrs. Burke Marksity, Anne Hathaway.  Wait, what? 

First Rule of Thumb: There is no rhyme nor reason to who wins. 
Do I really need any support on this Rule?  Think about it!  We have Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture.  Every year there is some surprise, some shock, some inexplicable winner.  It’s just the way the Academy Awards work.

Second Rule of Thumb: If there is a reason someone wins, it’s usually political.
From Kramer vs. Kramer all the way back to Gentleman’s Agreement, the Academy has taken this once-a-year opportunity to share its politics via TV.   The industry takes the full opportunity that this annual forum allows it to proclaim what it feels is right and wrong to the world.  At least that’s one way to look at it.  Another is…

Third Rule of Thumb: It’s just an award show!  Enjoy the fashion and the song & dance numbers – and go to bed!
In other words, dear Reader, don’t let a picture or actor/actress winning a particular category ruin your weekend.  It’s just an awards show.  Agree with yourself that, “Hey, I’m going to listen to the opening monologue from Hathaway and Franco, see what they know and then flip around.”  Or start the show on an hour delay and fast forward through the commercials.  The attitude of just enjoying the show and not making it bigger than it is should prove to be awfully healthy!  Too many of my pals insist on this event being the “temperature of Hollywood”.  What the hell does that even mean?

Final Suggestion: Get yourself a nominations list, make your personal picks – and write in a few if you like – and then just enjoy the show.  When one of your picks doesn’t win, simply SHRUG.

My PICKS are as follows:
Best Actor: Colin Firth/King’s Speech
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale/The Fighter – – I saw all nominees this year, and I really enjoy this category generally… every year it’s got the roles that aren’t TRYING to win an award, they’re just great acting that kind of tip the balance of that film from a good film to a GREAT film.  Was particularly glad to see John Hawkes from Winter’s Bone recognized in this category.
Best Actress: Natalie Portman/Black Swan – – if Annette Benning upsets her I will be most upset myself.  Actually no – I’ll just SHRUG!
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo/The Fighter — that’s right, not Helena and not Hailee, I’m saying it.  I LOVED Leo in The Fighter, which brings me to why I voted for these four above: I was thinking about which of the five made me FEEL the most in each film.  This was another category where I actually saw all the nominees (that’s right, even Animal Kingdom – do yourself a favor and see that too): and Leo made me DETEST her character!  That’s a pretty strong emotion….
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 – – I saw this last night and haven’t seen the others, which is why it’s getting my vote.  This third installment is a fine film, plenty entertaining and some parts had laugh out loud humor.  However…….. the fact that this film is allowed to be nominated TWICE for best picture is a crime.  Nothing against those involved in making Toy Story 3, but can you imagine if there was a 3-D Movie Category?  Avatar last year is nominated for best 3-D movie AND best picture?  There would have been riots in the streets!  OK, maybe not, but you see what I mean…  My feeling is if your film is nominated for best Animated Feature, then it forfeits the right for a Best Picture nod.
Best Art Direction: Inception (for me), Alice in Wonderland (to win) – – I pick Inception because I couldn’t tell which parts of this set WERE a set and which ones weren’t, which makes me pick this over Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter or King’s Speech.  More importantly, the sets of Inception weren’t distracting from the film: I wasn’t looking for the fact or fiction in the design like I was while watching Wonderland.  All nominees – even True Grit – were deserving, but when you think about the “world” of the movie, that’s the Art Director/Set Designer’s job.  They answer the question, “What SHOULD this room look like?”, which is difficult to answer – particularly when you’re making that world from scratch.
Best Cinematography: Inception (for me and to win) – – this category concerns the photography of the film, the lighting, the lenses, the format, essentially the quality of the image you’re seeing.  Talk about another category with all worthy contenders (except maybe Social Network??? What about Unstoppable, Shutter Island, Green Zone, Harry Potter to name a few pictures I’d suggest just off the bat?), it’s a real challenge to capture an image with all the principals and all the props and sets just right – and make it artistic!
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland (for me & to win) – – I mean, come on, did you see this film?  How would this film be as entertainingly effective as it was in “creating a world” withOUT those outrageous costumes?  In a way, for a movie like this, the costumes play as big a part as the actor’s portrayal of the character.  King’s Speech would be a close second to me in this category…
Best Director: Tom Hooper/King’s Speech (for me, [can’t vote C. Nolan since he wasn’t nominated] & to win) Let’s consider the director’s job.  Basically, communicate as best you can the spirit of the story and entire production to the actors, the cinematographer, the sound designer(s), the composer, the editor, the producer, the studio execs, the…  Based on the true story – that has been fictionalized as we well know by now – I feel Hooper did the best job of translating the story nominated to screen.  I would say Aronofsky is a very, very close second.
Best Documentary: Inside Job (to win) – – I haven’t seen any of these except portions of Exit Though the Gift Shop, which is one of the parts of grave controversy this year.  This film covers the true-life exploits of Bansky, a “street artist” (read: graffitti’er/tagger/anarchist) who said if he were to win, would show up in a monkey mask to accept the award.  Well, that’s just grand. 
Best Editing: Social Network (for me & to win) – – rumor has it that Black Swan is a shoe-in to win this, which I can’t believe.  If you caught Social Network, I hope you’ll agree with me that it completely deserves a win in this category: the story wasn’t told in flashback, it was told forward, backwards, in real time and sideways – and it still made sense!  Think about it: the storyline would cut from one deposition to the actual conversation as it took place back in 2003 – then cut BACK to another deposition… and again, the story still made sense.  FUN FACT: in Academy history, the winner of best editing 9/10 times is the winner of best picture. 
Best Foreign Film: Biutiful – – I don’t know why.  I haven’t seen any of these this year.
Best Makeup: The Wolfman – – really?  REALLY???  The fact that The Wolfman is going to get a win for anything isn’t the most disturbing part of this: Barney’s Version, a film about a wedding, gets an nomination, and Alice in Wonderland doesn’t????  What the hell’s going on here?  Oh wait – SHRUG.
Best Original Score: Inception, with Social Network a close second.  How King’s Speech got a nod in this category is confusing to me – I guess I assumed it was all existing classical music.
Best Music (Original Song): 127 Hours just because it’s not a country song (my own bias there).
Best Short Film (Animated): Day & Night
Best Short Film (Live Action): Na Wewe (Best film EVER – just kidding, didn’t see it)
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mix: Inception
Best Visual Effects: Inception – again, a very deserving crowd here because they all had “seamless” editing between what was shot in front of a screen and what was digitally edited in later, but as far as how distracting that entire process was to the story, I felt Inception’s presentation of the visual effects was minimal.  In other words, I wasn’t stopping after a scene to lean over to my pal and say, “what cool effects, huh?”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Social Network, which will win because Aaron Sorkin doesn’t have a statue yet.  And here’s ANOTHER reason Toy Story 3 is on my shit-list:
Best Original Screenpaly: Um, hmmmmmmmmmmmm, gee, lemme see, uh, INCEPTION!?!?!?!?  I will not be able to shrug if this title loses for THIS category – Nolan & his brother spent over ten years on this script starting when they were making Memento back in 2000.  Just a fun fact.

And finally (drum roll) Best Picture = Inception (for me) – – Best Picture = King’s Speech (to win)

And now, I will explain to you why I think Inception is last year’s best picture.  I know many of you liked King’s Speech most, while others thought Social Network – and even Toy Story 3 – were best.  I haven’t heard too many say they thought The Kids Are All Right should be awarded Best Picture; but that’s my whole point I suppose, that the Oscars are a very subjective kind of show and award.

I think Inception deserves the Best Picture win because to me, movies are specifically all about telling stories visually.  If you haven’t seen Inception, please watch it: and even if you have, watch it again.  There is no conceivable way a book with Inception’s story would do that story justice.  Nor would a TV series.  Or a comic book.  Or a painting in a museum or a rousing radio show on NPR.  This story could ONLY be told as a feature film: it used visual elements (both photography and effects), sound design (editing, effects and the mix of the sound), the talents of the multi-cultural cast and all the other elements (production, editing, direction, musical score, etc) to make one fine, fine piece of entertainment.  I watched it last summer in the theater, and I’m not ashamed to say I saw it twice on DVD over the weekend: there were parts I had to rewind and watch again because they were that visually exciting to me (the hallway hotel battle, anyone?)

In the end, my point is that movies don’t exist to win awards: they exist to entertain us.  If you think you’ll be aggravated by “Hollywood’s Agenda” on Sunday, just skip the Oscars.  If you’re like me and you don’t mind watching and shrugging from time to time, I think we’re in for a hell of a good show this year!  Particularly with the future Mrs. hosting…

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One Response to My suggestions for Academy Award fans

  1. Pisa says:

    I really enjoyed this and found it very helpful. You were pretty much on the money. I hope James Franco can get some jobs after his snooze fest of a performance. Your future wife did a great job. Very bubbly and entertaining. I miss Hugh Jackman, I mean come on…..As a host he had it all talent for the anyone watching and just a beautiful man to watch. You’re out in LA, can you work on getting him back as host for next year…maybe with the future Mrs B???????

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