Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar, Warmed-Over

The Boyfriend and I visited Hollywood and Highland on Saturday to see the preparations, which was pretty nifty. The carpet is pinker than it appears on TV, and the swooshy faux-deco set pieces fronting the enclosed tent (security check? Car wash?) far more chintzy looking.

Yes, the Oscars are held in a mall. They hide it all remarkably well on TV, but directly above the grand, gold-swathed entryway you can grab a plate of nachos before you hit the Sunglass Hut.

Various young, apple-cheeked show workers were snapping the occasional picture of each other in front of giant Oscar statues, which I found endearing. Even if you're on the other side of the velvet rope, it must still be pretty magical.

The techie-roadie-Teamster types were rather less enthralled. A par can is a par can, no matter whose boobs it's lighting up.

What impressed me the most at the Kodak Theater was the incredible cross-section of onlookers who were crowding the area, both American and international. The movies this year may not be the mass market's bread and butter, but glamour and celebrity clearly are compelling and evergreen to a wide swath of humanity.

I was going to live-blog the Oscars for all three of my readers, but between errands and squeezing in a song or two on Guitar Hero I ended up TiVo-speedwatching the whole thing.

The masses of people at Trader Joe's were either doing the same thing, or -- gasp! -- did not care that the Oscars were unfolding mere miles away while they bought their Two-Buck Chuck.

Onto the show itself...

So CRASH won Best Picture. I can't say I'm not disappointed.

I need to see CRASH again -- I first watched it on a laptop on a plane, admittedly not ideal viewing conditions -- but while I thought it contained some strong scenes and performances, I found it overall manipulative, safe, and too redolent of movies that came before such as MAGNOLIA and SHORT CUTS.

Okay, many movies are manipulative, but I find CRASH's flavor really hard to watch, because it's full of a pervading sense of menace that finally erupts to destroy the person who least deserves it. I knew who the redshirt would be by his second scene, the poor bastard.

And yes, safe. The message? Racism is bad. What's risky about that?

And while the movie poses a challenge to the viewer, it doesn't offer any suggestions or solutions either, and precious little hope, other than to contrive to get yourself into a charged conflict with someone of another race and therefore Come To an Understanding. Either that or hug your housekeeper.

That's another thing: there's a slight whiff of the misogynistic about CRASH. The female characters are all either one-note racial sketches, bitchy, and/or victims of personal violence.

I do think time will vindicate BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, as well as the bumper crop of other excellent movies from 2005 like CAPOTE and THE CONSTANT GARDENER.

Other notes on the night:

Jon Stewart was fine but not nearly as funny as he can be (a Bjork/Cheney joke? Dusty stuff). Loved the attack ads, though.

Huh. The orchestra is playing that go away music as the winner starts to speak. That sound you hear is Oscar peeing on your special moment, kids!

Yay! Go Rachel Weisz! A great character in a great movie. Way to leave that THE MUMMY RETURNS stink behind.

Amy Adams was also amazing -- go rent JUNEBUG right now -- but she'll have more chances, I've no doubt.

Can George Clooney really be that classy and charming and politically aware? Gads, I hope so. And I hope the cloning people start with him.

Naomi Watts' dress looked like a manic badger was set loose on it.

Holy cats, did those interpretive dancers just recreate the assault scene from CRASH during the Best Song performance? Kill me now.

I didn't know Tim Burton was dating Elizabeth Taylor.

Sucked for him and the Wallace and Gromit guys, stuck in the cheap seats by the sound board.

Were Keanu's eyes always that teeny-tiny?

Hated Charlize's look. Like Brigitte Bardot being attacked by someone's home ec project.

Meryl Streep's intro of Robert Altman with Lily Tomlin went on too long (we get it, already, it's Altmanesque), but they were gracious and looked fabulous. Terrific dress on Meryl.

My inner snark was kind of hoping that Altman would unleash a little on Hollywood, an establishment he's famously been at odds with for many years, but he took the high road, as befits one of our greatest directors.

Jessica Alba needs a sandwich.

When will they abandon that horrible creepy-cheesy moment when the animated characters du jour "appear" onstage to present an award? Stop. Just stop.

The stuffed penguins were cute, and the movie was lovely, but MURDERBALL should've won best doc.

Yay! Cleaned-up pimp song rocks the house, despite yet more sketchy interpretive dancing. Seriously, I thought there was a moratorium on that stuff.

See, Larry McMurtry is a writer. He's in jeans.

And in closing, what is up with all the gum-chewing? Half the stars they showed in cutaways were chomping like Holsteins.

Get some class, Hollywood. We're watching. Well, except the mob at Trader Joe's.


DaveQ said...

I thought par can were for lighting up legs? Now that I think about it, I can see where our lighting professor agrees with you more than me.

Der Spieler said...

Just stumbled across your blog. Another video game writer. Cool.

I'm totally with you on CRASH. An entertaining movie, but it felt like a MAGNOLIA clone without the character depth or originality. It was like a broken pencil... pointless.

chris soth said...

Magnolia in HALF the time, remember. I did think it was better than Brokeback, but NEITHER was great...

Kira said...

MAGNOLIA is another of those polarizing movies, for sure. I liked it, and didn't mind the length.

A back-to-back comparison of that film, SHORT CUTS, and CRASH might be interesting. Or might be enough to make someone open a vein :) There's only so much Angeleno disaffectedness a body can take, after all...