Monday, February 28, 2011

Final Thoughts About Oscar 2010: A Personal Journal for Monday

Thank you all in advance for reading.....

Well, a couple of my dreams came true during the 2010 Oscars...


During last night's Oscars, I found that I might not have been as successful in managing my anxiety as I thought I had been.  No longer a dispassionate outside observer, I had reverted to my old Oscar passion, and became emotionally invested to the point of jitters. 

Fortunately, there were some personal bright spots, so I avoided that horrible feeling of being left-out, like after 2005's "Brokeback-Crash".  Still, I felt an almost irrational protectiveness of my favorites, and of my own reputation as a relevant movie-lover and self-styled cineaste.  

It was an odd show.  I felt bored through the early awards, and felt foreboding during Aaron Sorkin's victory speech, and then David Seidler's name was called...

During Seidler's appearance, as I watched this elderly man alone on stage in the biggest moment of his career, a man I felt I had grown close to over the last few months (as a fellow writer and dreamer of Oscar glory), I started to get hopeful, and teary-eyed.

(Mark and I cried during the Memorials, many of the departed were ones we connected with in our formative years: Lynn Redgrave ("Georgy Girl"), Dennis Hopper ("Easy Rider"), composer John Barry, film editor Dede Allen ("Bonnie and Clyde"), producer Robert Radnitz ("Sounder"), director Blake Edwards, Patricia Neal, producer Dino DiLaurentis...)


When your favorites go on to win, it is a buoyant feeling, and the success or failure of the telecast hardly matters. When films you dislike are recognized, it makes for a dreary evening. I experienced a little of both.

--Of course, I felt personal vindication after "The King's Speech" prevailed in major categories. I was actually stunned when Tom Hooper's name was called...and I was still anticipating the big prize would go to "Social Network".  Colin Firth brought to the stage a touch of class.  His speech was eloquent, humorous, and generous.

--"Black Swan" will some day be rediscovered as the overwhelming work of art that it is.  Natalie Portman worked awfully hard to realize the beautiful and horrific vision that was this film, and gave a wonderfully emotional and mature speech.

--I have rarely liked Sandra Bullock or Jeff Bridges more than I did in their introductions to the Acting nominees. It almost made it worthwhile to me that both of them won in their respective categories last year.

--"Inception", to me, was a wall of I suppose the Sound awards were appropriate. Not sure yet how I feel about its Cinematography win.  (Glad its overwrought score was left offense intended to its fans....)

--I suppose "Alice in Wonderland" was a triumph of imagination, but its design wins left me apathetic. 

--Melissa Leo and Christian Bale captured the hearts of audiences, and received a lot of good will for their strong work in "The Fighter".  I can't help wonder if their work will hold up in the popular imagination a year from now.  Leo may not need to worry about a future acceptance speech (she has alienated many).  And did Bale forget his wife's name?  I'll concede him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he just got choked up.

--Right on!:  Director Charles Ferguson of the winning Feature Documentary  "Inside Job," remarked: "Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong." 

Right on, too! One of the producers of "The King's Speech", Iain Canning, thanked his boyfriend from the stage.  A nice moment!


I hope to stop reading about how older audiences cannot fully appreciate "The Social Network", while "The King's Speech" is old- fashioned and not innovative enough for Oscar recognition. It not only diminishes the merits of "Social Network", but unfairly denigrates the beauty of "The King's Speech". 

True, there may be individual Academy members who voted "generationally".  But  there is a core of Oscar voters who engaged in a full-blown love affair with the movies in the 1960's and 70's, when Hollywood  had its biggest creative ferment since 1939.  Oscar voters in this demographic may have a unique ability to study and assess the subtelties and strengths of each film.  To me, "Network" and "Speech" were each justly rewarded for their achievements in their winning categories.

Variety wrote last Fall that "Social Network" may actually have done better box-office with older rather than younger audiences.  The New York Times just published a piece about the untapped strength of a mature audience.  This demographic, similar to a majority of the Academy, has remained dormant in the last twenty years, but has shown will come out en masse for richer films that are intended for enjoyment across generational lines.  That may bode well for more movies like "King's Speech" AND "Social Network".

I was excited about the team of Hathaway and Franco. The promotional ads looked fun, and I enjoy the work of both of these performers, and admire their versatility.

I love James Franco (and he looked amazing in his white ballet tights in the opening montage)...although he seemed far-away, like the light hurt his eyes. Perhaps he dreaded the  writing, which was awful, leaving these two stranded in lame shtick.  (Franco reportedly took a picture on his iPhone of veteran writer Bruce Vilanch asleep backstage.)  

And Anne Hathaway will be wonderful if and when she ever shoots the Judy Garland biopic. She carried the show......Some thought she was too "perky"... she seemed fine to me....given what she was asked to do. 

The Producers of the Academy Awards should stop fretting about courting younger viewers.  Movie lovers come in every age range, and, young or old, will always follow the Oscars.

Billy Crystal's ovation was like a slap in the face to "Frathaway".

It is probably not a good thing to ask a nominee (like Franco) to host for the entire evening...the anticipation, and possible disappointment, make it an unfair proposition....professionals though they are, these people are still human after all...right?    
I think a few years of perspective will show that good choices were made overall in the Major categories...Annette Bening will have her day....perhaps I can write her Oscar-winning screenplay for her (Seidler is not the ONLY late-bloomer!)   A screen biography of Joni Mitchell, maybe, with Bening as a mature Joni???
"The Kids Are All Right", one of my three all-time favorites from this year (with "King's Speech and "Black Swan") went home empty-handed.  And you know?  For some incredible reason, I have taken some odd comfort in that.  In spite of its losses at the hands of the Academy, I know, as an objective movie-lover with a special, biased interest in this film's subject matter, I know in my heart that it still is, and always will be, a great film.  To me, it is all that matters.

"The Kids Are All Right" did not need the validation of the Academy to convince me of its greatness.  I calmly accept that it is not an Oscar-Winner, and that it exists in a world beyond the need for Academy accolades.
Hmmm...maybe I managed my emotions well enough, after all!
Time now to really enjoy movies again, for a while.  SHOCKING NEWS: I plan to watch "The Social Network" again.  In a funny way, now that it is no longer a contender in some heated "contest", it doesn't feel so threatening to me or to the recognition of a more classically-made and lovely film. So now, I think I can relax and find more to appreciate in it.
I hope we movie-lovers will all go back to being fans and students of the art and entertainment of film, and leave our prognostications and elbowing for position behind for a while.....No point in assessing David Fincher's odds next year, or creating our nominee predictions, or ANY of that, before we have a chance to enjoy the films purely, objectively, passionately, the way we did when we first fell in love with the movies.


  1. Right on, Tom! Although I might have awarded director to three other nominees before Hooper, although Alice in Wonderland is hideous, the rest of the night I have no qualms with (and that Hooper win? I'm OK with it!). The right actress won, Colin Firth has his Oscar, victorious Bale will be back, the screenwriters were inspiring and gave the best speeches, and Melissa Leo...I love her.

    "No point in assessing David Fincher's odds next year, or creating our nominee predictions, or ANY of that..."

    Er...ignore my April postings, then ;).

  2. Walter, I am glad you had a chance to go back and watch most of the show. Of course I will visit your site and read whatever you have to say.. As for me, I am content to remain a wide-eyed moviegoer, and conscientious reviewer, until, perhaps, next November! Thanks for your thoughts.