Monday, February 7, 2011

Sasha Stone's Oscar Blog, and "A Tale of Two Movies"

This weekend I "discovered" a blog that I had been aware of for some time but just started reading in earnest: Awards Daily, by writer/ blogger Sasha Stone

To those who love Oscars (and many of you who read this Journal certainly do) I recommend you check out this site, for a chance to sink your teeth into industry predictions, opinions, and debates.

On one thread, called "State of the Race", she writes a detailed and provocative entry about the divide among Academy members over the prohibitive Oscar front-runners, "The Social Network" and "The King's Speech".

Over 100 people commented...and I threw my hat into the ring, too.

I know many readers of this journal loved both films. Those who especially enjoyed TSN have chided me on my negative critical reaction to it.  While I have not jumped on the Fincher/Eisenberg bandwagon, I have reflected on this competent (but, to me, shallow) film to better understand my resistance to it.  I think I was able to articulate it more directly in my comment on Stone's blog.  

Moreover, I was compelled to comment about my strong reaction to this notion that, even in a field of 10 Best Picture nominees, the discussion still boils down to a race between just two films. 

What's more, according to Stone's essay, there is a huge debate over the supposition that Academy members will vote with EITHER their minds OR their hearts, as though one can't do both.  TSN is positioned as a deserving "thinking person's film", and TKS as merely a "feel-good" choice.  However, these assumptions deserve to be questioned, but they rarely are.

Printed below is my comment to the post.  Check it out here:

There are now 10 films nominated for Best Picture, and still the discussion is between only two. There has to be some irony there!

I see many comments about thinking vs. feeling, when in reality the most artistically brilliant of the ten, which engaged the mind and touched the heart in unpredictable, unexplainable ways (like poetry), is “Black Swan”. It’s strange that any discussion about intelligent engagement with a film does not include this gem.

“The Kings Speech” was not only brilliantly performed but technically marvelous. Its use of lenses, creative manipulation of sound, and detail in design, while not drawing undue attention to costumes and sets, gave me the unique pleasures found in classically made pictures. It reminded me what made me love movies in the first place. Anyone who yawns and invokes Masterpiece Theater probably has never watched MP. It is possible to look past the trappings and the “period” aspect, and enjoy this film as a study in an unlikely friendship.

I found “The Social Network” glib, self-satisfied and aware of how precocious it is. It unwittingly glorifies the backstabbing and degradation it sought to expose. To this viewer, because the film treats an historical figure that is very much alive, it comes off as nothing more than an advertisement for the social networking site it portrays…with the unspoken implication that if one disagrees with the film or what it stands for, one is no longer “relevant”. No wonder critics, who rise or fall on relevance, embraced this film.


  1. I believe I read that! I rarely comment myself on that site (I do sometimes), but certain threads, like that one, catch my attention, usually when I have time and frustration. You know we differ on The Social Network, but I do commend your defense of The King's Speech. Seriously, people loved it until it started winning the Guilds. Crazy.

  2. I couldn't resist joining that conversation...Thank you for your support Walter.