Sunday, February 24, 2013

Random Thoughts Just Hours before Oscar Night

I feel a good rant brewing.  No..I feel like an absolute curmudgeon!

Never fear.  I'll not spoil the evening with a tantrum.  This is one of the more interesting Oscar years in recent memory, even if it's almost certain that the year's most interesting films will not be justly recognized.

It has been a year since my Mother entered a Nursing home.  I'm feeling a little melancholy today.  I miss her enthusiasm about the Oscars, mostly done (I know this now) for my sake.  I miss going to the movies with her. 

Mark's Mother died almost a month ago. She went quietly after a long illness.  Mark's sons will join us tonight for the Oscar show.  We will be festive, although Helen's recent absence still hangs heavy over us.  I miss her, too.

I think we will drink a silent toast to both Moms tonight.

Now, on to Oscars and my burning, snarky questions:

--Can someone tell me just what Daniel Day-Lewis DID to earn such programmed, lockstep acclaim for "Lincoln"?  To me, he handled Tony Kushner's labyrinthine speeches admirably, often beautifully.  But come on...What do people mean when they say he made an uncanny transformation into Lincoln?  Do they mean that they themselves met Abe Lincoln personally, and Day-Lewis is a spitting image?  Rather, I think people are in awe of the surface resemblances, thanks to make-up, that render the actor like a bronze bust of the 16th President.  Lewis so resembles our own images of Lincoln, gleaned from pennies and $5 bills, from amusement park dioramas and somber sculptures, that it is easy to assume that these transformations were due to Lewis' acting.   But, compared to Lewis' own best work ("My Left Foot", for instance) and his Best Actor competitors, I see neither the level of difficulty, nor the memorable high points, I saw in either of the perfomances of Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper.  Even non-nominated John Hawkes of "The Sessions" will stay in memory longer than the Lincoln Lullaby.

--Argo is suddenly the favorite to win Best Picture, based on precursor awards.  (Of course, these have gone for naught before.."Brokeback Mountain", anyone?)  Ironically, had Ben Affleck received a reasonably deserved Best Director nomination, I wonder if the movie would now be an also-ran?  It occurred to me that Best Picture, should "Argo" triumph here, might be its only win!! I don't think it is heavily favored in ANY of its other nominations (Arkin had too little screen time, and its nominees for Screenplay, Editing, Score, and 2 Sound categories are up against fierce competition).  Should "Argo" win Film Editing, however, then it is all over but for Affleck's Producer acceptance speech.

--I liked "Argo" a lot, and it would be a respectable best Picture winner.  It is entertaining, informative (even if not wholly historically accurate), and extremely well-made.  Still, there are other nominees that stirred my passions more, and inspired my creative juices, and old love for filmmaking.  See below for Loudest Cheers.

--Speaking of Director: with DGA going to Affleck,  but no chance for an Oscar, this has to be the most breathtaking award of the night.  If "Argo" is going to win for Best picture, then will the Academy do something impetuous, wonderful--like give it to the new guy, Benh Zeitlin, for creating a once-in-a-lifetime work like "Beasts of the Southern Wild"? Talented though he may be, he will never have this moment again, where he crafted an artistic and emotional powerhouse out for sheer will and dedication of a group of amateurs who happen to LOVE FILM MAKING?  Or will they recognize Michael Haneke, for a difficult, hushed, controlled, steamroller called "Amour"?  It would be like a long-overdue recognition of Ingmar Bergman.  Of course, was there a more difficult assignment than "Life of Pi"?  Will Oscar once again recognize the visionary Ang Lee? 

--There are three actresses for whom I will cheer loudly if wither of them win. Of course, if either of the 3 do win, then I must lament the downfall of the other two.  With all due respect to Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts, I am SOOO pulling for either Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Quvenzhane` Wallis ("Beasts..."), or Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour").  All three engaged me, riveted me, astounded me.  Wallis gave line readings that seasoned actresses would weep to achieve, and had a final scene with her on-screen father that is great "acting" in the purest sense..  Lawrence had the sexy humor, ferocity and confidence of Jane Fonda's Oscar-winning portrayal of Bree Daniels in "Klute".  And Riva captured so perfectly the nuances of aging, that her tragedy became my own.  Oh why can't there be a 3-way tie??

--Listen for my loud cheers if these others are called: Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper ("Silver Linings..."), Helen Hunt for "The Sessions", "Les Misearables" for Makeup/Hair and Art Direction, and "Life of Pi" for ANYTHING (especially for it's lush, moving Score and for its Visual Effects, giving us Richard Parker).  Or "Silver Linings", "Beasts", "Les Mis", or "Amour" for Best Picture!

--I will remain politely mute, a passive-aggressive "WTF" in my expression, if "Django,,,", "Zero..." or "Lincoln.." get called, for anything.