(I know, it’s Thursday, and your tolerance for Oscar discussion was likely exhausted by Tuesday morning. But I’m still detoxing, so just let me get this out of my system.)
It used to be like Christmas, except it lasted even longer. From Thanksgiving or so all the way into late February, or even March, it was Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. Before there was internet, there were splashy articles in Entertainment Weekly. Interviews with the nominees, predictions of who would win… I was removed from it all. Just a spectator.
But every year I learn a little more about how it all really happens.
Well, I finally saw Django Unchained, and where to begin? I avoided it for quite some time because it seemed most everyone had already seen it, and a Tarantino film is not a thing I like to embark on alone. For one, I’d heard about the over-the-top violence, which seemed like a thing best taken in with a friend or loved one; also, Tarantino films tend to prompt a good debate — I fondly remember a two-hour post-Kill Bill Vol. 2 discussion at a Brazilian restaurant with two compadres.
Django Unchained is no different. In fact, it’s hardly a departure for Tarantino, but rather nestled right at home between the nods toward blaxploitation of early works like Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, the genre mish-mash of the Kill Bill movies, and the revisionist history of Ingloruious Basterds. It’s maybe the most Tarantino movie of them all.
In what world is Argo a better movie than Zero Dark Thirty?
This isn’t a response to Ben Affleck’s Golden Globes win for Best Director and Argo’s triumph as Best Drama. The Globes are the Globes, and they can only be taken so seriously. Avatar, The Descendants, Babel, and plenty of other films have proven that the Golden Globes’ pick is rarely the best movie of the year, either in actuality or in the eyes of Oscar.
This also isn’t really about Ben Affleck’s suspense drama not being a good movie, because it is. Let me emphasize that. A good movie. Good… fine, entertaining. It’ll do.
And it’s not even about Kathryn Bigelow’s shocking snub as a Best Director nominee, because Ben Affleck received an almost-as-shocking snub for the same award.
Kathryn Bigelow has been directing for a few decades now, but it took a long time for us to really notice her.
That happened with The Hurt Locker, 2009′s Oscar-winner for Best Picture and, historically, for Best Director. There are multiple angles with which to approach her win — one, that she deserved it. And she did. Most would agree that The Hurt Locker was one of the most impressive films of 2009, the year in which it went up against Up In The Air, Precious, Inglourious Basterds, and, most formidably, Avatar. Avatar was, of course, directed by Bigelow’s ex James Cameron, and even though we’ve been led to believe there’s no bad blood between them, it’s impossible to deny that many of us enjoyed the “stick it to your ex” subtext of her victory. Avatar became the highest-grossing film of all time and revolutionized the way we currently watch movies (for better or worse), and if the Oscars were ever going to be all about commercial appeal, 2009 was the year.
A decade ago or so, the thought of Ben Affleck winning an Academy Award would have been borderline laughable, except it had happened already. Back then, as he starred in a string of flops such as Reindeer Games, Darevdevil, Jersey Girl, Gigli, and Surviving Christmas, it was all-too-easy to forget Ben Affleck, the Oscar-winning co-writer of Good Will Hunting. He was just Jennifer Lopez’s lesser half.
As a film school graduate, I’m afraid I have an obligation to take entertainment way too seriously. That’s why, when awards season rolls around, I can’t help but partake in the senseless, arbitrary, and totally nerdy critic’s pastime of ranking all the films I saw and compiling a Top Ten List.
And since 2011′s award season has already come and gone (catch “Best Of Film 2011″ for more on that), why not retroactively look back at movies from other years that were just as good?
Since my live blog of the Golden Globes this year was surprisingly popular (really, I didn’t think anyone would care what I have to say), I am again live-blogging and tweeting up a storm for the Academy Awards this evening.
It’s that time of year again, folks! What I like to call “movie Christmas.” And like an actual holiday, the Academy Awards often end up as more of a disappointment than anything else — any Oscars handed out to not-so-great nominated films like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and The Iron Lady can be chalked up to the cinematic equivalent of “ugly sweaters from grandma we’ll throw in the back of the closet and never speak of again.” But it’s really the excitement leading up to the big show and the discussions of film it creates that make it all worthwhile.
So here’s where I like to make up for the Academy’s occasional lapses in good taste by recognizing the movies and performances that are really worthy of celebration. Because what has a group of thousands of filmmakers with decades of experience in the entertainment industry got on me?