Monday, March 06, 2006

The morning after the car wreck before


Have your tears dried? Is the champagne back in the fridge? I won't pretend I'm not smarting. I went from being the smuggest person in our front room, with $20 riding on Brokeback at a juicy 9/1, a bet I placed way back in September, to the most dumbfounded. I'm still almost speechless in a way that quite surprises me. How could they? Crash??! I know some people had been predicting it Shakespeare in Love-style, but it still came as a massive, unwelcome shock, as if a mouth-watering banquet had been prepared for us only for it to be whisked away at the last minute. I was almost relieved there were no reaction shots for the BBM team, as they'd have been too much to bear. Watching Ang Lee's little face crumple in disappointment would have destroyed me. Instead we just glimpsed Jake and Heath scowling politely in their aisle seats while the auditorium went crazy.

Crash, no question, was the worst of the five best pic nominees, and for its button-pushing messaginess to win out was depressing beyond belief. But can we agree on some other things? It was a fun night, with some priceless little jabs from a coyly professional Jon Stewart I think the Scorsese/Three Six Mafia one takes the cake and some even more priceless George Clooney reaction shots. Clooney's might have been my favourite award of the night, actually, not because I thought he was anything special in Syriana, but because he's one of the few actors in Hollywood who knows what to do with a podium and a microphone. (Contrast Rachel Weisz, whose humility was so frigging acted it felt like arrogance.)

Let's cut to the chase though. All we really want to know is who the hell, who who who, which giggling, drunk, or developmentally impaired prankster, thought those Crash and Hustle and Flow interpretative dance bits were a good idea, as opposed to, say, the single most laughable thing you've ever seen in your whole life. I actually said, in jest, as Kathleen York took the stage to perform the Crash one, that they ought to accompany it with people bumping in to each other downstage, just to, y'know, feel something. And then heavens above they actually went and did it. Jaws dropped. Hands were clutched to dropped jaws. Pepsi Max sprayed out of nostrils. How monumentally naff. And if they were going to do it, they might at least have gone the whole hog. I wanted Thandie Newton moaning and crawling around in the wreckage. Couldn't we have had Matt Dillon's dad on the loo? Jennifer Esposito looking terribly intense on a cellphone? Good God it was dire. And it managed to nail what's fatuous, pretentious and fundamentally suspect about Crash better than any single review I've read.

The Hustle and Flow one was almost as bad, in part because the set made it look like a particularly unfunny one-off skit from In Living Color, but mainly because I had no idea who the various people cycling past upstage were meant to signify. A song I quite like became an instant parody of itself. The deserving winner in this category, "Travelin' Thru'" from Transamerica, may not have won, but at least it emerged performatively unscathed. Go Dolly! No one, let's face it, was going to upstage those tits, least of all a whole load of pre-op trannies being wheeled about on gurneys or something.

Some other bombshells:
  • Costumes for Memoirs of a Geisha I could live with. Dion Beebe is a good enough cinematographer that him winning over the likes of The New World is only a bit of a travesty. But art direction? The whole thing looked like a kind of Six Flags: Geisha Mountain if you ask me.
  • Editing for Crash. Let's face it, anything for Crash, after the above-described floorshow did such a fantastic job of tearing the whole movie to pieces.
  • Make-up for The Chronicles of Narnia. Almost as inept and funny as the stuff Will Ferrell and Steve Carell were wearing.
  • March of the Penguins. I wish they'd just get over it. This wins, Brokeback Mountain doesn't, and that's the sound of right-wing pundits everywhere chortling with delight.
I liked:
  • Three awards for King Kong, and ones it deserved.
  • Gustavo Santaolalla, whose score is the single best thing about BBM.
  • Robert Altman's acceptance speech, mainly for the beautiful image about his films being sandcastles swept away by the tide.
  • The gay cowboy montage. Didn't everybody? The scoops on dirty Oscar campaigns good work, Daily Show team. None of the other montages though, thank you very much. Enough with the montages already. Stop the montages! They began to remind me of Nick Apollo Forte's crooning routines from Broadway Danny Rose "Beautiful faces from the past who are now deceased", etc etc.
  • Amy Adams's face, on the other hand, was a joy throughout the night, as she seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and thrilled for every single person who won. She got moist around the eyes for them too.
We love Amy. Tell me we all love Amy. And commiserations to all Brokeback-lovers out there, from a Brokeback-liker. Maybe next year's gay cowboy movie will have slightly less rotten luck.

5 comments:

JavierAG said...

I don't know, I mean I honestly don't understand, how the same people that voted for someone as good, risky and totally unexpected as Roman Polanski have now proclaimed "Crash" as their best picture.

Or how most of these people clearly know shit about Cinematography and keep voting for the crap that looks prettier, or, or... ugh. Seriously. I could swear Sven Nykvist actually won two Oscars back in the day.

David Shultz said...

I do, indeed, love Amy.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I spent the whole night shouting "Go Amy Adams", you know, like Ralph Wiggum in The Simpsons: "Go banana!" Even after she lost.
I've tended to find Rachel Weisz to be so forgettable and ignorable as a face and as a pretentious human being, that I in turn found it quite easy to fix my brain into believing that Amy Adams was indeed crowned Best Supporting Actress this year and not four years from now, when she plays a fat transsexual prostitute who runs for president, and gets brutally raped and murdered. (And I needed this fantasy to get me through the night, since as a Brokeback nut - and moreover, as a gay Brokeback nut - I felt personally violated at the end of that broadcast.)
I've made it a rule and a principle to try my best to avoid making big statements and generalisations in life. And I swear that I've made the biggest effort to stick to this principle even as I tell you that I feel what Amy Adams did in Junebug was the best performance given by an actress since at least Björk got abused by Lars von Trier on camera.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Also, I agree that the make-up was among the worst of many bad tings about Chronicles of Narnia. You could see the super glue.

FilmFan said...

Highlights:

1) The opening sketch and the Gay Cowboy Montage.
2) Ay, Salmita!
3) The two priceless Clooney reaction shots, first doing a "Ha ha ha - hey!" reaction to the joke that "Good Night and Good Luck" was how he ended all his dates and second doing a suspicious "Who the hell was that?" face at the short film woman who thanked whoever had seated her next to Clooney at the rehearsal dinner.
4) "Martin Scorsese: nil, Three Six Mafia: one."
5) "Is it me or did it just get a little easier out there for a pimp?"
6) Ben Stiller's green screen bit. ("This is gonna blow Spielberg's mind... ")
7) Will Ferrell's make-up (though they overplayed it with Carrell's blinking - they shouldn't have drawn attention to it at all).
8) Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep's intro and Altman's speech. I liked that Lily kept mentioning all the films she'd been in.
9) Reese winning. I liked her speech. (I might have liked it less if I'd seen it before though).
10) Keira looking terrified of Jack.
11) Dustin Hoffman going off-script with a big smile on his face.
12) Kong's three wins. KONG!

Lowlights:

1) I thought the entire show was really badly produced this year. There were loads of fuck-ups: they went to the blank air screen several times; there were at least three glitches with the marquee thing (it announced Salma Hayek five minutes before she came on, etc); the camerawork was inept - they kept cutting to nothing happening or accidentally catching empty seats / people moving around / stagehands etc. Plus they kept going to commercial at really stupid intervals - e.g. in the middle of the Itzak's score playing; before the end of the Dead People Montage, etc. (This, it turns out, was Sky's fault, but they've never done that before). The whole thing was making me pretty angry by the end.
2) Crash winning. Even though I'd told friends that it could happen I still didn't really expect it to happen. Gutted for Ang Lee.
3) Lauren Bacall fucking up the autocue and looking like she might be in the first stages of Parkinson's.
4) The pointless montage sequences. I bow to no-one in my love of a good montage (and I really enjoyed the film noir one) but these were a very stupid idea. Also, the gay cowboy montage rather spoiled the effect of the film noir one.
5) The Squid and the Whale not winning Best Screenplay.
6) The sound team cutting off the sound on the mics mid-speech. They cut to Jamie Foxx and Charlize Theron afterwards, both of whom looked horrified.
7) Stupid Oscar President talking bollocks for what seemed like an eternity.
8) Racism in L.A. via the medium of darnce. Although I did like that they included the bit where racism pushes Sandra Bullock down the stairs.
9) The awful pimp set and the fact that they changed "bitches" to "witches". Isn't "witches" worse?
10) Uma's make-up.
11) Lovely Amy Adams losing to Rachel bloody Weisz.