Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscars 2006: Snappy movies, toothless show permanent link   0 comments
This years Oscar's - a downpour of missed opportunities. The only surprise of a long evening came at the end: "Crash" stole the show from "Brokeback Mountain" with its election of "Best Picture". At the 78. Academy Awards, above all Hollywood celebrated itself again.

No one knows exactly what the organizers mixed in Jon Stewart's drink, it must have been a strong sedative. The usually sharp-tongued comedian, feared and adored as the lefty conscience of America, gave a rather tamed hosting premiere that left a rather bitter and annoying taste of missed opportunites in my mouth.
Gay cowboys and a gay knight of the pen, media- and real terror, racism in Los Angeles - the 5 'best picture' nominees alone provided enough material for political annotations and side blows towards Bush's administration. But the normally in tinsel town frowned upon president's name wasn't mentioned once in the 3 1/2 hour lasting show. The times of Michael Moore's "Shame on you Mr Bush" seem to have passed already, it was just a little episode.
Hollywood and the Academy again revealed their narcissim and their rather navel-gazing approach instead of looking beyond their own nose, perhaps to minimize the explosiveness of the many politically themed and socially critical flicks.
The film industry seems more concerned about their economic outlook and not politcs. New Acadamy president Sid Ganis - after an already incredibly boring, self-congratulatory speech that preceded this award - went out of his way to remind folks that there is only one way to watch a movie: in a theater. Not on DVD. A little out of touch with the real world if you ask me, but who can blame him after this past year's box office slump. The fear of cheap DVDs and internet piracy is bigger than worrying about America's democracy.

The always glamorous and perfectly organized ceremony at the Kodac Theatre should not contribute to create a new enthusiasm among its viewers. It's been a long time since I've last watched an Oscar show that predictable and highlightless, which in fact should in no way downgrade the excellent compilation of movies and their creators and actors. Their quality was above average which makes its dedicated uninspirational show all the more appalling.

The only true surprise happened at the end: not the highly praised and advertised "Brokeback Mountain" won the 'best film' award but the episodic "Crash" with everyday intolerance, latent racism and forgiveness as its main topics. It would have been more courageous to select Ang Lee's love story between two gay cowboys but the voting panel, mainly actors, decided for the multi-story- at their own doorstep- flick, filled with intertwining vignettes and stereotypes. Realistic storylines with rather unrealistic, over the top, endings. By the way, I watched this movie at home on DVD, and in my humble opinion it should have won "Most overrated movie of the year" instead.
The rest was all so predictable and can be checked off. Favorites Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) and Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line) deservedly won the 'best actor/actress in a leading role' award. George Clooney's 'Good Night, ad Good Luck' left empty-handed, but the politically outspoken ladies' man received the consolation prize as 'actor in a supporting role' in "Syriana".
'Best director' and 'best adapted screenplay' went to Ang Lee and 'Brokeback', as expected. Despite five nominations, Spielberg's 'Munich' was overlooked, not a single award went to the controversial drama. Perhaps the subject matter of terrorism was too delicate and dodgy for the academy.
The high-gloss Hollywood productions "Memories of a Geisha" and "King Kong" went home with 3 Oscars each, equaling the number of their independent counterparts 'Crash' and 'Brokeback', but only for their achivement in the less important technical categories. The renunciation from spectacle and epics and the trend towards calm storytelling and message-sending was an impressive demonstration last night.

Fittng this trend was also the outcome of the 'best foreign film' category: the winner was the South-African gang drama "Tsotsi", convincing because of its two adolescent actors in leading roles. The political cinema, represented by the German WWII drama "Sophie Scholl" or the Palestinian contribution "Paradise Now, a story about suicide bombers, didn't stand a chance. Winner for 'best documentation' was the cute 'March of the Penguins' and not the commerce-critical "Darwin's Nightmare" or "Enron".

What else? Ooh, at least we witnessed one radical change: the entering of hiphop! The rap song "It's Hard Out There For A Pimp" by Three Six Mafia won for 'best film song'. B-Boys in sweat suits and colorful t-shirts receiving the golden statue?? A real paradigm shift - and perhaps a hidden signal to the young'uns who nowadays rarely go to a movie theater.

Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin gave a moody, pseudo-improvised laudation for 'Honorable Oscar' receipient Robert Altman ('Gosford Park', 'Nashville'). But the archrival Hollywood's, the perpetual outlaw of the american film industry, didn't show some bite either. Instead the 81-year old mentioned his recent heart transplant procedure and threatened the audience with his intention to continue his filmmaking career for at least another thirty years.
I, for one, wish that would happen - just as much as a witty, exciting and controversial Oscar show that does justice to the courageous films that are nominated.

all Oscar winners
Oscar photo gallery


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