Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2013’

Oscar choices fail to surprise — or satisfy — critic

Quvenzhané Wallis (far right), best actress nominee, is joined by (from left) Jonshel Alexander, Kaliana Brower and Amber Henry on the set of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Whenever my wife wants to coerce me into doing something, she doesn’t threaten to cut me off sexually. She does much worse.

She threatens to stop cooking.

As a result of my acquiescing to her beef bourguignon blackmail, she drags me into the bedroom once a year to watch the almost-four-hour Oscar trek from Hollywoodland to Boredomland.

Not only don’t I give a flying Fig Newton which female star is wearing which conventional designer’s gown on the red carpet, or showing how much rumpskin can be bared, I couldn’t care less which male actor has new stubbly facial hair or silky tux — or a shiny new rug covering his otherwise shiny pate.

So I stretched out under the covers keeping myself awake by thinking not about Barbra Streisand poignantly singing “The Way We Were” for the hundred-thousandth time or Daniel Day Lewis’ articulate and witty acceptance speech as best actor but about the Academy Awards show even at its best being just a bland bowl of cherries jubilee.

And I squirmed at Kristin Chenoweth’s obnoxious, incessant chatter on the crimson runway, and cringed at Michelle Obama’s inappropriate, tasteless flipping open the best-flick envelope in front of a decked out military contingent that looked like it came straight from central casting.

This year, I actually had a favorite, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” that I knew couldn’t possibly — and did

n’t, despite a few raucous shouts and applause — beat out the “safe” choice, “Argo,” a tense, extremely well-directed but totally predictable thriller, for best picture.

Nor did the lead performer of the independent “Beasts,” nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, or its intrepid director, Benh Zeitlin, stand a chance against two other benign selections, perky Jennifer Lawrence and politically correct Ang Lee.

In case you missed it, the quasi-post-apocalyptic film about child survivor Hushpuppy in the Louisiana bayou is a complex, multi-layered film I adored but was unable to convince many of my closest friends was worth seeing.

Not all of the gold statuette-athon was horrible.

I was glad Quentin Tarantino won a screenwriting award for “Django Unchained,” which I found incredibly funny (despite the manifold cartoonish blood-gushing sequences and voluminous use of the n-word that some non-film buffs found repulsive without having seen the film).

Christoph Waltz’ unexpected victory for “Django” in the best supporting category award also pleased me.

And I was happy to see a tie occur in the sound editing race.

But one of my favorite films of the year, “Quartet,” didn’t make any a dent in Academy voters’ lists for best anything. Those balloters apparently share most critics viewpoint that sentimentality is bad, a sentiment I don’t share at all.

Since the Academy keeps pursuing younger demographics (witness the choice of “Ted” creator Seth MacFarlane as host), there was no surprise in it overlooking a film about nostalgic seniors on the brink of Alzheimer’s or death.

For me, it felt cleansing — and good — at that movie’s end when I cried, fully content that I’d frequently laughed and chuckled and smiled before that juncture.

I’d reveled, too, in the performance of Dame Maggie Smith, who embodies a broke but not broken retired opera singer relegated to a financially strapped retirement home for musicians.

After Jimmy Kimmel’s unfunny post-Oscar show ended with a disappointing sequel to his spoofy “Movie Movie” and Jamie Foxx singing nonsensical yet slightly salacious lyrics about sprinkling Channing on his Tatum, I was left with only one question: What can I do to convince my wife to substitute the Spirit Awards next year for the Oscars?

No, wait a minute. Didn’t that organization’s voters recently pick the sanitized, feelgood star-studded “indy” film “Silver Linings Playbook” as best picture of the year?

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