It was a tough decision, Walking Dead or Oscars. I choose “The Walking Dead” over Oscar. I think it was turned out to be a fair trade; last night’s episode hand the sense of marking time although it delved a bit more deeply into the characters of Darryl and Beth (Hershel’s other daughter). It was a bit boring. However, having a few zombies to knock around is not as boring as watching two actors read lines from a teleprompter as they present “Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling”. Returning to the Oscars at 10pm revealed that save for best actor / best actress in a supporting role, no major awards had been handed out. So what were they doing for an hour over there? Clearly not killing off a few walkers!
Ellen Degeneres pulled off a few good lines as she made fun of the academy members in a way that I thought was far more biting than McFarlane’s sophomoric “Show me your boobs” bit. Many of her jokes went over their heads and I think it will take the Academy Members a few days to realize what fools she made of them! It has been said that 2013 was a poor year for films; I think there were fewer really good risky independents than previous years, ( “The Artist”, “The Untouchable” come to mind). Just look at the year in review: “American Hustle”, “Gravity”, “The Butler,” “Captain Philips”, “Saving Mr. Banks”, “Her”, “Blue Jasmine”, “The Gatekeepers”, “The Grand Master”, “Fruitvale Station”, “All is Lost”, + all the other Oscar nominees not already mentioned! If we have the feeling that it was not a strong year, than it is likely because they’re were so many bad, boring, franchised and sensationalized films which, competing for projector time, shunted many finer films to “Arts” cinema and/or to Video On Demand. In addition there were a few eagerly awaited films from normally exciting directors that ultimately disappointed, big-time: “Inside Llewyn Davis” from the Coens, and Almodovar’s “I’m So Excited” come to mind. In short, I have no problem with 2013, cinema-wise.
I think the Academy played it very safe this year, and I have no objection to the winners. Hardly anybody saw “12 Years As Slave”, yet Ellen cleverly reminded the Academy of what the consequences of a snub would be. “Gravity” clearly earned every award it received; it was truly ground breaking in the sense that it told more of a story with two actors than all of the other nominees put together. From a technical standpoint, it was the first essentially 3-D film; it cannot be seen and fully appreciated any other way. This can be said of no other film, including Scorsese’s flawed attempt with “Hugo”. I do think that “American Hustle” was gypped. It was probably the most entertaining example of fast-paced, old-school style of film-making in the bunch and thus suffered accordingly. Same for “Captain Phillips”, a rip-roaring action tale probably not ironic enough and too vaguely patriotic for modern Academy sensibilities, especially given the controversy surrounding “Argo”.
The Oscars did stir my interest in seeing many of the winning films I had already not, all of whom seemed to deserve the honor: “12 Years a Slave”, “Dallas Buyer’s Club”, and “Philomena”, for example; on the other hand, “Nebraska”, even with Bruce Dern, did not seem especially appealing.
So with 2013’s films fast receding in the rear-view, I’m looking forward to catching up on what I’ve missed and reviewing some terrific films in 2014; until then, the balcony is closed