Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oscars, Part Deux!


Well, we here at Stevereads were right. But the Academy - that shameless coven of spoilsports and dimwits, caught in a tight fishnet of popularity-contest mentalities - picked otherwise, strayed from the path of wisdom and started spraying around undeserved honors in all directions. And withholding them, in the case of Ben Affleck and "Gone Baby Gone.": We must not be petulant; we must revise our perfect choices in light of Hollywood's tawdry reality. We must be bigger that way.

So here's the list of our new, revised Oscar picks, also infallible, for you-all to print out and consult during your coke-soaked Oscar Night parties. No need to thank us.

Best Supporting Actress: Our reasoning here is unchanged - Cate Blanchett will win for her Bob Dylan turn in "I'm Not There." The only possible spoiler would be Ruby Dee for "American Gangster" (Saoirse Ronan might get more attention than she deserves as well, but only because her omission would mean the much-touted "Atonement" itself would be entirely omitted), but sentiment only goes so far: Blanchett will win.

Best Supporting Actor: Again, our reasoning holds true - no matter how deserving Casey Affleck is for his work in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," the Oscar will go to Hal Holbrook for his indelible performance in "Into the Wild," and he'll get up onstage looking like a million bucks and give a salty, pitch-perfect acceptance speech, and even Philip Seymour Hoffman will smile. Then Holbrook will be dead within the following year.

Best Actress: The odds-on favorite right now is Marion Cotillard for her performance in "La Vie en Rose," and there may have been a time when we here at Stevereads might have thought the same way. But the Academy has spoken, and the tea leaves speak of history in the making: Cate Blancett will win for "Elizabeth: Golden Age," thereby becoming the only actress in Oscar history to climb up on the stage for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in the same evening. Count on her to have something witty to say the second time. Our suggestion for the second win? "People will say we're in love."

Best Actor: It's this category more than any other (well, except Best Director, which is still so sore a spot that we find it hard to mention) that disappoints us here at Stevereads. Tommy Lee Jones for a picture four people saw? Viggo Mortensen for a silly, cotton-candy role? Johnny Depp, for anything, ever, under any circumstances? Yeesh. We look away for a moment or two, and chaos erupts! What's going on here? We might not like roasting tobacco addict Josh Brolin, but he deserves a nod for "No Country for Old Men." We likewise have little regard for roasting tobacco addict Emile Hirsch, but how can the Academy ignore his affecting performance in "Into the Wild"? Johnny Depp? Johnny Depp?

We can ignore him, as we can safely ignore the other weirdo nominees. The contest will come down to George Clooney for "Michael Clayton" (a very strong performance, one of the rare ones where Clooney seems to give a crap) and Daniel Day-Lewis for "There Will Be Blood," and the winner, as we predicted weeks ago, is hands-down: Day-Lewis will win for his performance, which has already achieved iconic status. He will certainly win, and in his acceptance speech (for the record, we're predicting he won't make one because he won't attend) he'll come across as a nickel-plated asshole.

Best Director: We tell you: the wound is still raw. Ben Affleck deserved to be not only nominated but to win for "Gone Baby Gone," just as the Patriots deserved to win the Super Bowl. That his efforts weren't even noticed is a great groaning injustice the like of which the Academy hasn't perpetrated in quite some time, and it renders the actual contest somewhat meaningless. The Coen brothers will probably win, but who cares? They didn't do the best directing of the season, Ben Affleck did. and he was ignored for his trouble. We're sorry, we know you all look to us for wisdom and guidance, but we can't help it - this category is a struggle for second best, and who cares about that? Ben Affleck is 2007's Best Director, and all the rest, to quote Leo McGarry from "The West Wing," is crap.

Best Picture: well, as we previously wrote, this is the one for all the marbles, and it should be "Gone Baby Gone," but it won't be, since the Academy didn't see fit even to nominate it for consideration. So again, we're talking here about a kind of consolation prize, since the winner, no matter who it is, won't be the best. But still, there are strong contestants, so we have to weigh in. The contenders are "Atonement," the loathesome "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men," and "There Will be Blood." Aside from "Juno" (which fails to realize that if you're hip and cynical about everything, you'll de facto be hip and cynical about the handful of things you can't be hip and cynical about without abrogating your moral humanity)(but it hardly matters, since the film is so trivial its nomination has to be some sort of fraternity pledging-prank), they're all solid, well-made movies, although "Michael Clayton," essentially a thriller along the lines of "No Way Out." We think it's safe to say it'll be ignored on this account. That leaves "Atonement," "There Will be Blood," and "No Country for Old Men." "Atonement," as already noted, will be completely ignored. That leaves "No Country for Old Men," which isn't really a movie at all so much as it is a bristling collection of horrible portraits, and "There Will be Blood," which is weird and utterly involving and, as we've noted, utterly dominated by a consummate acting performance. So we're giving it to "There Will be Blood" for the big win.

So there you have it! Print it out and take it to heart, trotting it out at your benzadrine-fired Oscar Night parties! We have spoken. So be it.

31 comments:

Kevin Caron said...

Oh, the Pats certainly 'deserved' to lose the Super Bowl, make no mistake.
Cheating (against the Jets, of all people), padding their roster with a Randy Moss being paid far less than he should command, not to mention the fawning press...

Karma's a bitch.

Kevin Caron said...

Also - you should come up with a more disgusting phrase than 'roasting tobacco addict' - whenever I read the 'roasting' part, I get visions of pot roast, or honey roasted peanuts. Mmmmm. Pot roast.

JEaton said...

I too think "roasting tobacco addict" sounds yummy, but before it looks like I'm jumping on Kevin's bandwagon let it be known that I loved 'Troy.' I saw it three times and then was inspired to re-read the Iliad.

Kevin Caron said...

Well, Troy did feature a buff, greased up, half naked Brad Pitt - perhaps I should give it a second chance.

Nah. I'm sure I'll have plenty of viewings of it in between salsa lessons and yoga classes when I die and go to Hell (a place where there is no such thing as a non-smoking section).

brian said...

Wow Steve, you should have stuck with your original "infallible" predictions. The only one you got right was the obvious choice (Daniel Day Lewis) and yet you even predicted his oscar speech completely wrong (exceedingly gracious and humble). I guess you picked the directors right as well, but it didn't seem like you made a choice there at all.

Oh, and I just saw 'Gone Baby Gone'. It wasn't THAT good.

Beepy said...

I've just deleted the word "infallible" from my dictionary. Obviously they got the definition wrong.

Beepy said...

By the way, I have to agree with Kevin and Jeff about the word "roasting." After having spent a week in Maine, roasting sounds pretty good to me too.

steve said...

Very well, vox frickin populi: if I'm to change FOREVER my pet phrase 'roasting tobacco addict,' what should the new adjective be? For the longest time, it was 'miserable tobacco addict' ... should I go back to that?

steve said...

oh, and Kevin: don't you DARE badmouth Tom Brady! He's TOO PRETTY for that! AND he carries a man-purse! from ITALY!

steve said...

Next year, my Oscar predictions will RAWK.

JEaton said...

Withered tobacco addict;
desiccated tobacco addict;
malodorous tobacco addict;
toxic tobacco addict?

Toxic tobacco addict has some nice aliteration.

Locke Peterseim said...

I told Steve last week that I had NO emotional or rooting interest in who won this year because there were so many great films (nominated and not) that I just LOVED (for the record, my biggest overlooked gem was Jesse James -- just cannot get enough of that film, the soundtrack, Affleck's performance... might be my fave film of the year). I also very much liked both No Country and Blood - and yes, I liked Gone Baby, but clearly not as much as our Southie-Addled host.

but i did forget one thing -- i was so, so, so rooting deep down in my withered heart for Falling Slowly and Once, and in that respect, the evening was a complete success, right down to Jon Stewart pulling what might be the sweetest move of the year in inviting Marteka back out to give her acceptance speech (which was, yeah, a kinda silly gooey cliche speech, but still... she's frickin adorable and that song makes me bawl.)

So 'yay!' to Once and Falling Slowly!

Locke Peterseim said...

Other than Falling Slowly for Song, I just didn't CARE who won the other awards (although I agree with Steve -- as AMAZING as i think Casey Affleck was in Jesse James, my heart couldn't help but root for Hal Holbrook)

It was hard not to be a little charmed by Day-Lewis last night, during and after the show -- I doubt he's that gracious and humble in real life, but he was doing a very nice job last night of putting aside the 'brooding weird method actor' rep. at least publically.

But overall, as much as I liked No Country and Blood, it didn't make any difference to me which one one what -- although I think PT Anderson is the real deal as a director -- one for the ages -- in 30 years they'll be falling all over themselves to present amazing career restrospective montages to Anderson and handing him all sorts of lifetime awards... i would have preferred to see him win over the Coens, who in person and in their body of work - which i enjoy as much as the next guy - come off as pretty cold, calculating pricks... but the Coen's and No Country's wins were fine with me.

About the only thing that REALLY would have pissed me off last niht would have been if Atonement had won Best Picture -- surely we survived the English Patient trend -- no need to go back to that sort of big, empty, pretty, costumey, tragic romance crap again. Atonement was the ONLY "big" (as in prestigious, arty, praised... not box office) film this season that I was bored during, that i WANTED to end asap, that i felt completely unattached to, unconnected to the characters or their troubles. utterly flat for me.

(for the record, i still haven't seen juno...)

steve said...

um, I LIKED 'Atonement' ... this isn't looking good for Steve ...

Kevin Caron said...

How 'bout "reeking tobacco addict"?

Sam said...

'Vox Frickin Populi' should be the title of your memoir (there should also be some really long subtitle too, but that hasn't come to me yet).

brian said...

"i would have preferred to see him win over the Coens, who in person and in their body of work - which i enjoy as much as the next guy - come off as pretty cold, calculating pricks"

I'll admit the Coen's do come off as cold at times, but I just think it's due to a lack of social graces. It seems that actors (and crew) stick with them from film to film, so they must have some warm qualitites too.

For the record, I loved Ethan Coen's acceptance speech and wish they could all be so economical.

Locke Peterseim said...

"I'll admit the Coen's do come off as cold at times, but I just think it's due to a lack of social graces."

I'm not so much talking about them as human beings (though no one I know who has worked with them has ever uttered the word "warm" or "likeable")

I'm talking about the fact that their films mostly lack any sort of genuine emotional moments. Lots and lots of great ironic or epic or impressive moments. Lots of fun stuff. Lots of heavy stuff. But right now (and it's late and I'm not thinking too terribly hard about it), I'm having trouble recalling a single truly moving HUMAN emotional moment in a Coen Bros film, WITH the possible exception of No Country For Old Men, which I think it could be argued has at least two: Kelli McDonald's final moments and the closing with Tommy Lee Jones. Which I think gives No Country it's special place atop their oeuvre.

And trust me, I'm saying this as someone who LOVES Raising Arizona and O Brother, and really really likes Blood Simple, Miller's Crossing, Fargo, and Lebowski.

I am in NO way saying they're bad filmmakers -- far from it. Unlike our host, I LIKE ironic detachment. I appreciate what the Coens do, and I think No Country is a major achievement for them and a fine, fine film. But they aren't interested in the LEAST in humanity or how humans behave or relate to one another. They aren't interested in the Great Human Fabric of Existence. They are coldly, calculatedly detached from that. And that's their choice and so they make the films they make, and as I said, I enjoy, even love, many of them.

But I guess I was comparing them to PT Anderson, who in just five films has shown that he is interested in little ELSE than the Human Condition and as a result is continually looking and digging for truthful, powerful emotional moments. Philip Baker Hall in 'Sydney,' Julianne Moore in both Boogie Nights and Magnolia -- hell, EVERYONE in Magnolia, including Cruise (who I told Steve at the time gave the performance of his career simply because he was playing HIMSELF -- a point proven out by this winter's leak of the Scientology video), and of course Adam Sandler and Emily Watson in Punchdrunk Love. There Will Be Blood is a film ABOUT a misanthrope -- which is still a very powerful, compelling HUMAN emotion -- it's NOT a misnathropic film. (Kevin J O'Connor's performance and character, for example, is all-too sadly human.)

Anyway, that was my point -- that I don't mind the Coens, but when you take two films like No Country and Blood and put them up against one another, you can't help but compare and contrast, and as much as I love No Country, There Will Be Blood, for all its baroque excess, is the more HUMAN of the two films.

And while I adore the Coens and their career, I say again that 30-40 years from now it will be PT Anderson who is spoken of in hushed, reverent tones. He is the coming of the sort of monstrous, career-long, staggering director talent that we have not seen in a long time -- we can argue some other time where Scorcese might fall on the list, or Coppola, but frankly, they've both made so many missteps in the last halves of their careers... like Steve's beloved Pats, I can see PT Anderson maintaining perfection all the way down the line (at least until his last film, when he'll wither and flop and fail and go home crying to his supermodel girlfriend). We may never see a day again in Hollywood when there are Rushmore-sized directors like Hitchcock and Ford, who stand astride the field for decades and live on forever. But if we do, PT Anderson has a good shot at being one of them.

Locke Peterseim said...

Oh no, I'm not done yet!

Two more observation/clarifications:

-- "clockwork" is the word that was escaping me when discussing the Coens. They like a mechanical universe, one of gears and levers, a whirling rube goldberg world. Things happen in their films because it's cool for them to happen, or it sets up a clever payoff. (Again, No Country is the exception that proves the rule and wins the Oscar.) They are interested in humans only to the extent that they act as cogs in the Larger Machine. THAT'S where the heart (so to speak) of their "coldness" lies for me. And again let me stress, that's fine for the films they make.

-- when I talk about the emotional moments in PT Anderson's films, I didn't mean to give the impression I was just just talking about ACTING moments, where a particular actor did something super impressive -- although, like Soderbergh, Anderson is an actor's director and gets amazing work out of almost everyone in his films. No, what I meant was that his films, his scripts, his stories are full of observations about what it means to be human and how humans interact. Plainview is clearly an aberration (although I'm guessing our host Steve would argue that Plainview is actually more LIKE most most human beings than we'd ever want to admit), both as a character and as a performance. "I drink your milkshake" may be a great catch phrase and a fun scene to mimic (and to watch), but both Plainview and Eli Sunday are humans at the far ends of the freak-show spectrum. But in showing us such nutcases, Anderson is looking at those humans who have purposefully constructed themselves into monsters in order to dominate and succeed in life. (paging Frank TK Mackey!). So characters and writing, first and foremost -- not just fun acting flourishes.

brian said...

I can't argue with you about their films because you're right, although you missed one moment (or a series of moments actually). Whenever Marge is onscreen with her husband Norm "son of a" Gunderson. The last scene where Marge cheers him up for only getting his mallards on the 3 cent stamp is probably the only time the Coen's have touched Love, and they did it beautifully.

For the record, I love PT Anderson, although it could be argued that 'Punch Drunk Love' was a bit of a mis-step (I, for one, never really bought into the Sandler character). 'Hard Eight' or 'Sydney' is a terrific debut. The guy is consistent, for sure, but it's hard for me to say that he's more consistent than early Scorsese at this point ('Mean Streets', 'Alice doesn't Live Here', 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull'...um..ok, so he made 'New York, New York' as well). We'll see what happens. I'm with you though. I think Anderson will pull it off.

brian said...

Oh, and 'King of Comedy' and 'After Hours' are both great Scorsese films that nobody talks about anymore. 'After Hours' still gives me freaking nightmares.

brian said...

I just watched 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'. Cassey Affleck was certainly deserving of his nomination (any other year, he should have won). Pitt was terrific as well. I just wish the great Sam Shepard had a little more screentime. It's well worth checking out if you haven't already. Deakins should have won for cinematography and the score by Nick Cave was tremendous (was it even nominated?).

steve said...

ironic detachment STINKS. And it stinks for one reason: it's cowardly. Anybody can do it, and everybody learns how in the same place: the sixth grade. That's just where it belongs.

brian said...

High School Musical could use a bit of the ol' ironic detachment, in my opinion.

steve said...

But don't you see? That's exactly WHY it was such a mega-hit! Because it completely AVOIDS ironic detachment! The tweens of tomorrow have spoken, and our voice is clear: we want to BELIEVE in our movies, not snicker at them!

Bring on '10,000 b.c.'!!!

JEaton said...

I see Steve has, unfortunately, found the "upload photo" section of his blogger user profile.

brian said...

Most unfortunate. The sad thing is there's no ironic detachment involved with Steve selecting that particular photo. In his mind, he IS that young stud.

Locke Peterseim said...

"That's exactly WHY it was such a mega-hit!"

Um, yeah. A mega-hit with SIXTH GRADERS.

steve said...

What's this 'unfortunately'???

Don't be a playah-hatah!

steve said...

Oh, and I might point out that virtually ALL of those 'SIXTH GRADERS' you so openly scorn know more math, geography, grammar, and general history than this country's current PRESIDENT. And all the smart ones KNOW it.

Ours is the generation that'll be taking care of all you when you're dribbling on your (uncashable) Social Security checks! So show a little respect!

steve said...

And Brian, we're not sure exactly how to take that comment of yours - especially since you've actually BEHELD us in the flesh! Don't passersby point and stare? Well, don't they?

I rest my case.