This year, for the first time in many, I have the opportunity to stay up and watch the Oscars. Whoopee-doooo. Am I going to? Naaah.
There would have been a time when I would have been pretty excited about doing so. (Having had jobs in entertainment coverage, the Oscar nominations were one of the highlights of the year. Sad, sad, sad I know, but the only thing that causes more of a buzz on an Ents Desk is a celebrity death...)
This year though, all the accusations the Academy have faced over years (sentimentalism, conservatism, muddled judgement) seem hard to deny. Yeah, I know that the awards have always thrown up some strange statistics - Marilyn Monroe: never nominated, Forrest Gump: 13 nominations (and beating Pulp Fiction for Best Pic - which is like when Shuddup A Your Face was number one ahead of Vienna etc...
Crivens - have you seen what's up this year? Now I know why there's never anything on I want to see at the cinema if this is the best of the crop.
Ray: Biopic. Apparently a great performance/impersonation in the central role. A tale of succeeding against all odds. But accoring to reviewers, not as good as other other junkie-muso studies, Lady Sings The Blues and Bird. Good, not great films livened up by great music.
Million Dollar Baby: Rocky in a sports bra. Voters like Clint Eastwood's longevity (and the fact that he missed out for Mystic River last year) as much as this slow,say the reviewers, tale of succeeding against all odds. Yawn.
Finding Neverland: Biopic. This time it's JM Barrie, corsets, audacious accent changing, a whiff of fairy tales and nothing new.
Sideways: This one I've seen, encouranged by hysterically positive reviews and it's...ok, pretty good. It's at least about people now rather than famous people living in a time when the clothes 'looked funny', or about asteroid threats to the earth . There's not much more to say about it, except I really wanted a glass of wine by the end of it.
The Aviator: Deep breath. Biopic - yes, again and a blockbuster one at that. I have not seen this and have intention of doing so, because it looks APPALLING. Also, I sat through the 3+hours of Gangs Of New York out of a mistaken faith in Scorsese. Sadly, he has lost his touch. The last bloated film lacked cohesion and credibility. To 'make up' for this, it had Daniel Day Lewis doing a spot-on (latter day) impersonation of De Niro and a quest/revenge plot straightoutta daytime soaps.
Both films star Di Caprio, which is further evidence of Scorsese's fading powers. I have no beef with Leo, but his expressions are limited and his charisma beam dips drastically if you don't find him attractive - which I don't.
Worse still on the casting front
1. Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow. It seems that they thought "Who's famous with platinum hair? Ah her, she'll do" and cast her with no further thought (I suppose it could have been worse - Madonna in the Who's That Girl era, aaarrghhh). Here's a tip Marty. Wigs don't cost much...
2. Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. Kate is rather lovely to look at and would make an okay mini-series Natalie Wood. Why not Ava? She was a famous spitfire who could drink all the men around her under the table (and she knew some famous drinkers) and Kate, despite her Hollywoodisationstill glows with the free school milk complexion of her English Rose childhood.
Everyone seems to think Cate Blanchett has done a great job as Katharine Hepburn - from the clips I've seen it's a brittle, strident, glamorous enactment of a women who was certainly brittle, strident and glamorous - but also, thoughtful, complex and fiercely loyal to all the men she was involved with.
Last year, the Academy paid effusive tribute to Hepburn, this year they will lavish praise on a film that I'm sure she would have been disappointed in, if not, offended by.
In short (and blogs are supposed to short!) - cinema today, to judge from this, is tired and uninspiring.
PS - Enternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is exellent however - Charlie Kaufman - the saviour...