FEAR AND LOATHING AT THE KODAK THEATRE
For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.-Hunter S Thompson
It’s that time of year when serious film aficionados bemoan the fact that their favorites were overlooked by the chumps that make up the voting body of the A.M.P.A.S. Those half-wit sycophants know nothing about the true power that lies within the art of cinema. They are too busy selling their souls over fancy dinners at in restaurants, setting up illicit rendezvous with young runaways of either sex, or else mailing out screeners with covertly attached small containers that house an Academy member’s chemical weakness. All in a pathetic attempt to have a majority of their peers make a subjective designation that they are the best/most popular at the moment.
Who am I kidding? Who wouldn’t want that lifestyle at least for a little while? A life where you gorge yourself on all manner of vices: food, sex, drugs, and movies (not necessarily in that order). And just like those ruthless egomaniacs, I want my favorites to win. I want my taste and opinions validated by Hollywood insiders: the rich, beautiful and powerful. It makes it easier to delude my savage ego when they agree with me, but I’ll be quick to shout down their incorrect choices with rude, cutting comments. What better way to inflate your own self-importance than to belittle others? And while it is too easy to make fun of Joan Rivers, I still find myself captivated by her pre-show countdown, fueled by an unnatural desire to witness the moment, live on television, when her facial epidermis will fall away as her skin’s elasticity reaches its point of no return.
In regards to Best Picture, it’s not even a contest since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wasn’t included. With that being said, I’m rooting for Sideways which was in my top five. The academy will pick The Aviator because it has the epic qualities that the voters enjoy. Million Dollar Baby is too small of film, but if the voters are still upset about the November election, they might select it out of spite, a symbolic middle finger to throw the conservatives into a tizzy. I usually see all five of the nominated best pictures and would have passed on the predictable Finding Neverland if I had been left to my own devices. It was not one of the top five movies.
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx seems like a lock for Ray, but the Academy never likes to be told what to pick and they might use this opportunity to honor Clint’s acting because he’s never given a performance like this before with such a range of emotion. Paul Giamatti should have been nominated in place of Johnny Depp.
Best Actress: Hillary Swank is the only one who has any buzz, but I would welcome any other selection even though the only other performance I saw was by Kate Winslet. Actually, all five performances should receive an award in comparison to Julia Roberts who got one just for showing up in Erin Brockovich and revealing some cleavage. A stain on the Oscar that will never be washed away when they overlooked Ellen Burstyn’s brilliant performance in Requiem From A Dream.
Best Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church has been winning a lot of awards, but I would put money on Morgan Freeman. However, if Jamie Foxx wins for Collateral, Clint is a shoe-in for Best Actor. That will be the time for some mid-show wagering if you can find any takers looking for action.
Best Supporting Actress: There are still some people in the Academy who worked with Hepburn, so I’m giving this to Blanchett for her wonderful interpretation that captures Hepburn’s character without crossing over into a Martin Short, head-shaking parody.
Best Director: The Academy will get it wrong yet again and make the mistake of honoring Scorsese for one of his lesser efforts. This won’t make up for the fact that they blew it when Redford and Costner beat Marty out. Was there anyone clamoring for the release of Ordinary People on DVD to hear the commentary track? Marty should reject it if he wins. I would much rather be in the group of directors like Hitchcock, Kubrick and Hawks who have never won Best Director.
Best Original Screenplay: The writers almost always get it right and what could be more original than Eternal Sunshine?
Best Adapted Screenplay: Sideways will get a bone thrown its way with this award.
The rest that nobody cares about except industry folk and their families: The Aviator will win a majority of the technical awards.
Lastly, here’s my lock of the night to help with your office pool. Documentary Short Subject: Sister Rose’s Passion. A film about Sister Rose Thering whose determination to fight anti-Semitism led her to take an active part in Vatican II and to denounce Church doctrine blaming the Jews for Jesus's death. Those who pay attention to Oscar history know this subject matter always plays well.
Before the night is over I’m sure I’ll be disappointed by many of the choices made, yet I’ll be glued to my television set like I am every year. The saving grace is that I’m throwing a movie-themed potluck and I anticipate many people bringing Sideways Pinot Noirs, which, aside from Chris Rock’s monologue should temper my mood. For the truly curious, I’m serving Silence of the Lamb Kebobs.