A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Nightcap 1/24/15 Problems with Oscar, 2015 catch-up and Randi's links
Earlier this week I had written a long piece on the Oscar So White controversy but the actions Friday of the Academy Governing Board to correct things has made it largely redundant. However there are a couple of points I still think should be made and I've cut them out of the longer piece and put them here:
Assuming we can alter the makeup of Academy, ending the overwhelming older white guy majority of the Academy to can make it ethnically and sexually diverse I think the Academy will still run into several problems which I don’t think anyone is considering. (And please understand I am playing a devil's advocate to point out future problems)
Since the balloting is secret we’ll never know who almost was almost nominated and by what margins. For all we know, everyone from a minority could miss getting nominated by a single vote. This means we could end up with all white nominations again- but it would be coming from an ethnically diverse membership pool. If that happens will that mean people will still cry racism? Or are they going to claim manipulation of the choices? Perhaps things should be less secret- or at least someone should go back and check the choices for the nominees and report back... but then if you manipulate the choices to make them ethnically diverse you then no longer have "the best"
And then there is another problem - who is to say what is the best of anything?
As far as I’m concerned the Oscars are close to a joke. We are worried about ethnic diversity but if you think about it you realize that only the films with large budgets behind them or big stars end up getting the nominations. Considering that many small films don’t have the money to mount an Oscar campaign most of the small films are getting lost. I could argue and win that the best performances simply aren’t being seen by Oscar voters. They don’t have time to see all of the small films, which are usually the ones with most of the ethnically diverse performances. There have been numerous reports in the media of Oscar voters simply not doing their home work and watching all the films. Basically unless a friend tells someone that something is good the films simply aren’t getting watched. The end result is that every year Oscar leaves people out, of every ethnicity.
How do I know? Because if the "best" films were getting seen, I wouldn’t have people throwing some truly great films at me for review in the hope of some sort of word getting out there. If you go through my pieces at Unseen you'll find a good many people who were beyond great but whom Oscar never was going to pick. Most of the films are too off beat or too small for Oscar to ever notice or acknowledge that they exist. Just this week IP MAN 3 was released in the US. The performance of Donnie Yen is one of the best I've ever seen in any film. Will he ever even be considered for an award? Not in the US, its a small release and a foreign film which no one is going to pay serious attention to- even if they see it. How many other small or foreign films contain Oscar worthy performances and technical achievements? Dozens if not hundreds, but Oscar will never see them because they are lost beyond the glitz of the big budget of the big studio films.
Oscar isn't picking the right films and even when they bring in ethnic diversity they will still be getting it all wrong.
The original plan for this week was write up some capsule reviews of films I saw but never wrote up. I never got that far....
BLACK MASS is the story of James Whitey Bolger. For a long time Johnny Depp was held to be the front runner for the Best Actor Oscar but he got shut out when the nominees came around. I think the film is really good but it's under cut by really shitty makeup jobs that looks good on absolutely no one. Its so bad that you never buy any of it making what should have been a great film just okay.
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA is as computer animated as most Pixar films and outside of a couple of sequences, the storm at sea and the Whale attack, it's less alive. What can I say. Ron Howard has made a film that reduced the story of the Essex to a dull slog. Its not a bad film by any means but quite frankly it isn't all that exciting. Having read the book it's based on made it even less exciting because I knew what happened and was thinking back to the more exciting words in the book. Not a bad film but too fake to be believed.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives a hell of a good performance in the crowd pleasing SOUTHPAW. The story of a boxing champion who goes on the skids after an incident where his wife is killed is pure Hollywood hokum, but it’s good hokum and you can’t help but get dragged along despite knowing that its all soap opera. I was moved to get a bit misty despite knowing I was being manipulated. Its sort of like a magician showing you how he’s doing the trick and still being amazed when he does it flawlessly. The real story is Gyllenhaal who gives an Oscar worthy performance (he’s better than any of the nudnicks nominated and it's going to be one of those performances that in five years everyone will wonder why he wasn't nominated). It’s a worn lived in performance that’s so good I can’t believe he was acting. It’s a must see.
A heads up- Bernard Rose's FRANKENSTEIN is coming to home video February 23rd. I saw the film back in October when the film played Scary Movies. Its a neat little rethink of the story that in some ways is closer to the Mary Shelly novel than any other version despite the modern setting. I'll remind you again closer to time, but for now here is my original review.
So long you silver tongued devil
The misogyny of the Hateful 8
Fairy Tales are older than we thought
What ever happened to David Bowie's Glass Spiders set?
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