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82nd Academy Awards

A awards ceremony to honor excellence in the films of 2009 that took place on March 7, 2010.

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It's More of a Game

  • Mar 13, 2010
Rating:
+3
I'm actually someone who enjoys watching the Academy Awards.  Although for very different reasons.  The first time I watched was in 1998 and I watched as the Academy Awards went through strange fluxuations throughout the years.  The Oscar are as polarizing as they are enjoyable.  The reason they're polarizing is mostly due to the fact that people don't sit back and enjoy the game.  People love to bitch, but they don't like to sit back and look at what it is they were getting.  Instead people caught up in snubs and when they actually ARE focused on what's getting nominated they're always looking at personal tastes.  Folks, if you're watching the Oscars because you had a "horse" in the race you just plain don't know shit about watching Oscars.  Or playing the game that the Academy plays all the time.

To start, I won't focus too much on what I WANTED to win, I'd like to talk about what did win and explain that, in the first place... when you play the guessing game of the Oscars it is never about personal taste and never has been.  All you have to do is loo through the years and look at Best Picture losers--not exactly winners.  Take 1994, for example, when The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction were in the running for Best Picture and neither won (they gave Pulp Fiction something with Screenplay at least) but the Oscar went to Forest Gump.  Now, if I go by personal opinion I would probably tell you that Forest Gump was hardly deserving of any damn Oscar it received.  This is in part because I hated Forest Gump.  It is one of those movies that everyone seems to love but I never got into.  I can't talk much about it's merits as a film because my personal feelings get in the way.  And no, I wouldn't have given Hanks an Oscar either (Saving Private Ryan, on the other hand was probably more deserving... and that's another film which got snubbed).  I think Tom Hanks is a fine actor and I even liked his performance in Forest Gump, but you'd have a hard time convincing me that Hanks was deserving of that particular Oscar... or even the nomination (and he DEFINITELY didn't deserve shit for Philedalphia).

If we look at the list of incredibly memorable films that never received their due (among them: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pulp Fiction and even what is widely regarded as the greatest film ever made: Citizen Kane... all of these are films which changed filming FOREVER and were NEVER rewarded for it).  In short, the Academy Awards is fun to a certain extent, but it is taken far too seriously by movie goers.  If it weren't taken too seriously Avatar fan boys wouldn't be pissed off about their movie losing out to The Hurt Locker for Best Picture.

In short, The Academy Awards is a game.  And it's a game I enjoy for the same reason I enjoy a great deal of things.  I get to test my analytical skills.  I like playing the guessing game of what will win what and I like trying to figure just why the Academy would make some of these choices.  And you have a lot of people who are very interested in all of these things.  In short, I love movies but I just like the Academy Awards.  Because I like the game.  And here are six particular categories that I have the most fun guessing.  Best Actor, Bes Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.  As far as this year went, I can't remember the last time the Oscars was this damn easy to predict the outcome of (perhaps when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King made its Oscar sweep, that was a simple year to predict as well).  

People have some of the interesting perks of the Oscars figured out.  The nominations for actors and actresses are often good fodder for fun.  The reason Tom Hanks won those two oscars two years in a row comes not from the performances, but rather from the type of people he played.  If you play a mentally disabled person (i worked for Michael Duncan Clarke too, remember) you have a better shot of a nomination than anyone.  If you do something autobiographical, you've got a shot at a nomination.  If you play a gay person (not necessarily a lesbian) you have a chance of getting a nod for it.  The same goes for the comedian who decides to take on a serious role (in this year it was Monique for Precious).  You're not guaranteed to win, of course.  Not in the slightest.  It just means you get a nomination.  Performances that typically are really powerful things hardly get recognized.  Not until much later down the line.  The same is true of directors as well.  You see, the Academy plays this game of, "Well, this person is due..." and sometimes that's what gets them their Oscar.  The most recent example is, perhaps, Martin Scorcese.  Who was not given a Best Director Oscar for so long and then finally got one for The Departed.  It didn't have to be his first film.  It just had to be Martin Scorcese.  They'd teased us about it for so long that even when Marty got his Oscar he joked, "Can you check it one more time!?"  Again, the Academy Awards is a game.

I'm not saying this because I believe to have all the answers.  I'm simply saying this to get into your head that your own personal taste... just doesn't go a long way.  And looking at it through this, "I want MY movie to win!" is fine, but often it is a pretty dumb way to go.  It doesn't happen.  You're talking about a ceremony that felt Star Wars was undeserving of Best Picture and instead gave it to a film like Annie Hall.  Star Wars changed the industry and is still the inspiration for several films today (among them The Lord of the Rings Trilogy).  It's become culturally significant in a way that Annie Hall didn't.  But again, it's not about what you like.  It's about the Academy playing a game.  The Academy Voters (which consist of people in the film industry) have NEVER been much for selecting a film for Best Picture, for example, for the sake of it being "popular".  If a popular film does win, it's usually not for the reason being it's popular. (although sometimes box office does play a role in the winner--Titanic, for example).

Over the years I've learned that it's pretty useless and dumb to keep selecting your personal favorite films.  That's not to say the Academy Awards will give rewards to BAD films.  Often they don't.  They do seem to really care about film technique in some cases.  Although lately the Academy has been making sure to pick underground independent films that most people do not know much about (for the sake of them being "artsy" in the Academy's eyes).  In short there has been a shift.  Raiders of the Lost Ark wouldn't have a chance at a Best Picture nomination in this day and age (though with the slots open to ten it might get one of those "filler" spots... the way movies like "The Blind Side" and "UP" did this year).  And the Academy would probably regard Steven Spielberg as a hack.  If there's one thing the Academy has really hammered in these days it's that they don't particularly care for what the audience expresses they like much (remember that whole controversy over snubbing The Dark Knight?).  

Again, I know you all have OPINIONS on all this crap, but I'm not talking about your opinions.  Only trying to get you to understand that in the long run your opinion hardly means anything to the Academy.  You have awards like The People's Choice for a reason, you know.  You have the IMDB for a reason.  People make lists for a reason.  People make lists for the sake of getting people to discuss, debate and argue over what rightfully deserves to be there.  The Academy Awards is an awards show, for heaven's sake... and it's purpose is the same thing.  To get people discussing.  Because if people are discussing it means someone is paying attention and it gets more people paying attention.  So even if people DIDN'T tune in, they're aware of what transpired at the show itself.  This is why a film like Crash will take home Best Picture and get people riled up.  So many felt Brokeback Mountain was an obvious choice that the Academy once again played their little game.  There are reasons why the Academy sometimes disregards films like Brokeback Mountain (in this case, 2006 was just a safer bet to put their votes into Race Relations than Gay Rights if something political HAD to win... in short, the Academy wanted to avoid too much political controversy with Conservative critics).  In fact, the Academy rarely cares for "hot button issues" to win Best Picture it seems.  But I might be totally wrong on that one.

So when I went into this Academy Awards ceremony I was certain of two things for certain.  The first was that Avatar would not win Best Picture because they gave it to Titanic which was the highest grossing film of all time before Avatar.  Second, there was far too much praise from The Hurt Locker (the fact that it was a movie no even heard of until it's nomination might've been something to aid it as well).  James Cameron had his moment in the sun for a LONG time with Titanic, no way the Academy was going to give him an Oscar just for topping himself.  And while Avatar is a wonderful film there's a punch that The Hurt Locker had that these particular Academy members rather like.  Did you REALLY think the Academy was going to pick Avatar as the Best Picture?  THAT would've been the surprise.  And The Hurt Locker is an incredible film as well (I actually did enjoy that one a great deal more than Avatar, but my personal pick for Best Picture was a different film that I won't talk about here).  There was just something about The Hurt Locker which make it the obvious choice for the Academy.  If you were going to play the Academy's game... Avatar would've been what they would've made you believe was going to win thanks to its enormous Box Office gross.  But it didn't quite pack that overdramatic punch.  And the Academy has changed from what it was a mere ten years ago.  They like more low budget films now than they did before... special effects and excitement just don't cut it anymore.  Unless you're Lord of the Rings but even that was another game in which from the moment The Fellowship was nominated in 2002 it was pretty obvious The Return of the King would be the winner in 2004.  Immediately my brother and I figured, "They'll nominate all three but skip over the first two and use the third one as a representation of th trilogy."  We were actually just joking, but once The Two Towers actually was nominated... it wasn't a joke.  It was a guess.  And yet it's exactly what they did.

This year if there was anything disappointing about the show it would be that it was far too predictable in terms of the winners and losers.  I'm not just speaking of Best Picture.  Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock weren't surprises at all.  Neither was The Hurt Locker's win for Best Original Screenplay or Precious's win for Best Adapted Screenplay were also in your face wins.  So was Christoph Walz win for best Supporting Actor and Monique's win for Best Supporting Actress.

The only thing that was hard to predict were the shorts and documentaries because they're always the films I have trouble seeing, and the buzz I have trouble finding.  But even then, a quick glance at any clip they showed was enough to make a correct prediction.  There was nothing about this year's show that should've surprised or shocked anyone in terms of winners and losers.  And who gives a damn about snubs, anyway?

Well, apparently a lot of people (with how some fans are whining over Avatar you'd think they'd lost a close relative... it's an awards show, for heaven's sake!).  I've never been a big fan of looking at the snubs and whatnot.  So I can't talk much about it here.  I stopped caring about what was nominated and what wasn't a long time ago.  There's always a film I rather like that gets nominated for something but because something doesn't isn't really something to cry over and pout about.  I don't get into that much.  It's an Awards show.  And lets face facts: You're not a part of it.  Why should I care about what gets snubbed.  I'm not the one winning anything.  Though it IS funny to watch certain film makers and producers go crazy over their snubs (particularly Harvey Weinstein who is notorious for running what is referred to as "Oscar Campaigns," and last year he was really pissed when Slumdog Millionaire took home the big prize).  So it's interesting to watch this sort of stuff.  Yes, watching people is always fascinating and amusing to me.  Watching those who aren't a part of the Academy go crazy over snubs is amusing as well, but for the sole reason being that they often say dumber things (when you're saying "New Moon was snubbed for Best Picture!" you've already teetered over the edge of the Academy Awards cliff as it is... you never really watched it).  

The show itself has other little criticisms that are pretty standard by now.  The first and most obvious: It was just too long.  The show ALWAYS runs too long, and while this one was shorter than most years, it doesn't separate from the fact that there are certain portions of it that would best be cut.  For example, let's cut the "In Memorium" portion of the Oscars.  I get that these are people within the film making business that lost their lives but it just doesn't add much to the show as a whole (and let's be honest... you don't know who a majority of them are).  Second, stop giving each Best Picture nominee a little attention in the middle of the show.  In the weeks leading up to the show we know what films are nominated for Best Picture... and we also know what they're about.  The Best Picture nominees will be beaten into your head.  Last, and probably most important, watching as five actors introduced the five best actor and actresss nominees and serenaded them (did anyone else feel like Jeff Bridges should've instead been nominated for "Most Awesome Guy EVER!" with how the actress was talking about him?).  That added A LOT of time to the show as a whole.

On the other hand, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were actually quite funny and entertaining.  It really made the show better in some of its down-trodden moments.  Although, they didn't have much movement.  They had excellent tone and such, but sometimes when looking at them on stage their movements seemed a little... stiff, and some jokes seemed a ittle forced.  But there were some good jokes in there, at least.  They were certainly better than Hugh Jackman was last year.  Sometimes you just need jokes.  Although, as with the rest of the show... the opening monologue carried on for a bit too long.

If anything, the show itself wasnt bad.  Predictable wins, but the biggest hit against the show was, as usual, the absurd length.  No one is going to get upset at watching a shorter show.  It didn't quite push four hours, but you have to understand that it isn't as though the Academy Awards has a whole lot o musical performances like say... the grammies.  On the other, speaking of Grammies... it might not be so bad if they gave Oscars out without actually showing them.  For example, the big awards that people typically WANT to see handed out are awards such as Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Actress, Screenplay, the supporting roles and perhaps the music awards.  On the other hand, not everyone cares enough about Sound Editing and Sound Mixing to want to see those particular awards handed out.  If there was any lesson the Academy could learn from the Grammy's, it would be to save the biggest awards for the broadcast and the smaller awards for off camera.  I'm not suggest that Technical awards aren't pleasing to people (I actualy fall into that bracket that, for some odd reason, really likes those techie awards... I like the Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Cinematography in films... and I like looking at Film Editing as well).  Only suggesting that we don't exactly tune in for the sake of seeing who wins these particular awards.  I mean, honestly, when was the last time you said to someone, "I heard that movie has really good sound editing, we should go see it!"  I've heard, "That movie was too noisy!" but never, "Dude, that Sound Editing kicked ass!"

Lastly, a bone to throw out there.  I am ashamed to admit that I actually enjoy watching the Red Carpet.  Oh, I enjoy watching the red carpet A LOT.  And it IS for the sake of looking at the fashion.  I'm not kidding.  In fact, my love for the Red Carpet was so bad that when a radio station in Denver had a segment where people called in to say, "My man is a girlie man!"  one of my friends called in (I recongized her voice instantly) and she said, "I know a guy who just LOVES the Red Carpet.  He was actualy staring at the Dress and not the Breast."  I'll tak that as a nice little compliment (she didn't mention my name, but I knew she was talking about me).  And I do like that a great deal (Kate Winslet was wearing the best dress this year--don't judge me!).  

Anyway, fun jokes aside, I was impressed with the show, save for the fact that it held absolutely no surprises.  The only thing close to an upset that a lot of people seem to be discussing is how Avatar didn't win Best Picture.  The Academy Awards are always more fun to watch when people are more upset at the outcome than they are when you actually know what's going to win.  I don't watch for the sake of personal taste, though.  When you watch... well... any Awards show you might as well shove your favorite film, movie etc. in a sack.  

At least if you want to play their little game.

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March 14, 2010
Ditto.
 
March 14, 2010
damn. welcome back, Sean and way to make a reviewing comeback! I can't really say anything else about this review, except that it is phenomenal! The Oscars is all about politics and stuff, MIRAMAX always gets nominations because they were financers of the Academy awards. It took Sean Penn forever to get an award for Best Actor and I doubt Hanks will ever get another so he can set a record. I did like THE HURT LOCKER too, but I do have to say that while AVATAR is also a great flick, it makes me wonder if the distributors of the film (whom the academies despise) played a part in giving THE HURT LOCKER the best picture award. It is all about personal tastes...I would like to read their criterias and guidelines for voting.
March 15, 2010
In truth, I think the see the Golden Statue as a lifetime achievement as well as for a particular performance.  They always play this game of how someone is "due".  In 2004 when Sean Penn took home an oscar for Mystic River, my thought was that it was ust another one of those, "Well, he's due for an Oscar," type moments.  Johnny Depp was, for me at least, more deserving of the award for his portrayal as Captain Jack Sparrow.  It takes a lot of talent to be the ONLY one who carries a movie like that.  Without Depp the first Pirates film would've been nightmarish.  And then he became one of the most memorable characters in film.   I suspect that Johnny Depp will receive an oscar down the line when the Academy decides that he's "due" for one.  And it'll be for a role which he is hardly deserving of it for.

Miramax is funny when it comes to the Oscars.  They run Oscar campaigns (so does the Weinstein Company).  They tried an Oscar campaign in 1998 and it failed because they lost to Cameron's Titanic.  Then they tried another little trick in 1999 with Shakespeare in Love and they won over Saving Private Ryan.  Because when you really get your movie out there to Academy members they tend to like that for some reason.  Miramax does things like talk to Academy Members and send them each personal copies of the movies for them to enjoy.  They do things like that.  And they're allowed to do it.  So is any other studio, but many don't.  Warner Bros. recently did an Oscar Campaign with The Dark Knight and it didn't work. 

This is where the Academy Voters come in.  They're a strange lot.  Last I heard, there were 6000 of them.  I don't know much about the voting process, but I do know that as the Academy changes, so do the types of films you see nominated.  In the 70's, for example... nominating movies like "Jaws" "The Exorcist" and "Star Wars" for Best Picture were no big deal.  The current Academy would find it an insult to put something like Star Wars in the same company as something like, oh, "There Will Be Blood."  Despite the fact that Star Wars was an independent film... it has more to do with the fact that it's popular.  In short, you're dealing with an Academy that has this, "It's too popular to be nominated," attitude. Avatar may have still garnered a nomination if they hadn't opened it up, but they most certainly had no plans to reward it with a Best Picture award.  The Academy is a bit too snobbish in its current state to even consider doing something like that.  The big reason they felt The Dark Knight was not deserving of a nomination for Best Picture?  It's a guy running around in a batsuit.  They're playing games.  Of course, they always have.  Their game now just happens to be nominating a bunch of low budget films no one has heard of at all... and then give audiences at least ONE movie they're familiar with in the mix.  These are movies like "Juno," that get good buzz and become popular enough that they go mainstream.  They put it in a race for a big award like "Best Picture" but make sure to give audiences who enjoyed it something for their troubles... like "Best Original Screenplay" or something like that.

For some odd reason this fascinates me to know end.  In their current state, the Academy tries so hard not to appeal to popularity and to appeal to the Indy/Cult/Low Budget crowd that they seem to forget that just because a movie has a big budget and appeals to mainstream tastes doesn't make it really a bad movie.  It's the start of a new generation for the Academy soon.  So we'll see how it changes.
 
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More 82nd Academy Awards reviews
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Quick Tip by . March 12, 2010
Too long, boring, no rapport between the hosts, not entertaining. Its future? Will go pay per view or the internet!
Quick Tip by . March 09, 2010
How did they not include Farrah Fawcett? Then they claim Farrah was television (she actually made several films) but the include M. Jackson
Quick Tip by . March 09, 2010
HORRIBLE snub of Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur.
Quick Tip by . March 08, 2010
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The time has not come for the 1st Lady President but it has certainly come for the 1st Lady Best Director! Awesome!
Quick Tip by . March 05, 2010
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, honored the best films of 2009 and took place March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST (01:30 UTC, March 8). The ceremony was scheduled from its usual late February date to avoid coinciding with the 2010 Winter Olympics.  The Academy Awards ceremony was televised in the United States on ABC. Actors Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin hosted the show. Martin hosted for the third time, after previously presiding over the 73rd and 75th ceremonies, while Baldwin hosted the show for the first time. This was the first telecast to have multiple hosts since the 59th ceremony.  However, announcer Gina Tuttle did a majority of the presenter introductions. In fact, this was the seventh year in a row the announcer introduced the Best Picture presenter (which turned out to be Tom Hanks).

On February 20, 2010, in a ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Elizabeth Banks.
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