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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Academy Awards Aspirations

People have grumbled about what a lousy lot of films was nominated for the Academy Awards Awards this year. And that is, of course, what the Academy Awards Awards are for - to absorb and/or reflect the resentment and judgement and adoration and obsession we (and by we, I mean, US, not THEM) have for our own fantasies of power and romance.

You're supposed to grumble.

Grumbling is perfectly natural.


I saw nothing last year and don't have any basis to form an opinion, but that's never stopped me before, so: I thought the films last year were just fine, were very good in fact. Many - more than in a long time - were attempting something other than - or, rather, in addition to - providing mere entertainment

Actually, that's giving The Town too much credit. It's uncommon for a film to really consciously attempt to provide entertainment. Studios try to create something which will fool/convince/coerce people into giving them some money. If an entertaining film happens to do the trick, fine, but it's not essential. I wonder if your own opinion on the success of this past year's films coincides entirely with who you've been voting for in recent elections.

I like gigantic constructions like "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". I like them a lot. A whole lot. And "The Return of the King" offers as much useful social commentary as any of the "political" films this past year - it's just folded more thoroughly into the story and made more universal, less specific, which is why people will be watching "The Return of the King" 25 years from now, and no one will be watching "Brokeback Mountain". But those two movies are much more alike than anyone would ever guess. Somebody out there should do a paper. Call it "The Men of The West" and send it to me. I'll post it in full.

I love it when a film attempts some thing, when it sets itself a bar - any bar - higher than the bottom line. I love "The Passion of the Christ" for exactly this reason. Mel may have gone looney - but he's my kind of looney: "I've got money and clout and a vision - I'm making this movie idea I got and I dare you to stop me!" Some may call it irresponsible. I call it wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful (I myself seek to do a Roman Empire adventure in which the characters speak their native languages - Latin, Greek, Celtic p & q) (maybe next year). I haven't seen "Crash". The people who have told me that it's staggeringly mediocre are all people I respect. Still, it does seem to make the attempt. It aspires. "Brokeback Mountain" aspires. "King Kong" aspires - "Kong" is all about aspiration, in fact, about the attempt to acquire something unique, about the climb to new heights.

This past Academy Awards Awards Show itself seemed to ride this theme of aspiration in the movies - aspire to make a difference, aspire to make useful films, aspire to preserve the sanctity of the darkened theater & big screen ... aspire to have more Oscars on your shelf than Martin Scorsese.

Aspiring to just make a good living and so keeping your house paid for and putting your kids through a good college and paying for the condo in the Caymans is nothing to be ashamed of. Aspiring to rake in the largest gross of all the grosses is also less shameful than is commonly believed. But to aspire to make a thing that no one has seen before, to do something no one has done before, to expose to light something strange and unpopular, is noble and good. More importantly, it gives others juice to attempt the same.

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Nice post.
I think that these awards do reflect the studios' impression of what viewers would be voting for in the recent election as well as the rising interest in political issues.

Interesting that they would then all turn to producing 'indie'/art (limited distribution) films... Could this possibly reflect a growing concern for the credibility of the larger institution?
I would say, oui, oui.

- By Blogger Mike, at Thu Mar 09, 07:33:00 PM GMT  

The most exciting thing about the awards is that the Best Picture winner was LION'S GATE release!

Is Lion's Gate the new New Line? The new Miramax?

- By Blogger Neal Romanek, at Thu Mar 09, 10:22:00 PM GMT  

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