Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscars 2012: Nostaligia Keeps Some Movies Out

I was thinking of calling this comment "No Movies For Young Men", bt I'm not sure that would have worked.
The point is this: the big winners in the nominations announcement had one thing in common: they honored the past glories of the cinemas, and are also both comeback movies.

The Artist is about a silent screen star who is having problems dealing with the prospect of talkies, but is helped by a girl who he meets by chance, and returns his kindness to create a happier version of A Star Is Born. Hugo may be about a boy who lives in a train station that he has to maintain because his uncle died, but it winds up being about his efforts to revive the reputation of a long-forgotten movie pioneer. Entertainment Weekly commented on this, but the final paragraph got my attention, about whether choosing these movies is a way for the movie industry in general to look back at the days when it made movies for the heck of it, not because it had to maintain franchises or bring comic books to life (whether or it it's done badly).

In fact, there's a lot of nostalgia that will be surrounding the Oscars. They brought back Billy Crystal as if no one else in the whole wide world can host them unless you used holograms of Bob Hope or even Johnny Carson. Anne Hathaway can handle it, if she gets a better co-host....Hugh Jackman or Steve Martin. Maybe they can go back to a group of co-hosts like they did in the 1970s. No shame in that.

As for the other nominees, we have movies that look back to our past, like The Help or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close or good family dramas like The Descendants. As usual, if you make Oscar laugh (Bridesmaids, Young Adult) or give it too much of a fright (Drive, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2), it can't be best picture. Not only that, the idea of motion-capture anything is still considered an unforgivable sin. Thus, no Tintin or Andy Serkis.

This is due to the average age of the Oscar voter, mainly very old. If you cut the average age to maybe 45 to what it is now, maybe 128, maybe we'd have a more viewer-friendly event. We'd have someone from the Harry Potter movie in supporting actor categories. We'd have Ryan Gosling in the mix. We'd have Tintin in Best Animated Feature instead of two movies literally no one barely knew existed before the nominations were read. We'd have more than two Best Song nominees, since this rate-a-record judging process doesn't work. "Man or Muppet's" win next month will be more inevitable than Sunset Boulevard winning Best Musical in the 1995 Tonys. It's a good song, but why not add "The Seeker" from Machine Gun Preacher, or "Life's a Happy Song" from The Muppets..or even Elton John's song from Gnomeo and Juliet. That should get the kids watching the show, and when I say kids I mean anyone under the age of 45.

Someone from the Huffington Post also suggested that "R"-rated movies were also snubbed, including Bridesmaids, Shame and Drive. Again, that may be due to getting the teens and young people inside the theaters so they can cover the cost of the films for the "adults". That's what really counts these days.

For me, I am ticked off Young Adult was apparently too mean to get Oscar notice. It was great to see a Mean Girl who wound up not learning a thing, even though you sure learned a lot about her. I liked Drive, but it should have gotten a bit more respect, especially for Albert Brooks.

We should realize that while Glenn Close and Meryl Streep deserved their nominations, their chances would be better if their movies lived up to what they did. Streep is more likely to overcome this, and might get her third Oscar because Hollywood thinks it has to. She's done a lot..and we do mean a lot...between Sophie's Choice and The Iron Lady, and the Academy will think that 2012 will be her year.
Besides, it's best to do it now while she's got a lot of movies in her, rather than Christopher Plummer, who has made a nice comeback with Beginnings (which was a good story when it was between the father and son, but not so much with the son and his girlfriend). It looked like Supporting Actor may be certain except for Max Von Sydow also in the mix.
The real favorite for Best Actor and Actress may be clearer after the SAG Awards. If Streep gets that nod, it's over. If it's Viola Davis or Michelle Williams, it's game on. Ditto if George Clooney upsets Jean Dujardin.

So now, we visit our Netflix, video kiosks and iPads to catch up on all these performances, and a few more once those movies are released through DVD or streaming video. This means you, Rango and Midnight in Paris. We'll soon see how well nostalgia works at this year's Academy Awards. I still say The Artist will, in the end, leave us speechless, but Hugo will get a bunch of tech awards.

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