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Oscar Post-Mortem

March 8, 2010 2 comments

The Hurt Locker was the big winner of the night, taking in 6 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow made history by becoming the first female director to win the Best Director trophy. The film is great, and deserving of all awards it received. Avatar had to settle for 3 awards, leaving James Cameron to cry on his billions of dollars.

There were no surprises when it came to the acting winners. Bridges won Best Actor, Mo’Nique took home Best Supporting Actress. Unfortunately Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for the horrible film The Blind Side. I will say that her speech was better than her actual performance in the film. I’m glad that Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for his amazing performance, but I’m sad that Inglourious Basterds lost out in every other category it was nominated in.

Speaking of losers, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner lost Best Adapted Screenplay to Precious. That was the only real surprise of the night. I have to say I’m kind of glad Reitman lost. This lost should humble him. Perhaps the controversy surrounding him trying to deny Turner script credit hurt the film, which ended up winning nothing.

The producers of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic did a horrible job at producing this year’s broadcast, which was only saved by the humor of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Martin and Baldwin have great chemistry and they were effective in adding humor in-between the categories. Love the shot of the two of them in Snuggies and the Paranormal Activity spoof. The two were great at playing off each other.

The telecast felt long, tedious and lacked the fun of last year’s ceremony. Shankman and Mechanic should never be allowed back. Their horrible additions to the show included having Neil Patrick Harris open the show with a terrible song and dance number that brought the show to a halt.  I’m sick of him; we get it, he’s gay, funny, can sing and dance, we don’t need to see him on every fucking awards show. The other terrible idea was to have dancers interpret the best score nominees.

The tribute to John Hughes was another bonehead idea from the shows producers. John Hughes didn’t deserve any special memorial tribute. Billy Wilder, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Ingmar Bergman, and other real greats of cinema never got their own special tribute when they passed. To add insult to injury, the three honorary Oscar winners, Lauren Bacall, Gordon Willis, and Roger Corman didn’t get honored on the broadcast. Bacall and Corman weren’t even up on the stage when they were acknowledged during the ceremony. The crowd awkwardly didn’t know where to look to acknowledge them.

I also have to blame the director of the night’s broadcast, Hamish Hamilton. There were terrible cuts to people who looked bored shitless. Clooney looked like he wanted to get the hell out of there. There were too many shots of empty seats, and jerky camera movements. For an example of how horrible the direction was, when Kathryn Bigelow wins a historic Oscar for Best Director, the camera cuts away to a wide shot before we can see her interact with her ex-husband, James Cameron, who just lost to his ex-wife and was sitting right behind her. We wanted to see Cameron put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy for her!

Last year’s broadcast had the great idea of having the acting nominees introduced by a past winner of the category. This year they kept the general idea, but only dragged it out. First they showed clips from each nominees film, then they had friends of the nominees come out and praise each of them and then last year’s acting winner came out and announced the winner. This was overkill. It dragged on way too long.

The entire ceremony had an awkward feeling to it. It didn’t have the fun, or excitement of last year’s broadcast, which was produced by Bill Condon and Larry Mark. What the fuck were they thinking bringing out Tyler Perry to present Best Editing? Many of the presenters kept screwing up their simple banter. Other terrible moments came when the orchestra would play people off early, like Louie Psihoyos, the director of The Cove.

I’m a fan of the Oscars, and if I found the ceremony awful, I can only imagine how the rest of America was feeling.

Here is the list of the night’s winners:

  • Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro
  • Best Director: “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
  • Best Actor: Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
  • Best Actress: Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
  • Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique in “Precious”
  • Best Original Screenplay: “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: “Precious” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
  • Best Foreign Language: “The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)” Argentina
  • Best Animated Film: “Up” Pete Docter
  • Best Documentary: “The Cove” Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
  • Best Cinematography: “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
  • Best Art Direction: Avatar” Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair
  • Best Costumes: “The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell
  • Best Editing: “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Best Score: “Up” Michael Giacchino
  • Best Song: The Weary Kind”(Crazy Heart) Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
  • Best Makeup: “Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • Best Visual Effects: “Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones
  • Best Sound Editing: “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Best Sound Mixing: “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Best Animated Short: “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
  • Best Live Action Short: “The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson
  • Best Documentary Short: “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
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An Incredible Cinematic Experience

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

James Cameron has crafted an epic film the kind which Hollywood doesn’t make anymore. “Avatar” is in the same vein of “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I’m not saying “Avatar” is a classic like those two films, but what they all share in common is that each film is a great cinematic experience. You must watch these films on the big screen to really appreciate the grandeur of what is being put on the screen. Simply just experiencing these films only on a television screen would be criminal.

The story takes place on the planet of Pandora in the year 2154. A greedy corporation has set up shop hoping to mine the planet for a valuable mineral. In order to learn about the native species, ten feet tall, blue creatures known as the Na’vi, scientists, led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) have developed an Avatar program. The program allows humans to mentally link up and physical control a genetically altered Na’vi. Jake Scully (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic marine who is recruited for the Avatar program and finds himself being taken in by the Na’vi. He is trained in their culture by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and soon Jake develops an affection for Neytiri and the Na’vi way of life. Jake’s love for Pandora can’t go on uninterrupted. The corporation’s head of military operations, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), is hell-bent on destroying the planet for his corporate masters.

The first twenty minutes or so, I was not really into the film. I was bogged down by Cameron’s bad one lines and the actor’s execution of the dialogue. Even when we first see Worthington enter his Avatar body and interact with humans, I was not blown away. Where things picked up for me was when we see Worthington interact with the world of Pandora. There is a great scene of him being chased by a giant creature. The use of the 3D fully threw me into that scene. It was a hell of a lot of fun.

It’s ironic that James Cameron has used today’s modern technology to create a truly beautiful, realistic world. The 3D technology is used to fully immerse the audience into the world of Pandora. There are no cheap 3D tricks here. We feel like we are on the planet. A shot of a waterfall, or grass looks gorgeous and tremendously realistic. You get use to wearing the 3D glasses and just fall into the wonder of the planet.

The motion capture technology Cameron uses is ground breaking because when we are watching the Na’vi, we forget we are watching a CGI character. A close up of the Na’vi has the same emotional impact as the close up of regular human face. The technology does not hinder the performances of the actors. This especially applies to Zoe Saldana, as Neytiri. She is really engaging in her role. Sam Worthington is also good, though it did take me a while to warm up to his performance. Weaver and Lang also deliver some solid work as well.

Much has been made about the screenplay and I agree it’s not the strongest part of the picture. The last half hour of the film does dive into large action sequences like a typical action film. But what action it is! There is riveting imagery in this part of the film. Cameron proves he knows how to shoot great action. I did find myself getting carried away in the story. I cared for the Na’vi and even the romantic subplot involving Worthington and Saldana. The picture has allegories ranging from wars past and present. The story of native people fighting an outside force to protect their land is not a new story angle. I even found imagery that I think invokes 9/11. You will know it when you see it. This image is at the same time strangely beautiful but frightening. The seats of the theatre literally shook when this event occurs.

I saw this film on a IMAX screen in 3D and I one hundred percent recommend you see it this way. It’s a great film going experience that will carry you away with the images and story. Many critics have compared seeing this film to seeing “Star Wars” for the first time. I agree with this. Seeing “Star Wars” on the big screen for the first time at age 10 drove me into the world of film. If I saw “Avatar” at the same age today, I think it would have the same effect. Cameron has returned amazement to the movies.

4 Stars