We here at Pajiba aren’t so interested in the big awards shows; they always seem to be more about the dresses and the celebrities in them than the actual movies, which makes the Oscars more the purview of our brethren and sistren over on the gossip blogs. Mostly, we just provide this post so that our readers have a space to bellyache, though it’s hard to get too worked up about anything in last night’s show. In fact, the biggest complaint we have was that the 79th Oscar telecast offered so little to kvetch about. Ellen DeGeneres was genial, amusing, and inoffensive (she’s not as strong at the monologue-type stuff as Jon Stewart, but her shots in the crowd struck the right tone); there were no — zero, none, nada — memorable speeches; no one, sadly, made a spectacle of him or herself; and for the most part, the awards were delivered to their rightful and/or expected recipients.
In fact, the biggest upset of the night, perhaps, was that The Lives of Others beat out Pan’s Labyrinth for best foreign film and, until our review goes up (this week), it’s hard to even fuss about that (though we can rightfully bitch that Volver wasn’t even nominated in that category). Other than that, however, most of the awards went to not only the people and movies we expected to win, but the ones who deserved to win. As expected, the Academy arguably chose Jennifer Hudson’s story over her performance, and even if no one cared to see their movies, it’s hard to argue against Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker, who turned in the kind of movie-defining performances that the Academy (and their films’ few attendees) love. It was nice, too, to see Forest Whitaker acquit himself well after stammering through previous acceptance speeches this season (though some of us here at Pajiba would’ve really liked to see Ryan Gosling win).
Among the acting winners, the only real bummer was that Mark Wahlberg lost out to Alan Arkin. Sure, Arkin’s performance as the lecherous grandpa (He’s horny! He’s profound! He’s dead!) was entertaining, and the film’s cast managed to successfully pull off its prefab quirk, for which Arkin deserves some of the credit. But whereas Little Miss Sunshine was the ready-made indie-that-could — funny, sad, sweet, but still ready-made — Scorsese’s fierce, sweeping crime drama contained the year’s best everything: story, performances, even the atmosphere. Wahlberg’s ferocious but loyal cop was an integral part of Scorsese’s film, which fantastically, beautifully, wonderfully surpasses its inspiration, the Hong Kong flick Infernal Affairs.
It was nice to see Marty finally get his Oscar, which provided the night’s only memorable moment (if you discount the amusing Jack Black/Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly number) and added a nice New York flavor to the proceedings. It was fitting that Scorsese was presented his award by Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, the fellow kings of his era, the first kids to blast out of film school and change the face of American cinema — though Scorsese has become the most truly American filmmaker of the bunch. The Departed isn’t just an adaptation of another film, or even a crime story, but a film that’s relentlessly American, pulsing with the homegrown hate and love and despair and fratricide of the spacious boroughs and blood-stained waves of grain. And in a year of lackluster nominations, The Departed was the only real contender — from Jack Nicholson’s coke-fueled Caligula to DiCaprio’s lonely yearning to find a father in Martin Sheen, The Departed really was the best film of the year.
Indeed, the biggest problem we had with this year’s Oscars was all the silliness about the length of speeches. We understand the need to cut down on the show’s length (it exceeded four hours, once again), but forcing the winners into an awkward, hurried situation deprived not only the awardees but the audience at home, which depends on those speeches to provide the few genuine moments we tune into to see. If you want to cut an hour off the telecast, then kill those damn tribute montages (Michael Mann’s about America was quite strange — it seemed to reduce the country to westward migration, the KKK, the mafia, and Superman), give the lifetime achievement award to someone who doesn’t need translating, and hand out the awards for short films and documentary shorts before the show starts. But for the love of God, leave the speeches alone — if William Monahan wants to get baked to the gills and rattle off a laundry list of names we’ve never heard of, just let the man. You give him enough rope, and maybe he’ll even hang himself — that’s what we’re all here to see, anyway.
Lastly, some of us felt the best moment of the night was Beyonce’s performance. We think she was inspired by whatever rivalry exists with Jennifer Hudson to really belt the crap out of her song, seeming much more soulful and less polished than she usually does. Maybe more singers should have feuds, like professional wrestlers. We were kind of hoping that at the end of the medley, she would turn and devour Hudson whole, python-style.
So, go ahead folks: agree, disagree, or just unload your burdens onto our comments section. That’s what it’s for.
The 2007 Oscars / Pajiba Staff
Miscellaneous | February 26, 2007 | Comments ()