Oscar Sends A Message

The Arts

And the message is ‘When times are bad, run a warm bath and fall asleep in it.’

It’s a message they regularly send out, but it was particularly pointed last night. How else to explain the flatly directed ‘The King’s Speech’ winning Best Director? The Oscars are never a very interesting or accurate barometer of the endurance of classic films – you only have to look at their overlooked list to see that. So ‘True Grit’ followed ‘The Color Purple’ route of being most-nom’d and least awarded film.

But the real upsets were the failure of Bafta winner ‘The Social Network’ to make a dent, and the ignoring of ‘Winter’s Bone’. ‘The Social Network’ commits three sins – it has low female appeal, is about young people and it makes the script king. It was also described on Sky last night by a punchable haircut in a shiny suit as ‘a film about people sitting in rooms talking’. Oh. Yeah. Those would have been the words, then.

Colin Firth is obviously a lovely, nice man who makes good choices. But ‘The King’s Speech’ is a nice film, and I mean that in the very worst possible way. Nice as in royal wedding nice, Forrest Gump nice, Downton Abbey nice. Perhaps it goes deeper – perhaps Hollywood wishes they’d never got independence.

I can see Natalie Portman’s one-note whinefest being a popular vote for Best Actress, but I wonder if some voters actually understand some of the categories – ‘Inception’ for Best Cinematography? Most of the film comprised tweaked CGI imagery. So, no innovation, no bravery, no experimentation, just a clear Conservative message; Don’t Do Anything Too Alarming Or Unusual.

6 comments on “Oscar Sends A Message”

  1. Stan says:

    I haven’t seen ‘The King’s Speech’ (but I know a lot of people who raved about it) so I can’t comment if it was deserving or not. I thought ‘The Social Network’ was excellent and probably worthy of winning Best Picture, and as good a film as I’ve seen recently (sorry, didn’t like ‘Winter’s Bone’ much) and ‘True Grit’ probably deserved the cinematography award (Roger Deakins’ work is always superb). The thing that annoyed me about ‘True Grit’ was the slagging of the John Wayne original. The remake followed the original almost identically and for the Coen’s to say they’ve never seen the film (if true) seems like absolute nonsense. I know someone who couldn’t remember the John Wayne version and he loved it, but I could always hear Kim Darby, Strother Martin and all the others saying the lines. Matt Damon was definitely an improvement over Glenn Campbell though!

  2. The Oscars® are a democratic Award. The voters are a bit better informed about the nature of what they vote for, but the vote is still an averaging of popular choices during the year. Sometimes a worthy movie gets singled out. Most times it doesn’t. It all stems from the silly notion of grading films (or novels, or whatever) for awards. It’s pleasant to get one but not necessarily significant. My theory is that Awards are vampiric institutions: they gain prestige through their choices, not really the other way round. They may initiate a new spurt of interest in a movie, but most of the game is done, by now: the examples where an Oscar® had saved a movie from oblivion are few and far-between. Most times they comfort their reputation by supporting a movie success had already crowned.

    I have very much enjoyed The Social Network (which is “a movie about people sitting in rooms talking”, indeed; and the way this is accomplished, both by the script and the directing, makes it fascinating: very fluid storytelling, riveting throughout — and all without any car chase, blood fountains or explosion — or histrionics). There’s a very strong chance that it is a better and more innovative movie than The King’s Speech, which I haven’t seen yet and intend to see. And there’s a very good chance I’ll enjoy TKS for what it is, not as compared to another film. I leave that to the Oscars®.

    And no, that doesn’t mean I wish Bordeaux hadn’t been “liberated” from English rule in 1453! ^_______^

  3. FabienneT says:

    Oh dear… I never bother with the Oscars usually but… this year, I did.

    I have loved the King’s Speech and Black Swan (Looks like we really haven’t got the same tastes in movies!), haven’t seen The Social Network because I am simply not interested in the subject matter… And going to see True Grit on Wednesday!

    But I was very pleased to see Trent Reznor win the best soundtrack as he and his music have always had a special place in my heart (I have been a fan for a long, long time. The irony of seeing a (former?) “weirdo” (not my words) from the alternative music scene receiving the accolade is somewhat satisfying.

  4. Steve says:

    I mentioned elsewhere on this blog that soundtracks tend to “jump out” at me and distract me from the movie they’re meant to support.
    The soundtrack to “Social Network” did not.
    But then, I’ve never been a fan of Kitaro or Tangerine Dream, either.

  5. Steve says:

    Oh, and I found the volume of the music in the club scene downright annoying. I’m sure it was the Director’s attempt to be “realistic” – and it was. I couldn’t understand most of the conversation.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    I didn’t watch the Oscars, haven’t for a while. The only one nominated I did see was TKS and I really did enjoy it because it was about a person who really had to overcome a personal problem and was getting very conflicting advice. My interest was increased by having heard some of King George’s speeches and this film provided a background to them. The sets and costumes were very much of the period, as was essential with potential audience remembering the time well. The acting was good and while there was nothing imaginative about the directing, it didn’t matter because it was more of a fictionalized documentary, if there is such a thing, than a drama. I don’t think it should have won best picture but people with speech problems may well take heart from watching George’s terror and frustration as he fights his. I can understand why the Queen Mother asked that the film not be made while she was alive, although I’m not sure they were right in acceding to that request. She, above all people, could have avoided any mention of the film had she wanted to.

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