Thursday, March 11, 2010

And the Academy Award Joke Is...

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I realized that the main two contenders in the battle for the Oscars were going to be 'Avatar' and 'The Hurt Locker'. I definitely remember the sensation though. It was like seeing a Volkswagen Beetle among the shiny futuristic bolides at the start of a car race; on a pole position no less. At this point you already know the race is so rigged it's not even funny, and definitely not worth watching. And while I intensely disliked 'Avatar' for its ridiculous story, I can't deny it is a groundbreaking piece. At least technologically. Anyway, 'Avatar' already had its Oscar back in 1991, starring Kevin Costner, and that should be enough. But 'The Hurt Locker' even making it to the nominations was a fucking joke.

There is only one reason 'The Hurt Locker' got all its undeserved hype. It's set in Iraq. Iraq, gay people, or anti-racism - any of these is bound to grant anything a "holy cow" status and virtual immunity to criticism. Well, we already had the anti-racism theme in the shallow beyond belief 'Crash' and the gay theme in the mediocre 'Milk', so Ms. Bigelow's decision to make an Iraq movie turned out to be a lucky break. No one dared to bash it, because that would be unpatriotic, and we have to show the troops our support and whatnot. Next thing you know, every critic and their mother are yapping about the approach, the cinematography, the tension, the portrayal, the character development (all those were notably absent, by the fucking way), the snowball is set in motion, and the proverbial bandwagon is so full it's about to burst.

After that it's pretty much obvious, "You know what, maybe we should give a Best Director Oscar to a woman this time, show off we're not some stuck sexist bunch, it's long overdue, got any nominees?", et voila - Ms. Bigelow is the first woman to be awarded for being in the right place at the right time, nevermind that 'Strange Days', her only good movie so far, was completely overlooked in its time or that anything done by, say, Catherine Hardwicke (bar 'Twilight', of course, but that's Stephanie Meyer's fault) is far better and more powerful. The Academy just couldn't resist and this, still, can be understood to a certain degree. However, this is hardly doing her a favour. Now everyone would remember her as the lady who got the Oscar for being a lady, not for her achievements. This is the trick with special treatment, no matter positive or negative. Give it to someone and you are denying them the recognition they deserve or the equal rights they are fighting for.

Even so, I could live with the Director award. But the only explanation for awarding the Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Editing awards is some kind of conspiracy. How is the Locker's screenplay better (or more original) than the one of 'District 9'? Or the screenplay of 'Inglourious Barsterds'? As far as editing goes, I would expect the one of 'Avatar' to be head and shoulders above everyone else's; apparently, I was wrong. With all my hatred for the second 'Transformers', I thought its sound was fabulous (well, it was mostly explosions, but then again, the same holds true for 'The Hurt Locker'). So what the fuck?

Well, fuck the Academy and their awards and fuck the pseudo critics that mistake incoherent and confused for deep and dramatic. I might be the only one yelling "But the Emperor isn't wearing anything at all", but I doubt it - it is still a major failure at the box office, so at least someone agrees with me.
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3 comments:

  1. I agree, 100%. Okay, 92%. The 8% of me that disagrees doesn't think nyone really put their heads together to give Bigelow the Oscar. Or if they did, the conspiracy goes much deeper, to where she wouldn't even for a moment doubt the legitimacy of her win, because it became almost a consensus that The Hurt Locker was a great movie.

    That's where the 92% that agrees comes in -- I didn't get the hype over The Hurt Locker, and have been spending the last eight months since I've seen it thinking there was something wrong with me. Glad to see you're in the same boat.

    Also agree with you on Strange Days -- great film.

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  2. Cardboard cutout characters + shaky-cam = Hurt Locker. A mediocre, slap-dash effort that was absurd, and totally unrealistic. I, too, agree that this piece of crap winning Best Picture is a bad, bad joke!

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