Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Fest!

I was woken up this morning by a helicopter buzzing outside of my apartment. This was at noon.

By four o'clock, the noise was nearly unbearable. When I walked outside to toss some trash, I looked up to see three helicopters, two airplanes, and the Goodyear blimp.

This is my life living three blocks from the Kodak Theatre.

And in keeping with tradition, Claire and I held an Oscar viewing party. While no nominees showed up, we did have a handful of guests who arrived after working on catering for the event. Fancy stuff.

Anyway, my thoughts...

There were few Oscar results that satisfied me, but given the slate of movies that were up for grabs this year, nothing would have satisfied me. 2004 was one of the worst years for movies in a long time.

Million Dollar Baby was a decent movie, but an average Clint Eastwood film, and if his name wasn't attached to it no one would have even cared. In a year of mostly mediocre films, though, it managed to walk off with a some of the top trophies of the evening.

The Aviator, the biggest disappointment of 2004, fortunately received all the awards it deserved - costumes, cinematography, and Cate Blanchett for best supporting actress, but as one of Scorsese's worst films, I'm glad he didn't walk away with best director or picture. Let him work for the next one.

The biggest surprise of the evening wasn't an award - it was that Chris Rock was actually very funny. I'm not a big fan - nothing personal, I just don't think he's as witty or humorous as any other possible choice for host could have ever been - but Rock was the highlight of the evening. I still cross my fingers for Ellen Degeneres to host next year...

Of course, my favorite films of last year all missed the Academy's votes for the year. So, before its too late, I thought I'd share my picks for 2004...

Most Disappointing Film of 2004
"Fahrenheit 9/11"
I hotly anticipated Michael Moore's opus for over a year. The trailers were awesome, the buzz was hot, and if one individual liberal filmmaker with his three hour movie could cause conservatives to dedicate thousands of hours of radio and television time disputing his work, even before it had been released, it had better live up to the hype.
It didn't.
The clips of George W. were good, but unless you were only reading USA Today for news coverage ever since 9/11, Moore wasn't reporting anything new. Even worse, his conspiracy theories were paper thin and took minimal efforts for an internet surfer to dispute.
Which isn't to same the whole movie was a waste of time - his footage as an embedded reporter in Iraq, while going on house to house raids with the troops gave us an intimate look at what our forces are actually doing that the common news media ignores. This should have been the whole movie.
And while I still remain a Michael Moore fan, I could do without any more of his sappy and clumsy political acceptance speeches.
Sidebar: "9/11" wasn't nominated for an Oscar because it wasn't submitted for consideration.

Best Actress
Bryce Dallas Howard, "The Village"
In spite of repeated warnings of this being M. Night's worst film, and already knowing "the twist" going in, I still ended up loving this movie. Bryce's performance was a big reason why -- or maybe it was just that she's a delicious red head. Whatever. She still deserves the trophy.

Best Actor
Paul Giamatti, "Sideways"
A few years ago it was my pal Jeff Bacon's dream to cast "Pigface" from "Private Parts" in his short film "Birth of a Salesman". Bacon has an eye for talent, because Giamatti exploded soon thereafter, but why he was totally igored for an Oscar this year is beyond me.

Best Film
"Shaun of the Dead"
This is an indication of how lame 2004 was. My favorite movie all year was a zombie comedy. But don't let that cheapen my admiration of "Shaun of the Dead", which has been written up about so much on other geek sites that I'll leave selection of it as Best Film of 2004 as an 'nuff said.

Runner up:
"The Passion of the Christ"
As Chris Rock pointed out, this was not a very funny film. It even lacks a real "plot".
Still, if nothing else, this film helped make me understand why many people are charged with the story of Christ, and why, even for non believers like me, even as a "mythological figure" Jesus is worth admiring and learning from.
It also helped confirm the fact the some of our own leaders who brag about their own worship of Jesus, don't show it by their actions.

I do find it somewhat ironic that two favorite films of the year involved people rising from the dead.