Like millions of other movie fans, I watched the Oscars on Sunday. I love to watch them and criticize them. The Oscars are practically a religion in Los Angeles. This is a company town, and the product is big-time entertainment. Nothing is bigger than "the movies," and the Oscars represent the peak of that mountain.
It's easy to make fun of the Oscars (and I do), but we take them somewhat seriously in our house. The Tiny Goddess is a member in good standing of "the Academy." She's chaired a couple of committees, served a term on the Board of Governors, and continues to work for The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. The organization does a great many good things besides giving out gold-plated statuettes on a television show, once a year: grants to emerging filmmakers and scholars, the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships, the Student Academy Awards, programs at film festivals, educational programs across the nation, etc.
I thought that this year's show was OK. Chris Rock was Chris Rock and didn't try to be someone else. He got off some good, stinging one-liners. Most of the "diversity" jokes worked, but after a while, they got old. I liked the crawls on the bottom of the screen that let the winners thank everyone, so they didn't feel that they had to crowd all the required names into their speeches. Louis C.K. made a good, quick case to be next year's host.
The music was not good. (We fast-forwarded through most of them and all the commercials.) I was sad for the Korean opera star Sumi Jo, who was not allowed to sing the nominated song "Simple Song #3" from YOUTH. I was sad, that is, until I listened to it. It was TORTURE and the producers made a wise if cruel choice of not allowing it on the broadcast. Sets by the millions would have been turned off. Many would have been shot or sledge-hammered.
Listen if you dare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCVnFUUI6X4
-- Not my cup of tea.
I didn't really love any of the movies this year, but I liked quite a few of them very much: THE BIG SHORT, THE REVENANT, SPOTLIGHT, INSIDE/OUT, BRIDGE OF SPIES, THE LADY IN THE VAN, EX MACHINA, MAD MAX, and a few others. But none of them made me say to my friends, "You gotta see this!" (Except for maybe INSIDE/OUT.)
There was no single, dominant "obviously great" movie this year, and in keeping with that fact, the awards were spread out widely: MAD MAX won a ton of technical awards, but not one of the biggest ("Best Cinematography" which went to THE REVENANT). SPOTLIGHT won "Best Picture" but only one other award: "Best Original Screenplay," making its "haul" of two statuettes the lowest for a Best Picture winner since THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (1952). In all, eleven different movies (not counting the shorts and documentaries) were honored.
I congratulate all the winners, but hasten to remind everybody that the Oscars are far from perfect.
And, as a tonic to last night's festival of the Very Good, here are some of the people who NEVER won a competitive Oscar* and samples of their work -- Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Howard Hawks, Sidney Lumet, Barbara Stanwyck, Stanley Kubrick, Peter O'Toole, Montgomery Clift, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Albert Finney, Robert Altman, and Peter Sellers.
(*A few got honorary Oscars at the end of their careers.)
So take your Oscars with a grain of salt. No system is foolproof.
Charles Chaplin – the Factory Scene from "Modern Times"
Charles Chaplin – from "The Gold Rush" – the Oceana Roll Dance scene
Alfred Hitchcock – the shower scene from PSYCHO
Stanley Kubrick – the final moments of PATHS OF GLORY – perhaps the greatest, most moving ending in movie history
Cary Grant in BRINGING UP BABY—"Let's play a game" with Katharine Hepburn (who won four Oscars)
Garbo as Camille – "The most insincere woman in Paris"
Irene Dunne in THE AWFUL TRUTH – "My Dreams Are Gone With The Wind" dance
Albert Finney – the eating scene in TOM JONES
Barbara Stanwyck in DOUBLE INDEMNITY – "How fast was I going, Officer?"
Peter O'Toole in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – "Nothing is written."
Peter O'Toole in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – "The best of them won't come for money ... they'll come for me."
Claude Rains in CASABLANCA – "Round up the usual suspects."
and these wonderful artists who were NEVER EVEN NOMINATED for an Oscar, led by –
Marilyn Monroe – "That Old Black Magic" from BUS STOP – which she should have been her Oscar win
Marilyn Monroe – "I Wanna Be Loved By You" from SOME LIKE IT HOT – which should have been at least a nomination
-- AND Edward G. Robinson, Myrna Loy, John Barrymore, Donald Sutherland, Mia Farrow, Meg Ryan, Alan Rickman, Joseph Cotten, Peter Lorre, John Goodman, Danny Glover, Alfred Molina, Hugh Grant, and Steve Buscemi.
All hail these losers!!!!
And here's the slighted Sumi Jo singing the Queen of the Night from THE MAGIC FLUTE