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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 22, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

    Grouching the Oscars

    Fiona McCann

    Warning: May contain spoilers. And yes, I know, we’ve been through it all back to front by now, but here’s my tuppence worth (if it’s even worth that. Bah, who cares, none of you are paying anyway). Slumdog Millionaire? A good night out, if you don’t mind footage of children being mutilated in your feelgood flicks, but really, best film of the year? Though I am glad to see it get the nod for score – say what you like about M.I.A.’s Paper Planes but that stuff is catchy and hey, I loved the big dance sequence at the end.  Mark my words, with this whole tanking economy business, musicals are going to be HUGE again. It’s an uplift thing. Brace yizzerselves. Milk impressed me, but more for the story – hard to go wrong with such a subject, really. And yes, Sean Penn plays a gay man convincingly, but why is everyone acting as if this is the world’s greatest accomplishment? As for that Benjamin Button business, I have no intention of going near it, frankly. Anyone like to tell me why I should? And seriously, Angelina Jolie in Changeling? I’m not saying she’s bad, but frankly, I couldn’t get past the fact that she was never, ever seen without her eye shadow. Such weighty issues distracted from the frothy subject matter of missing children and women being incarcerated.  Heath Ledger scared the pants off me in The Dark Knight, but it’s impossible to know how much of my knowledge of his subsequent death infused my experience of that film. I would suspect a lot, and along with the rest of the world, predict he’ll win the Supporting Actor gong. Finally, I did enjoy Wall-E, the first part in particular, where he trundles adorably around cleaning up rubbish on a burnished earth. Didn’t quite warm to the stuff in the spaceship so much, in terms of the aesthetic, though the concept was amusing. What else about the Oscars? Not seen Doubt yet, have been avoiding The Reader (I’ve read the book, I know the story) and don’t want to go near Revolutionary Road until I’ve read the book and know that story too. And hurray to Martin McDonagh for In Bruges. But seriously, it just all feels interminably dull and uninspiring. Does anyone really believe these awards mean anything other than a box office boost?

    • Enda says:

      and no Gomorrah either, thats the real scandal imo…

    • Sinéad says:

      It’s a terribly predictable list to be honest. I like Danny Boyle and would be interested in watching pretty much anything he does, but man I HATED the book ‘Q &A’. You’d be hard pushed to find something that was more formulaic, twee and badly written.

      I’m off to see Benjamin Button on Monday morning – will report back. Although I’m not convinced that Brad can act full stop, let alone whether he’s Oscar material.

    • Fiona says:

      Enda: Gomorrah’s clearly not ‘feel good’ enough for this trying times. Which kind of proves my point – now if they’d had some kind of musical massacre at the end, ooh, and a trite love story, why then it’d be Oscar glory all the way!

      Sinead: I’ll be interested to hear how Benjamin Button goes. I can’t bring myself to face it, but you may perusade me otherwise. And yes, the most predictable list you could imagine. Why am I even disappointed?

    • Enda says:

      too true. As for whether the oscars mean anything, well Stanley Kubrick never won an oscar,,,,nuff said i reckon..

    • clom says:

      i think that Slumdog Millionaire has more in common with classic hollywood melodramas like It’s a Wonderful Life than anything else. This probably has a lot to do with its getting nominated too.

      Boyle’s direction is superb as well, he knows exactly what he’s doing at every point in the picture, his control is really quite breathtaking. It’s very rarely exploitative in the way that many Western movies are when dealing with the third world (Blood Diamond, Hotel Rwanda etc). It’s by no means perfect and it sags occasionally but it picks up the pace again at the end.

      Anil Kapoor is superb as well, a really nuanced performance.

      I think it had more in common with A Life Less Ordinary than anything else he’s done in that it’s a completely escapist fairytale where bad things happen and love triumphs in the end.

      He’s always got his characters diving into toilets too doesn’t he?

      The score and cinematography are a total joy.

    • clom says:

      wrt Doubt: my attention span is usually long enough to manage to get through a trailer without losing interest but no.

      revolutionary road’s trailer is immeasurably improved through the judicious use of Dr Nina Simone.

    • amy says:

      I hope Mickey Rourke gets a nod in the Oscars, too, in some shape or form. I thought The Wrestler was a really, really good film. Gorey wrestling scenes aside of course, as I’m the lightest of weights…

    • Quint says:

      I’ve only seen ‘The Reader’ and ‘The Wrestler’ so far and both are excellent. The former got a strangely lukewarm reception from the critics but I found it utterly compelling and deserves the Oscar nomination eventhough the nudity is a little gratuitous. Winslet is remarkable in it but I’ll have to switch channel when she starts gushing like a burst water-mains when she wins the Oscar. Rourke should win for The Wrestler, it’s a raw, heart-breaking performance from him….Benjamin Button you should check just for the technical brilliance of David Fincher, who is probably the the closest this generation has to a Stanley Kubrick….The Dark Knight is an overrated, overly-serious mess of a film but Ledger is fantastic in it, the only good thing about it…..great to see McDonagh nominated, ‘In Bruges’ is an absolute gem…..tragic that ‘Gomorrah’ didn’t make it into the best foreign category, amazing movie…..’Slumdog’ I’ve yet to see….and ‘Changeling’ I’ll avoid like one would a Bubonic rat. From the clips I’ve seen, Jolie is obviously doing the BIG-GET-ME-NOTICED OSCAR-PERFROMANCE but it’s just overwrought shouting andf throwing stuff at walls.

    • Annie says:

      “Stanley Kubrick never won an oscar”

      I never knew this.

      I’m really hoping that Kate Winslet wins again, just to see her acceptance performance I mean speech.

    • Fred says:

      I think the Oscars are still relevant beyond boosting box office returns and DVD sales. Film, like music, is a medium on which consensus is impossible to reach (except of course on the films I love). Financial and critical success often depend on cultural trends and more often on great advertising. Similarly, Oscar success is rarely based on the film as an isolated piece of work. Nominations and awards can reflect anything from these cultural trends, trends within the Academy itself and all too often the artist’s body of work. Politicians are well known for not reading every piece of legislation on which they vote. Do Academy members watch every DVD they are sent? Sometimes a film is just very well made and deserves the plaudits.
      Personally, if Dark Knight doesn’t win Best Sound Mixing, I’ll never watch the Oscars again.

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