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Posts Tagged ‘Academy Awards’

photo_12044_20100201I just had this ready to go in case I won the Oscar tonight in the best original screenplay category, even though I was not nominated:

Well, this sure is a surprise. No, please you don’t have to stand up for this. I am in the bosom of my peers, and right now we are all winners. Of course, all of you are of the highest caliber in your fields. Ben Affleck, you are a double threat. Triple if I note how many babies you have. Ha ha. Just kidding with you there. Jessica Chastain, you have come out of nowhere in the last few years like a hurricane and just blown off our windows and doors and roofs and foundations. You were the moral center behind Zero Dark Thirty and who wouldn’t torture those bastards to get Bin Laden? I would. There are times when a self-righteous meltdown is totally justified both onscreen and off.

Jennifer Lawrence, or if I may, J. Law, I think you’re only 15 or something and here you are beating out Meryl Streep for awards. Scripture says,  “A child shall lead them,” but I think it also says a child will hand their asses to them on Oscar night. (No offense, Isaiah 11:6.)

I’ve been pretty fortunate to have worked on my script for so long when it was in the development stages with somebody who knows Steven Spielberg. This was a labor of love you gave me this Oscar for, and though I sit before you now, gleaming trophy in hand, most of the gleaming I’ve done over the last few years was born of the tanks of sweat coming down my glistening forehead and neck as I struggled over this thing I called “Piece of shit” maybe 1,200 times. The original draft is covered with blood and stomach acid.

When I first broached the idea for the screenplay with my agent (who is not at CAA, by the way), he said that my idea was more than a downer. It was also truly hostile. I had to ride that compliment for three more years alone as I worked through draft after draft and honed the script that you all know now to be a story of a man caught between extremes. My film was about the audacity of the human spirit in a world where everybody is a scorpion capable of fucking his own face. A world where people who called you their best friends and toasted you at your wedding one day could turn around the next and divorce you like an ax-handle turd and tell people you were on lithium for two years in the 90s.

I know that you are all, my peers, on the same page with me tonight when I talk about the kind of integrity I mean. Tommy Lee Jones. Ang Lee. Adele. All of you people of great sensitivity know. You who record human emotions like a photographic plate burns at the kiss of sunlight. You, my peers. Jack Nicholson. Helen Hunt. Daniel Day-Lewis. You who like me also likely know how loathsome it is to even be touched by other people when you have to brush by them in a supermarket. We who have the tender emotions of artists carry them like open wounds and yet must constantly suffer these indignities and miseries and beclown ourselves for people who are not fit to eat after us at Denny’s.

When you tripped after receiving your award, J Law, you said, “Aww shucks, you’re just giving me a standing ovation because I tripped.” When we both know what you wanted to say: “You all want to kill me. I can smell the hate from up here.” Sometimes I feel as an artist that the only safe place I have is up here on this stage with this award, yet tomorrow I will have to walk the streets alone among savages and dogs. Jennifer, you and I are safe up here. But for how long? For … how …  long?

Ben Affleck said when earning his producing award for Argo that you can’t hold grudges when you’re in Hollywood. How right he was. You must not ever show people all the horrible grudges you hold. You must instead hold them in until they make you sick with ague-y tendons and malignant formations in your pancreas. You must turn those grudges instead into fantasy on paper–specifically the fantasy of watching your enemies die in horrendous pain and bloodshed while suffering the beatings, fistings, garrotings and other degradations of Salo. You must put these fantasies on paper, waiting like a crouching tiger until the day you can make them real. Yes, right on the money, Ben Affleck. Believe me, frere, I know exactly how you feel after your Oscar snub, the pain like a fresco of freshly painted coral sticking to the insides of your stomach muscles. Yes, no grudges. Wink!

So yes, Academy, now I thank you. I thank you vile pigs for the validation that can no longer nourish me because it is too late in coming and can only sustain me the way eating pieces of notebook paper sustains an anemic. Yes, Academy, please honor me now and pretend that it is the sum of pain and humiliation and tawdry nights of loveless intercourse with streetwalkers. This is my valediction. Ang Lee says namaste, but I say kiss my boots you worms. All of you bow down and feel the sole of it on your neck and then watch me stick your patronizing Oscar up your effete Range Rover driving asses! I take your love and hand it back to you as abuse! How do you like that? Fuck this award! Fuck it!

Also, I’d like to thank Harvey Weinstein and Sid Sheinberg.

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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I watched the Oscars this year not at an Oscar party, but at a post-“Ed Wood” B movie party. How, you may ask, did that happen? Who would schedule a camp marathon on the night of the Oscars? Why is it that when Ryan Seacrest was trolling among the shallow pools of red plush looking for a bosom big enough, like Clooth Na Bare’s lake, to drown himself in, I was taking solace in the bosom of Vampira and her statuesque physique and equally statuesque performance as an alien seed hatchling? Why is it that when George Clooney arrived dressed to the Nines, I was watching “Plan Nine From Outer Space”? Why is it that when Miley Cyrus arrived I was looking not into her saucer eyes but looking instead at a flying saucer on fire that oddly resembled the flaming hubcap of a 1978 Pinto hatchback? Why was I missing Mo’Nique and her hairy legs to watch Vampira and her leggy dregs?

Part of it was poor planning, but you might also attribute it to a lack of Academy Awards brio in yours truly. I am probably the only person on Earth who will tell you that I’m put off by the expansion of the Best Picture category to 10 nominees. The reason for this gesture of noblesse oblige by the academy, their opening of the gates to more films, possibly even bad ones, is that America has divided into two camps, the 1% of those who like good movies and then everybody else. It was time to offer a seductive hand, it seems, to lure back the other 99% of moviegoers who had stopped watching the Oscars because they knew they would not see the names Twilight or The Hangover or Medea’s Family Reunion engraved on a statuette. Ever. Who knew that their favorite teen angst kitsch and piss-colored melodramas would never be rewarded with the bald trophy who shines like tears from the sun.

I have always loved the Oscars before. Unlike the almost useless Grammy Awards, a ceremony that tries to plant tent poles in the shifting sands of fashion, and ends up mostly rewarding, in the face of such an impossible task, technical prowess and blondeness, the Oscars have always seemed to me to be an actual arbiter of quality first. Sure, they’ve thrown in such horrible crowd-pleasers as Ghost from time to time, but only the Academy Awards would reach out to a small desert flower growing unnoticed in the vermilion cliffs and water it–such films as Chariots of Fire, perhaps, or performances like Hilary Swank’s in Boys Don’t Cry.

When business people evaluate stocks, they usually look at two values–what the price of a company would be if everything, including the paper clips, were sold today, and then what the mad crowd thinks its worth. This is a dangerous game with art, which is always given no value until it is suddenly given way too much value. The same with Oscars. Sometimes, when you give an award to a person who actually deserves it, the price of the Oscar goes up. An Oscar worth 50 cents when you give it to Sandra Bullock is worth $1.20 if you give it to Martin Scorsese. Such is the manic temper of commodity.

But this year, the hawkers of the statue seem determined to try to fix its value again (downward) by dangling more of them out to a field of contenders that was largely unworthy. 2009 was not a good year for movies. In fact, it merely confirmed the fact that “merely good” is somehow a worthy substitute for great, something it becomes harder to think as the years pass and that copy of Taxi Driver sits on your shelf, reminding you how things used to be.

I haven’t seen Avatar, and maybe I should withhold judgment, but the fact is I can’t be excited about it because I feel like I know who it was made for, and it wasn’t made for me. I was supposed to be excited last year when the excellent franchise of Star Trek was revitalized, only to find out that a series whose stories once proceeded from big ideas and intellectual curiosity had been turned into a work of hostility by fetish monkeys–people who romanticize mass annihilation and are drunk on enfeebling spectacle. People who prefer to see Captain Kirk as an out-of-control alpha male oozing vengeance rather than the cool, if libidinous, master of the Socratic dialogue that he once was. Could anyone have ignored the irony that the filmmakers of the new Star Trek literally destroyed the old Star Trek reality with a freak time warp accident and a bunch of red goop, freeing themselves to reimagine these beloved characters as a pantheon of whiny Gen Y orphans and freeing the series forever from the yoke of seriousness? Is this how dies the free-thinking, stoic Rousseauian humanist that sprang forth in the 60s, to be murdered in an Oedipal tantrum? His history erased by gadget-loving latch-key kids with a working mom and absent dad who will forever be trying and failing to get in touch with his feelings and beating up lots of people in the process?

This sucks.

I harp on Star Trek only because it was one of the highest grossing films of last year. Its audience has won. They control the films we watch. So I don’t feel like they deserve to invest the halls of the Academy too, pulling down the marble and pulling up the porphyry and purloining the columns and otherwise destroying the last of the great Empire that was the Hollywood of the ’70s and building their Vandal camps all around.

I can find hope in the fact that a number of good, adventurous, innovative films did indeed win the night–films like Precious and Inglourious Basterds. I concede that quality was eventually rewarded more than commerce. But I can’t help but feel that this breach between what’s good and what’s successful will continue to widen until we have two different industries and two different audiences. If you think America is polarized politically, then I ask you to imagine what it would be like if we are divided aesthetically. It may seem like a silly distinction. But then again, men with long hair and women with hairy legs were once able to change the world.

Bring on Mo’Nique, and her hairy legs.

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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–*After a rule change, there are now 10 nominees for best picture. In keeping with this new spirit of diluted quality, the category will be renamed “Most Acceptable Picture.”

–*There were many historic firsts in the nominations this year if by first you mean it’s the second or fourth times something’s happened.

–*Historic if “first nominee to ever own a Prius” is historic to you.

–*The director of Precious, Lee Daniels, says that he hopes the nomination of his film as best picture will bring more people to see it. For some reason, an inner city tale about obesity, child abuse, incest, drug addition, dyslexia, Down Syndrome and AIDS is having trouble finding an audience.

–*In expanding the Best Picture category, the academy was hoping to draw more interest to the event by including more crowd pleasers in the competition and keeping actual good movies from having an unfair advantage.

–*Because so many best picture nominees have been added, the academy had to shorten other lists for time. The best supporting actor Oscars thus automatically go to Mo’Nique and Christopher Waltz so we can dispense with all the unnecessary suspense.

–*The competition pits James Cameron, the creator of Avatar, against his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker, in the best director category. According to their divorce settlement, however, if Bigelow wins, Cameron will be able to visit the Oscar on weekends, but Bigelow will take a good chunk of Cameron’s artistic credibility.

–*Bigelow will make history if she wins, by being the first female to take home the statuette, but will also erase history, mainly by making us all forget how many horrible films she’s made.

–*Many observers were outraged that Avatar‘s actors were not nominated, arguing that the film’s animation was actually guided by gestures, facial quirks and timing of actors such as Zoe Saldana. Which provokes the interesting scientific question: Would R2-D2 have been nominated as best actor for Star Wars had he not chewed so much scenery?

–*We’ve not only got 10 nominated films, but two hosts–Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Obviously, we need to cram as many stars into this night as possible because your neuron receptors have become desensitized to the sight of only one star and now you need several, suggesting heightened bodily tolerance and altered neuroplasticity.

–*Quentin Tarantino is certain to win the Oscar by rewriting history and single-handedly defeating the Nazis. That at least merits an Oscar, a Nobel and a Congressional Medal of Honor.

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