As an American Gen X cinephile, I have basically had no choice in my life but to watch the Academy Awards every year. Growing up I watched it yearly, and I listened to my father's thoughts on the subject. We would compare notes on what we knew about the movies being presented, and the interesting movies that we had seen tended to get ignored. There was a voting code that the Academy was using, and we just couldn't crack it.
Every year that I have watched the Academy Awards I have felt unfulfilled and dissatisfied afterward. This year was more of the same. The Hugh Jackman show was painful. Song and dance routines further drive people like me into channel surfing of playing Animal Crossing on VIDEO 2. The Academy Awards is really speaking a language that I understand less and less as I grow older. The show is the equivalent of eating a bag of Halloween candy for dinner. Yes, you chewed, swallowed and it all tasted good, but now you feel like trash. You could have eaten something better. And as always, post-81st Academy Awards I feel like trash. Again I have that sense that I went through a grueling three hours and I have nothing to show for it. Again I am dissatisfied. But the more I think about it, it may not have all been a COMPLETE waste of time. I think I may have cracked the code.
Every year I have watched the Academy Awards hoping for honesty and truth. Every year since 1977 when Star Wars dominated, I have felt that there was a code governing the Academy voters that I couldn't crack. This is a code that seems to take more into account than just the merits of the films and performances nominated in a given year.The Academy evaluates film in a way that differs from everyone I know. Lifetime achievement is an award that is given, but actors are sometimes snubbed for years and then given an award for a sub-par performance when they should have been given the award years before. There is the quality of the performances to consider, but other factors are pulled in that sway the votes. Social consciousness, political flavors of the moment and sentimentality are all seemingly considered in the allocation of awards.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE swept the awards, and in the end, it all makes sense. Sentiment and social consciousness are factors that drove SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE into the number one spot this year.
So when I saw Ben Kingsley speaking to Mickey Rourke and telling him that he'd done a great job with THE WRESTLER and Mickey's hands were shaking with anticipation, I felt that I could see it clearly. Mickey Rourke was to be awarded for time served. I felt that his body of work was going to be respected along with his powerhouse performance. Where I was wrong was that the political flavors of the moment and sentiment were what pushed an Oscar in Sean Penn's direction. Judged solely on the merits of acting, Rourke vs Penn was a draw. The outside forces that help shape the votes were what won over in this case. This isn't really about acting, this is subjectivity at its greatest and personal preference when it is most strong. I cracked the code, I just guessed wrong.
If you suffered through the 3 hr. Hugh Jackman singalong you saw a 3 minute clip at the end previewing movies coming out this year. Some are trash, some are polished trash, and all of it is worth watching at least once.
The list of films that are pushed through that clip are as follows:
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Julie & Julia
500 Days of Summer
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Monsters vs. Aliens
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Angels & Demons
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
The Boat That Rocked
State of Play