The Oscars: Our Annual Celebration of the Meh

I'll give Slumdog Millionaire one thing. It was a lot more entertaining than other recent Oscar movies-of-the-year. But is it the apex of film-making this year? Of course not. Slumdog Millionaire winning the movie-of-the-year (and it's going to win it per Nate Silver. He's never wrong about these things) is a lot like Gerald Wilkins winning an NBA MVP. Okay, so Wilkins was never an MVP winner and was never in the running. But he had an aesthetically pleasing game that on closer inspection wasn't very good. Actually, it wasn't good at all. That's my take on Slumdog. I left the theater in an okay mood. Some of the audience had applauded the movie, which surprised me a bit. The movie's pacing was fast. There were a number of good M.I.A. videos throughout, and so I guess I could understand the general adrenaline pumping feeling that circulated throughout the theater. But I've thought about it some more, and the movie is just not that good. The character of the brother, for instance, is not based on a human being. One second, he's a saint; the next, depending on the needs of the plot, he's pure evil. What's up with that?

But it will win the movie of the year and this year I won't throw something at the screen. That's mainly because it is better than the utter atrocities that were Million Dollar Baby and Crash. The bar is very low for Best Movies. Slumdog hurdles over it very comfortably.

I haven't seen the Wrestler but I am rooting for Mickey Rourke to win mainly for his speech. I assume he'll say some wacky things, maybe throw the statuette at some producer he's long reviled, and go full method and perform a Ric Flair Figure Four Leg Lock on Sean Penn.

This is your thread for the Oscars. Feel free to talk about the year in movies and the winners here.

17 comments… add one

  • Is Gossip Girl nominated? If so, it should win. I love that show.

    SF February 22, 2009, 4:41 pm
  • SF February 22, 2009, 4:58 pm
  • That’s an interesting take and better thought out than my reaction to the movie. I think maybe my feeling about the movie is, in fact, connected to the inherent tension of its structure and messages. It’s hard to assimilate the fairy tale nature of the story and the poverty and dire circumstances of the characters’ lives. I found all the characters especially lacking in depth and humanity, which might be a function of the fairytale structure dominating the movie.

    Nick-YF February 22, 2009, 5:08 pm
  • It reminds me of “The White Tiger” a book that’s won a ton of awards and been a big best seller this past 2 years. It’s an ok book, a fast read, relatively enjoyable. My girlfriend loved it, was moved by it, etc…
    For some people it seems that the best way to receive the message (in the case of both “Slumdog…” and “White Tiger”) that India’s poverty, modernization and lingering caste system is crazy-scary-mind-blowingly fucked up is by casting it under the haze of fantastical allegorically elision.
    At best you get literature like “Invisible Man” or films in the vein of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and at worst you get “Cool World.”

    walein February 22, 2009, 5:39 pm
  • “allegorical”

    walein February 22, 2009, 5:45 pm
  • How is it that this day is already here and I’ve only seen one movie on the Best Picture list (Benjamin Button)? Oh yeah. because the Oscar-type movies only come here for a week, we never know when that week will be, and we usually don’t have enough advance notice (or money) to get a babysitter. Weeeee.
    So I guess I’ll root for Button because it’s nominated, I’ve seen it, and I didn’t hate it.
    I wasn’t a fan of the wrestler, but Rourke winning Best Actor wouldn’t be undeserved. Heath Ledger will win Best Supporting Actor because he’s dead. Sorry, but somebody had to say it. Playing the same note really, really well for two-plus hours just doesn’t scream “best acting performance” to me in ANY role.

    Paul SF February 22, 2009, 5:57 pm
  • I thought Slumdog was a solid picture, if flawed, with some fine acting and some clever plays on the Bollywood form.
    I didn’t see a lot of films this year but Gomorra is my hands-down pick for film of the year, with special commendation for its cinematography, which is extraordinary. Sadly, it was not even put up for Best Foreign Film

    YF (Mark Lamster) February 22, 2009, 5:59 pm
  • > Sorry, but somebody had to say it
    Why so serious?

    attackgerbil February 22, 2009, 6:47 pm
  • Ledger might also win because the performance, sort of one note, was also really, really good.
    And he’s dead, of course.

    SF February 22, 2009, 7:19 pm
  • i thought ledger was great, but that movie became so tedious that i walked out (actually, turned it off–we had it on video). i thought it was over about 12 times, and always there seemed to be another chase sequence. after 2 hours, enough was enough. feh.

    YF (Mark lamster) February 22, 2009, 7:41 pm
  • Personally, my favorite movie of the year was Happy Go Lucky, a minor film that featured the best performance by any actress or actor this year.
    I’m not some kind of art-house film snob, but I find most of films that have artsy pretenses and are widely accepted (i.e. are played in big movie theaters) to be pretty disappointing. The Batman movie was one such movie for me.

    Nick-YF February 22, 2009, 8:02 pm
  • It’s a shame Heath Ledger is going to win the performance, because Phillip Seymore Hoffman was tremendous in Doubt. But Ledger will win it easily.
    Slumdog was fantastic, I didn’t think I would like it but I did. It deserves to win, moreso than Button or The Wrestler.

    Atheose February 22, 2009, 8:27 pm
  • BRAVO to Philip Petit, deserving winner for Man on Wire (a wonderful picture with a genius trailer) for providing the signature moment of this year’s show, and one for a long time.

    YF (Mark Lamster) February 22, 2009, 10:22 pm
  • I thought Ledger was fine but not even the strongest performance in the movie (Aaron Eckhart’s role actually required some nuance). I still haven’t seen “Doubt” but am excited to.

    Jackie (SF) February 22, 2009, 11:29 pm
  • Yeah, I totally agree that Ledger was VERY good playing the role he was required to play, but it’s still a one-note role. Also, there was so much hype for it that I couldn’t help but be disappointed — both in his performance and in the picture itself. “Batman Begins” was better — and everyone’s performances in it were better, too.

    Paul SF February 22, 2009, 11:40 pm
  • If Heath’s Joker was a leading role, then I would agree with the “one-note” statement regarding why he shouldn’t have won. But I think being a multidimensional character is less important in a supporting character. Heath Ledger made that movie. Also, when I first heard he was playing the Joker two years ago I thought “Wow, he’s going to be horrible… he’s the last person I would picture playing that character.” Then when you see his performance you realize how diverse of an actor he really is.
    Penelope Cruz was boring in Barcelona; I was sad to see her win over Amy Adams or Viola Davis. Aside from that, there weren’t many surprises on the night. I must admit I have not yet seen Milk, and generally dislike Sean Penn, but I have to give him credit for making fun of himself during his acceptance speech: “I know I often make it difficult to appreciate me…”. Also, Ben Stiller making fun of Joaquin Phoenix was the highlight of the night.

    Atheose - SF February 23, 2009, 7:28 am
  • Crash *was* really bad.
    Slumdog Millionaire was pretty good, IMO.
    I haven’t watched the Oscars in five or six years, and last night was no different.
    I wanna see Milk, though. And I’m happy for Kate Winslet.

    Devine February 23, 2009, 10:14 am

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