Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Well, the AICA Awards were the prelude to the finale of the awards season: the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday and the MPAAS "Academy Awards" on Sunday. The Spirit Awards were of interest, since i sent in my ballot, so i was curious to see if anything i liked was liked by a majority. Yes and no. But i was so pleased to see that "Sweetland" was able to get an award as "Best First Feature", and i thought that Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps would win for Best Actor and Best Actress for "Half Nelson". "The Lives of Others" was another film which, if people saw it, was sure to impress. However, i had a problem with "The Road to Guantanamo" as Best Documentary, if only because, with its "reenactments" and its actors playing the parts, it's not a documentary. I was impressed with the film, anyway, but my problem was simply its classification as documentary.

I guess what i didn't understand was the love that people seem to have for "Little Miss Sunshine". Not so much understand as underestimate. For the Spirit Awards, i thought it was going to be a sweep for "Half Nelson": not just the acting, but also for Ryan Fleck's direction, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck for Best First Screenplay, and for the film, because "Half Nelson" is the kind of well-done, rather-too-earnest film which screams "indie". But no. It was a sweep for "Little Miss Sunshine": Best Feature, Best Director(s), Best First Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin). Wash Westmoreland (somehow i still think of him as Wash West) was so cute about this, by saying how thankful they were to be nominated in a category (The John Cassavetes Award for Best Feature Made for Under $500,000) which didn't include "Little Miss Sunshine". But that's the thing with the Independent Spirit Awards: there's usually a sweep.

The Academy Awards were long, rather tedious, and moderately surprising. This whole thing about "owing" Martin Scorsese an Oscar is ludicrous. No one is "owed" an award. And since Marty is supposed to be such a film historian, surely he knows that Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray, Josef von Sternberg and King Vidor (just as examples) never received Oscars. (Ok, Hitchcock, Hawks and Vidor were eventually given honorary ones, but then, Scorsese was given an honorary one already.) Is Marty saying (with all this crap about being owed an Oscar) that he is better than Hitchcock? Well, yes, he is (of course, he is such an egomaniac). In fact, Nicholas Ray was never nominated as director (his sole nomination was for the story of "Rebel Without a Cause"). Neither were Anthony Mann, Fritz Lang, Douglas Sirk, Samuel Fuller, Joseph Losey, Robert Aldrich. (Orson Welles won one competition Oscar, and it was for the screenplay of "Citizen Kane", which Welles shared with Herman J. Mankewicz.)

There are 5,800 members of the Motion Picture Academy. According to information gathered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, of those members, only 110 are African-Americans. God knows what number are Asian-American. I don't really want to go into this, but i'll say this: Oprah Winfrey is an example of what's wrong with the industry. As the single most powerful woman in show business, and one of the richest people in show business period, she could, without any problem, help to produce films for African-American talent. And by that, i'm not talking about performers (Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, etc.): i'm talking about Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Thomas Allen Harris, Rodney Evans, Cheryl Dunye... Hell, i probably know more African-American filmmakers than Oprah does. But she concentrates on the white establishment, on Spielberg and Jonathan Demme and Clint Eastwood. And she doesn't seem to realize how paternalistic and patronizing the attitudes are (example: the Morgan Freeman character in "Million Dollar Baby"). But that's neither here nor there.

The whole issue of what's independent and what's not really is going to be more and more of an issue as Hollywood tries to preempt competition.

Anyway, Douglas came over to watch the Academy Awards, but we got bored, and kept switching to "The L Word", which Douglas (who doesn't have cable, let alone Showtime) had never seen. What an episode! The episode was written by Ilene Chaiken, and directed by Jamie Babbitt. And it was the most insanely soft-core episode yet. (Actually, Larry couldn't stand the Oscars, so he went to the basement and watched the entire episode of "The L Word" down there.) A lot of fun....

The Gay VN Awards were also this weekend, and Spencer Quest won for Best Supporting Actor, although Spencer has announced (on his blog) that he is retiring from porn.

Well, got to prepare for the start of New Directors....


Post a Comment

<< Home