Tag Archives: Forrest Gump

The Oscars: A Curmudgeon’s View

Oscar season is upon us once more and the circus is well and truly in town. The blogs are buzzing, the free gifts and sweeteners are being sent and the usual pundits are all in a frenzy, trying to predict the outcome. Who will win Best Actor? Who will walk away with Best Director? What will Helena Bonham Carter be wearing? Who is going to fluff their lines? I know movie sites are supposed to get on the bus when it comes to these things, but I’m afraid I’ll be taking a different approach. Who cares?

I’ve loved movies my whole life, in many ways movies are my life, but I’ve never really cared much for the award ceremonies that accompany them. This year my interest seems to have reached its nadir. I look at the furore around the BAFTAS and, to a much larger degree, the Oscars, and wonder just how relevant they are to those who love movies rather than just to those that make them. And then I yawn a bit.

Here’s five reasons why the Oscars leave me cold.

1. Self-indulgence

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of a bunch of industry professionals and it is they who decide who wins what. Therefore, what we have here is an industry congratulating itself on its own products. There is no consultation with the end-user, the people who actually use the product. It all seems terribly self-involved to me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with awards. Awards are fine. And recognition from one’s peers is always welcome. I’m just not a fan of being on the outside, looking in. The Oscars feels like that. It’s like being invited to someone else’s party by mistake.

2. The clothes

What is this fascination with what the stars are wearing? Entire magazines are dedicated to this tedious conveyor belt of designer dresses. Elizabeth Banks is wearing a stunning Versace, Sandra Bullock looks divine in Marchesa, Zoe Saldana captivates in Givenchy. Give me a break, will you. Isn’t this supposed to be about movies? Nope, it’s about overpaid thespians showing off their shiny, free stuff. Recession? What recession? It seems the clothes even get their own awards. Best Dress, Worst Dress, Best Dress in a Supporting Role. And why does everyone stand the same way in them? Do these dresses all come with Velcro on the left hip?

I’m a little teapot…

3. The Academy’s crap decisions

This is the organisation that gave Best Picture to Chicago rather than The Pianist and Shakespeare in Love rather than Saving Private Ryan. And don’t even get me started on Titanic. Sure, it made big piles of cash, but can anyone really say it was a better movie than L.A. Confidential or Good Will Hunting, which it beat? Well, maybe Forrest Gump would. But he’s biased, having beaten The Shawshank Redemption. Run, Forrest, Run. Before Morgan Freeman kicks your skinny little ass.

4. It just goes on forever

I can understand the desire to elevate the award ceremony beyond a continuous procession of winners making nauseating acceptance speeches, but does it really have to last nearly four hours? That’s an awfully long time to have to stand with your hand on your left hip. Trust me, I tried it last night and made 11 minutes before getting drowsy. Which is about five minutes more than I can stand of the lame variety acts, and ‘irreverent’ jokes by whichever ex-comedian is presenting this year, which pad out each award announcement.

5. The internet has changed everything

When I was a kid, the question of what was the best movie of the year was limited to debates among friends and, of course, watching the Oscars. These days, I can go online and read the opinions of hundreds of people who love movies as much as I do. People who have sat in the cinema, or on the couch in the same way I have. In short, people on the same side of the industry as me. The audience. The bloggers. My peers. And I find their opinions and judgements far more interesting, and far more relevant, than those of the Academy.

If watching the Oscars is your thing, then I sincerely hope you enjoy the show. Me? I think I’ll stick a movie on instead.

 

 

 


Top Five: Overrated Movies

Kill Bill 1 & 2

I have a very low tolerance for Quentin Tarantino at the best of times. All style, little content and remarkably overrated as a director, so the accolades showered upon his two part revenge movie left me utterly perplexed. ‘QT’ is the best example there is of what can go wrong when you put a movie geek behind the camera, and he’s been fortunate to find producers willing to pay him to remake all his favourite movie scenes. Kill Bill was the ultimate in misguided fan-boy filmmaking. Uma Thurman does a good job in the lead but the story is hackneyed, the dialogue is overcooked and where there should be emotional punch there is just the constant desire to appear cool. Kill Bill is an empty, soulless experience, generously garnished with one of the most irritating soundtracks in movie history. Someone needs to remind Tarantino that there’s a reason why people stopped making movies the way they did in the 70s, and that the ability to imitate outdated crash zooms does not make you an auteur.

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Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Until Sherlock Holmes allowed him some redemption, I found Guy Ritchie movies thoroughly irritating. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was hailed as a shot in the arm for British cinema, but the last thing British cinema needed was another gangster movie. British cinema needed Danny Boyle, and the spark he brought with Trainspotting. It needed to show that it wasn’t just limited to two things; period dramas and gangster movies. Then along comes Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and suddenly all we are making are more cockney gangster films. Yawn. Behind all the hype is a film that’s nowhere near as clever or funny as it thinks it is. Perhaps seeing himself as an English Tarantino, Ritchie certainly makes all the same mistakes; choosing style over content, two-dimensional characters and desperation to prove how cool he is. However, all these things pale into insignificance against the movie’s must heinous crime; launching the screen careers of Jason Statham and ex-footballer Vinnie Jones. Thanks so much, Guy.

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Moulin Rouge

There aren’t very many musicals that I like. Grease, The Blues Brothers and The Nightmare Before Christmas are about it, I’m afraid. As a genre, I find the musical a frustrating one and difficult to relate to. So any musical that I can actually bring myself to watch has to be exceptional to defy my expectations. Conversely, it also has to be appalling to fall below them, but along came Moulin Rouge and fell way below. The success of Baz Luhrmann’s third movie is a mystery to me. You could spend years explaining it to me and I’d still regard you with bemusement. Almost everything about this movie fails to work. The use of contemporary pop songs in the period setting is all very post-modern, but it’s too jarring. Ewan McGregor doesn’t sing too well, Nicole Kidman is not a natural comedienne, and the threadbare story could comfortably fill a half-hour. Yes, it is gorgeous to look at and visually it can’t be faulted, but no more than that. Moulin Rouge is like a cross between a karaoke night and a Michael Bay movie. It’s loud, shallow and feels like being hit repeatedly in the face.

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The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s big screen version of Stephen King’s book is often held up as one of the finest horror movies ever made, by one of the greatest directors who ever lived. While the latter statement is certainly debatable, I’ll limit myself to the former. The Shining is not a bad film, but it is a bad adaptation and a bad horror movie. While it is heavy on atmosphere, The Shining is never scary, and some of this is down to Kubrick’s inherent inability to find the emotional core of his movies. Often accused of making cold and clinical pictures, Kubrick was certainly guilty in this case. With no emotional connection to the characters and story, the fear of their peril is greatly diminished. Also, the role of Jack Torrence was woefully miscast in the form of Jack Nicholson. The book’s depiction of the slow disintegration into madness of an ordinary man was doomed from the moment Nicholson, who is far from ordinary, walked on set. This Jack Torrance seems a little unhinged from the start, and when he finally begins rampaging around with his axe, he is so over the top that he becomes comical rather than scary. Beautifully shot it may be, but The Shining ultimately fails on all the points which are relevant to the genre.

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Titanic

The story of the Titanic is certainly one of modern history’s most compelling; a true life cautionary tale of the hubris and arrogance of man. It was a story just waiting for a new big budget version, for someone to tell the story as it happened. What it wasn’t waiting for was the addition of a fictional, tedious and predictable love story, a crap Celine Dion song and Cameron’s brand of stick-figure morality (rich people are bad, poor people are good, etc). Utilising Leonardo Di Caprio at the height of his teeny popularity, Cameron was able to pull in more baby-sitting money than all three Twilight movies, but did his by-the-numbers doomed romance with Kate Winslet really need to drag on for over three hours? Cameron spent years preparing and researching this movie and yet Titanic teaches us nothing about the tragic events beyond the few commonly known facts. It’s just my opinion, but if you’re going to make a movie about a real life disaster, don’t make it play second fiddle to a half-assed chick flick. You end up doing the real story a disservice. 1958’s A Night to Remember still remains the best movie made about the ill-fated ship.

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See also: There Will Be Blood, Forrest Gump, Love Actually, Easy Rider and Avatar