Why did this year’s Oscars prove that some sort of intelligent and benevolent cosmic force akin to God exists? It isn’t because No Country for Old Men, a movie one can genuinely call “best movie of the year,” won Best Picture. It isn’t because there were no real lame upsets. The reason why this year’s Oscars proved the existence of God is the fact that Transformers was shut out of all of the technical categories.
Transformers, a movie that is about as close as one can come to creating cinematic terrorism, was nominated in three categories: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. This is the nomination-equivalent of “OMG LOL BIG SOUNDZ ROXXORZ!” The visual effects were utterly nonsensical. Everything LOOKED expensive and flashy, but hardly anything could be deciphered when actually watching the movie. There were lots of things moving around and giving the illusion of complexity, but in the end it was all a visual mess that made absolutely no sense. As for the sound? It was loud. Stuff blew up. The movie did its best to try and render you deaf.
Apparently this is what most Oscar voters LIKE. Given past winners, loud and flashy is what wins you the award. Visual effects that blend into the picture and fool you into believing CG is actually REAL? Nope, we don’t want it. Genuinely good manipulation that attempts to put you in the scene aurally? Again, we want BIG KABOOM!
Despite this past trend of rewarding obnoxiousness over quality, Transformers was shut out of the awards. The Golden Compass, a movie that was significantly less evil than Transfomers (while still being a good bit flashy and obvious), won best Visual Effects. As for the sound categories, The Bourne Ultimatum swept those categories AND managed to steal the Editing award at the same time. Unlike Transformers, Bourne’s technical prowess was used to try to put the viewer into the scenes. The action sequences sounded and looked exceptionally realistic and did a great job of immersing the viewer in the scene rather than trying to rupture the audiences eardrums and render them confused with lots of expensive CG flying around the screen. Seeing a movie rewarded for such feats is nothing short of a miracle given the Oscars’ previous trends.
As for the rest of the awards, seeing No Country for Old Men rack up several awards was also quite pleasing. Like last year, when The Departed won Best Picture, No Country for Old Men was a genuine competitor for what one could call “the best picture of the year,” rather than being “best picture to pander to Hollywood assholes” like so many past winners (Crash, anyone?).
Daniel Day Lewis flat out rocked, although he was effectively playing the same role he played in Gangs of New York. Despite that, he more than deserved Best Actor. Hell, the way he said “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!” alone deserves the award. That line is right up there with “Your sacrifice completes my sanctuary of 1000 testicles” from Holy Mountain.
Most of the other awards were, at worst boring and at best deserving. Ratatouille more than deserved Best Animated Feature. All of the other actor awards went to acceptible winners, with Javier Bardem also being on the same level of “awesome” as Lewis. Anton Chigur is one of the best villains in history. Period. There were several categories where I didn’t see any of the nominations (all of the “Short” categories, Best Actress), but none of the winners had that “what the hell were they thinking” vibe based on what little I knew about said entries.
The only things that really sucked about the Oscars, aside from John Stewart being his usual obnoxious self, was the fact that several deserving movies didn’t even warrant nominations.
Zodiac probably came out too early in the year to get consideration. While none of the actors QUITE had Oscar-worthy performances, Zodiac was easily the best movie of the year technically. The way CG was used to recreate street scenes and various impossible camera angles is amazing. Again, despite being a technical marvel, it wasn’t nearly as “showy” as the actual nominated movies. Subtlety doesn’t get you anywhere with the Oscars. Zodiac was also more than deserving of a Best Picture nomination. It certainly deserved it more than the dull pseudo-epic Atonement or the Hollywood “left” pandering Michael Clayton.
The same goes for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Casey Affleck deserved the Supporting Actor award ALMOST as much as Bardem, but a case could easily be made for Brad Pitt for Best Actor and for the movie itself being nominated for Best Picture.
I would also make a case for The Bourne Ultimatum for Best Picture. Seeing how Lord of the Rings was rewarded for pulling off a trilogy (despite the second parts being pretty underwhelming as movies), and given that the Bourne movies are pretty much on the same level as LotR as far as critical and public success go, giving it at least a token nomination wouldn’t have be out of the picture. The fact that the series wasn’t some sort of sweeping epic and didn’t tailor itself to the voters, like LotR, explains why it never would have earned that nomination, but all things considered, I think the Bourne movies are MORE deserving of such acclaim.
All in all, I’m happy that a truly deserving movie won and the truly UNdeserving movies didn’t win. I’d call that proof of God. Or at least proof of my orbital mind lasers working to some extent.