January 23, 2008 |
Merciless killings in 1980s West Texas. Merciless greed in turn-of-the-20th-century California. Corporate deception and law-biz ethics gone haywire in contemporary New York. Thwarted love and twisted lies in World War II Britain. And, oh yeah, a pregnant 16-year-old getting on with her life, her homework, and her hipster bons mots in modern-day suburbia. There you have the 2008 Academy Award best-picture nominees: No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, Atonement and Juno.
January 24, 2007 |
It's the year Oscar embraced diversity. The big surprise in yesterday's roundup of nominees for the 79th Academy Awards was the exclusion of Dreamgirls from the best-picture competition, despite leading the field with eight nominations. It's the first time in Oscar history that the movie with the most nominations hasn't been a best-picture contender. But the big trends were globalization and diversity. Of the 20 acting nominees, five are black, two are Latina and one is Japanese.
March 10, 2006
WHAT DEAL was cut for the prestigious Academy Awards to bestow art status with an Oscar for best song on the simple-minded "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"? Everybody got so upset about the low-class "wardrobe malfunction" by Janet Jackson, but awarding an Oscar for a song on such a topic by no-talent performers lacking any grace is no problem. All the great songwriters - Gershwin, Bernstein, Cohan, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart - must be spinning in their graves. They had class.
March 7, 2006 |
When did hosting the Academy Awards become such a thankless task? Jon Stewart is the latest victim of the Oscar curse. He was too cynical, too New York, went one school of thought. No, he was too deferential, too reined in, argued others. The one thing most agreed on: It didn't work. You just can't win. Not when the standard for success is some idealized hybrid of Bob Hope and Johnny Carson. The job has become a recipe for disaster. The only difference this year is that the carpers didn't even wait until the first commercial to start shredding Stewart's performance.
March 7, 2006
Brokeback Mountain did not lose the best-film Oscar. Crash won it. For the best reason: Merit. The Web was abuzz yesterday with analyses of "Brokeback backlash," the notion that Academy voters got tired of all the talk, whether adoring or accusatory, about that controversial tale of two gay cowboys. That theory does a disservice to a deserved winner. Crash is as gutsy, nuanced and moving as Hollywood film-making gets these days. If the best-film statuette leads more Americans to see Crash, that would be a very good thing.
March 5, 2006 |
Wait a minute - maybe Brokeback Mountain isn't the groundbreaking, earthshaking, history-making entertainment event of the moment, even if it does win best picture and a raft of other Oscars tonight. There was another movie that nabbed a few Academy Awards, including best picture, 37 years ago: a dark, sad, controversial tale about the bond between two men. One of them wore a big hat and big boots and spoke with a Texas drawl. There's a pretty explicit gay sex scene. And by the end of the picture - SPOILER alert here - somebody's dead.
February 27, 2004 |
Oscar fever? Academy Award angst? Second-guessing your keenly strategized office-pool entry? (Hmmm, maybe Johnny Depp is going to beat out Sean Penn. And The Last Samurai for best sound mixing - what was I thinking?) It's that time of year again, folks, and the excitement is palpable. (Well, actually, it's a little earlier than the usual that time - they've moved the ceremonies up three weeks.) Whether you're a stay-at-home-with-your-significant-other type, or a let's-go-to-that-place-where-the-barmaids-dress-up-like-Hollywood-glamour-queens sort, whether your primary interest is the red carpet couture show ("Who are you wearing tonight?"
February 22, 2004 |
As the last week builds up to this year's Academy Awards, I pause to ask one, perhaps impertinent, question about the best-actress category: Why does it exist? After all, there will be no award next Sunday for the best screenplay by a woman. Sofia Coppola wasn't nominated as best female director. There's no award for a best picture by a woman producer. Why are there separate acting awards divided by gender? There doesn't appear to be anything about acting skill that is gender-specific.
February 8, 2004 |
She went through a world of pain during her drug-and-alcohol-fueled transition from child actor to grown-up starlet, but Drew Barrymore has landed on top. So much so that the Charlie's Angels star has gotten herself big-time recognition from the United Nations. On Thursday, the New York-based international body awarded Barrymore a Dove of Peace pin, making her a member of Artists for the U.N., an initiative of Global Vision for Peace founded at the start of the Iraq war. The Dove of Peace pin has replaced the red ribbon (for support of AIDS victims)
March 25, 2003
Make-believe. Fantasy. Made-up people and stories and worlds. When much is broken, make-believe can help salve the wounds. Sunday night in Los Angeles, a bunch of professional make-believers got together and had some fun at the 75th annual Academy Awards. It was, to be sure, an awkward affair, a show muted by war thoughts, by fraidy-cat advertisers who pulled out at the last moment. But it mostly managed to sidestep the ugliness, in a needed respite from the grim clash in Iraq.