Saturday, February 21, 2009

The envelope please ...

Even before foot No. 1 has stepped onto this year's red carpet I already suspect I'll wind up disappointed in the Academy Awards tomorrow night.

Whatever movie wins best picture will be a rip, since three of my tops of the year -- "Revolutionary Road," "The Wrestler" and "Synecdoche, New York" -- aren't even nominated. The smart money for the best picture Oscar is on "Slumdog Millionaire," the feel-good love story set in Mumbai, India, and told through the lens of a popular TV game show. That's fine, I guess. Michelle and I just saw "Slumdog" last week, and while neither of us felt it deserved all the hype I certainly get why people like it. In down times like these, it feels good to feel good.

Other overrated films getting a lot of attention, in my view: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (gimmicky storytelling, OK popcorn flick, but not all that), and "Doubt" (great performances, but stillborn cinematically as a play that didn't quite make the turn). We didn't see "Frost/Nixon" as a movie, but did catch it on Broadway with the original cast -- superb! -- and I was afraid the hamfisted director Ron Howard would ruin the memory for me.

"The Wrestler" should definitely be nominated for best picture, but since it's not I hope the star Mickey Rourke wins best actor. He deserves it. Another favorite performance (and film) around here was Sean Penn in "Milk," a movie that I found strangely uplifting, strangely being that it's a true story about bigotry and assassination.

I'm not as invested in the Oscars this year as I somtimes am, at least not financially. At work I always participated in the office Oscar pool -- won it the last year I was still at the P-I, in fact, scoring some free movie tickets and popcorn certificates -- but I haven't been tracking all the odds and prognostication this year.

One of these days I expect Michelle and I will be in the Kodak Theater on Oscar night, waiting for her name to be called in the original screenplay category. Or maybe to watch Gina grab a statue for best director, or Franny for best actress.

Whatever the outcome this year, we always enjoy watching the Oscars around here and I'm sure we'll be tuned in tomorrow, with the Tivo set as a backup. I'm also hoping to check in at The Cooler, where Jason will be live-blogging the show and, as a bonus, signed up his friend Allison, of the riotously entertaining blog Tales From LaLa Land, to cover the red carpet pre-show. Check it out.

Will you be watching? What are your picks for the big categories? Let the bickering begin!

Something to get the argument started: the trailer for "Synecdoche," which no one seemed to like but the Matassalosis.


freda said...

feel-good love story set in Mumbai, India...hmm.
It did end up feeling good but went through hell to get there, so, no, I would not call it a "feel good" movie. I thought the slum was shocking and what happened to the children beyond shocking. I did think it underscored the tenacity of human spirit.

Mark said...

Freda, yes, that's a good point. Slumdog's not exactly pure feel-good. You do have to go through some crap (literally!) to get there. As you quoted Jon Stewart saying, it's the most depressing feel-good movie ever.

Still, though, set aside the nifty flashback story structure, which I really did like, and the story is a pretty simple and classic feel-good tale: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I enjoyed it. I'm just saying, I found it less genius than the super-accolades it has been receiving.

My best picture nominees:

Revolutionary Road
The Wrestler
Synecdoche, New York

and I don't know about a fifth to round out the field. Maybe Slumdog, maybe Wall-E, maybe In Bruges.

Rita said...

Since I haven't seen many nominated movies, I really can't contribute much, but I loved your commentary, choices and links and will follow things all night. In fact, I'm already watching red carpet arrivals.
I did see Revolutionary Road and loved it, so I'm rooting for it.
I thought both leading actors should have been nominated.

Hope I'm around when the Matassalosis hit the Kodak Theater. It will most certainly happen.