Monday, February 23, 2015

All That Glitters

Truth be told I put WAYYY too much energy and time into caring about this. Every year I think to myself, “I’m a struggling Black artist getting upset at rich White people winning awards that I thought other rich White people should have won. What the hell is wrong with me?” But you know what? I don’t care. This shit is important to me. I really love movies. Not only because it’s my chosen profession, but because I feel like it’s important that we chronicle this stuff. That we recognize the films that truly matter in a given year and award the people that made them. That we honor their hard-work. (And trust me people, don’t let the dresses, suits, and all that pomp fool you. THIS SHIT, film making, is hard W-O-R-K. And yes, it’s not building roads in the middle of winter but it’s tougher than it looks.) It’s a pimped out celebration of films, filmmakers, and just Hollywood itself. Nothing is quite like the Oscars and as always, there were a few twist and turns along the way.

Best Picture. Best Original Screenplay. Best Director. Best Cinematography. Not a bad haul at all as Birdman won most of the night’s top prizes. I honestly expect Birdman to split Best Picture and Best Director with Boyhood but that didn’t happen. I was VERY surprised that it took Best Original Screenplay given the roll that The Grand Budapest Hotel was on for most of the night. It’s not that I don’t like Birdman. In fact, up until about 3 weeks ago, I thought it was the best film of the year. Then I saw Boyhood and my mind changed. Boyhood was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had watching a film ever. There’s something so amazing about watching the little moments of people's life captured so perfectly while watching those people literally age before your eyes. It's brilliance comes from it's subtlety and simplistic yet complex nature. I mean the dialog in Boyhood is some of the most natural dialog ever put on screen. And just the logistics involved with making a film over 12 years is mind blowing! It's an undertaking unlike anything in the history of film and I figured that alone would carry it to a victory.

However, after sweeping all the guild awards, the writing was on the wall that the Best Picture race was all but Birdman’s to lose. To it's credit, it’s an amazing film. Visually unlike anything you’ll ever see, but I feel like it’s winning was just another example of Hollywood licking it’s own ass. If a film ABOUT filmmaking or film makers is HALF decent it has a shot. Just so happens that Birdman was actually really really fucking good. I just feel like Boyhood was better and the degree of difficulty making that film was way higher.

If Birdman did earn any of my sympathy it was when Michael Keaton lost Best Actor to Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne is a much much younger actor and has years of getting nominated ahead of him. This really felt like Keaton’s last and only shot at winning. Keaton really is about 50% of why Birdman is so great, with 30% being Emmanuel Lubezki’s camera work and the remaining 20% being a collection of strong supporting performances. In truth I haven’t seen Redmayne’s performance, but given his unbridled joy after winning he wasn’t  expecting himself to win so why should I have?

JK Simmons, Patricia Arquette, and Julianne Moore were pretty much locks in their respective acting categories. No surprises at all. Save for Arquette’s bad ass acceptance speak calling out for equal rights and equal pay for women in the workforce. You Go Girl!  I’ve always thought, if you got the stage, USE the stage. Graham Moore’s “Stay Weird. Stay Different” speech is sure to be talked about as well, but I’m Black, so by default, I have to say Common and John Legend gave the best speeches of the night. Besides, Neil Patrick Harris said it himself. Oscar MVPs.

Speaking of Neil Patrick Harris, can we just make it a law that dude host all the awards shows? He can do it all. Sing, dance, riff. Honestly, that was the best opening to the Oscars I’ve ever seen. I thought NPH was even better than Ellen, who wasn’t bad at all last year. Hmm. What were the odds that a gay award winning theater actor would be great at hosting a live stage event with musical numbers, multiple costume changes, and pre made gags/jokes?

There were a ton of other little nuggets from the night as well. Like how the hell did they pull of that "NPH predicts the show bit?" Jennifer Hudson being so good at singing that it reminded us that she won an Oscar for it (singing). That Glory performance being amazing and then somehow being topped by Lady Gaga. And so much more I’m forgetting so forgive me if I forgot something you liked. It was a pretty damn good show if you ask me. Congratulations to all the winners. Better luck next time to the nominees. God willing, and I get a break or two, I won’t be writing about this crap next year. Instead I’ll be getting wasted with Kevin Hart at the Vanity Fair 2016 Oscars Party in celebration of his Best Actor award in MY Oscar winning screenplay about a Black, gay Jewish actor performing one man shows during slavery titled Shuck N' Jive. Book it.

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