The Fayette Citizen-Weekend Page

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Oscar the Grouch

The Oscars, the world’s largest mutual admiration society, is getting ready to hold its 76th annual clap-athon, Feb. 29, leap day. Does that mean if it doesn’t all turn out the way we like that March 1, we can do it all over again?

On the other hand, does it really matter? Maybe to the winners it does. For some of them it’s a raise in salary, like any of them need it. For others who already make $10 billion for each “performance, it’s just another blunt object.

Perhaps I’ve sat through one too many Hollywood love fests to have a rational opinion concerning the Oscar’s validity. Like Woody Allen’s character Alvy Singer says “Awards! They do nothing but give out awards! I can’t believe it. Greatest fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler!”

This year’s crop of hopefuls is a typical mish mash of feel good/feel bad movies that flip all the right switches the academy is known for activating. Still, I’m guessing the best picture will go to a feel nothing movie, “Lost in Translation.” Bill Murray will probably take home the best actor Oscar for his blank stare routine.

I would really like to see Sean Penn win it for his facial contortions in “Mystic River.” Maybe then Madonna will love him. If he doesn’t win, there’s always the Pity Oscar. Just ask Al Pacino. He finally won for “Scent of a Woman” after being nominated who knows how many times. I have seen most of Al’s performances, but I could not bring myself to sit through that stink bomb. They could have given it to him for “Scarface,” a film that will continue to be viewed countless times more than one that is mostly known for the catch-phrase “Hoo-ahh!”

The same thing goes for Pacino’s luck as the ever-creepy Michael Corleone in “The Godfather II.” He lost that time to Art Carney! Remember that great film “Harry and Tonto?” Oh, really? When was the last time anyone rented a riveting Carney trilogy? And no, The Complete Honeymooners doesn’t count, although it has the same creep-out rating as Francis Ford Coppola’s loving tribute to the Cosa Nostra.

On a lighter note, Billy Crystal is back this year. Ten bucks says he does his “Oscar, Oscar!” bit to unanimous cringes. I’m actually looking forward to the best part of the whole celebration, Joan and Melissa River’s catty pre-show scrutiny. It’s so much easier to be aghast at what hideous outfits the beautiful people wear and which hair don’ts to avoid when there’s someone there to point it out for you.

And if what stars are wearing isn’t painful enough there’s always the acceptance speeches to look forward to. Why can’t they just get up there and say. “Thank You” and be done with it? Of course, that would rob us of the joy of hearing a list of names that mean absolutely nothing to anyone except the person being drowned out by the orchestra. If they need to thank their agent and their gaffer, can’t they do it the next day from the comfort of their palatial estate?

The speeches that work the best for me are are uncomfortable political agenda rants that turns the air to glass with tension. I love those! I’m praying that Charlene Theron wins for her amazing portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in the film “Monster” so that she might say something scary.

Actually, Diane Keaton, who I love like a sister; a famous, estranged sister, will most likely walk off with the prize. Hollywood is much more comfortable giving its accolades to cutesy roles that don’t confront us except for maybe a quick full frontal shot that knocks us on our rumps, I mean, rear! Jack Nicholson lost his patented cool over Diane’s moment of glory. Maybe that’s why he didn’t get nominated again. Lucky us.

The whole function would make more sense if the awards were customized each year to fit the particular entries. “The Lord of the Rings”, that 200 hour fantasy geek-off would garner several more nominations if this were the case; best bug-eyed stare, Elijah Wood; best Hobbit with a “raging ‘tude”, Sean Aston; best old guy running around with a stick and a pointy hat, Ian McKellan.

This list could stretch on for pages. I haven’t even mentioned one of my favorite actors, Johnny Depp, being nominated for livening up the vacuous “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Oops, I guess I just did. I haven’t mentioned Tin Burton’s “Big Fish” getting nominated for best score and only best score. Oops, I did it again. And I haven’t even mentioned the category that burns my rear, I mean rump more than any other.

Best song, the overblown production number category that threatens to turn the event into the world’s worst variety show, might redeem itself ever so slightly if “The Triplets of Belleville” wins. I still haven’t forgiven the academy for snubbing “Come What May” from “Moulin Rouge.”

“Triplets” is up against the Disney machine for best animated feature but has a better chance of winning the song category since the characters depicted in the French film are not sexless, doe-eyed plush toys. I suppose I could appease myself with the upcoming Grammys and its take on the world of music. Then again, the choices they make give me a splitting headache.

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