Picking Winners for Worthless Awards

Ginny says my posts are gibberish, so here’s a more straightforward one: my picks (not predictions) for the 2010 Oscar winners.

Best picture: A Serious Man

Best actress: Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia

Best supporting actress: Mo’Nique for Precious

Best actor: n/a

Best supporting actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds

Best animated feature: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best cinematography: Das Weisse Band

Best director: Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds

Best documentary: The Cove

Best foreign film: Un Prophete

No one cares about the rest. I don’t watch many movies so I can’t comment on many of those that were nominated. Also, I’ve decided that Up is not just “overrated,” it’s downright mediocre. This was reinforced when I re-watched a bit of Wall-E again. Oh, and I went to Boston’s MFA yesterday and sadly discovered that I had missed their one & only screening of I Killed My Mother by just 20 hours.

Rebels on the Backlot

I just finished flying through Rebels on the Backlot by Sharon Waxman. It chronicles “six maverick directors and how they conquered the Hollywood studio system” — essentially, how against all odds a slew of quality films got made in the mid-late ’90’s. Waxman focuses on Quetin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), David Fincher (Fight Club), P.T. Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), and David O. Russell (Three Kings). But I could’ve done without the latter two. All good, important movies but would’ve been better had the author swapped out Soderbergh and Russell for Wes Andersen and Richard Linklater (or Sam Mendes). These guys get mentions but it’s not enough. Still a very good, interesting book and recommended for any film fan (drastically helps if you’ve actually seen the movies in question).

Tarantino & Violence

Andrew brought up by a post by one Henry, to which I feel obligated to respond to.

For starters, Tarantino does not celebrate violence. The film undoubtedly in question is Reservoir Dogs (Kill Bill‘s violence was for different reasons I won’t get into). Here is a movie that occurs in the time it takes for a man to bleed to death. Henry mentioned Taxi Driver which fits into this because it’s based off of Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground – a novel which attempts to do with rational egoism what Machiavelli did to political animals and which Tarantino was doing with violence.

The film is anti-violence because it shows you what violence is really like, what it really does to a man. There aren’t heros taking hundreds of bullets and still fighting on nor anybody taking one bullet and dying peacefully off to the side. Bullets to the stomach produce lots of blood, and Tarantino shoves this in your face. Violence is not pretty, not the unrealistic portrayal presented in previous films. This is why the film is so influential and important. Dostoyevsky challenged the egoists by providing a realistic portrait of what a rational egoist would really be like. Tarantino challenges popcorn-movie directors by providing a realistic picture of what violence really is.

Bowling for Columbine

I watched Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine tonight. Yeah. You need to watch it. It was not even close to the liberal leftist propaganda I thought it would be. Trust me, if your only exposure to Michael Moore was his boo-ed Oscar speech you ought to just set that aside for a couple hours to see this film. Plus to characterize the documentary as “anti-gun” or a “gun control” movie is slightly off. Moore also hits on themes of racism, fear, mass communication, and violence. In fact if there’s something the film really needs is a central, defining thesis. I appreciated the randomness of it all, but perhaps I would’ve more clearly understood it all had there been a stronger stance on any issue. Not that I’m particularly uncomfortable with the open-ended question of Why are Americans so violent towards each other?

Bowling for Columbine (2002, 120mins, rated R): Reviews | Criticisms | Rebuttals

I also saw Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs twice within 24 hours. Not nearly as thought-provoking as Moore’s film of course, but I’d say it’s fairly deserving of its hype. I do prefer films with a bit better cinematography – Tarantino’s medium-long shots can get tiresome though I was impressed at the emotion and drama he can evoke without even necessarily showing the character speaking. There are also some wickedly funny parts to the film which was surprising for me. I definitely see why the film has influenced so many others and really a pretty solid directing debut all around.

Reservoir Dogs (1992, 99mins, rated R): Reviews