Monday, March 13, 2006

I'd Like to Be the Academy

Today Honey and I watched Walk the Line, which I was excited about. Love Reese Witherspoon. Not only is she adorable, but she was fantastic in Election and Legally Blonde. And Joaquin--don't get me started. He managed to make the sadistic incestuous son of a bitch Commodus in Gladiator appealing. Quills--the scene where he tries not to have sex with Kate Winslet. Hot. That lip! Joaquin is a great example of "sexy flawed." You may know the more familiar term, "sexy ugly," but I don't like it. It's mean. The flaw makes the person human and vulnerable and makes us want to like them. For example, Catherine Keener and her gappy teeth. The crazy nose of Owen Wilson. And I don't think it's my imagination--Kate Moss is totally cross-eyed.

There are some troubling examples of the flaw not eliciting the expected response. For example, Madonna has a sizable gap in her front teeth, but this flaw that should endear her to us is somehow negated by her fake British accent, grotesquely ropy arms and overly Farrah-ed coiff. She was easier to like back in the day when she was a little chunky and a bit of a slob.

Anyway, WTL was entertaining. But Oscar worthy, I really didn't think so. If there was an Oscar for Cutest Chin, or Jawlines That Can Cut Glass, Reese would have my vote. Granted, I have seen none of the other movies in the best actress category, so who am I to say but this is the point of this blog. Actually, I'm fairly certain that I should be a member of the Academy. Can someone please see to it? Thanks.

Back to The Man in Black. Tortured by the childhood death of his brother (who apparently fell on a table saw--not totally clear how that happened, but gross and awful all the same), blamed by his drunk bastard of a dad, left high and dry by numbed out mom, haunted by guilt, channels self toward music, seeks solace in the substances and meaningless sex, hits bottom, finds redemption in the love of June Carter.

Sort of reminded me of Ordinary People, "the wrong sibling died" guilt story. Donald Sutherland as slightly clueless Dad trying his darndest to keep his disintegrating family together, Mary Tyler Moore as a block of frozen maternal grief about to shatter in a million pieces and Judd Hirsch playing the eccentric therapist. You know, slightly unkempt with a cardigan. But great job--the job Robin Williams wished he could have done in that turd of movie Good Will Hunting.

A side rant here on comedians attempting pathos and ending up with patronizingly insincere grimacing. Robin is so guilty of this. Tom Hanks, too. I theorize this is a problem with direction. Comedians, used to being the big funny, seem to struggle with dialing it back the requisite amount for drama. There is no shame in staying in your genre. I know the Academy devalues comedy. Once I'm a member I'll agitate for change.

Back to OP: Tim Hutton and Judd Hirsch ran against each other for a supporting actor role, but Tim Hutton won. This would never happen today, i.e. Brokeback Mountain. Jack and Heath were clearly both leads but Jake got relegated to supporting. I think I heard that the studios decide which acting category but the Academy website indicates that the Academy decides, or more specifically "the members of the branch." Apparently each general Oscar category is a branch with voting members and chairperson. The chair of the Actor's branch 2004-2005 is Kathy Bates. Love her. She was great on Six Feet Under,which is a great show. I know I should say "was a great show" but since I refuse to pay for television I rely on DVDs which puts me one season behind. Yes, I know that Nate dies.

Anyway, OP swept in 1980, taking Best Picture, Supporting Actor Tim Hutton, director Robert Redford, and screenplay. I don't know for sure, but I am going to take a guess and say this was a controversial year --Raging Bull, Coal Miner's Daughter, Tess, and Elephant Man. I have only seen Raging Bull, which I know is supposed to be Big Whoop, but what can I say? Not such a DeNiro fan. He won Best Actor that year though.

Check out the Academy website. It's pretty nifty. Through their searchable database,I discovered that 1980 was also the year of Fame and 9 to 5. Great stuff. Of course I watched endless episodes of Fame, the series. Who didn't want to sweat for Debbie Allen as she thwacked her stick on the floor of the dance studio? Or feel slightly disturbed at the sight of Lori Singer clutching the cello between her legs?

Hm. Academy database also reveals that Robin Williams won Supporting as smarmy therapist in Good Will Hunting. Further evidence of my need to become an Academy member.

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