' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: Part 2

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Countdown to the Oscars: Part 2

"I'm against all 'it's-me's'". - George Costanza

Speak it, brother! And like George routinely discarded anyone who identified themselves at the outset of a phone conversation by saying, "It's me", I am against all Makeup Oscars. And/or Lifetime Achievement Oscars.

You know the Makeup Oscar. "Sorry we screwed you for so long and never gave you the Oscar you so clearly and richly deserved. We'll go ahead and give you one now." Perhaps the most famous Makeup Oscar was Al Pacino's win for "Scent of the Woman". He did not win for "The Godfather". Or "The Godfather Part II". Or "Dog Day Afternoon". Or "Serpico". And so finally, many years later, realizing their ridiculous error, they awarded the Oscar to Pacino for relentless overacting in "Scent of a Woman". Did he deserve AN Oscar? Yes. Did he deserve an Oscar specifically for THAT movie? No way, Jose. (He was up against Denzel Washington for "Malcolm X".)

And Pacino has since made his career out of overacting. See? If the Academy had just given him the Oscar when they should have he may still be doing nuanaced, subtle roles.

The Lifetime Achievement Oscar is awarded to an Actor for a summation of his or her work. Julia Roberts was rewarded in 2000 for this very reason. She was our biggest movie star and she deserved an Oscar for being our biggest movie star for so long and on and on and on. And people will say her acting was good in "Erin Brockovich", and it was, but it was not anywhere near the same level as her co-nominee Laura Linney for "You Can Count on Me". I mean, if you actually watch the two movies you cannot even make anything approaching a valid argument that Roberts was better. Not even if you're drunk. Linney's turn was one of the best of the decade. Linney was Troy Smith and Julia Roberts was Bryan Cupito (bonus points for anyone who gets that).

(What's ironic about all this is that I know exactly what's going to happen. Twenty years from now Kate Winslet will still not have won an Oscar and she'll get nominated for a movie in which she's solid, but not spectacular, and there will be someone else who clearly deserves to win but Kate will win anyway and then I'll spout about how much I love the Makeup Oscar and how I've always been pro-Makeup Oscar and then everyone will pull up this blog entry and...........oh, God. It'll be brutal.)

I mention all this because of the recent backlash against "The Departed" and particulary against its director, the legendary Martin Scorsese. It seems that Mr. Scorsese is a near lock to finally win the Oscar for Best Director that has been denied him for far too long. Due to this fact many people are making the claim that this is a case of the Makeup Oscar.

Inevitably the critics have begun comparing "The Departed" to the films for which he was nominated in the past and wondering if it lives up to them. Well, of course "The Departed" isn't as good as "Goodfellas" or "Raging Bull". But who cares? What does comparing them prove? He isn't competing against his own films from the past, is he? He's competing against the directors of movies made solely in the year 2006, isn't he?

Now if Scorsese had won for "Gangs of New York" you could have called it a Makeup Oscar. If he had won for "The Aviator" that would have certainly been a Makeup Oscar. No one but Clint Eastwood (for "Million Dollar Baby") had any business winning that year. But this year? Well, let's take a look back at what was written in October on this very blog regarding "The Departed": "This is the type of movie where you can say no matter what it would have been good. But the direction makes it great." That pretty much sums up the mandatory criteria for Best Director if you ask me.

If Scorsese wins this year it will not be because the Academy is making up for anything. It will be because Scorsese did a better job at directing his movie last year than anyone else did at directing their movies.

And that's all there is to it.

1 comment:

Wretched Genius said...

He SHOULD have won for "Gangs of New York." Based on direction alone, that film was amazing. Its weak points were in the writing. Visually it ranks among Scorcese's finest. Should he have gotten Best Director? Yes. Best Picture? Of course not.