' ' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: Part 1

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Countdown to the Oscars: Part 1

I've always loved the Academy Awards. There are many who dismiss them as pomp and circumstance, and they are that to a degree, and often they don't come anywhere close to rewarding the proper films or performances, but so be it. I still love them.

Perhaps this is because of my absurd fantasies of becoming part of cinema's elite. For instance, later today in the office break room I'll probably pour a cup of rancid coffee, kick my feet up and fantasize about having a cocktail at the Academy pre-ceremony and hobknobbing with Rachel McAdams. (In reality I would have a cocktail, saunter over to Rachel McAdams, attempt to hobknob, fail miserably, scream with fright, throw my cocktail in the air, flee, and hyperventilate in the bathroom for the next 25 minutes.)

But it's a beautiful dream and dreams are of the utmost importance. In fact, dream is my favorite word (even more so than coffee or Labatt or Kylie). And the Oscars always make me dream. They also inspire. Each and every year the Academy Awards serve as a muse and after the telecast I rush to my computer to compose.

In fact, I had long dreamt of taking off the Monday after the Oscars so I could stay up all night and write. Two years ago - the year of "Million Dollar Baby" - I made that dream a reality. I popped a bottle of champagne when Hilary Swank won for Best Actress and a second bottle when the movie itself won for Best Picture and then I stayed up until 3:00 AM drinking all the "bubbly" and writing. Okay, not really. I wrote until 1:00 AM and then spent the next 2 hours watching the first 2o minutes of "Collateral" twice (I was at a point in my life where I was extremely obssessed with the first 20 minutes of "Collateral") and selected scenes from "Last of the Mohicans" until I passed out.

Sweet Lord, what a magnificent night.

I say all this because as excited as I usually am about the Oscars, I was not all that jacked up about this year's version of them about a month ago. It didn't seem poised to be a very exciting race. But that seems to have changed during the course of February. My excitement level has slowly grown. Morgan Freeman may not have been nominated for "10 Items or Less" but your favorite performance can't win every year (like it did the last 2 years).

The Best Picture race appears to be wide open, and those are always the best kind. I'm rooting hard against "Babel" to win Best Original Screenplay. If a movie that only manages to look pretty and can't create a single memorable character despite a sprawling ensemble wins an award for writing heaven help us. I'm also getting a sneaking suspicion that Eddie Murphy may not be the shoo-in everyone thought he was for Best Supporting Actor, which means my personal favorite Mark Wahlberg could still sneak in for his poetic soiree of cursing in "The Departed". Helen Mirren will win for Best Actress but I'm still going to enjoy cheering for Kate Winslet (it's kinda' like cheering for Middle Tennessee State against North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament - the ship's going down but the band's still playing). And the standing ovation when Martin Scorsese finally ascends the podium that must look like Mount Fuji to him by now to collect his golden statue will make the whole evening worthwhile.

Movies, dreams, inspiration, champagne, and my headphones and word processor to top it all off. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

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