1-7 March 2013 #645

And the winners are...

Once again, the Oscars have come and gone leaving in its wake a number of delights and disappointments
Sophia Pande

Every year I watch the Oscars ceremony with trepidation, excitement, and sheer boredom. This is because the host or hosts (this year Seth MacFarlane) are inevitably lumped with the lamest jokes on the planet, the deserving don’t always win, and the winner of the ‘Best Actress’ category inevitably makes a soggy mess of herself on stage, crying, thanking people, and going on much too long (kudos to Jennifer Lawrence this year who kept her cool despite her fall).

Also, inevitably, even the actresses with the best taste end up wearing puffy prom type dresses, people sing and dance in homage to dreadful old musicals, and yet none of this seems to take away from the glamour and the weight of this now 85-year-old Hollywood tradition.

This year, there were nine films in the ‘Best Picture’ category, the result of a very complicated voting system thought up by the Academy in order to be more inclusive. Six of the nine films were reviewed here in Nepali Times (Argo, Amour, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty). Of the remaining three, Beasts of the Southern Wild will be reviewed next week, Django Unchained will not be reviewed because it is terribly boring, and Les Misérables I turned off 10 minutes into the film when I realised to my horror and consternation that the entire film was in song and not just people strategically bursting into song at key melodramatic moments.

The winner among these nine, unfortunately, was not Amour (though it won in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category), nor Lincoln, and not even Zero Dark Thirty. Hollywood punished Ben Affleck by snubbing him in the ‘Best Director’category (he wasn’t even nominated), and rewarded George Clooney, Affleck and a few others for producing Argo. It must be said, for those who don’t already know, that in Hollywood, the producers collect the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar. Sometimes the director is not even on stage.

Argo is a good film, but not a great one. It is also Affleck’s least memorable film. Both of his former films The Town (2010), and Gone Baby Gone (2007) are much more searing and much less self-important. It is with disappointment and dismay that I watched it win, chagrined at the caprice of the Academy and irritated that once again, lightness was rewarded over true gravitas.

There were a few good surprises though: Ang Lee’s unexpected win for ‘Best Director’ Life of Pi cheated poor Steven Spielberg (nominated for Lincoln of his turn this year, yet Lee’s innate soft spoken charm, undeniable talent, and gracious speech left everyone smiling and immediately yearning for his next film.

Lincoln was not entirely disregarded luckily, with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for his remarkable role playing the noble president, and while Jessica Chastain (as Maya for Zero Dark Thirty) has to wait her turn yet another year, Jennifer Lawrence was deserving enough of the ‘Best Actress’ win, her role as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook being a lovely blend of strength and vulnerability.

As for the ‘Best Supporting’ categories, Christoph Waltz won, very deservingly for his role as Dr King Schultz in Django Unchained (he was the only reason for watching that film), and Anne Hathaway did not surprise anyone in winning for her role as Fantine in Les Misérables, a win that goes a long way in illustrating the convention of actresses either having to wear prosthetics or cut their hair very short in order to receive that hallowed statue.

Adele performs Skyfall at the 2013 Oscars

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