Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Oscar for Participation Goes to Hugo, The Artist, and Meryl Streep

It has occurred to me that the Oscar is the ultimate green ribbon, given not so much as an award for superior or even good performances, but to certify those who showed up and played the Hollywood game.

How else do you explain the 2009 Best Picture Oscar for The Hurt Locker winning over Avatar and Up not to mention The Blind Side, Inglourious Basterds, and Precious. That year they gave Best Picture to the worst movie nominated. If you haven't seen The Hurt Locker and don't feel qualified to judge, you are not alone because almost no one has seen it. With only $17 million at the U.S. box office, it was truly a movie for the 1%.

For 2005, George Clooney was nominated 3 times for 2 unwatchable movies, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Syriana (he won Best Supporting Actor for that piece of propaganda). George has also been nominated for the very forgettable movies Michael Clayton and Up in the Air, and a very sketchy Best Adapted Screenplay nomination this year for The Ides of March. Clooney was also nominated this year for The Descendants, which may be worth seeing, if you discount his bad track record.

Then there is Meryl Streep who deserved her Oscar for Sophie's Choice and maybe her Kramer vs. Kramer win and The Deer Hunter nomination. But Meryl has also been nominated for The French Lieutenant's Woman, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Ironweed, A Cry in the Dark, Postcards from the Edge, The Bridges of Madison County, One True Thing, Music of the Heart, Adaptation, The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt, Julie & Julia, and The Iron Lady. What a long list of mediocrity. Is it any wonder the guys who did Meryl Streep's makeup for The Iron Lady were given an Oscar this year? Yes, they gave Meryl one too. "Whatever," she says.

This year's Oscars were a bit refreshing with the family film Hugo racking up an impressive 5 wins in technical categories (score another win for 3D). But how many of those were for the success of the film, and how many for director Martin Scorsese? You see, the film has only earned $116 million against its estimated budget of $150 to $170 million.

The 1920s retro silent picture The Artist also racked up 5 Oscar wins. It was reportedly produced at a cost of 13.5 million euros, around $18 million in real money. With $59 million taken in worldwide so far, it may be the better movie from a capitalistic return on investment perspective.

One might have expected The Help to win more awards (it got 1). One of my cousins told me last summer that the book was great and I've heard that the movie did not disappoint. But it's made $275 million in box office and DVD sales, which Hollywood often figures is reward enough. The hilarious comedy Bridesmaids, which is one of the few Oscar-nominated movies I have actually seen, has done $345 in business. No Oscar for Bridesmaids.

I also enjoyed Woody Allen's escapist film Midnight in Paris. And doubly-enjoyed that he didn't even bother to show up to collect his green ribbon for Best Original Screenplay. Still, I'd have to say that Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig who wrote Bridesmaids were stood up at the Oscar altar.

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