Sunday, February 27, 2011

Post-Oscar Quickie

The Oscars program was a good one; entertaining and less boring than usual. I thought Anne Hathaway's performance was livening, in particular, and I enjoyed the opening and the fake-musical sequences prepared for the show.

In terms of the awards themselves, there were few surprises. We got 16 out of 24 right, a creditable performance, but not an outstanding one. We took chances on Hallie Steinfeld for Supporting Actress and Geoffrey Rush as Supporting Actor and went with the favorite for director, David Fincher of Social Network, and got burned a bit on those. Some will have gotten those right (it was considered very close between Fincher and the winner, Tom Hooper of The King's Speech--as was the race for Best Picture), so I'm not expecting to win any prizes in the award-winner picking pools, but a decent result, still.

We have to give some credit to Gold Derby, which compiled the picks of 28 notable critics; their consensus got 19 or 20 out of 24 (one was tied, at least when we consulted the site); I didn't see a single critic's picks that were particularly accurate, but the group of them produced a Delphi group that was near-perfect. Their picks helped us navigate relatively successfully through the impossible categories of documentaries and short films. The only one we got right going strongly against the consensus was "Alice in Wonderland" for Art Direction (I could see both sides of that argument); the only big upset was for Cinematography ("Inception" over "True Grit"--definitely not right).

So, if you want to win your pool next year, go there--and not to Nate Silver's blog, which claimed to tell you how to win your pool, and which had picks for only six categories, all pretty obvious.

Postscript: That the award winners' identities became identifiable does not excuse the choices. How is that "True Grit", the year's best movie, in the sense of quality of form and content, the best story told the best way, was good enough for 10 nominations but failed to win a single award? One can go through most of the categories--but not all--and find reasons for other movies to take the awards--as I argued before, recent awards for Bridges and the Coens providing a good reason not to reward them again. Still, one is left with the conclusion, so tediously and unconvincingly repeated during the acceptance speeches and elsewhere, that the nomination itself is the honor. So, why not give an award to all the nominees?

Here's one more suggestion: most of the movies that I indicated previously that "I might have liked, if I had seen them" are now available in DVD, and I've had a chance to see most (including "127 Hours", "Get Low", and "Never Let You Go"), and the same is true of the feature-length documentaries (managed to catch the Banksy one). At this point in the year, the first-run (or even return-run) of the contenders is over and the box-office 99% complete; what we're talking about now is the film rentals/DVD sales/Netflix receipts. So, do the "show" about the nominations--a bit earlier, when the nominations do come out--and let a combination of votes--the Academy, and yes, the viewers--determine winners in a separate "People's" event (and just invite the winners, jazz it up as they do now).

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