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2012 Academy Award Winners & The Hobbit Movies

I mentioned this (ironically) in my Grammy Awards Winner post, a fact I’d forgotten all about until I saw a link to to Academy Award Winners just now. I honestly did not know the show was today; the only event of the day that had any space in my attention was the NBA All Star Game, which I didn’t watch, and couldn’t have if I’d wanted to, since it was on ESPN (I think) and I don’t pay for TV. So I can only see the major networks; no cable channels. I assume the Oscars were on some network channel, but I wouldn’t have watched even had I known they were on.

Yes, this is the most disinterested opening paragraph ever.

Anyway, here’s a list of the winners I just got from Yahoo News. I’m not going to spend much time/effort blogging about them since unlike the Grammy winners, I can’t just hop on YouTube and absorb any of them in three minutes. I could download any of them from Pirate Bay, I suppose, but I’m not about to spend 2 hours watching some artsy feature I don’t need to see just to make a stupid joke on a blog no one reads.

  • 5:44pm PST — Cinematography: Robert Richardson, “Hugo”

  • 5:45pm PST — Art Direction: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, “Hugo”
  • 5:55pm PST — Costume Design: Mark Bridges, “The Artist”
  • 5:57pm PST — Makeup: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, “The Iron Lady”
  • 6:06pm PST — Foreign Language Film: “A Separation”
  • 6:13pm PST — Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
  • 6:22pm PST — Film Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • 6:26pm PST — Sound Editing: Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty, “Hugo”
  • 6: 28pm PST — Sound Mixing: Tom Fleischman and John Midgley, “Hugo”
  • 6:42pm PST — Documentary Feature: “Undefeated”
  • 6:46pm PST — Animated Feature: “Rango”
  • 6:54pm PST — Visual Effects: Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning, “Hugo”
  • 7:00pm PST — Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
  • 7:13pm PST — Original Score: Ludovic Bource, “The Artist”
  • 7:18pm PST — Original Song: Bret McKenzie, “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
  • 7:26pm PST — Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, “The Descendants”
  • 7:30pm PST — Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
  • 7:40pm PST — Live Action Short: “The Shore”
  • 7:42pm PST — Documentary Short: “Saving Face”
  • 7:45pm PST — Animated Short: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
  • 7:52pm PST — Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
  • 8:15pm PST — Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
  • 8:30pm PST — Best Actress: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
  • 8:36pm PST — Best Picture: “The Artist”

And now, for my insightful commentary!

My mom wanted me to go see Hugo with her while I was visiting San Diego before Xmas, but the trailer made it look really sappy, so I passed. We saw some other movie instead. Um… don’t remember. We saw Mission Impossible 4, but that was a few days later and my stepdad went with us to that one. With mom I saw um… Something kind of action movie-esque, but not completely… well shit. Don’t remember. Certainly nothing named on this winner list, or it would have jogged my memory.

As for these winners, I saw Rango. Yes, the cartoon one. It was fairly smart and well-visualized, but not a great story. Any decent Pixar or Miyazaki offering beats it out, but as last year brought only Cars 2, the field was open for someone else to win the best animated film, for a change.

And that’s it. I heard about the Meryl Streep performance as Margaret Thatcher, as every critic said the movie was boring and forgettable, but that Streep was sure to win an Academy Award for it since she did such a great impersonation. I guess they were right.

I’ve only heard of The Artist in terms of some jokes about how often the male lead is naked. I didn’t hear anyone make a joke about how he deserved an Oscar since the man on the trophy is just as naked as he was, but I’m sure it’s been made by now. Or soon will be. Something about how they should have given him a special, anatomically-correct statue, perhaps?

(Update: Having finally bestirred myself to read a review of The Artist I learned that it’s a PG film set in the silent film era in black and white, with lots of dance numbers. I have not seen it and can’t imagine I ever will, but it’s clearly not the “male lead often naked” movie I heard discussed previously. I don’t know which one that was though, nor do I care enough to figure it out. But I did want to update my obvious error on this score.)

One other film I’ve heard of is The Help. I didn’t actually know it was a film, but during my recent online dating efforts, numerous women listed the book amongst their recent reads. I haven’t read it and doubt I ever will, but apparently it’s some depressing 1950s thing about how poorly white people treated their black servants. The awards show success of this sort of film is exactly what fuels the Big Hollywood/Rush Limbaugh style jeremiads upon Hollywood for fueling “liberal white guilt.” Despite that recommendation, I shall never see a second of it.

…and that’s it! I saw nothing, and I have no informed opinions about anything. Thanks for tuning into Black Champagne’s quasi-annual Academy Awards coverage! Drive safely.

Just to add something about a movie I actually want to see… The Hobbit!

PJ has not posted a new video blog since before Xmas, but I highly recommend all five that he’s thus far posted on his Facebook site. Even the one about the new 3D camera technology they’re using. I hate that gimmicky bullshit on general principles, and refuse to pay $18 to get a headache wearing uncomfortable glasses watching the same movie that’s overpriced at $10 in 2D. That said, PJ’s presentation of The Hobbit in 3D almost sucked me in, at least conceptually.

I bring this up since I just read The Hobbit. The book, I mean. I had not read it in at least ten years, when I last read it and the LotR trilogy at some point around 2000, to refresh my memory before the first of the movies was released. I hadn’t planned to read it, but I was finished with all of my current library books and needed something for the gym, and it leapt out at me from my bookshelf.

I quite enjoyed it. Much better flow than I remembered, and a much quicker read. I’d merged it with all of LotR’s overlong travelogue content in my mind, and expected pages and pages of exhausted dwarves marching over hill and dale. Turns out there’s actually very little of that in The Hobbit, and the story moves along quite smartly. Also, there’s much more plot than I remembered. They’ll have no problem stretching the content into two films; it would actually have been quite compressed to fit into one, and I’d rather see two quality two-hour movies than one three hour and twenty minute epic that would feel simultaneously bloated and hurried.

I’m not going to do a whole review or big list of surprises, but I remembered a lot more boring walking than the book actually had, and a lot more dragon as well. They need to actually increase the Smaug-time a bit in the film; it actually feels too quick and easy the way he just up and flies off and leaves his treasure to the dwarves, in the book. The book really skimps on the huge battle of the five armies too; it’s just getting going and Tolkien is already skimping on the details when Bilbo gets knocked out and the narrative jumps forward five hours to him waking up, with everything neatly resolved.

Pleased by The Hobbit, I’ve moved on to rereading the LotR series and while I’m only about 1/3 into book one, (two gym cardio sessions reading so far) I’ve been constantly surprised by how much the movies changed things around. Almost all for the better, was my reaction upon seeing the films for the first time, and nothing in this reread is changing my mind on that front. Well over 100 pages in and Frodo’s still arsing around growing cabbages in the Shire and showing no urgency to get the fuck out of Dodge despite Gandalf telling him that the Nazgul have been sent to find a Baggins in the Shire. I remembered that some time passed between Bilbo’s departure and Frodo’s, but man… 17 years?

The movies greatly compressed that, with Gandalf setting off to research the origin of the magic ring right after Bilbo gave it up, and then roaring back to send Frodo off step ahead of the Nazgul. That created several time flow complications in terms of where and when Gandalf found out that Smeagol had squealed and the Nazgul had been sent forth, but at least it created a great sense of urgency and pressure. It also seemed odd in the films that Bilbo could cheerfully use the ring to vanish from his party, and then when Frodo used it like two months later he went into the horrifying Sauron-vision — so did Bilbo not notice or did Sauron grow 50000% stronger in the interval? But those complications are as nothing beside the “seventeen years and then a few more months of dawdling even after we know the Nazgul are coming” that the book throws forth. Not to mention the whole, “Frodo can just move a couple of days walk to the East, across some river, and none of the numberless and insanely-devoted servants of the Dark Lord will bother looking that far to catch up to him” theory.

The Hobbit films will surely perform similar urgency upgrades, and from the scenes in those video blogs, the dwarves are a lot more kick ass and warlike. As they should be; the 13 of them were all but unarmed in the opening of the Hobbit books, which seemed wildly inappropriate. They’re also sort of a 13-man comic relief squad, and are pathetic adventurers, much less warriors. They get captured like stupid children by the trolls and only survive when Gandalf saves them, they get rolled helplessly by the goblins and only survive since Gandalf saves them, they run like squirrels and climb trees to escape the wargs and only survive since the Eagles save them, they’re helpless in the forest and only survive the spiders when Bilbo saves them, they’re effortlessly taken prisoner by the Elves and only escape when Frodo saves them, etc.

True, the book is called “The Hobbit,” not, “Band of Mighty Dwarves,” but give them some ability and pride to make the audience have a reason to root for them! As some video blog scenes have shown pitched battles with goblins in a forest, and other things that did not happen in the book, I have hope for such improvements. And better yet, The Hobbit is a movie by Peter Jackson, not a game by Blizzard Entertainment, so there’s good reason to expect part one to actually appear this Xmas, as promised.

| February 27th, 2012 | Posted in Movies |

One Response to “2012 Academy Award Winners & The Hobbit Movies”

  1. Josh Says:

    Actually, all I’ve heard about The Help is how out of touch it is with how black servants were actually treated, almost to the level of white-washing(*cough*) history. Frankly, I have no idea one way or the other since, like you, I will never, ever see it. Ever.

    You should check out The Girl With Thr Dragon Tattoo though. I’d never read the books, but I decided to see it based only on the fact that David Fincher directed it. Being a Fincher nerd, I may not be the least biased, but I really enjoyed it. Definitely not your cliche action film.

    So yeah, unless you hate Fincher’s other work, it’s definitely worth a rental. It’s no Fight Club, but it’s far from the worst he’s done.

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