Another Oscar year has passed us by and for an unprecedented two years in a row, I picked the wrong damn Best Picture. Well, the Academy did anyway. How they managed to screw it up in each of the feature categories is beyond me?
The only Best Picture nominee NOT better than "The Departed" was "Little Miss Sunshine." But after blowing several opportunities to reward the right Scorsese film, they give it to the wrong one. "The Departed" wasn't even the best version of the film.
"Happy Feet" was definitely not the Best Animated Feature and I thought the timely release of "Cars" on DVD would've given the Academy a second chance to see why.
To be fair, I haven't seen the film that won Foriegn Language film yet, but I can't even imagine it is half the that "Pan's Labyrinth" is, since there are only a handful films that can even compare.
And don't get me started on Documentary. Okay, "An Inconvenient Truth" is an important film. It should be shown in classrooms everywhere. But that's not really how you're supposed to judge these films are you? "Fahrenheit 9/11" would've won for the same reason, but I'll be damned if it was half as compelling as "Super Size Me", which didn't win either, but hey. "Truth", as important and informative as it is, is not nearly as fascinating as "Jesus Camp."
The awards for Director, Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress were gimmes, as well as Original Screenplay. Supporting Actor was a mild surprise, but very mild. Adapted Screenplay was a little more surprising. I was sure this was where Hollywood was going to thumb its collective nose at the right wing and award "Borat." But on repeat viewing of "Infernal Affairs", I think giving it to "The Departed" is a good call.
Among the "lesser" awards, you know, the awards most people don't care about but are the people who make good movies great, "Pan's Labyrinth" got what it deserved in Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup. I thought "Pirates of the Caribbean" would've snagged Sound Effects with its Visual Effects win, but "Letters from Iwo Jima" was a good choice, if for no other reason than to put this year in Oscar trivia history as one of the few years where all Best Picture nominees won at least one award. Sound for "Dreamgirls" and Score for "Babel" were deserving. I thought the costumes for "Prada" were more impressive, but Costume Design is one of the Academy's most subjective categories.
The only category I vehemently argue is Film Editing. As good as it was in "The Departed", it did not hold a candle to the work in "United 93." Watch the film again some time. It's subtle, but pay attention to how much faster the edits come as the tension grows. It's what made it a brilliant film. The whole film falls apart without it, much like "Black Hawk Down" a few years ago. Why the Academy got it right then, but not now, who's to say?
To sum up, respectable picks this year and everyone can FINALLY shut up about Scorsese never winning. Now, maybe people can start paying attention to the fact that Spielberg has won 2 directing awards without ever having directed an actor to an Oscar. Hell, he's been nominated for 6 times for director, almost as many as the 8 times an actor has even been nominated from one of his films. And 3 of those were for "Color Purple". 2 were for "Schindler's List." In other words, 6 Directing nods, 5 films with any acting nominations. That either makes him even more brilliant or totally overrated as far as spectacle over substance. Let's go there.