Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oscars preview? What Oscars preview?

You may realize from the tenor of some of my posts that I feel a bit disconnected from the world down here in Australia.

It's not that I don't have access to the internet and all the modern conveniences that keep all of us in touch with each other. I do. I never like to create the impression that Australia is a place where high-speed internet is dependent on whether or not a kangaroo has tripped over the wire that day. (In fact, my internet is better and more reliable here than it was in Los Angeles.)

But it's true that I have felt, sort of, out of it down here. I didn't watch a minute of the Olympics, for example -- and that wasn't out of protest.

My interest in the Oscars, the show itself, has been diminishing a little bit in recent years anyway. Fast forward to 2014, when I've still only seen just over half of the best picture nominees (Nebraska earlier this week took me from just under to just over), and my once-intimate connection to the Oscars has been dealt another blow. At this point, I'm not even sure how we're going to watch it, whether we're going to live-stream it or wait four or five hours and watch it on TV. At least, I think it will be shown on TV here on Monday night. The fact that my dad and his wife will be in town, on the first full day of their visit, complicates our viewing plans even further.

So what am I doing on this blog -- a movie blog, I should remind myself -- to recognize the approach of this hallowed event?

You're looking at it.

A non-preview preview, written mostly to explain its own lameness, written because I don't want you to think this blog has become just a repository for my reviews of the two movies per week I'm watching.

However, it really sucks to read an entire post where all the content is non-content. So below, I will list five categories where I'm really hoping for a particular winner, and my reasons for it.

Best Original Score - Gravity

As much as Gravity is, in many ways, about what we're seeing, the actual phenomenon that I keep returning to the most is the dread-inducing orchestral strains that accompany every onset of that unrelenting debris field. It's chilling me right now as I think about it.

Best Production Design - The Great Gatsby

Yep, I'm shilling for Gatsby again. All the other nominees in this category are also best picture nominees, and it seems likely the Academy will recognize one of those here. But even if you didn't like Gatsby, you have to admit its production design was absolutely rapturous. Who would have imagined that such a sumptuous recreation of 1920s New York would have been possible?

Best Original Song - "Let It Go," Frozen

Here's a case of front-running if I've ever seen one. I wouldn't even mention it except it gives me an opportunity to take a subtle dig at the movie (having recently argued the merits of Tangled relative to it, and been told I was wrong). This song is easily the best part of the movie, and gave me a genuine rush of emotion -- even if I wasn't actually feeling the character's emotional release at the time it was playing, because the script isn't very good.

Best Adapted Screenplay - Before Midnight

Although I don't naturally think of this as an adapted screenplay, I join Nick Prigge of Cinema Romantico in saying that this would be a nice way to crown the trilogy, similar to what they did with The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It'll never happen, but these aren't predictions, they are merely rooting interests.

Best Picture - Gravity

This was only my ninth favorite movie that I saw in 2013, but it was the highest of the four best picture nominees I'd seen at that point. I don't feel that strongly about this winning the award, in reality -- in fact, I'm kind of rooting for 12 Years a Slave, even though I haven't seen it. But you can't have an Oscars post without mentioning your preference for best picture, can you? It seems like a good mainstream winner that won't be scoffed at in future years -- or not that much, anyway -- and it definitely reflects what people were talking about in 2013. I'd love to see the career-long visionary genius of Alfonso Cuaron recognized in some way, in any case. Maybe I should have included Best Director as one of these categories ...

Enjoy the Oscars -- wherever or whenever you watch them.

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