The Oscars and the Muriels

What to say about the Oscars? I still haven’t seen The Reader or Frost/Nixon… so I can’t really comment on any of their nominations, or how much they did or didn’t deserve to win tonight. As for Slumdog going home with more Oscars than such prestigious films as Lawrence of Arabia (let’s not even get into the list of movies that have never been nominated), suffice to say, I found the film wholly unremarkable. I can understand it’s wide appeal, especially among the “Academy elite”, but it’s a film I doubt people will be still talking about in a year from now.


To be fair though, especially compared to last year, on a whole 2008 was quite disappointing on the Hollywood front. Most of the year’s best films were European, or Independent American works that have gone unnoticed by the big awards. One of the year’s biggest surprises was actually in the foreign language award, whereas I expected Waltz with Bashir or even the Class to win, the film went to the film with little (if any) hype, Departures. It’s one of those sweet surprises that I think highlights a film that is unknown to even the more dedicated film fan. I am very much looking forward to seeing it.

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And then of course, there is the big controversy of Sean Penn beating out Mickey Rourke. As even Slumdog’s most vocal haters expected the film to win tonight, I have a feeling that most of the backlash will be directed against Penn for “stealing” the Oscar from the excellent Rourke. It’s a shame that on one of the few occasions the Academy awards an actor who is very much deserving, giving a stunning and passionate performance will be at the butt-end of so much hate. Though likening Milk, and especially Penn to How Green was my Valley seems premature and hasty, I think the comparison is apt in that… a very popular film that people loses to something that also happens to be very good. Though I tend to gravitate towards female performances, I’d say that the two best performances this year were Penn and Rourke, and choosing between them still seems impossible.


As for the other awards, I can’t say any of them interest me particularly. I would have liked to see Wall-E win for score and song, but eh. Honestly, my own best of list includes very few of the nominees this year, so look forward to me unveiling my favourites of 2008 sometime in March.


As can be expected, the Internet bloggers and writers produced a much stronger list this year, and I’m not just saying that because I participated in the voting process. The Muriel Awards, hosted at Silly Hats Only, unveiled the best films of the year today, and their list for best of the year was much better than the Academy award’s with Wall-E and Rachel Getting Married taking the two top spots, and even though I strongly disliked Synecdoche New York, I’d rather see it, an off-beat and different choice take some recognition than bland awards fodder.


I’m also especially thrilled to see A Christmas Tale crack the top ten, a film that I thought was at the very least too under seen to get too much recognition.


Overall, I have to say a big thank you and congrats to all participants at this year’s Muriels, especially to the host Paul Clark.

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4 responses to “The Oscars and the Muriels

  1. Rourke delivered a best-of career performance, and so did Penn. But Rourke’s performance stayed with me, emotionally, a lot longer than Penn’s. Technically, they’re probably equally accomplished, but one can’t deny the sheer power of Rourke’s performance.

  2. I’m having a hard time judging at the moment, I saw both quite close to each other, and right now I prefer Milk overall as a film. They’re both such strong films, it’s a toss-up.

  3. I really hadn’t seen any of the films nominated, so I couldn’t really judge who should have won what. I haven’t been in that position for 10 years at least, and I only paid attention this year as an interesting diversion, to whether the projected winners would win. Penn’s win was surprising, but it seems like it was deserved. It wouldn’t be fair to say he stole it.

    I’d be curious to know why you strongly disliked Synecdoche, New York. Of course, having read a few negative reviews, I can probably guess.

  4. The “Academy” (considering that Plato had one, why shouldn’t they get slammed with some quotation marks?!?) really failed by not offering Wall-E a best picture nod.

    Since I haven’t seen any of the actual big winners or nominees, I’ll confine myself to saying– well, do you NEED to see them to know? Danny Boyle is a flamboyant hack, ala Baz Luhrmann; you only need to hear him once enthusing about how “the slums of Mum-BAI are SO full of LIFE!!” to know exactly what kind of stew Slumdog Millionaire will be.

    I’m sure Sean Penn was fine in Milk, but I wonder if it’s even that much of a career-topper for him. Despite Harvey Milk’s cult status as a hero, it’s probably too far in the day, both for his story and for Van Sant’s career, to make of the film anything too “subversive”– except that Penn has a macho reputation and so perhaps people thought this was some kind of personal breakthrough for him, just to play a gay man. So I do think ‘politics’ contributed a little to Rourke’s defeat; the academy voters are probably not poring over Rourke’s backcatalog with affection (Michael Cimino flicks! “Wild Orchid”!). Probably they’re still thinking– Mickey who? It’d be in keeping with their mentality to ignore Rourke by thinking that in a year nobody will remember him again. Ironic indeed, considering Rourke’s cult status and the fact that quite few Academy wins remain anything but an embarassment in very short time . . . .

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