Monday, February 26, 2007

Revealers of the obvious, we thank you for your insights

Stunningly obvious statement #1: the Academy Awards goes on too long.
Stunningly obvious statement #2: the Academy Awards is sometimes boring

Providing these insights that could have been written a week or a month or a year in advance is none other than Professional Critic Tom Shales of the Washington Post. And these and similar profundities, I'm sure, are being mouthed by hundreds of others this morning. (Tom comes across a little world weary in his review of the Oscars. Who peed in your Post Toasties, my friend?) This calls for my current favorite, and seemingly very popular summary statement, which is applicable to just about every situation and makes you seem wise: "It is what it is."

It is also obvious to point out that winners usually have done their best work in some earlier movie, and get the award as some kind of a make up. The constant lag between the achievement and the recognition creates a backlog, so there a line a mile long of people who deserve it but won't get it until a few years from now when they do something really ordinary. Case in point this year, Martin Scorsese. The Departed is a good movie, lots of tension and a twisty story, but Goodfellas, The Last Temptation of Christ, and, of course Raging Bull, were all superior. Forest Whitaker, too. I've heard he is real good in the new movie, but he was due. In a larger context, it would nice to think this is a representation of life (and/or afterlife?) Maybe you don't get what's coming to you now, but eventually you get your reward.

The real takeaway from the Oscars this year is not that the list of nominees and winners shows "diversity," as some have defined it, but that it shows the real world effects of globalization and the democratizing effect of technology. There was a recent newspaper story on a film school converting to teaching only digitally, no more actual film cameras and film processing. Purists cry foul, of course, but someone was quoted in that story that they could but everything they need to make a feature film for $10,000. Leads me to believe that what we are seeing in the YouTube frenzy is just the tipppy-tip of the iceberg. The next Scorsese may be living in a mud hut somewhere.

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