Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Oscar Postscript

Of my three predictions, only one- the Best Actress award for Ms. Mirren- has materialized. Mr. Forest Whitaker’s award winning portrayal of the ousted Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin- his artful depiction of shades of humanity in what is unquestionably the Face of Evil à la Herr Bruno Ganz's characterisation of Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (2004)- confirms my previously-voiced suspicion regarding “the Academy’s penchant for rewarding reel-life portrayals of real-life figures”. As far as this year’s Oscars go, General Idi Amin has waltzed away with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (which is probably what happened at the customary post-Oscar Governor’s Ball).

Most intriguingly, The Departed, the one film I had expected not to win, was awarded Best Picture, while its director, Mr. Martin Scorsese, has walked away with the Best Director trophy. I attribute this to two possible factors: first of course is the sympathy Academy members must have felt towards Mr. Scorsese, who hadn’t won a single Oscar despite being nominated at least six times; secondly, the fact that of the five nominated films, only The Departed- ‘my first film with a plot,’ as its director describes it- told a truly all-American tale, and one that felt closest home to members of the Academy: a story of convoluted LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) cops. The Rest- especially my choice, Babel- might have been, well, a bit too exotic. Ironically, this undermines the much-touted claim of the 2007 Oscar as having been ‘a celebration of international cinema’.

Sympathy also accounts for Ms. Jennifer Hudson’s winning Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She might not have become the ‘American Idol’ but that didn’t stop her from gaining the nation’s sympathy as the hit show’s most loved underdog contestant. In my opinion, Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) was by far, the best choice: her understated performance as an undersexed deaf-mute teenager, especially when juxtaposed against the alienation of contemporary Tokyo, powerfully epitomizes the angst of youth everywhere. Mr. Alan Arkin's role in Little Miss Sunshine, as an over-the-top nymphomaniac Vietnam war veteran heroin-addict 'Grandpa', fits well with the edgy-humour style perfected by him at the Second City Comedy troupe at Chicago. It is well worthy of the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award.

As far as Ms. Ellen DeGeneres’ performance as the show’s hostess went, I think it was just a tad too edgy: vacuuming the red carpet in the middle of the ceremony might make for good slapstick; but it also hints at an unwarranted desperation for getting laughs out of an equally desperate 'we're-here-to-enjoy-the-evening' audience that is only too willing to oblige. Hopefully, she should have several more Oscar nights lined up to hone her comical craft.

AJ

1 comments (टिप्पणी):

Mukul Varma said...

Babel indeed got a really raw deal. It was better than the Departed, which is in itself a remake of Infernal Affairs. The human tragedy and anguish is amazing. It's a pity it lost to a cop story.

And Ellen I believe is still raking in moolah for simply being an outspoken, sharp-tongued lesbian. There are other women who are wittier. So, it was another case of hype winning over substance.

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