Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Oscars

Didn't blog Friday. Got a call from Rebecca and she said she was headed out and wasn't going to be able to blog. She wondered if I'd like to blog Saturday or Sunday (blog here, she wasn't asking me to substitute at her site). Her thing was that a number of members always feel like they are shortchanged with 'new content' on Saturdays. C.I. posts and Trina and Kat but otherwise all the sites are silent.

My argument there is, "Don't read me on Friday, save it until Saturday." But since Rebecca was taking the night off, I decided to do so as well. I didn't want to make a promise I couldn't keep, so I told her I could blog on Saturday. So we're both blogging today.

You'll have Trina tonight, you've got The Common Ills, you'll have Kat and you'll have Rebecca and me. This isn't going to be 'heavy' post so if you're looking for that, move on.

So tomorrow night is the Oscars and we're hearing all about (CNN, go down the list) how "inclusive" the Oscars are. Let me be blunt: I ain't seeing it. This African-American man ain't seeing it.

I'm using Isaiah's "Brokedown Democracy" at the top of this post. Great comic. And Brokeback Mountain would be a good choice for best film. But in terms of the acting nominations, I wasn't impressed with Heath Ledger who seemed to be just standing around throughout the whole movie trying to look sensitive. Jake Gyllenhaal seemed to be playing an actual character and not 'too pure/good for this world.' Maybe I'm missing something in Heath Ledger's portrayal because I'm straight?

I don't think so. And I don't get the hoopla over straight actors playing gay. I don't think it's bad and I agree that there needs to be more gay characters, especially lead characters, but I'm thinking back a few years. Remember Halle and Denzel?

That was an accomplishment because they were African-American and not just White actors playing African-Americans. (Halle's actually biracial.) There was excitement about those nominations because we wanted to see if the Academy was finally mature enough to give awards to non-whites. Not non-whites playing sympathetic portrayals like Sidney did all those years.
I like Sidney, he paved the way for many (as did people before him) but he was always the 'tour guide' who helped you understand that African-Americans were 'people.'

And the 'you' was White movie goers because African-Americans knew they were people. We appreciated having Sidney who played wise and well dressed men. But I look at the nominations for Heath and Jake and think, "Why are people so excited?"

I mean, they're supposed to be straight, right? So how is this a gay backthrough if either man wins? If it were me, I'd give the supporting actor award to Jake because he earned it with strong acting. And I'm glad he was willing to tackle the role and hope more actors and actresses will play those roles. Hopefully, some of them will be out gays and lesbians.

But if Heath or Jake walks home tomorrow night with the award, I'm not seeing it as "One big step for gay America . . ."

Halle's win meant something. If it had been Sharon Stone, giving a similarlly strong performance, in make up to look Black, it would have been a deserved win but it wouldn't have meant anything for African-Americans. In fact, it probably would have been seen as an insult because with all the Black actresses in Hollywood trying to make it, to give the role to a White woman would have been seen as a cheat.

If Brokeback Mountain wins for best picture, I think it should, that might be something worth getting excited about because the picture is about a relationship between two men. But in terms of the two men themselves, they're straight so I don't understand the hoopla.

I talked to Jerry about this last night. I took the night off from blogging, so I went over to my uncle's house. Jerry's a friend from church and we grew up together because he's just a year younger than I am. Jerry's also gay and, good for him, no longer on the 'down low.' So I asked Jerry and his first response was, "You're not going to make me the voice of Gay America are you?" No.

I wasn't even wanting to talk to him about the above stuff. I was just wondering if Heath and Jake were appealing? I'm sure they appeal to some women and some men but I was wondering because Heath, to me, does nothing in the picture and I can't see how someone who just poses is attractive.

Jerry didn't find Heath even remotely attractive. He said that besides the fact that the character is too simple, Heath's not his type because he's not into "the Dockers & Sears set."
This led my aunt to weigh in and she loved the movie but felt like Heath was the weakest part of it. "I'd do that Jake-ster because he seemed up for anything, but the other guy, it was like he was playing a Lana Turner role. And like Lana, he was more 'well maintained' than actually good looking."

That led to a long conversation about African-Americans in movies (Turner did Imitiation of Life and that remains a picture that people I know talk about -- it's soap opera but we get caught up in the young daughter trying to pass for white and what that means and how we'd respond in the same situation). Jerry said what was missing from movies today was a film about a gay man, played by a gay man, trying to pass for straight. He didn't feel that Brokeback Mountain did that. "It's like when they cast Ava Gardner in Showboat."

So where's the inclusion that the TV keeps going on about? The way I see it, out of twenty acting nominations, African-Americans got one (Terrence Howard for best actor for Hustle & Flow -- a really bad movie in my opinion but he gives a great performance).

So let's forget that I'm not seeing the inclusion and just assume that straight actors getting two nominations for pretending to be gay is a huge step foward and one more step on the road to same-sex marriage. (I support same-sex marriage. Just to be clear.) The Oscar's are "inclusive" this year (if you buy the argument) because gays (men) are recognized. And a few years back it was African-Americans.

Is that the only way the Oscars can be inclusive? One group every few years? I don't think they're being inclusive. I think they've got the usual White, Straight nominations, year after year, and every couple of years, to that mix, they add a person of color or a White person playing gay or whatever.

"This year's token" strikes me more as what happens.

So those are my Oscar thoughts. I'll close with my picks. This isn't who will win, I'm not making predicitions. I'm just saying who I would give the award to.

best actor: Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow)
Lousy movie but he's great in it. When you can star in this year's Glitter and come out of it without having to apologize, you've done something amazing.

best actress: Charlize Theron (North Country)
She's really got something. You can't take your eyes off her. Even in her bad films, she's worth watching. North Country wasn't a bad one (The Astronaut's Wife was a bad one) and she's pretty amazing in this. Reese Witherspoon? Barbie strums a guitar. Wooden. Give it up for Theron.

best supporting actor: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain)
The film doesn't work without him. If Heath's onscreen with another do nothing, you're heading for the exits or falling asleep. Heath's like the young guy you see in a small role in a Merchant & Ivory film and then never see again. For good reason. Gyllenhaal gave a strong performance.

best supporting actress: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain)
I could almost go for Catherine Keener because she is very good in Capote. I could see giving it to her for the body of her work because she's got a lot of strong roles in her career. But in terms of the film they're nominated for, I'd pick Michelle Williams. I'd also give it to her for "karma."
Meaning, I watched Dawson's Creek many years ago (I was a kid once too). Priss-pot Katie Holmes always got on my nerves. I watched the show for two years, when it first came on, maybe two and a half. Michelle Williams was worth watching. Not just because, as a teenage boy, I found her hot but also because she was really doing some strong acting. Katie Holmes seemed to be Katie Holmes. Sometimes she was Katie Holmes mad, sometimes she was Katie Holmes happy (most of the time she was Katie Holmes pouting). But Michelle Williams really made you believe Jen was a real character, someone you might bump into at your high school.
In Brokeback Mountain, it's obvious that wasn't just the case of she could play one role. She's great in the movie and she deserves to win.

best song: no award

When you can't even come up with five nominees, strike the award.

best director: George Clooney or Ang Lee

I thought Brokeback Mountain and Good Night, and Good Luck were good movies. I think Brokeback is the better one. But with the footage mixing (real and performed), I thought Clooney did a little bit of a better job. (The postcards scenes in Brokeback made me wish I was watching at home so I could grab the remote and fastfoward.)

best film: Brokeback Mountain

I'm not sure what I was supposed to feel at the end of the other movies. (I hated Munich. It seemed like a science project done by a pushy kid who kept saying, "I'm going to win! I'm going to win!") Helpless seemed to be the feeling for most of the films. Crash (which I really enjoyed) and Brokeback Mountain were the ones who left me feeling and thinking. And thinking. My pick is Brokeback. If you haven't seen yet, you should. If you're one of those silly people thinking, "It's about gays!" just take comfort in the fact that it's only pretend and that both actors, presumably, finished shooting and went on to the arms of women. It's just pretend. Straight guys won't leave the movie thinking, "Hmm, look at the guy over there. I wouldn't mind letting him brokeback my mountain." But it will make you think. If you've ever been in love and lost someone or if you've ever lost out on something (my guess is we all have), you'll find something in the movie for you.

Finally, an award they didn't have a category for but one that was deserving all the same.

best example of crook plays the victim:

Dick Cheney for shooting a friend and allowing his friend to be blamed for it publicly for days and days until finally coming along with the "I was the guy who pulled the trigger of the gun that shot the bullet that shot my friend" nonsense. I'd call the category "Biggest Disgrace" but then Cheney wouldn't stand a chane of winning because Bully Boy has that category locked up.

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