THE OSCARS 2013, PART 2
by Pete Wassell
No love for Llewyn Davis?!
I wanted to open with that because I wanted you to know my motivations. To me Llewyn Davis was the one of the best films I’ve seen all year. It tells the story of literally the most unlikable character you can imagine who shirks responsibility and has nothing uplifting or sincere to say…that is, until he’s on stage.
When he performs you see why Llewyn Davis is so likeable. He takes all of his ineptitude and angst and channels it into his songwriting and performing. On stage is the Llewyn Davis you want to know, the guy you’re rooting for. A bard telling you the story of his life. The reality of that story is what the Coen Brothers are showing you. The gut-wrenching slog that was 1961’s Greenwich Village folk scene. Davis uses music and lyrics to paint a poignant heart-aching portrait of his life, while the Coen Brothers are concerned with its reality.
With that said, here’s what I really think of the Oscars.
There was a point in my life when the Oscars meant something to me. Between the ages of 7 and 17, I worked and reworked my Oscar speech every year. The Oscars were a celebration of everything I loved. The actors got dressed up, the directors fumbled through their speeches, Billy Crystal danced, and we all had a great time. Only after college and as I’ve aged into my late twenties have I realized what the Oscars are: politics. I want to believe they get it right, but if they got it right, Llewyn Davis would be up for Director, Picture, writing and score. Spring Breakers would be up for Director and Olivia Wilde would be up for Best Actress for Drinking Buddies.
However, in the new world we live in (we are living in the future, people!), the Oscars can’t possibly get it right. There are too many movies for too many people. Great movies are being made for small amounts of money and all too often get lost in the shuffle of the big-time studio pictures. The Oscars are turning into the Grammys. There are too many good movies for too many different tastes for there ever to be a satisfying docket of nominees.
Wolf of Wall Street was really good, but hardly Scorsese’s best. It’s not even his best in the last 10 years.
The Academy goes nuts over David O. Russell. And while I’ll see anything David O. Russell makes, whenever I walk out of one of his movies I can’t help but think, “That could have been better.” He makes good movies, but not great ones, and they fall victim to the same problems—disjointedness, a poor resolution and weird, often to me unfunny and distracting tonal shifts. American Hustle is no different. A film plagued with pacing issues, it was a fun ride and the actors certainly deserve to be recognized, but Best Picture? Best Director?
When it’s all said and done, the reality is I want the films I love to be nominated and that’s it. What a selfish way to think about it. That can’t and shouldn’t be the case. The reason I watch the Oscars now is for the show, not the awards. I watch for the glitz of the stars and the glamour of the set pieces. For the musical performances and to see which stars have had one too many drinks. I don’t plan on making movies for the awards, and I know that no one at that award show does either, and if they do, they’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
So I say, enjoy the Oscars. If the films you loved were nominated, then root for them to win. If they weren’t, come join me at the Tin Horn Flats in Burbank for a pitcher and some good company. We can still have fun watching the show. And isn’t that really what movies are all about?