I agree with you. The script is not one of Cameron's strong points and I imagine that he knows that. He does amazing films from a technical perspective and with strong attention to detail with the world building. Titanic is another example of his work - it won Best Picture but was not even nominated for in the screenplay categories. (Just for interest, the only picture before Titanic to have one Best Picture and not be nominated for the screenplay was the Sound of Music)
I think the Academy did well this year.
Nicely said. I've quoted the last two lines as I thought they bore repeating.
Agree with you totally on Avatar - it was an enjoyable enough movie to sit through once, but didn't scream "Best Picture" to me by any stretch. Of course, having not seen most of the other nominees it is also difficult to compare.
As for Kathryn Bieglow, check out my recent post if you haven't seen it. I see the fact of her being a woman as happenstance and am a bit uncomfortable that a big deal is being made of it at all.
I would like the big deal about her gender to be made like this - After years and years, the old white guys in the Academy have finally admitted that a female can direct just as well as a male - after which someone who is much more skilled in the history of film should mention a few other films where female directors missed out when they probably should have won.
Unrelated to the above, a personal gripe I have is the Academy playing catch-ups. I don't mind that the Academy will award films and people that aren't popular favourites, I do mind that they'll give make-up awards to the lesser work of people who had been passed over year after year for their best work.
I would much rather get the award I earned than get one as a token gesture.
2010-03-09 06:55 am (UTC)
[GregT] As I mentioned on Grant's blog a while back, this isn't an Academy bias against female directors (at least not at Oscar time, anyway). It's a reflection of the unfortunate fact that there just aren't many top-tier female directors. The bias is clearly at an earlier level, stopping them from receiving the attention, the budgets, and the support they need to make films in the first place. When we went down the list of notable female directors a huge number of them had an "in" - a father or a partner in the business. Jane Campion is a rare exception. Amy Heckerling is another, though hardly Oscars material.
So where would the Oscars go? Should Yentl have beaten Terms of Endearment in 1983? Maybe. It should probably at least have been nominated. Should The Piano have beaten Schindler's List in 1994? Surely not; that was decided before it started. Should Lost In Translation have beaten Return of the King in 2004? I loved both films but Return of the King is the superior film, among other reasons for not relying solely on a stunning performance from a single actor.
Should Lost In Translation have beaten Return of the King in 2004?
Yes it should have, because it was in every respect the superior film. Return of the King is visibly rushed, badly edited and dreadfully paced. It's smug where it should be dramatic and it's sluggish when it should be rushing at a breakneck pace.
I don't think we should be under any illusions that the Oscar for Return of the King was for The Lord of the Rings as a whole. It's just sad they didn't give the Oscar to Fellowship, which was easily the best film of the three.
Yep, Lost In Translation is much better than RotK.
And if you look at the year Fellowship of the Ring missed out, it was clearly better than A Beautiful Mind which basically won on the strength of Crowe's performance. God knows, the script of Mind was rubbish. It's a biopic that fictionalised a living person's life, and screwed up the explanation of the theory that earned him a Nobel Prize!
I think we need a year where the Academy just give everyone they need to a catch up award, and then we can get on with rewarding the best of each year, rather than giving awards to those that missed out previously at the cost of those that should be the legitimate winners.
Totally agree - then we wouldn't have had the silly cases like Russell Crowe winning Best Actor for Gladiator because they didn't give it to him for The Insider, Judi Dench getting Best Supporting Actress for her Shakespeare in Love cameo because they didn't give her Best Actress for Mrs Brown, and Al Pacino winning Best Actor for Scent of a Woman because they didn't give him an Oscar for about 25 years in a row.
2010-03-09 10:03 pm (UTC)
[GregT] To be fair Scent of a Woman was an excellent performance and was PROBABLY better than the closest contenders, Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven and Denzel Washington in Malcolm X.
I'll still disagree on Lost In Translation. It's all Bill Murray. His performance is strong enough to make up for the fact that it's poorly paced, poorly scripted, poorly shot, and that Scarlett Johanssen doesn't have any settings other than "pout" and "vamp". The tragedy isn't that the film lost Best Picture and Best Director to Peter Jackson, it's that it lost Best Actor to Sean Penn in Mystic River (does anyone even remember that performance today?).
2010-03-13 08:03 am (UTC)
Hallelujah! At last someone who didn't think the sun rose and set in Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation. I always say it was aptly named - certainly Lost in Translation for me. Bill was good yes - a poignant performance in a story going nowhere. It belonged on the page of a short story for my money.
And if Oscars were deserved, Heath Ledger wouldn't have had to wait till he was dead for his. The Joker was a great performance for sure - but his masterpiece was Ennis Del Marr.
I love Avatar. It deserved best effects, cinematography and art direction without question.
It didn't deserve best director, it was well crafted but the direction was not as good as other films.
It didn't deserve best screenplay, the story was not original.
It didn't deserve best editing. It was sloppy and references to subplots that had been edited out remained in the dialogue.
And for those reasons above, it didn't deserve best picture, because on the whole, it was not an all round achiever in all aspects.
2010-03-09 06:38 am (UTC)
[GregT] I woke up on Oscars night with - literally - a nightmare that Avatar had won Best Picture. I was so angry. My subconscious had already formulated Hurt Locker's Best Picture epitaph - "The Academy has learned the lessons of E.T. not wisely but too well." Not sure why I was so riled up over a less and less meaningful award but there you have it.
Saying Avatar should have got Best Picture is making a profound personal bias. It's saying, "I saw this film, and I enjoyed it, and lots of other people enjoyed it, and they all agree it was pretty awesome, so therefore it is better than these other films." The same logic would have handed Best Film to the Moon Landing, several Olympics opening ceremonies, and certain episodes of Big Brother. Popularity, enjoyability, and the ability to be inoffensive are not, and should not be, considerations in giving the highest commendations for art.
Avatar is a profound technical achievement, and it's a pretty damn good work of showmanship, but the same can be said for the pyrotechnics rigs on a Wrestlemania entrance ramp. (Have you seen those things?) They don't win Best Picture, and neither should Avatar, because at the end of the day, as a work of cinema, it rises no higher than technical competency. It doesn't aspire to the heights, let alone scale them.
She won in spite of being a woman. If you can't accept that little fact, you're part of the problem.