Friday, February 23, 2007

Better late than never, Mr Scorsese!

Could you double-check the envelope? Asked an overwhelmed Martin Scorsese on Sunday night at the Oscar gala in Los Angeles as three of his contemporaries, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lukas and Steven Speilberg offered him the statuette that had alluded him for most part of his 40-year-old long career in Hollywood.
Scorsese’s question may sound funny but it brutally reveals how the Academy had ignored him for such a long time, for reasons better know to them. Was it because he’s a Jew, or because he once made a blasphemous movie called The Last Temptation of Christ, or that his films are essentially pessimistic? Whatever may it be, one thing his certain, the award was long overdue, and this year, finally the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has redeemed itself.
Yes. The Academy has great art of setting things right, and can be very, very politically correct when needs be. The greatest example is giving an award to Danzel Washington some years back, breaking the unwritten code that black actors are not honoured by the Oscar. The same is the case to Martin Scorsese who was nominated for the award previously for five times, for the films including Ragging Bull and Goodfellas and Gangs of New York.
And the Academy’s political correctness was evident when Al Gore’s environment documentary An Inconvenient Truth was awarded the best non-fiction film. We’re all talking about global warming, aren’t we?
However, it’s always better late than never.

Here’s looking at the winner of the 79 Annual Academy Awards and what worked for them…

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Winner: Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland
Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond; Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson; Peter O’Toole in Venus; Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness
Analysis: O’Toole is another talent without an Oscar, nominated for more than a dozen times. When he was offered the life-time achievement award a few years ago, he declined it saying that he wanted to win in a competitive category. This was his last chance. But the Oscar did not take heed. Probably, they did not like Lawrence of Arabia as a lecherous old man. And, it was impossible to underestimate Whitaker’s rendition of Idi Amin.
USP: How seamlessly Whitaker achieves the transitions from a dictator to a monster to an individual to a dictator!

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Winner: Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine
Nominees: Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children; Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond; Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls; Mark Wahlberg in The Departed
Analysis: Chances were with Hounsou as a diamond miner embroiled in a conspiracy and Wahlberg as a cop. But then, we all love our granddads, even a cursing, heroin-popping ones, especially when he gives a big hug at the end.
USP: Oh, Arkin’s loveable even with a foul mouth.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Winner: Helen Mirren in The Queen
Nominees: Penélope Cruz in Volver; Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal; Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada; Kate Winslet in Little Children
Analysis: Mirren’s name was engraved on the award, already winning all the possible awards for her role as the reigning queen of England (and the other Elizabeth of history in the TV series). Others did not stand a chance.
USP: Most of us haven’t see the queen in private, and Mirren makes us believe, surely, this is how the queen is. Astounding.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Winner: Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls
Nominees: Adriana Barraza in Babel; Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal; Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine; Rinko Kikuchi in Babel
Analysis: Surprise, surprise. Why on earth did Kikuchi miss the award as a mute Japanese girl? And then, Breslin was cute too. Is it because American Idols are still in demand?
USP: Hudson’s vocal ranges, and her vivacity.

Best animated feature film of the year
Winner: Happy Feet
Nominees: Cars; Monster House
Analysis: Dude, where’s my car? No, we love dancing penguins more than talking cars. That’s the verdict.
USP: Dancing penguins (Danny deVito should be glad!)

Achievement in directing
Winner: Martin Scorsese (The Departed)
Nominees: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel); Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima); Stephen Frears (The Queen) Paul Greengrass (United 93)
Analysis: It had to be Scorsese. Better luck next time, Mr Iñárritu!
USP: Scorsese make a remake (Hong Kong action flick, Internal Affairs), and not only makes it look better but also a box office phenomenon (earning more than US$131 million in US alone!)

Best documentary feature
Winner: An Inconvenient Truth
Nominees: Deliver Us from Evil; Iraq in Fragments; Jesus Camp; My Country, My Country
Analysis: Environment is a better subject any day than Iraq.
USP: The presence of Al Gore.

Best foreign language film of the year
Winner: The Lives of Others, Germany
Nominees: After the Wedding, Denmark; Days of Glory, Algeria; Pan’s Labyrinth, Mexico; Water, Canada

Best motion picture of the year
Winner: The Departed
Nominees: Babel; Letters from Iwo Jima; Little Miss Sunshine; The Queen
Analysis: Both Babel and Sunshine had their chances, even more than Departed. But Babel was Crash revisited, last year’s winner. Sunshine was a small film, and when you are finally honouring the master, let’s leave no stone unturned. When it rains, it pours.
USP: Being a quintessential Scorsese mob drama!

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