By In Movies

Ten Oscar Thoughts

1. The Oscars were, once again, utterly predictable. I predicted 18 out of 24 awards, which is good, but I missed two on principle, picking Boyhood for Best Picture and Director even though I knew it had almost no shot. These things are getting too easy to pick. The only things that even resembled a surprise was when Boyhood lost Best Editing — I don’t know what Richard Linklater did to the Academy but many did they turn on Boyhood — and maybe when Big Hero 6 beat out How to Train Your Dragon 2 for Best Animated Feature. Big Hero 6 was the better movie and right choice, in my opinion, but neither was nearly as good as Lego Movie, which did not get nominated.

2. I remain baffled by the Oscar for Best Song going to the writers of “Glory,” John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn. Those are the real names of John Legend and Common … did they ask to the Academy to use their real names? If not, that’s one of the weirdest things I’ve seen. I mean they didn’t introduce Stefani Germanotta to sing songs from The Sound of Music. There were no Oscars given to Marion Morrison, Issur Danielovitch, Betty Joan Perske, Allan Konigsberg, Melvin Kaminsky, Anna Italiano or Lucille LeSueur. I assume Common and Legend wanted to be listed by the real names .

3. Lady Gaga showed off an amazing voice when doing that weird and out-of-the-blue tribute to “The Sound of Music” — but 28 seems awfully early for her to begin her Vegas diva career.

4. The super-fun “Everything is Awesome” performance was a good reminder that leaving “Lego Movie” out of the nominations was an all-time blunder.

5. I cannot think of the last Oscar-winning movie I would watch again and again and again. Certainly Birdman doesn’t qualify. I’m going to have to do a post on “most watchable movies.” I wonder how many of them have won Oscars.

6. Seeing David Oyelowo break down during John Legend and Common’s fantastic performance of “Glory” was a good reminder that leaving him off the best actor nominations list was an all-time blunder.

7. I saw that Ross Douthat made this point too … the telecast didn’t do a very good job of paying tribute to people who died in the last year. That’s supposed to be an emotional time. Instead they had Meryl Streep read an antiseptic and general, “We’re going to miss these people, you know, all of them, whoever they are” speech, and then later they had Jennifer Hudson sing something or other. No sense at all. How could they not show some clips? I mean, this year Hollywood lost Robin Williams, Mickey Rooney, Mike Nichols and other giants … show these people’s work. That seems pretty obvious.

8. Neil Patrick Harris was pretty blah as a host, though it didn’t seem his fault … it was just a blah telecast. The lame lockbox magic trick gag — there just wasn’t any way he or anyone else could save that stink bomb. And why do they keep sending Oscar hosts into the audience like it’s a daytime talk show?

9. Long live John Travolta.

10. Doesn’t it seem like that this point that they just let Sean Penn out of the crypt every now and again just to give out major awards and offend people?

47 Responses to Ten Oscar Thoughts

  1. Mikey says:

    Couldn’t agree more with #5

    • jposnanski says:

      Now that I’ve added No. 5, everyone will think that’s the one you agree with.

      • Danny says:

        The Departed is a movie I can watch over and over again. Also, the all the best picture nominations from the 2008 Oscars. Damn was 2007 a good year for movies.

      • mikey says:

        Dammit! You’ve won this round, Posnanski…..

        Actually I do fully agree with the added #5. Of the last 20 Best Picture winners there’s only one that I personally would watch again and again (The Departed, and I know many would disagree but I just find it fun and super watchable) and one other – 12 Years A Slave – that I think is certainly good enough to hold up to many viewings but it’s so emotionally taxing that I don’t know that I would choose to watch it repeatedly.

      • Stu Pitt says:

        Here are some former Best Pictures I have seen more than once or would: Forrest Gump, Chicago, Gladiator, Titanic, and the Departed.

        • Stu Pitt says:

          More recent ones. but I would rewatch…Rocky, Rainman, Cuckoo’s Nest, Godfathers, Sting, Chariots of Fire, Gone With the WInd, etc.

      • Kuz says:

        Annie Hall is one I watch all the time…..reminds me of my lovely wife.

      • Greg says:

        Did Unforgiven not win an Oscar? I could watch that once a week.

    • MCD says:

      Really? Even when I disagree with Joe, I usually respect his opinion, but I thought he was way off base here.

      • MCD says:

        Okay, now since Joe sneaked in and added the missing 5, my snarky comment looks not only especially stupid, but actually contrary to my feelings. I have always contended that “re-watchability” is not always in line with how “good” I think a movie is.

  2. Boyhood was my favorite too!!!! On another note we were in Kansas this weekend (first game at Allen Fieldhouse….awesome!!!) and had time to check out the Negro League Baseball Museum after hearing you talk about it. It was really interesting!

  3. Brian says:

    Oscars for best song are given based on the registered song writing credit. Common and john legend use their real first names for their song writing credits, hence the oscar was given to them for their real names.

  4. Jodee says:

    This made me go look at a list of past winner for Best Picture. While there are some duds like Birdman that won, there are a lot of movies I HAVE watched over and over again – Rainman, Million Dollar Baby, Forrest Gump, Slumdog Millionaire. I think it’s just that in the last 4-5 years, winners have been more obscure. Although I will say that 12 Years a Slave, last year’s winner, was a top-notch movie.

    • DjangoZ says:

      Boy, you just listed 4 of the worst Best Picture winners in the last 30 years. I’m not saying they’re terrible films, they’d just be near the bottom if you ranked the last 30 winners.

  5. Can’t disagree more with #7, if only because I cannot believe anyone would agree that this thing should be longer. Oh, my Lord do not make this longer. Plus, OK, Robin Williams, etc.–don’t we know their work? Are you going to make the tribute twenty minutes, and show off Gordon Willis’ incredible work? There’s what, 30 people honored in that tribute? The names you mentioned all had their work shown off at length at the time of their death. Please, don’t add time to the show. Just don’t. Don’t.

    • Joel says:

      Could not disagree more with your disagreement. I really am only interested in the memorial segment and fast forward through the terrible songs and the rest. Skip some bad jokes and give tribute to people who spent their lives working in movies. This year’s tribute was badly done. These people worked in movies. Couldn’t they have used some moving images in the tribute? TCM does a better job with their annual tributes.

  6. Jessica says:

    For Common and John Legend, I read somewhere else that Best Song is a writing award and tied to writing credits. Both Common and John Legend use their real names for writing credits. So if it was a performance award it would go to Common and John Legend, but the writing award goes to Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens.

    • Peter says:

      That is correct. Your legal names are used for songwriting credits cause they are tied to royalties and such, and that’s who the awards are given to.

  7. al janik says:

    i love your writing mister posnanski but stick to sports …
    your opinions are your opinions and that is fine with me …
    but your opinions on sports alter my own thinking time and again …
    while pop culture? i just shake my head …
    you are not bill simmons (who also should stick to sports but …)

    • bl says:

      Excellent insight on an article no one forced you to read that was posted on Joe’s personal website that is free of charge. Perhaps next time Joe posts a non-sports article, you could just not read it. Just an option maybe you haven’t considered.

    • Spencer says:

      You’re probably in the minority here. Most of us love to read Joe writing about pretty much anything.

  8. Jake Bucsko says:

    I don’t think Birdman winning was a travesty on the level of Crash or The King’s Speech, but there are about 25 movies I’d put ahead of it, easily. Still, it was good, so I guess we can be grateful for that.

  9. DJ MC says:

    In terms of rewatchable movies, how about Gladiator?

  10. timfc says:

    They send the host out into the audience for stage/set changes.

  11. TS says:

    Alright, let’s get the Best Picture/Most Rewatchable conversation going. . .
    Casablanca (1943)
    On the Waterfront (1956)
    The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    The Apartment (1960)
    My Fair Lady (1964)
    The Sound of Music (1965)
    In the Heat of the Night (1967)
    Midnight Cowboy (1969)
    The French Connection (1971)
    The Godfather (1972)
    The Sting (1973)
    The Godfather, Part II (1974)
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
    Rocky (1976)
    Annie Hall (1977)
    The Deer Hunter (1978)
    Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
    Ordinary People (1980)
    Platoon (1986)
    The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    Unforgiven (1992)
    Schindler’s List (1993)
    Forrest Gump (1994)
    Braveheart (1995)
    Gladiator (2000)
    Million Dollar Baby (2004)
    The Departed (2006)
    No Country for Old Men (2007)
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
    Argo (2012)

    Of these listed above, here’s my Top Ten:
    1. Casablanca
    2. The Godfather
    3. The Godfather, Part II
    4. Platoon
    5. The Apartment
    6. Annie Hall
    7. The Silence of the Lambs
    8. Slumdog Millionaire
    9. The Sting
    10. Million Dollar Baby

    • TS says:

      I forgot to add in the last post. . .what a reminder of how great the ’70s were for movies

    • DjangoZ says:

      In the 2000s I’d argue for The Artist (2012), Chicago (2003) and American Beauty (2000).

      In the 1990s Unforgiven (1992) and Dances with Wolves (1991).

      I barely survived watching Forrest Gump once, I shudder to imagine watching it again.

      Braveheart, Gladiator, Million Dollar baby and Slumdog I would never watch again, but I can understand that they are the kind of innocuous white noise some people leave on TV in the background.

    • forsch31 says:

      Rewatchable (not favorites), of the ones I’ve seen….

      Casablanca (1943)
      In the Heat of the Night (1967)
      The Sting (1973)
      One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
      Rocky (1976)
      Unforgiven (1992)
      Braveheart (1995)–which I saw 3 times in the theater, so yeah, rewatchable

      I loved River Kwai, the Godfather movies, and Schindler’s List, but I probably wouldn’t watch ’em again.

      My mother made me watch Sound of Music every year growing up when it was shown on television. Never again.

      And I found Forrest Gump to be a pretty unintentionally disturbing movie. And that was the year of Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Ugh.

  12. Frodo says:

    Watchability sometimes means good (Miller’s Crossing, The Departed, Raiders of the Lost Ark) but sometimes it means so bad it’s good (Roadhouse, Tremors).

  13. Marco says:

    Rewatchable ad infinitum:

    O brother where art thou?
    Major League
    Galaxy Quest (even if it is a scene for scene ripoff of The Three Amigos)
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Groundhog Day
    Good Will Hunting

  14. This whole list is spot on. Also cool that you read Ross Douthat. Who was the best all time Oscar Host, Carson or Crystal? I’m unfortunately not old enough to have seen much of Carson’s Oscars.

    Also, side note, that night led to me being able to accurately pronounce Ralph Fiennes (Rayf Fynz).

  15. MikeN says:

    Glory won because of all the whining that Selma didn’t get enough nominations. As Ellen said last year,’The winner for Best Picture will be 12 Years a Slave or you’re all a bunch of racists.’

  16. MikeN says:

    >Doesn’t it seem like that this point that they just let Sean Penn out of the crypt every now and again just to give out major awards and offend people?

    How dare you? I tell you Sean Penn is one of the finest actors!

    • Shagster says:

      Like Sean Penn’s work. Like Joe’s line about Sean Penn. As he’s aged, he looks more like his young Spicoli self…my minds eye doing auto-correct.

  17. DHN says:

    Fifty years from now people will marvel at Boyhood, and every high school history class will watch Selma. Will anyone remember Birdman?

    The Godfather is the one movie for which I ALWAYS stop clicking channels.

    • forsch31 says:

      Birdman probably will be remembered. It’s a damn fine bizzaro movie that would have fallen into cult status if it hadn’t found support at the Oscars. A lot of the same sites that follow movies like What We Do in the Shadows, Rare Exports, and Let the Right One In absolutely adored it, which is how I first heard about it. Also, historians will probably point to it as a black comedic deconstructionist ride dealing with the superhero genre that’s completely swamped Hollywood.

      In all honesty, I was surprised it won, because it’s not exactly the kind of film that the Academy usually goes for. But I guess many identified with the story of an actor battling his own demons and self-worth.

  18. Richard says:

    What The Oscars really need to do is remove a few categories from the broadcast, and add a few new ones. Does anyone other than the nominees and their families really care about Best Sound Editing? Instead, how about something like Outstanding Collaborative Performance (e.g. Gollum – Acting and voice, Andy Serkis, Character design and motion capture animation, Weta Studios…. Yoda – Puppetry and voice, Frank Oz, Character Design, Jim Henson Studios…) or Best Stunt Performance (Can you imagine the nomination clips for that one?).

  19. John Leavy says:

    One thing hasn’t changed: by rewarding Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore, the Academy has proven once again that playing a mentally or physically handicapped person is the surest way to win an Oscar!

  20. arnold needham says:

    #1 Typo, it says ‘many’ instead of ‘man’.

    #6 What are you saying, exactly? That David Oyelowo is such a good actor that he was completely convincing at faking his emotions during that song?

  21. forsch31 says:

    On the animated category….if they actually gave the award to the best animated movie, then Song of the Sea would have won hands down. I finally saw it last week, and putting aside it’s absolutely striking artwork and look, it’s been a long time that I’ve seen an animated movie with the emotional depth that Song has. Only Pixar has touched it with Up and Wall-E.

    It’s like comparing The Shawshank Redemption to the Avengers.

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