Monday, February 27, 2012

On Watching the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 With Mike

Mike and I made oven baked chicken wings, and homemade onion rings from scratch, to eat while watching the 2012 Oscars.  We have spent the last month, hurriedly seeing some of the movies nominated for Academy Awards, and we managed to view all of the Best Picture nominations, and many of the acting nominations.  There's always a few films that we leave until after the Oscars to watch, just to see if they win, like Best Foreign Language Film, which was won by a movie from Iran this year, called "A Separation."  That's next on our list.  We were happy to find quite a few of the nominated films on video this year, which was helpful to precocious cinephiles like us. 

After watching the Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, I was sure that Viola Davis would win for "The Help," but she lost to Meryl Streep, the most-nominated Actor of all time, for a movie where Streep plays a conservative.  Mike and I saw "Iron Lady" and thought that Streep did well as Thatcher, making us think of her as a anti-communist war-monger, but also as a sensitive woman's rights advocate trying to make a name for herself in a male-dominated Parliament.  Mike thinks that the Academy, which is 94 percent white, and 77 percent male, decided to give it to Streep, as an a way for rewarding her for all the great performances she did not win for, like The Hours, which I loved, and Julie and Julia, where she was great.  Viola was slightly robbed though.  It should have been a tie, but that doesn't happen very often.  Streep's acceptance speech was funny though, saying self-referentially, "Oh god, not her again...whatever."  She needs be given some kind of lifetime achievement award, like Charlie Chaplin, who received an honorary Oscar at 83, but he didn't win it in an acting category, making Christopher Plummer the oldest acting win in Oscar history at 82. 

Plummer was very charming accepting his award for playing a Gay senior citizen in "Beginners," thanking his beautiful wife, and telling his Oscar, "Where have you been all my life?"  Plummer was very good in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" as well.  Mike and I cheered when they called his name.  Plummer has won so many Awards for "Beginners" that it was not surprising to see him win an Oscar. 

The Artist and The Hugo, two films about film nostalgia that urge viewers to help in film preservation, both won five Oscars each.  Hugo, a love letter to film preservation and classic cinema, won in technical categories.  Mike and I loved "Hugo" as much as "The Artist" and "Midnight In Paris," so it was hard to see those films lose to each other, which is probably why Woody Allen doesn't go the Oscars ceremonies.  I was only slightly surprised to see "The Artist" win Best Picture and Best Director, because it was such a great film.  So many of those great movie palaces--built for silent film era films--are now Broadway in Chicago venues.  It would be nice to see "The Artist"--which won for Best Original Score--performed live with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at one of these old palace theaters, for the sake of nostalgia. 

Mike and I saw "My Week With Marilyn" at the beautiful, vintage Patio theater at Irving Park and Austin in Chicago, and we loved it. Somehow it is a touching, sweet, funny film that magically recreates some great and desperate days for Marilyn Monroe. Colin Clark, son of the wealthy art historian Kenneth Clark, lovingly falls under Marilyn's spell of charm, and takes her on a personal tour of his world in England, including Windsor Castle, Eton College, and the pretty countryside. It's a great film filled with great performances, especially Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, the demanding Prima Donna. The Patio is a great place to watch a film about an actress whose films are rich with nostalgia, because the Patio is a magical place rich with Nostalgia for old movie palaces.  Michelle deeply deserved this nominated for portraying Monroe as a woman looking for respect, true love, and stability, in a dangerously flirtatious way.  Mike and I are saddened that pills and alcohol has taken so many talented people from the world, like Monty Clift, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Michael Jackson, and so many others like Marilyn, just needing a stable, loving place for recovery and healing. What a moving "In Memoriam" sequence, with a beautiful, solemn rendition of "What a Wonderful World."  Mike and cried a couple of times. 
It was good to see Woody Allen win an Award for "Midnight In Paris," his most successful film in years, which we loved, because of the colorful "real" characters in it, like Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Cole Porter, Picasso, Dali, Fitzgerald, and many others.  It was a very clever, unique script, and deserved the Best Original Screenplay award that it received.  What was Woody doing the moment he won?  Probably listening to those great old jazz records of his, that he loves to put in his films.  Mike and I love Cole Porter's music, and go to the Cole Porter Festival every year, listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing the Porter songbook on the way to Peru, Indiana.  I'm a nostalgist like the character in "Midnight in Paris." We live in an apartment filled with old books, movies, records, that people once gave away to resale shops, like the Brown Elephant, which raises money for the Howard Brown Clinic in Chicago, for treatment and care for people living with HIV.  I'm one of them.  I love the Howard Brown, who was rescued from financial problems just recently!!
I'm glad to hear that Elton John is still raising money for his HIV/AIDS charities.  He is a great soul, which makes me wonder why he didn't get nominated for his song in "Gnomeo and Juliet," a movie Mike and I liked, because it introduces classic literature to children.  Mike and I love watching inexpensive Shakespeare productions as well.  We just saw "Twelfth Night" at Northeastern Illinois University, and it was excellent.  It made me think of Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shakepeare in Love." Gwyneth is my friend on Facebook, and she's very nice to me.  Mike and I bought tickets to see Paltrow's husband Chris Martin, and his band Coldplay, perform live this year.  Exciting!!
So many movies produced by the Weinstein brothers this year, that I can't help thinking that they are single-handedly keeping the Hollywood film industry alive! 
Mike and I liked Billy Crystal as a host.  He's still very funny at 63!  The opening montage was hilarious!!  The funny parody introduction to the Best Pictures sung by Crystal was funny too.  Was I seeing things, or did Jennifer Lopez' left nipple, seem to be peeping out of her dress?
The orchestra, lead by a guitarist, was excellent.  Also, the Cirque De Soleil sequence was amazing, and dazzling!!  Oprah getting the Humanitarian Award was very moving; it was well deserved.  Oprah got a standing ovation.  Excellent.
At one point, it felt like they were jogging through handing out the awards, and then it was over at three hours and ten minutes. 
I was happy to see the Muppets make an appearance, and I was happy to see Uggie, the dog from "The Artist," go on stage with the cast to accept for Best Picture.  Uggie deserves his Golden Collar award.  I wanted to hear the Muppets sing "Life is a Happy Song!!"  Oh to be 7 years old again!!  Mike and I still watch animated films though, keeping the child in us alive, and giggling.  Chico and Rita is a great animated film, but it's not for children!!  Rango won for Best Animated Film, which was very good. 
In all, my only concern, was that Octavia Spencer wasn't given enough time to say something important against racism for the history books.  She should have written something down. 
In the end, Mike and I didn't Outguess Ebert, which is a shame.  We would have loved a trip to Los Angeles!!  We have his autograph in signed books though.  What an intelligent soul!  Ebert got nine of the eleven right this year.  I guessed four right, and Mike five. Mike thought the Academy would vote for "War Horse," and I voted for "The Help" for Best Picture.  Competitions can be so unfar, but they lead us to discover some great films!  Oh well! C'est la vie!!
My brother Juan wanted Moneyball to win something, because it's about baseball.  My friend Tania wanted George Clooney to win, because she loves him.  I told her on Facebook that George Clooney has Puerto Rican cousins via Rosemary Clooney's marriage to Puerto Rican Actor Jose Ferrer. 
It was a good year for the Oscars.  Like Roger Ebert wrote to me in one of my inscribed books, "See you at the movies."