February 24, 2009

The Sleeper

EXCEPT for Hugh Jackman looking oh-so-hot, and the cutaway to Angelina Jolie while Jennifer Aniston was onstage (gasp!), the Oscar awards yesterday was pretty much a sleeper. Everybody already knew beforehand who was going to win (except for Kate Winslet maybe? Or maybe she really is a good actress bec. she still looked surprised about her win and blubbered as she received her award for Best Actress).

Even if I knew Sean Penn was going to take home the award for Best Actor, I was still rooting for Frank Langella. He was brilliant in Frost/Nixon and even w/o the disgraced President's trademark jowls, Langella was Nixon! The former president's personality and demeanor just took over Langella, you could say the latter was actually channeling Nixon.

But the same could be said of Penn as well. All the people who apparently knew Harvey Milk said that Penn took on the late board supervisor's persona. Every inflection and nuance in his voice, and every tiny swish of his little finger as he conducted symphonies in his mind was so much like Milk.

(Btw, long-time character actor Richard Jenkins did deserve to be nominated as Best Actor even if it was a long shot that he would win because he was just terrific in The Visitor. Those who haven't seen the film yet should watch it. It's just honest and riveting.)

Of course, Slumdog Millionaire was a sure winner from the onset. Americans are still riding high on Obama's hope train that there was no doubt in my mind that the Academy would award it Best Picture. It's a feel good movie where the underdog wins a million bucks and gets his lady love in the end. Plus there's dancing and singing in the end! The theme is so Pinoy! except that the film is very polished and well-crafted. The writing is sophisticated as well, no baduy dialogue here like we're used to hearing in our local films. (Josku, and we sent Ploning to the Oscars? Ngek. This is one of those times I wish Lino Brocka was still alive!)

Even if Milk was a frontrunner in this category, who ever heard of the Academy awarding Best Picture to a gay-themed film, right? Remember how the Academy ignored Brokeback Mountain in 2005? (Although, I did love Crash and the interlocking stories of its characters. Now that was a surprise winner.) And who wants to be reminded of Washington's dark past as in Frost/Nixon, now that "change" has dawned in the nation's capital? Of all the nominees in this category, I think only these two were strong contenders. Doubt's transition to film just didn't work well, The Reader was just too morally ambiguous, and well, I didn't watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because I'm not a Brad Pitt fan, so I can't comment on that.

Now speaking of Kate, I really don't know why she won as Best Actress. Sure her behind looked great and she was naked in almost half of The Reader, but was she really the best among her peers? She can't hold up a candle to Meryl Streep's tour de force acting in Doubt! Or even to Amy Adams (although she was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category) who was just perfect in her role as Sister James, where she ran a gamut of personalities from trusting to doubtful to morally upright.

Okay so maybe I wasn't too in love with Kate's role as Hanna Schmitz, pedophile/Nazi guard to begin with. I had zero empathy for her character. So Hannah eventually taught herself to read and write. That made her screwing a 15-year-old boy and letting Jews burn to death alright? The only lingering thought I took away from that movie was that, begeezus! Lena Olin is aging gracefully!

Anyhoo, here's a humorous take on the Oscars c/o Sandip Roy.

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