Tag Archives: Oscars

Awards Show Rewind: The Oscars

After a long night of laughs, cries, spectacle, and surprises, the Oscars have come and gone once again. Who walked away with the gold and who left empty handed? The Oscars went to…

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Oscar Nominations Confirm Expectations And Reveal Surprises

Every year in Hollywoodland the best and brightest talents of the entertainment industry gather together to acknowledge the outstanding work of their  colleagues. The nominations bring expectations and surprises and this year’s nominees are no different.  And the nominees are…

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The Oscars: What You Need to Know

Just so you know, the Oscars are not a good gauge for “Best Film” or “Best Director” since people who have no experience with a certain category weigh in on that craft (actors can vote for best set design; writers on directors).  You also can’t join just by paying dues, but have to be voted in by other Oscar voters.

And of course, Oscar doesn’t like to give high marks to films coming from animation (other than slipping them into the “Best Animated Film” ghetto so they don’t usually get to compete for “Best Picture”), sci-fi, foreign, or horror.

Basically, it’s a giant publicity event where producers and distributors try to make some money in ticket and DVD sales before the summer blockbusters hit. Continue reading

The Hurt Locker

In the trailer I posted for Katheryn Bigelow’s latest film The Hurt Locker we see bomb suits, slow motion explosions, witty dialogue, and other cool, manly things.

This guy isn't even in the movie, but his tattoo, spiky hair, and the explosion in the background make it cool and MANLY

This guy isn't even in the movie, but his tattoo, spiky hair, and the explosion in the background make it cool and MANLY

The film, on the other hand, is not a glorification of war, but another attempt to humanize the men behind the guns.

The film follows a U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit serving in Iraq. When Sergeant JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge get new boss Staff Sergeant William James, they pray to God, Allah, or Cthulu (we don’t know their religious beliefs) that they won’t be shredded by shrapnel thanks to James’ risk taking tactics.

The story is engaging, with IEDs being found, de-activated, and random appearances from Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes. Secured by ticking bombs, we are allowed to focus on Staff Sergeant James, whose bravado and badassery are matched only by the amount of emotional damage he takes.

The film opens with a quote from Chris Hedges saying that “War is a drug.” James is indeed such an addict, putting himself and his men at risk as he pushes his luck or goes looking for trouble. Sanborn and Eldridge can’t wait to go home; James can’t wait to leave it.

Though it’s a good cinematic tool to keep up the tension, Bigelow’s obsession with close-ups during the entire movie is frustrating. In theatre there is a purposeful awareness to how physically close a performance should be to the audience: if you get too close during a character’s emotional breakdown, the audience gets uncomfortable and the suspension of disbelief is broken. The Hurt Locker falls prey to this faux pas, forcing the audience to be way too close to everyone’s face. By the end of the movie you have a strange hunger for wide shots of the Grand Canyon.

Seriously.  Just a few of these would help.

Seriously. Just a few of these would help.

Other than this stylistic hurdle (worth mentioning after complaints I heard about the way Cloverfield was shot) it’s a great war movie due to its lack of battles between “good” and “bad” guys and the analysis of how war conditions the mind. Maybe we can learn from the Little Albert experiment and help them kick the habit.