Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Academy Cheapen Their Most Sought After Category

So yesterday it was announced that the Academy Awards will now widen the competition for the Best Picture award from five to ten nominations. To most people, this will mean next to nothing. But to people such as myself, who love movies, love the oscars, and love to debate after the fact, this is a bit of a shocker. Why would the Academy do such a thing?

There are several reasons. One is that for years and years there have always been, at the very least one movie that was left out of the competition that deserved to be there. I really thought that the film Wall-E had a shot at being the second animated film to be nominated for best picture last year (the first was Beauty and the Beast). But alas, the Academy nominated The Reader (a good film but not the best of the year). One thing that opening up the competition could do is allow for more films that often get overlooked such as animated films and foreign films. One could say that these films already have their own category in the first place. But what happens in Wall-E's case where the film was easily better than the majority of the films that were out there by a long-shot.

However, my gripe is this. I love Pixar's films. But I don't want them to get a Best Picture nomination because the Academy decided to widen the field. I want them to get a nomination because they make damn good movies. Their films are easily in the top 10 each year. I want the Academy to put them up there with the Steven Spielberg films and the Peter Jackson films. Because in my eyes they are just as good, and in some cases better.

The other reason the academy is doing this is for a reason that makes a little bit more sense and sounds a little bit more like Hollywood with a capital H--money. If they can nominate more movies then more stars have the chance to walk the red carpet, which makes the event more "glamorous."

This is crap if you ask me. These awards ceremonies are not about the stars or the amount of glitz and glamour. These ceremonies are supposed to celebrate an art form and congratulate filmmakers on creating works that further our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us.

Are we forgetting why people love movies in the first place. It's because art has the ability to affect us and change us. Art has the ability to make us better people, to challenge our thoughts and our beliefs. These award ceremonies are supposed to celebrate the films that do this to the best of their ability. They are NOT supposed to be about the latest headline in Perez Hilton's blog.

I was all for a bit of a shake up in the way these award ceremonies were done because of the simple fact that phenomenal films like Wall-E get left out of the mix, but doubling the size of the race is not the answer. In my opinion, all that you had to do was add one or two more slots to the race and it should work fine. You wouldn't have snubs such as Wall-E, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, or Children of Men.

Also, part of the fun of the Academy Awards is arguing until your face turns blue that your favorite film didn't make the cut. And what happens when there aren't ten stand-out films in a year (something that happens more than you think)? Will the Academy stoop to nominating films like Transformers 2 simply because they made a ton of money?

After hearing the news yesterday I don't think I'd be surprised.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Must-Read Friedman Article

Friedman is honestly one of the most interesting mids writing in politics today.

I like him.

In Transition

So we have Iranian protests over an obviously fraudulent election, a governor from South Carolina who decided to spend Father's Day in Argentina to "get away" without telling anyone--including his wife and kids--and a prominent football coach in Idaho died after being shot in the weight room of his school.

These are the headlines of the day.
I'm sitting here watching my dogs play in my new townhouse, waiting for my new job to start. It's a shitty job--waiting tables at a Macaroni Grill--but it's a job no less and in today's economic climate one can't really complain. But still, sitting here waiting for a job to start feels pretty pathetic, especially when people are silently protesting for the voting rights to be reinstated in Teheran.

Boredom can eat at ones soul. That may seem melodramatic, especially considering that there are thousands of people in school or work that would kill for just one day to absolutely nothing, but I'll be the first to say it--to many days of doing nothing can slowly make one look at these four walls and wonder how they would look with soft white padding.

Anyways, enough with feeling sorry for myself, there have been positive aspects of being stuck with nothing to do. I've recently been reading a lot more, something I always wished I had more time to do. I also realized that I was one of those people who bought a lot of books at one time, but usually only had the time to read one or two. As I now look over at my bookshelf I'm realizing that there are a few books that haven't even had their precious spines cracked yet.

One other thing that I've found is that I've become even more fascinated with the way our world has become more socially connected through digital means. First you has the election of President Barack Obama which started the whole political fascination with online networking, but now Twitter--an online networking tool that has become the butt-end of most jokes due to it's unfortunate name--has become one of the most important and widely used weapons in the Iranian conflict.

Our world is changing and I'm sitting here watching MSNBC and reading a Che Guevara biography. I will admit that I am happier with where my life is going today than I ever have been. I know that is a pretty vague statement but I don't know any straighter way to put it. I'm ready to get things started.

One thing is for sure though: life in a transition can be rough but there sure is a lot to look at.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Che: A Unique Experience

So I finally saw it. It's taken almost 6 months but I finally got around to catching Steven Soderbergh's epic, 4-and-a-half-hour long biopic about the revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. All I can say is that I was floored by the ambitious effort and that it should not be missed by anyone who is interested in this sort of project.

This film is certainly not for everybody, and those who are not interested in a movie about Guevara will probably not be as enthusiastic about the film as I am. What is interesting about this film is that it is not a romantic film that holds Guevara and his politics up on a pedastal. The film does not try to sway anybody's feelings on the revolutionary. If you are sympathetic to Guevara's cause then the film will probably speak on a different level to you than it would on those who think less of him.

What the film does is take a historical account (almost in a documentary style) of the revolutions that Che led. The first part of the film details the Cuban Revolution, where Guevara and Castro led a grassroots movement--which started with a mere 80 men--and inspired the people to overthrow the Batista dictatorship. The film inter-splices black and white scenes depicting Guevara's controversial visit to the UN. The second part details Che's failed campaign in Bolivia, as he attempted to bring the revolution to all of Latin America. Still using a documentary-style of storytelling the second part gives the film it's arc. The rise and fall of Che.

Shedding light on a man that most Americans don't really take the time to understand, the film succeeds in showing what life was life as a revolutionary, and how--for the majority of the time--it wasn't as glamorous as people think. What these men did was hard, and the film is a testament to them as well as their leader, Che.

Benicio Del Toro stated that controversy always comes with people "who have truly lived." I have always been inspired by Che, not just on his politics, but his loyalty to his beliefs as well. He never compromised his beliefs for anyone, leaving a position of leadership in Cuba in order to bring what he saw as freedom to Latin America. Che unapologetically "truly lived." He lived to bring prosperity to people who were suffering around the world. There is no question why he is loved and looked at as a hero by many around the world. But as Del Toro stated, controversy always comes with people "who have truly lived."