by Michael Gildea
you’re a member of the movie-going public who walked out
of the multiplexes last year in complete and total disgust—feeling
that you’d been incredibly, repeatedly cheated—you’re not alone.
After all, if you weren’t kicking the shit out of a garbage
can outside after the feature while shrieking at the top of
your lungs, you were walking quietly back to your car, knowing
too late exactly what your parents meant when they said they
weren’t “mad, just disappointed.” All you could do when all
was said and done is ask yourself why?
the drop in ringing cell phones and chatty suburbanites at the
theater last year didn’t tip you off to the dwindling numbers
the movie industry faces, let the numbers do the talking: According
to research firm Exhibitor Relations, Memorial Day weekend ticket
sales were down about $15 million, 5% from 2004. Audience levels
dropped about 7.5%. True, it would be easy to blame The Dukes
of Hazzard, Son of the Mask, Alone in the Dark, The Pacifier,
House of Wax, Domino, Fantastic Four, Bewitched, Monster-in-Law,
Stealth, The Longest Yard, The Island, Madagascar, The Sisterhood
of the Traveling Pants, Doom, and anything else that was
released this year that left you blinded by rage. You could
blame the movies, but behind every bad (and good) movie is someone
responsible for making it.
usually a rotten lot. Too self-absorbed, self-involved and self-important
to realize they’re just popcorn salesmen in crummy suits.
Backstreet Boys who think they’re Beatles. And every March,
they all get together on national television to congratulate
and give each other backrubs for their collective pollution.
They like to laugh at each other’s jokes, too. And the lucky
ones get a happy ending in the form of a gold statuette in the
culmination of the whole twelve-month mess.
any other awards ceremony, it’s run by politics. The Academy
doesn’t hand out awards based on something like, say…HOW GOOD
A JOB someone did at their particular craft. There are a lot
of things to consider. You’ve got half a dozen studios competing
and they’ve all got to get something from the major awards like
Best Picture, Best Director, or the Best Actor and Best Actress
awards. Someone who genuinely deserves an award can and will
be robbed because the particular studio that put out their work
is getting another award up on the Big Board.
a little tricky, but not too hard to figure out who’s going
to be upping their asking price when they go home with a little
gold man on Oscar night. This is Vegas odds maker shit that,
if interpreted properly, could win you some well deserved bragging
rights, and maybe even a little cash. Or at least be made into
a drinking game. Follow these guidelines and it’s smooth sailing…
The more they have, the less they’ll get. Know your history.
Do a little research. If someone’s nominated and they already
have two Oscars, they’re a long shot. You’ve got someone who
won two years back-to-back like Tom Hanks or Spencer Tracy,
chances are he’s not going to win another anytime soon. Jodie
Foster, Denzel Washington, and Hilary Swank are other underdogs.
If someone’s playing someone “different,” they’re a heavy
favorite. This can be someone in a wheelchair, with a mental
or physical handicap, a homosexual, whatever. Tom Hanks got
a Best Actor award for Forrest Gump. Daniel Day-Lewis
played a character who had cerebral palsy and got an Oscar.
There’s also Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker, Hilary
Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, Charlize Theron in Monster.
The Academy is afraid of offending minorities, and if an
actor playing a character with some sort of disability isn’t
at least nominated, race wars and picketing abound the next
morning. This year, gay is the new retarded.
If the film came out during or after September, it’ll probably
win. American Beauty, Million Dollar Baby, and
Titanic all came out in the fall. Movie studios tend to
inundate you with so much crap that even something that’s crappy
in a different way will somehow seem better. Misdirection: watch
out for it…
Comebacks and sympathy points always get a nod at least.
Michael Caine in Cider House Rules, Jack Palance
in City Slickers, and Katharine Hepburn in On Golden
Pond are some examples of this rule in action. It goes the
other way too. Paul Newman’s nomination for Road to Perdition
and Burt Reynolds’ for Boogie Nights didn’t pay off.
Epics usually win Best Picture. Gladiator, Schindler’s
List, Return of the King, Dances With Wolves, Braveheart, Lawrence
of Arabia, Gone With the Wind. Check it out.
For Christ’s sake—don’t ignore the buzz. If you
hear about a movie every ten minutes, there’s a big hint for
Place Your Bets!
Night, and Good Luck
should win: Without a doubt, Good Night, and Good
Luck. It’s a classy and intelligent movie. A great story that
complemented the solid, but not over-the-top, performances and
found the perfect balance between the two. Which is exactly why
it won’t win.
will win: Brokeback Mountain. It’s an epic, it
opened around Christmas, it’s two main characters are gay, and
you can’t so much as turn on a TV without hearing about the damned
thing. Brokeback Mountain wasn’t a bad movie. It just wasn’t
Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Howard, Hustle and Flow
Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Phoenix, Walk the Line
Straithairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
should win: Joaquin Phoenix was a great Johnny Cash,
and the fact that he sang is also in his corner. He won’t win
because Jamie Foxx won last year playing the same type of role.
will win: Either Heath Ledger or Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
They’re both playing gay characters and there’s a lot of buzz
around both films. But wouldn’t it be so cute if Heath Ledger
and Jake Gyllenhaal got to win together? Awwwww…
Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Knightley, Pride and Prejudice
Theron, North Country
Witherspoon, Walk the Line
should win: Reese Witherspoon. I can’t stand Reese Witherspoon.
She traded the makings of a great career and decided to make shitty
date movies instead. But watching her in Walk the Line made
me forget the words Legally Blonde. She can still act and
she can sing.
will win: Reese Witherspoon. Theron already got her ugly
girl Oscar. Keira Knightley’s still a little green, and fuck Judi
Dench. Witherspoon’s only worry is that Felicity Huffman played
Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
Hurt, A History of Violence
should win: George Clooney. He got fat for his role in
Syriana and grew a Guantanamo beard. Watching Syriana
and then Batman and Robin and you’ll see just how far
the man’s come.
will win: It’s a toss up. Depending on how well Brokeback
Mountain does throughout the night could either help or hurt
Jake Gyllenhaal. It would be really dreamy if he and Ledger
won, but Clooney’s going to give the little rapscallion a run
for his money. Clooney’s also up for Best Director, so his chances
of going home with an Oscar are better than fair. It’s just a
matter of which category he wins.
McDormand, North Country
Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Williams, Brokeback Mountain
should win: I’m pulling for Catherine Keener myself.
She turns in consistently solid performances and rarely gets recognized
will win: That’s a toughie. This is usually one of the
first awards handed out and it usually goes to the dark horse.
I’m expecting Amy Adams to win. Frances McDormand already has
an Oscar for Fargo, but it’s too soon to tell. If Michelle
Williams wins, that could put the Brokeback Boys in trouble
so keep on your toes.
Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Lee, Brokeback Mountain
should win: Both Clooney and Lee made damn fine-looking
films. I won’t call bullshit if either one of them wins.
will win: Spielberg’s already packing, so that clears
the way for Clooney and Lee. But if I did have to pick one, I’d
say Clooney. Brokeback’s a shoe-in for Best Picture.
not forget those from this year who got shafted. Christopher Nolan’s
direction for Batman Begins and Stephen Gaghan’s work in
Syriana were worthy. Syriana deserves the Best Picture
Oscar. Sin City deserved something for visual effects,
but the m\largely geriatric Academy is known for its neglect in
I’m content to hear who won the next day. For the better part
of four hours you’re watching awards accepted for categories like
Best Basket Weaving in a Documentary. And the musical numbers
are murder. But this year, Jon Stewart is hosting, which makes
up for more than a few things.