Hollywood Plays The Game So Well!

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So the movie award season is over and Birdman was the big winner! Yippee! Okay, not really. I mean it was a good film and I get it. Well, I get it as much as anyone can get it. And I really liked it. Well, I liked it as much as anyone else that isn’t some movie snob can like it. There are some great things about it. The acting is wonderful. Michael Keaton proved his acting chops and reminded us that he is more than a man in a rubber suit. And, in his own way, reminded us that he was one of the better ones to ever wear the rubber bat suit. Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts are wonderful in their supporting roles. I also applaud the conceit of making it appear as if the majority of the film was just one long shot. But none of that is why it won Sunday night. It won because it’s a movie about the business. And not just about the business but about the snobbery that is the NYC theatre world and how all the people in Hollywood are deep emotional beings that deserve to be heard. So in its own way Birdman won an Oscar because it is the Oscars! How ironic that the host this year was one of those Hollywood beings who has successfully crossed over to the NYC Broadway scene. How totally Meta of them……

There were seven other movies nominated and some of those even deserved to be.

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Boyhood was by all accounts the runner up of the evening and definitely had a fair shot for the main prize, and to be honest I would have much preferred that it had won. The concept in and of itself was intriguing and to have actually been able to pull it off … Amazing. I mean just to be able to get all of those actors to commit to coming back together for a week or two every year for twelve years. Wow, I mean, what if Patricia Arquette had gone as flaky as the rest of her acting family? What if Ethan Hawke had actually become a big name star instead of staying an indie actor with chops? What if the director’s daughter, who plays the sister, had decided she hated her dad? And let’s face it that was a high probability during her teenage years. What if Ellar Coltrane had become a fat nerdy looking boy (kind of like what happened to me) during his teenage years? Thankfully none of that happened. Then on top of the logistics of it all, he had a story that wasn’t really your typical movie story. Nothing happens. A boy grows up. Literally, that is the story, a boy grows up. And yet we watched it. Not only did we watch it, we enjoyed watching it. Crazy, right?

The Grand Budapest Hotel with 4 Oscars and Whiplash with 3 Oscars were the other two big winners of the night.

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Many thought that The Grand Budapest Hotel was a true contender, but it never really was. Wes Anderson is a brilliant director but if his Moonrise Kingdom isn’t even going to get nominated I think he’ll never actually find himself truly loved by enough of Hollywood to win it big. Hollywood loves the vision of his films and love to think they get his absurdity, but they don’t. Getting Wes Anderson’s absurd vision would call for way too much thinking. So poor Wes is just going to have to settle for his honorary Oscar that he will win down the road.

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Whiplash’s three Oscars were a gift. Well Okay J.K. Simmons win was not a gift. His was more than deserved. His performance is moving, terrifying and heartfelt. He’s an actor’s actor and has proven himself for years in movies and television shows. So to see this character actor hit it out of the park and get recognized for it was great to see. If you have not yet seen this movie, and few have, you need to see it. It’s one of those movies that can force you to examine your own priorities and wonder what cost will you go through to achieve greatness. So, of course Hollywood wasn’t going to award that one a win. They already know that they’ll do anything just to achieve mediocrity as long as it has a big box office.

The remaining four films were also rans from the onset.

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The Imitation Game, which was my favorite movie of the year, didn’t stand a chance. Hollywood is not yet ready, and I don’t know if it ever will be, ready to embrace their own gayness. They certainly aren’t ready to acknowledge the fact that they are England in the early 20th century. I just wonder how many of the people in that auditorium Sunday night were there with their own Joan Clarke (the beard role played by Keira Knightley). Think about that for a second.

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The Theory of Everything was designed to win an Oscar and if it was the 1980s or early 1990s it probably would have won. But Hollywood has gone beyond biopics and now wants movies that tell fresh exciting stories…….well that is what they want to win Oscars. They want cookie cutter super hero films to win the box office. That said Eddie Redmayne’s performance was definitely deserving of that Oscar. Wow dude totally transformed himself and helped us all to understand who Stephen Hawking is.

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Selma was without a doubt the most important film of 2014. And that is why it got nominated. Not because it was spectacular. Not because it accomplished something new. It got nominated because we all need to see that story and be reminded of where we’ve been, where we’ve come, and where we have yet to go. But it wasn’t the best film of 2014. It had problems. Ava DuVernay made some choices that affected the movie. I should preface this by saying that I think Oprah Winfrey needs to go away, her ego is just too big for this world, and to me she ruined the movie. The opening bit with her trying to register to vote was just too much. The scene to me was Oprah’s ego moment…..and let’s face it Oprah always has to have her ego moment. That was the director’s first poor choice in the movie and she kept making them. Why would you cast Martin Sheen as the Honorable Judge Johnson, we’ve seen him do that role before in a little TV show that got him six Emmy nominations. She created a who’s who of actors when casting the movie and that just doesn’t cut it anymore. See last year’s The Butler if you don’t believe me.

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Finally there is American Sniper. Another great film that was my number 2 for the year. And if the propaganda machine had handled it right it could have walked away as the movie of the night. But it wasn’t handled right. Some PR idiot saw that it was a movie about a war hero, an American war hero. Let’s push that narrative in the marketing campaign. And that worked to get the American public to buy the tickets, but that narrative is not the story that Clint Eastwood was telling. Yes, Mr. Eastwood is a Republican, and so naturally his intentions had to be pro war even though he has said himself they weren’t. The narrative he was telling was not of a war hero. His narrative was about the danger of war. His narrative was not pro-war. It’s not even pro American Sniper. His story is that of an American hero that had the best of intentions, but we, as a country, played with his mind and created a killing machine that we were willing to forget about. But when you let FOX news sell your movie as a pro war movie, there ain’t no way that Hollywood is going to let it win. Come on, they’re the center of the left leaning bleeding heart liberal media. I for one kind of love that FOX news just keeps on sabotaging themselves.

So to sum it all up, Hollywood played their typical political game and showed themselves the love. Ya gotta love it!

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