Curtis Waugh, For the Miami Student

(ANNA TURNER | The Miami Student)

While Oscar night is rumored to be Hollywood’s highlight, the 82nd Annual Academy Awards were a complete nightmare.

Sunday, March 7, the nation was able to see Hollywood rear its ugly head. Most of us realize the reality of the Hollywood factory is not what we are spoon-fed by tabloid papers and shows. There is, however, a general understanding that Oscar night is the designated time to, in a way, make fun of that ridiculous public image.

I generally like the Oscars — between them and the awful Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes, it’s no contest. There are politics involved no matter the awards ceremony, but the Academy seems to just get it right more often than the others. I do not like a lot of their decisions (Shakespeare In Love, I hate you), but there are times when I genuinely respect the Academy (Christoph Waltz, for example). This year was not one of those times. In fact, it makes me wonder what the future of American Hollywood cinema might bring.

The Good

I cannot be all negative with this show, though. There were some genuinely entertaining and promising moments that showed the Academy is capable of true, non-superficial change. Steve Martin did his best to elevate the odd, and sometimes offensive writing (Alec Baldwin is not mentioned in this section). As for awards given out, my favorite of the night had to be Christoph Waltz’s win for Inglourious Basterds. I make no bones about the fact that Tarantino’s newest effort is one of my favorite films from him and this performance was the best part of that film (apparently it’s “cool” to hate Tarantino these days — grow up).

I’m not a fan of the material presented in Precious or its black/white approach to theme, but I was moved by Gabourey Sadibe’s story and Mo’Nique’s win. I enjoyed her acceptance speech line about receiving the award, “based on performance and not politics.” Ironically, this received thunderous applause from the audience. Riiiight.

Along the geekier side of things, I really enjoyed the montage about sound editing that showed the viewer just how that process is done. The Academy should focus on more of these kinds of things than how many times they can annoy George Clooney.

Last but not least is Kathryn Bigelow’s win for Best Director (The Hurt Locker). She is the first female to win this award. Now, one can question these motives as well, but I’d like to think she really deserved it. The Hurt Locker was a great film. It wasn’t my favorite, but Bigelow deserved the award after a great career of filmmaking.

The Bad

There were some things that only mildly upset me, which are the normal products of any Academy Awards. Unlike his counterpart, Alec Baldwin fell flat due to the poor writing. I wished Clooney would have jumped on stage and beat him. District 9 came away empty handed. There were too-long montages for nominees.

And did we really need that huge block dedicated to John Hughes? The montage was partly brilliant, but the actors onstage after were overkill.

The Hurt Locker winning Best Original Screenplay over Up In The Air.

The awful, horrible, terrible inclusion of Twilight in the horror film montage. It was bad enough the actors from Twilight presented this mediocre (at best) clip-fest.

The Ugly

For weeks we have been hearing of the steady “decline” of movies like Up In The Air and even the juggernaut Avatar. The entire concept that a film can “trend” up or down in a period of weeks based on the parties it throws is ridiculous to begin with.

The aspect of this that I have never publicly seen was Hollywood’s finest true hatred toward each other. During the awards, there were countless moments when winners would get on stage and openly disrespect Avatar because of its technology

Don’t get me wrong, I love the look and concept of Avatar but I hated (actually loathed) its story, and James Cameron’s “I’m king of the world” attitude throughout the campaign. That does not mean I do not respect the years upon years of hard work, research and genuine care that went into the creation of this movie. I just hoped fellow filmmakers would have been able to acknowledge that fact as well.

Also, I believe it was the winning director of the Best Foreign Language Film The Secret In Their Eyes who looked directly at Cameron and boasted that he did not need millions of dollars in effects to win this award.

Now What?

Maybe I have too much confidence in the Hollywood factory. I know how corrupt and money-grubbing it can be, but I never thought it would openly ridicule one of its top creators. As for the reasoning behind this, I cannot be sure there even is any.

I do know this: Twelve years ago, the Academy gave its top honors to the highest-grossing film in motion picture history in Titanic. Last week, they not only did not give a non-technical award to the new highest-grossing film of all time by the very same director, but they gave the top award to the film with the lowest box office gross to ever win the award.

Any problem with this?

Not if just seen on the surface level. On the surface the Academy portrays that this selection brings about some change in the way awards are given out. Deep, deep down in the darkened, sour heart of the Academy they are actually smiling and saying, “Take that.”

But will we see any repercussions for this attitude? No, we won’t.

Good job, Academy, you just put yourselves in a whole world of hurt that no one will do anything about.

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