1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
  2. white souse, n.1: A blog for literature, politics, science, and the occasional cocktail.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bigelow: 2, Sanity: 0; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Oscars

If any of us set out to list the gripes that range from annoying to down-right infuriating about the Oscars, we'd run out of web space before entries. But let me put it to you simply: name a single award ceremony where three of the top four awards (best picture, director, male and female actor) went to the folks that you felt deserved it. You might point out that, it's in the nature of selecting among the top five (or ten?!) in each category that people will disagree over which was best. Fair enough. But every year in the post-Oscar soul searching I get an earful and see a string of articles about various categories where the wrong person or film wins.

This year, I've mostly seen congrats to Bigelow for netting best picture and best director. And the coverage has been positive (yay for breakout women!). But a cold dose of reality: The Hurt Locker was a decent, but only marginally above-average film for an Oscar nominee. It had solid direction, some key performances, interesting editing, and a lousy, lousy script.

The only thing that made me want to vomit more than screenwriter Mark Boal's egregiously inflated ego while accepting two awards was the absolutely f*ing ridiculous line that starts the movie off: "War is a drug." And the only thing that could rival that line for vacuousness is a performance by Keanu Reeves -- and thankfully, he introduced The Hurt Locker at the Oscars, which means we got to actually hear Keeanu deliver the line with the appropriate depth of thought and sentiment.

By the way, as Keenu began to say that "War .... is a drug" I ducked behind the couch -- instinctively I suspected that he was violating the Pauli exclusion principle. But then I blinked and realized that Pauli's rule only applies when the two objects have some sort of substance.

Contrast, for a moment, the way that Bigelow's movie opens with say, the new Star Trek. In Star Trek, as you recall, it's not (per a grade-school essay) a f*ing quote, or even an image, but a naked sound -- an evolution of the particular flavor of Star Fleet sound effects that marked how J. J. Abrams' movie would both engage and depart from Trek films past. That was a brilliant use of sound editing, no? Of course, The Hurt Locker won the f*ing Sound Editing award, too.

I could go on about how "War is a drug" degrades the complexity of war, perpetuates the stupidity of "The War on Drugs" mentality, or even the "War on Terror." I could note that in fifty years they'll still be studying Avatar as a key chapter in the history of cinema, and film students won't even recognize the name "Hurt Locker" except on trivia night, as the answer to "Which film won Best Picture instead of James Cameron's 2009 classic, Avatar?"

Instead, I'll just recommit to last year's resolution: when Oscar night rolls around next year, and I'm inevitably dragged to another Oscar-watching party, I'm bringing headphones and a good book.

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