Gongs Again

I’d love to be able to vote at the Oscars. When we vote for a best picture candidate, we are voting for more than just a film which captures the heart, engages the mind or provokes the senses. Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, the judges as cultural representatives are voting for a cinematographic paradigm, shaping the way that the movie dollars are likely to be spent two years or more hence, an attitude toward cinema which their particular choice represents. In this day of the evaporating dollar, attitudes that don’t gain the full attention of Hollywood are consigned to history’s pitiless shredder. Though one of the oldest clichĂ©s of moviemaking is, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union,” sending a message is exactly what voters end up doing.

I’ve again had the chance to see almost everything before the BIG NIGHT.

What I liked and what I didn’t. “Button’ seems to be one of those iconic films much like ‘The Piano’ after which post-pubescent cinemagoers either shook their heads that they’d paid good money to get in , or it enthused and animated them. Undeniably clever – a unique spin on a number of slow roasters- probably helped a little by the new incumbent at no 1600, I think it might deserve Best Picture. If not – ‘Slumdog’ touches all kinds of nerve endings which might mean that this is going to be the big LA-Bolly fusion movie. It wasn’t Good Night and Good Luck’s night a couple of years ago, but Frost/Nixon as the political representative has been described as ‘electrifying entertainment’.

As a fan of PSH, I thought his performance in ‘Doubt’ was more than a match for Meryl Streep’s malevolence, but the Heath Ledger retrospective lumbers on and he might collect as a swansong.

I’d really like Mickey Rourke to win for ‘The Wrestler’, but there might be a bit too much grit in the mouth for Hollywood’s fastidious palate and it might not stand the test of time. “Gladiator” is still as much fun now on the TV as it was nine years ago as the winner. It might be the lovely Kate’s year. She was nominated in the best actress category quite justifiably for her role as a former SS concentration guard in The Reader – the performance that secured her a best supporting actress gong at last week’s Golden Globe awards, but her performance in thrice-nominated Revolutionary Road (which won her the best actress Globe) was missed off the list. It’s a novelty her films often feature that there’s frequently a two-scener who steals the show and this one was no exception Michael Shannon’s weird but engaging mathematician who had had the mathematics jolted out of him by overenthusiastic ECT kept the attention as did Winslet’s character’s excruciating mother. Memories…

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