Oscar Postpartum 2011

It was far from the most exciting Academy Awards broadcast. The most surprising thing that happened was that Kirk Douglas stole the show from hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

As for my Oscar picks I got exactly the same amount right that I did last year – 13 out of 24.

Here are the ones I got wrong:

BEST PICTURE: THE KING’S SPEECH. For the first time in 4 years I got this one wrong. I picked THE SOCIAL NETWORK because that was what I was feeling, but the Academy voters felt differently. THE KING’S SPEECH is excellent and deserving so I’m not disapointed.

Funnily enough last September Bill Maher joked on his HBO show (Real Time With Bill Maher):

“New rule: If they are going to make a historic epic full of British actors in period costumes about Queen Elizabeth helping her father get over his speech impediment, why bother having the Oscars at all? You win.”

He didn’t get the plot right exactly, but he was dead on there.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo won for THE FIGHTER. I really thought Haileed Steinfeld would take it. Sigh.

BEST DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper for THE KING’S SPEECH. I picked David Fincher for THE SOCIAL NETWORK – I really should’ve seen THE KING’S SPEECH sweep coming.

These were pretty much stabs in the dark:

BEST FOREIGN FILM: IN A BETTER WORLD. Honestly can’t remember why I went with INCENDIES.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Wally Pfister for INCEPTION. Was pulling for Roger Deakins for TRUE GRIT because he’s been nominated 9 times and I thought it was his time. It wasn’t.

BEST SCORE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The Academy got this one right, but I didn’t with my pick of Alexandre Desplat for THE KING’S SPEECH.

BEST SONG: Randy Newman for TOY STORY 3. Another I was happy to be wrong about. I had choosen A.R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, and Dido for 127 HOURS which didn’t win anything.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: INSIDE JOB – Man, I so wanted Banksy to win for EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. However INSIDE JOB was a great flick too so I’m fine with it.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: STRANGERS NO MORE. My pick – KILLING IN THE NAME is another that I can’t remember why I picked it.

Ditto on these 2:



My favorite line of the entire broadcast: “You’ve just been Inceptioned!” – as spoken by Alec Baldwin.

More later…

The Wrong Alice Indeed

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Dir. Tim Burton, 2010)

I had forgotten that in my review of SWEENEY TODD (January 13th, 2008) I had joked that I was only going to see Burton/Depp productions at Movies At Timberlyne in Chapel Hill. Since I now live in Raleigh, I’m so glad that wasn’t a strict vow because this really wouldn’t have been worth the 40 minute drive.

This is exactly what I thought it was going to be – another CGI fueled fantasy fest with Depp dancing around like a maniac as dark yet ostensibly beautiful imagery bombards the viewer.

We all know the basic story here so I’ll try and keep it brief. A 19 year old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) in Victorian times escapes from her oppressive family and the unwanted marriage proposal from a chinless Bourgeois doofus of a suiter (Leo Bill) into a magical land. She encounters, you know, a White Rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen), a Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman), a Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry), and twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (both voice
d by Matt Lucas).

For villainy’s sake there is the Red Queen – Helena Bonhma Carter (you knew she’d have to be here somewhere) with a disturbingly huge head, who has stolen the reign of the land from her sister, the blindingly White Queen (Anne Hathaway) – who strangely has little presence. Also there’s Crispin Glover, who doesn’t look like he likes working in ginormous budget world, plays Stayne Knave of Hearts, the ominous head of the Red Queen’s army.

But of course most folks won’t care about any of that stuff – they care about Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

For some reason his make-up with his green eyes and fiery orange hair made him look like Madonna at times. His patently wacky performance will surely please hardcore Depp fans, but his take on the character, much like his turns in previous Burton work as Willy Wonka and Sweeney Todd, has that not so fresh feeling.

I personally feel that Depp and Burton should be separated for a decade. If they want to come back then and make another Disney re-imagining of something that’s been done to death in the past, so be it. But give us, or at least me, a break for a bit!

The film builds to a big battle climax which too greatly resembles the terrain and aesthetics of the STAR WARS prequels. The humorless execution and the distinct lack of charm made the third act particularly hard going.

Still, I can’t completely slag it off. On the whole it’s a well made and reasonably entertaining movie that I think a lot of people will enjoy. There are inspired flights of animated fancy and some close to great Gilliam-esque visual splendor.

I just felt overall that as played by Wasikowska, Alice was too much of a blank slate, Depp was too weird, Glover not weird enough, Bonham Carter not as amusing as she’s supposed to be, and the whole remake enterprise ambiance was a bit off.

All through the first half of the film, seemingly every character says that Alice is the “wrong Alice.” I’m not going to spoil why it is they say that, but of the dozens of adaptations out there in which to experience Lewis Carroll’s immortal story, it’s an apt statement because this sure isn’t the right one.

More later…