Posts Tagged ‘titanic’

Billy Crystal Takes the Reins…Again

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, I have just got to stop inflicting these terrible omens on myself and the rest of the world with these posts. In my most recent article, I had remarked that I hope Don Mischer does not simply “regurgitate Billy Crystal for the umpteenth time.” Well, perhaps this is not the worst way to resurrect this year’s Oscars from the Ratner debacle, but it is certainly not the best.

I should start off by stating what has already been widely reported: Brian Grazer has stepped up to fill Brett Ratner’s shoes. This is not at all a bad choice. It’s hard not to like, if not at least respect, Grazer as a class-act producer. An Academy Award winner, himself, Grazer has been a major part of such Hollywood films as “A Beautiful Mind,” “American Gangster,” “The Nutty Professor” and “Apollo 13.” To add on to his film career, and beef up his resume as a television producer, he was also behind the helm of such popular hits as “Friday Night Lights” and “Arrested Development.” The decision to hire the man was a great step forward in terms of damage control for this year’s telecast.

So, there’s the good. Let’s move on to the Academy’s less inspired decisions. Billy Crystal is taking Eddie Murphy’s place and making his ninth appearance hosting the Oscars. NINTH. The only person to perform that gig more times was Bob Hope, and many of his turns were as a co-host. The fact that Crystal has been here nine times automatically speaks to the notion that the Academy didn’t care to put any genuine creativity into their decision, but instead have simply gone back to their comfort zone of what worked for them back in a time when the Oscars were still popular with the general public.

One important thing to get across here is that I really don’t have that much against Crystal as a host. In fact, I think he’s done a great job with the show in the past. I recall that the 1997 season, in which “Titanic” took home virtually everything, was maybe the first full telecast I ever watched (I was eleven, so give me a break) and it was his hosting, if nothing else, that really got me hooked.

What I am pissed about, and may never be able to fully forgive Crystal for, are his remarks made to the Associated Press in March of this year when Crystal entertained the notion of hosting again, upon compliance with a personal condition:

“I think the show needs to change. There’s too many awards and it has to sort of freshen itself up, and if I can be a part of that, that would be great.”

Let’s put aside for a moment that the Academy Awards and its selection of those awards are a long-standing and important tradition that has been a staple practically since Hollywood came into being. I’m sorry if Mr. Crystal thinks that it gets a little boring for primetime television. Let’s instead focus on the fact that the Oscars are the only time and place left in America in which all the elements that go into a film are brought together and honored. It’s the only opportunity for a cinematographer or an editor or a sound designer or a makeup artist to stand in front of a worldwide audience and be given the respect of being the best at their craft. You take that away, and the show becomes a second-rate Golden Globes: a star-fucking extravaganza that reassures that audience that all you really need to make a movie is Johnny Depp.

If any of Crystal’s notions were actually taken into effect, it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and induces me to finally change the channel. I’ve endured a lot as an Oscar prognosticator. I can deal with the campaigning, the politics, the poor-taste decisions, and even Harvey Weinstein bribing and felating voters under the table. But when you take the backbone of the film industry and shut them out in the cold because you think it will improve your ratings, you have crossed a line. For that, I say shame on you, Mr. Crystal. At long last, have you no decency?

One can only hope that our host does not get his way, and the Academy’s tradition of honoring all aspects of filmmaking remains intact. We shall find out in three months’ time.

EW Ranks the Top Ten Worst Best Picture Wins

February 19, 2011 3 comments

It’s no doubt that “The Social Network” is the unanimous choice for Best Picture by this country’s critics. Entertainment Weekly’s own Lisa Schwarzbaum and Owen Gleiberman were united for the first time in years by both placing the film at the top of their lists. Therefore, it’s hard not to chuckle at the timing of this article: less than two weeks before “The King’s Speech” takes the home the gold at this year’s event.

I know. I’m such an opportunist. But let’s be serious. The 2011 Best Picture will eventually make it to this list. Just a matter of time. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the past. This is a really good list. I’d almost like to make one of my own, except it would probably mirror this one quite a bit. Here’s the list:

10. “Forrest Gump” over “Pulp Fiction”
9. “The Last Emperor” over “Broadcast News,” “Fatal Attraction” or “Moonstruck”
8. “Around the World in Eighty Days” over “Giant”
7. “Gandhi” over “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”
6. “The English Patient” over “Fargo” or “Jerry Maguire”
5. “Dances with Wolves” over “Goodfellas”
4. “Chariots of Fire” over “Reds”
3. “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan”
2. “How Green Was My Valley” over “Citizen Kane”
1. “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain”

The only one on this list that I really cannot concur with is “The Last Emperor.” While it’s certainly not an amazing film, neither was any of its competition. None of the other three films listed are any more deserving of the prize. 1987 on the whole was a pretty horrible year for cinema. My favorite was “Full Metal Jacket,” but even that film I have a difficult time calling Best Picture-worthy. Also, while the excruciatingly long and uneventful “Gandhi” was a shameful choice, “E.T.” would not be my pick from the nominees. For as much of a Spielberg whore as I am, his cuddly alien movie is not one of my favorites. Personally, I would have picked Sydney Pollack’s in-the-moment comedy, “Tootsie.”

My equivalent list would probably look like this:

10. “Chariots of Fire” over “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
9. “The Sting” over “A Clockwork Orange” or “The Last Picture Show”
8. “Going My Way” over “Double Indemnity”
7. “Titanic” over “L.A. Confidential”
6. “Dances with Wolves” over “Goodfellas”
5. “How Green Was My Valley” over “Citizen Kane”
4. “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” or “Munich”
3. “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan,” or even “The Thin Red Line”
2. “Rocky” over “Taxi Driver,” “All the President’s Men” or “Network”
1. “In the Heat of the Night” over “Bonnie and Clyde” or “The Graduate”

Masterpieces like “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Taxi Driver” losing out to works of pure mediocrity like “Rocky” and “In the Heat of the Night” are enough to make eyes roll. I still also remember watching Harvey Weinstein and his entourage taking the stage in 1999, not being able to move for twenty minutes, my blood boiling with rage. Same in 2006 with the ridiculous Paul Haggis. It’s enough to make one cry.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the “test of time” question, not many films earn it to the same extent as “Citizen Kane,” “Double Indemnity,” or even after 20 or 30 years, “Goodfellas” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” These films are considered works of art by critics, industry and audiences alike while their competition has faded into the video store walls.

Give it a year and expect to find “The King’s Speech” up on this list. Maybe some day the Academy will realize that history will judge their decisions, and their hindsight is not very kind, and nor should it be, considering some of these decisions.

Check out Entertainment Weekly’s article, with a slideshow and commentary. Also, if you want to see something funny, check out this video of “Shakespeare in Love” winning Best Picture and watch Harrison Ford’s dismayed expression after reading the name. I feel for you, buddy…