Final post-mortem on the Oscars:
A few weeks ago I was discussing the poor quality of the recent Oscar shows with an old friend. We both remember the glamour and the excitement generated from past shows. There were not only glamourous stars and tributes to movie-making, but there was humor and elements of spontaneity that have been noticeably absent in recent years.
And the decision to ditch the clips of famous films makes the whole thing unwatchable. The original idea of the Academy was to create an awards show to congratulate the film-making community. If you take the original premise away, the program becomes one long, boring and pointless TV pilot.The recommended way to watch the program now would be to tape it and fast-forward to any possible outlet of originality. This year it was Lady Gaga’s impressive performance which occurred far too late in the broadcast to save the viewer from total boredom.
And then there are the films. The nominated films are a big part of the problem. I’ve written at length on the problems Hollywood films are facing. And, I might add, they are doing a terrible job of adjusting to Global Film trends.
Fortunately, the award season is winding to a close. Here’s a short list of the winners from the past year:
The British version of the Academy is BAFTA: Boyhood won Best Picture..
Eddie Redmayne & Julianne Moore also won for Best Actor & Actress, respectively.
Rising star category!: Jack O’Connell (A nice touch-the Academy might take note…)
GOLDEN GLOBES: Boyhood-Best Drama/ The Grand Budapest Hotel-Best Musical OR Comedy
Eddie Redmayne & Julianne Moore-Best Actor & Actress
OSCARS: Birdman-Best Picture
Redmayne & Moore again.
DIRECTORS GUILD: Outstanding Directorial Achievement: Alejandro G Inarritu: Birdman
Screen Actors Guild or SAG: Birdman
WRITERS GUILD: The Grand Budapest Hotel won for Original Screenplay
RAZZIES (WORST FILM): Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Birdman and Boyhood took home the bulk of the awards. They were both artistic and slightly indie in tone. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was definitely an indie film. Most of the artistic community voted for Grand Budapest, and deservedly so. The film almost plays out like a giant storyboard for artists.
Best websites & Blogs on film: Part I
One of the hardest facts for film critics to face is the brutal reality that we cannot possibly screen and review the myriad number of movies that are released and circulating. Therefore, at some point we have to “let go”. In other words, let some other critic or writer take over the job. At least, in part, if you are honest.
In my humble opinion, there are far too many websites out there that purport to write about film, and few of them are worth your time. The criteria I look for, as a writer and as a film critic, in assessing the merits of a film blog or website are as follows
*Does the critic write knowledgeably on the subject of film? Is the writing clear and coherent?
*Does the writer have working knowledge of the history of film? Do they understand the genre they are writing about?
* Does the writer understand the source material? If it is a book, do they define the boundaries without simply repeating notes of the synopsis?
*Do they review the content of the film, or simply type data points or box office stats?
*Is the writing compelling and interesting enough to read? With or without the pictures?
With that criteria in mind, I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite places to go online to find out about movies I’m interested in seeing. Some of them are very slick and much lighter in content and tone. Others are more in depth and feature longer reads. It depends on your mood and how much time you have, of course, and I’ve also included some lesser known sites from my favorite colleagues. They are not all large scale online operations, but it’s good to mix it up and all these sites have some stand-out features to recommend them. They are:
1) Roger Ebert at rogerebert.com. Ebert’s widow, Chaz, does a great job managing this site!
2) The Guardian at theguardian.com/film
3) Salty Popcorn. My colleague Jason King has a fun and informative site at saltypopcorn.com.au
4) 6 Degrees of Film & 6 Degrees of Film @the Movies on Flipboard at sixdegreesoffilm.com
5) Self-styled Siren at selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com
6) Film Comment at filmcomment.com
7) Film Quarterly at filmquarterly.org
8) John Schwab’s My Film Journal at my-filmjournal.blogspot.ca
9) Some Came Running at somecamerunning.typepad.com
10) NPR-National Public Radio Film reviews at npr.org/movie-reviews
Stay tuned for Part II with more recommended film sites for movie buffs. Some of my favorite places to find out about movies come from less well-known writers and critics who love movies and love to write about them. My list of film websites continues in Part II.