Posts Tagged ‘Screed’

The Oscars, and Why I’m Giddy Like a Schoolgirl

For the first time in a long time I’m actually getting really excited about the Oscars.  For the past decade, but most notably the past few years, the Best Picture nominees have not necessarily reflected the best films of the year but rather the five films that were able to afford enough ad space and sounded pretentious enough to weasel their way into the Oscars (*cough* The Reader.)

My issues go way back to 1999 (the 2000 Oscars), one of the best years for movies in recent memory.  The five films nominated for Best Picture that year were American Beauty (which won), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, and The Sixth Sense.  I’m not going to argue with the inclusion of a few of these movies.  American Beauty was very buzzed about at the time, and it was a very solid film (even if it doesn’t hold up as well in 2010).  The Sixth Sense was obscenely popular, and, as big of a wiener nozzle as M. Night Shayamalan turned out to be, this film was very innovative, story-wise in its day.  The Insider is a brilliant film (and Russell Crowe is absolutely amazing in it).  The two films I take issue with are The Cider House Rules and The Green Mile.

First of all, I have nothing against The Green Mile as a film.  I really enjoyed this movie.  Michael Clark Duncan is heartbreaking, and the story is touching.  It’s just that when compared with the other films that were shafted for a nomination that year, The Green Mile does not measure up.  The Cider House Rules, though, should never have even been in contention.  It’s not that it’s a bad film, per se.  It’s just so very, very slight yet very, very pretentious.  Sure, Michael Caine can have his Supporting Actor award, but leave the Best Picture nods to the movies that made actual impact.

Of which movies am I speaking?  Well, in 1999, aside from the five aforementioned films, the following pictures were released: Magnolia, The Matrix, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Being John Malkovich, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut; Election, and Fight Club.  The issue with most of these films (except for maybe Ripley, which has always seemed to me like Oscar bait incarnate) is that they’re too edgy for the Oscars.  They’re too action-y or funny or think-y.  But which films are we still talking about more than a decade later?  Not The Cider House Rules and The Green Mile (or even The Insider, really), that’s for sure.

But this year the Oscars changed the game a little bit.  This year there are TEN Best Picture nominees.  If we’d had ten nominees back in 2000, there would’ve been room for some of the more innovative, more popular, and more challenging films to make the cut.  Maybe one of them would’ve even taken the crown from American Beauty.

I’m hoping the Academy fills up the ten slots wisely this year.  Some spots are all but locks.  Avatar is in for sure, so are The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up, and Up in the Air.  Who will take the final four slots?

If the voters choose to go for hype and pedigree over actual quality, we might see a final four featuring the likes of the craptacular Nine or the underwhelming Invictus.  If the voters choose to think outside their restrictive little pretentious box, we could see nominations awarded to the very deserving District 9 and/or Star Trek, which received a 90% and 94% respectively on, better than Avatar (82%), Inglourious Basterds (89%), and Invictus (77%) .  The Hangover (78% — Take that, Invictus and Nine (37%, yes you read that right)) may even sneak in there.

Awarding quality mainstream films in this way can only be good for the Oscars themselves.  Many people have seen these movies, meaning they will be more likely to tune into the broadcast.  Producers and quality directors will see that there is some potential for reward (beyond monetary) for making good films that can also appeal to mass audiences.  Mass audiences may flock to see smaller films by directors with whom they have become familiar (see Christopher Nolan, for example).  The 10-nominee system may well contribute to a new Golden Age in Hollywood.  Or maybe I’m overstating things a bit.

Either way, I’ll be watching on Tuesday with bated breath, wearing my District 9 T-shirt and waving my Star Trek pompons.


Toothless D-Bags Really Get My Goat

Ugh.  Thank goodness for wine.

So, whenever I watch my niece E during the week, I always drop her off at the train station so that my sister-in-law can jump off the train from downtown and then hop back on the next train going back into the Loop.  It’s not a perfect situation, but it works pretty well for us (so far).

The parking situation at the Metra station is not good.  Sometimes a spot is available in the parking lot, but usually people are double parked or blocking fire hydrants or the middle of the street or whatever.  And now that the weather is getting colder, the number of cars milling around for pick-ups has increased exponentially.

Thursdays are always the worst (after Friday).  One of the local restaurants takes over one of the parking lots for their valet service, so usually you can’t even get into the lot to wait.  Today I arrived before they had put up the cones.  Yay, me!

I pulled into the parking lot and there were no regular spots.  The only open spots were the handicapped spots and a spot that wasn’t really a spot next to the slot reserved for Metra employees.  Rather than take up a handicapped spot, I pulled into the non-spot.  There was a car parked in the Metra employee spot.  The guy was toothless and gross (which I feel I can say because of the douchebaggery he displayed later).

I parked the car, left the motor running, and turned on my hazards.  I got out of the car so I could jiggle E’s car seat since she was getting sad.  The guy takes a few steps toward me and says, “You know you’re not supposed to park here.”

I replied, “I know.  I’m just handing this baby over to her mother, who is going to be on the next train that is arriving in approximately two minutes.”

He said, “There’s a $150 fine for parking there.”

“OK,” I said, “I’m not staying here.  I’m leaving in two minutes.”

“I could call the cops right now to come and give you a ticket.”

Now, here’s where I probably should’ve said something like, “Well, if that makes you happy…”  I mean, I would’ve been long gone before the cops got there.  But I caved, got back in my car, seething, and parked about a half block away in the far lot.  I dragged poor little E out of the car and carried her all the way back over to the platform.  In the cold and drizzle.  A tiny little baby!  Plus all her crap.  I even left an inadvertent message on my SIL’s cell phone, which I hope she deleted before listening to it 🙂

I suppose the morals of this story are these:

1. A vast many Metra employees are dicks (at least the ones who make their presence felt). I’m sure there are many lovely Metra employees, in fact, I know there are.  But there are a lot of tools.  I’ve met them.  I should’ve gotten their names and reported them, but…

2. One never thinks of the correct thing to say or do when in the moment. Afterwards, I always realize how I should’ve handled the situation, and wish that I had the cojones to stand my ground against these jackholes.  But I’m always just too taken aback by people’s lack of empathy when they choose instead to swing their middling wangs of power around in the face of the elderly or people with children or the children themselves.

3. I’m happy because I’m home safe and sound. I didn’t get shot or bashed in the head with a tire iron.  I drove away.  I released a few choice vocabulary words into the ether and literally put the jackass behind me.  Who knows how he would’ve reacted if I’d have stood up to him?

And now, it’s Thursday night.  Time to drink wine, eat pizza, and watch Parks and Recreation.