Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dale talks Oscars. That's pretty much it. Oscars.

When I was ten years old I was allowed to see my first Mature movie.

Back then movie ratings went from General to Mature to Parental Guidance (if you were under 18, you had to have a parent or guardian with you – as the years went by, my friends and I tested the definition of “guardian” many, many times) to Restricted, which meant you weren't getting in unless you could prove you were 18. Or if you were a very tall 16 with a sprinkling of pube-like facial hair and ended up getting the box office cashier who didn't give a shit.

And then you would walk in to the Odeon Theatre to see Conan The Barbarian, feeling triumphant glee at making it past the gate sentry mixed with breathless anticipation for what was sure to be the greatest masterpiece ever filmed by humans, ever in the history of films or the history of humans. You would turn to Cole and Craig, your two friends, one of whom drove us here from Selkirk, MB in his Mom's station wagon, ready to high five each other out of pure joy. You would look around, puzzled, trying to figure out what happened to Cole and Craig. They were right behind you at the box office, after all. You would glance back at the large window looking out at the street and see Cole and Craig out there, faces pressed to the glass like little kids waiting for the unveiling of the Macy's Christmas toy display. They would look at you, sad but in an odd way elated that one of their number got under the wall. And then, to your surprise, they would signal to you that you should go ahead. See the movie for all of us. They would meet up with you later.

You don't find those kinds of friends very often.

Too bad the movie turned out to be a mixed bag. Some of the worst acting in the history of cinema combined with what is very likely the manliest movie of all time. Plus it set a new high water mark for fastest time to decapitation.

But that isn't what I'm here to talk about.

When I was ten years old I was allowed to see my first Mature movie.

The picture was Jaws and I wanted to see that movie with a zeal bordering on religious. My parents were pretty strict about which movies my brother and I were allowed to see, but they had prescreened this one and gave it the all clear. Considering the material as I look back I'm not sure what it was about Jaws that was okay for a ten year old (and his nine year old brother now that I think of it). My assumption is that, much like with the people who rate movies today, as long as there are no boobs, bush, sex or swearing, it's all good. Severed heads, geysers of spouting blood, and watching a man being eaten alive? Jaws has all those things, but I suppose the general consensus is that those are things that build character.

Not that I'm complaining. At the time (and for two more years – until Star Wars came out), Jaws was the greatest motion picture I had ever seen.

So that winter, when I found out it was nominated for something called an “Academy Award”? Well, I was on board for that. Go Jaws! And so, for the first time ever, I eagerly awaited an Oscar ceremony, not suspecting that after that first one I would be hooked, and not miss another one until I was old.

There were a few things that excited me about the show. The first was, obviously, the chance to cheer on the greatest movie of all time as it competed for glory and honour.

The second was that during the show they would show clips from Jaws, the greatest movie of all time. Yes, they actually used to do that. There was a time when the producers of the Oscars broadcast assumed that people who loved movies were watching, and so the show was geared to them, with lots of clips showcasing the work of the various nominees, and a bunch of features celebrating the history and the craft of moviemaking.

For me, that first show was magical. Transcendent even. It led me to some classic films, but the main impact was that in 1976, before I turned eleven, I actively wanted to see movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Man Who Would Be King, and Dog Day Afternoon. These were movies that would never have been on my radar at the time, but thanks to the Oscars, I was now aware of them, had seen some great scenes from them, and thought that they looked amazing.

I have watched every Oscar broadcast since then, waiting for each one with excitement, though it seems with each passing year that excitement wanes just a bit.

Each year, movies or performances I love are routinely snubbed, undeserving movies beat deserving ones (Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1989 against movies like Do The Right Thing, Field of Dreams, and Glory, to name just a few), and each year the ceremony becomes less and less about the love of movies and more and more about appealing to the general population (yes, I intentionally used a prison term there). Apparently, people don't like a long ceremony - I guarantee that tonight there will be at least three jokes by Billy Crystal about how long the show is running - even though they seem to love five hours of fashion assessment by desperate, cocaine-fuelled E! correspondents (or even worse, the fistful of assholes that inhabit Canada's entertainment news networks) from the Red Carpet.

Which means, in their yearly attempt to shorten the show, they lose more clips, tributes, and montages. And yet somehow the show stays the same length. And the next day the pundits all complain about how damn long the ceremony was. You know what? Some of us actually like movies, and actually want to watch the show. And you know what? When you like something and are having fun, you don't mind if it runs a little bit long. So screw the Toddlers & Tiaras/Real Housewives/Kardashian trogs out there and make the fucking thing about movies again. I guarantee, all those assholes will still watch, and they'll all complain about the show being long and boring, but I also guarantee that they'll find it long and boring anyway, unless you find some way to start giving awards to stuff like Jack & Jill and Zookeeper. And the People's Choice Awards already does that.

I'll be watching tonight, and I'm looking forward to it, even if this is the most uninspiring set of nominees I've seen in a long time. I really liked a lot of the films, don't get me wrong, but the only one I really loved is Hugo. But since PG films rarely win the major awards I'm not holding out too much hope. So we'll see what happens and I'll share my thoughts with you tomorrow. I'm also thinking about live-tweeting the show, so feel free to follow me @nervoushospital on the Twitters!


  1. Dale, now that the Oscars are over, can you live Tweet GCB next Sunday? All those promos make it look so good!

    This year, I only got to one of the nominees in the theaters, that being Moneyball. That's the fewest I have ever seen. I am hoping we'll get some of the pictures back for return engagements so I can catch up. Yet, I actually enjoyed this one better than the last few. At least there were some clips (but not enough! Dammit, let me see what I've missed so I want to go seen these movies). And Emma Stone. She was hilarious and was worth it on her own. Funnier than Crystal, but, we knew exactly what we were getting from him.

    Aside from Hugo, any others from the 9 to go see, Dale?

  2. I have to admit, this is the first year in a while that I didn't see all the Best Picture nominees. I missed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and also Warhorse. Out of those two, I actually wanted to see one. Even if it was about a horse. I really liked Moneyball, The Help, The Artist, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, and I admired the virtuosity of The Tree of Life, even though it was a transcendent wankfest. So I recommend all seven nominees that I got to see. However, the only one that I am eagerly looking forward to seeing again soon is Hugo.

    As for GCB, holy shit! That is going to be amazing! I am going to live-tweet the shit out of that thing!

    But seriously, what the hell does GCB even mean? I could google it, but that would be more work than the thing deserves.

  3. I am sad. I did not get the live tweeting of GCB

  4. I could not bring myself to watch the thing after the latest commercial. The one where the one lady says "Two guns? What are you scared of?" and the other lady pumps her shotgun in a way that suggests the actress has never seen a gun before and says, in the lamest line-reading ever, "Not a damn thing". I spent the next hour hating. I can imagine the effect an entire episode would have.