Human nature can be ugly sometimes. Ever drive down the highway at a steady pace, say 70 mph? You’re coasting and slowly passing a Camry on your right that’s going 60-65mph. There’s a van coming up in front of you that seems to be going 30mph. The Camry sees this and suddenly starts speeding up so that you get locked in. “Oh no, no. You may be going faster than me but you are going to PAY for trying to pass me baby!” So you get stuck behind the van and curse the name of both cars who must have had a secret pact to keep you behind. If you have a serious case of road rage like me, you start to imagine yourself negotiating your way through traffic at 120mph until you catch up with that Camry and purposely cut them off. Then the old lady in the Camry pulls out a gun from her glove compartment and starts to unload. Your back windshield looks like those fake bullet-hole stickers lame-asses like to put on their cars these days before it shatters completely. You brake hard. The Camry rear-ends you. The old broad in the Camry behind you flies through her windshield and lands on your trunk. She looks up at you slowly, spitting glass out of her mouth. You speed off so she slides off your car like a spatula smacking home a pancake. Then back up to get another shot at her, just to make sure the job is done right.
We’ve all been there. Such is human nature.
Sometimes I can’t help but root against someone. I know, it’s ugly and juvenile but I can’t help it. Right now I’m watching TV and I see Olympian snowboarder for the United States, Hannah Teter, getting interviewed. Now I’m a patriotic guy, but I can’t help but root against her already and the interview only lasted about 90 seconds. First of all, she sounds like she came straight from the Courtney Love estate. I knew I was in trouble when her greeting was “Heeeeeeeeeeey, how’s it goooiiiiiiing? He he heh!” Cannibus sativa, breakfast of champions! Nothing represents America better than the stoner snowboarder baby! Teter continues the interview with what looks like a chemically-induced grin babbling incoherent answers to fluff questions. Go back to your apple-bowl now, sweetheart, we’ll wake you when the next bag of Fritos arrives (I also learn Teter listens to her iPod while competing, kind of like how Jessica Biel kills vampires in Blade: Trinity. Whatever works I guess).
Now for all my huffing and puffing on the Oscar snubs, I’d be hard-pressed to pick out a patsy to replace my snub picks with. In other words, I know I would have nominated Roger Deakin’s cinematography, but it would have been a bitch to pick whom I send packing home. But below are the top 5 nominations that had me scratching my head the most. These are the nominations the ugly side of me can’t help but root against. I’m like a Muslim rooting against the Danish curling team. And since we’re on this subject, I know the Russians are our pals now and the Cold War is over and everything but am I the only one that gets a little twitch when they win a gold medal? I just had to sit through Eugeni Dementiev’s gold medaling win in Cross-Country Skiing (the weirdest looking sport in the universe perhaps) and listening to the Russian Federation anthem, I can’t help but feel like Rocky Balboa. I’m half-expecting to see a gigantic curtain of Ivan Drago slowly being raised. I know two national anthems by heart: America’s and Ivan Drago’s. Chew on that.
THE TOP FIVE HEAD-SCRATCHERS
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Catherine Keener, Capote
This is difficult because I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression. I think Keener is a very strong actress and I thought she was excellent in Capote. But I just don’t get this one. Honest to God, I thought her performance in 40 Year-Old Virgin was better. I know we’re not supposed to look at comedies like that while picking the Oscars but we shouldn’t just roll over and let the genre of film determine what’s good either. I know she’s playing Harper Lee and that adds a higher level of prestige in a movie critics humped like dogs in heat, but considering all of the great supporting performances there were this year, this nomination feels false. It is a good performance, but nothing that wowed me. I can’t recall a truly great moment. I can, however, name a couple of great moments from the likes of Isla Fisher who I mentioned in my Supporting Actress column. And if you don’t do comedy, Maria Bello, Scarlett Johansson, and even Gong Li are waiting in the wings.
Frances McDormand, North Country
My issue is more with the role she had to play. It’s really forced, to the point where my eyes were rolling like a Hannah Teter joint. It’s almost embarrassing to see where McDormand has to take the character in the last act of the film. I was half-expecting Robert De Niro to show up and scream at her to walk towards him, “Come on, Cookie! You can do it!” To me, there’s nothing honest about the character in the script and no matter how good McDormand is in the role (and McDormand is such a great actress, she can’t help but be good), I can’t help be bothered by it.
The Casualty: Capote
People often fear and hate what they do not understand. And I hate Capote. Sort of. I could easily make a case that Crash has no business being nominated Best Picture, but I at least see the attraction to that movie. It hits emotionally. No offense to Bennett Miller. he seems like good people in his interviews and all and he certainly is an able director. He is just in the unfortunate position of having made the bull-crap critical darling movie that somehow has a lot of people convinced it is one of the five best films of the year. I liked the movie. But I do not understand the love juice being sprayed over this merely adequate film. Wasn’t it just a tad dull? And, despite being exceptionally acted, will anyone even remember this film years from now? I’d like to ask these clowns that put this on the top of their lists, what makes the film so memorable? There is one scene that really sticks in my head and its where Perry Smith asks Capote if he knows what “exacerbate” means. Capote destroys Collins by replying, “There is not a word or a sentence or a concept that you can illuminate for me.” It clearly defines his selfish interests in his relationship and both actors make the scene a little chilling. Even so, this is as good as it got for me. Capote, this is one idiot you didn’t fool.
The Casualty: March of the Penguins
They didn’t nominate Grizzly Man. Keep this in mind, always. Look, this was a nice little movie and I’m sure it was a bitch to make and all. But if I learned anything from this movie it’s that the life of a penguin sucks.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Casualty: The Corpse Bride
I can’t say I’m terribly pissed about another animated film not making the cut but I don’t get the love this movie got from everyone. What is this, the obligatory Tim Burton recognition? It’s not a bad movie really, but this has to be the result of a weak year in animation, am I right? I loved The Nightmare Before Christmas, it’s one of my faves. But this movie was disappointing. First of all, the songs blew and blew hard. I’m talking Jenna Jameson blew. I’m talking a Dick Cheney blast to the face. Danny Elfman, what happened to you, bro? You used to be somebody. I used to look forward to your scores. You’re score here is pretty nice but those songs are lazy. You’re Spider-Man and Hulk scores had their moments, but overall they’re merely adequate. And don’t get me started on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory songs…yeesh.
At first, I liked the de-saturated look of the movie. But as soon as the story moves into night, it starts to get redundant and boring. The movie also isn’t that funny, the dialogue is not all that clever. Having said all that, I do like the story quite a lot. But this movie should have been a whole lot better. If Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit doesn’t win, I’m flying to Turin and burning a Corpse Bride flag in protest.
The Casualty: Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
This hurts. Terrence Howard‘s name being announced was one of the highlights of the Academy Award Nominations for me. I thought he was great in the movie and it’s nice to see the Academy mix it up. I’d put his performance on par with David Strathairn and Heath Ledger‘s work this year. I know this is the one nomination I shouldn’t touch because it’s the equivalent of being a crowd-favorite but when it comes down to it, it’s clear Howard was the nomination who bumped Crowe out of the slot. His was the surprise, Crowe‘s was the snub. The thing that ticks me off is I think there is a bit a phony element of support for Howard. I think its hip and cool to root for him. It’s chic and that belittles his work. I’ve heard the words “eye-opening” and “revelation” when referring to Howard’s work. Really, who are these people kidding? They’re critics, right? That means they have seen Howard in other movies and he has almost always been good. I first took notice of the guy in 1995’Dead Presidents (a terribly underrated movie) where he played a real dickhead that went by the name Cowboy. You want to talk scene stealing? You want to talk revelation? Check out Terrence Howard in The Best Man. It’s a good movie and he’s the best thing in it. It doesn’t bother me that Terrence Howard is nominated. Nominate him over David Strathairn or even Heath Ledger? No real complaint, I could interchange any of the three. In the end, for me it comes down to the fact that Howard will have a bright future with more than a few Academy nominations and he won’t have to play a pimp next time either.
That’s it as far as my bitter side goes. Next time I will be applauding the Academy for five nominations that really made me happy. I just read Apolo Ohno stumbled during the 1,500 meters. Good. That arrogant cat got on my wrong side towards the end of the 2002 games. See, do not cross me, athletes. I will put the jinx on yo ass! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to unrolling a cigar before the next snowboarding event. Feeling good, man.