Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Politics, Not Sex Rules at This Year’s Oscars

Look at the films in this slate, pretty depressing huh? The Iranian hostage crisis, Osama Bin Laden’s manhunt, a dude surviving in the Ocean with a tiger as his first mate. Wah wah. Just kidding, I’m all for serious films especially when they’re done artfully and in a non-pretentious way, and the only one I can say that that’s true of out of the politically charged films which are Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Lincoln, and Beasts of the Southern Wild (arguably) is Argo. So therefore I hope it wins Best Picture.
Of the risqué in the bunch the only one we can remotely put in that category is Silver Linings Playbook. Remember when Moulin Rouge (2001) was nominated? Scratch that, remember when Midnight Cowboy (1969) WON?? Has the Academy totally gotten prude over the years, the answer is a big fat sticky yes.
If we look at the history of the Oscars, it’s usually sappy love stories and wildly inaccurate bio-pics of historical figures cases involved; Gladiator, Amadeus, Titanic, The Best Years of Our Lives…and snooze. When Midnight Cowboy won, it was a battle year. 1969, perhaps one of the most vibrant years of the 20th century; one fraught with racial tension, sexual experimentation, and general aggression against social morays and reflections of which. Therefore, the Academy picked the most controversial film that challenged everything it used to stand for as it’s top prize winner and they were right. For once, sex lead the way, and a film about a prostitute cowboy and his Puerto-Rican drug addict friend trying to make it in New York City garnered top prizes. Since then we’ve lowered the bar a bit. Raunchy films get nominated but they don’t win. I think the one that showed most boob-grabbing of late was Chicago (2002). 
Promo still for Midnight Cowboy the most controversial film to garner Best Picture honors, 1969.
This is of course ignoring the big elephant in the room which is all of Tarantino films ever which will win for other awards (Screenplay, Supporting Actor, what have you) but will never get the lord of all knick knacks especially not after what happened in Sandy Hook. Hollywood would much rather condone sex than explicitly gratuitous violence. But even then, the sex is toned down, and has to be within a context of love, which is why I keep going back to Midnight Cowboy. That was a pure sex-movie, that’s why it was rated X when it was first released. There’s little more to it, except of course the touching bromance, but it’s explicitness worked in it’s favor back then, it’s completely the opposite now. If you look at Silver Linings Playbook, the most those two ever do is kiss, though both talk about sex endlessly like they know everything about it, and yet somehow you just don’t believe either of them. In a way Silver Linings Playbook is the most unsexy romance film there is. Amour is more sexy than it, Sorry David O. 
Jennifer Lawrence tried very hard to play Femme Fatale to Bradley Cooper's troubled soul, but too young for the part, somewhat missed the boat. Though a solid effort on her part.
So in conclusion, give it to Argo please. It’s well directed (way to really fuck up by snubbing Affleck, btw), it’s mostly historically accurate, and it’s most importantly, interesting. Hollywood loves nothing more than a history lesson they don’t have to read.

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