And the Best Picture of the Year isn’t…

Was anybody actually surprised?

Honestly: while there was a big debate on whether the Best Picture Oscar would go to Gravity, 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle, was anyone aside from Peter Travers honestly surprised that 12 Years walked away with it?  I saw 12 Years half a year before the big awards night, and as soon as the movie ended, I knew it would win.  And I was pissed.

I knew it was going to win and all of the movies I really wanted to see hadn’t even come out yet: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Wolf of Wall Street, etc.  I hadn’t seen Gravity at the time so I had my doubts, but I knew months from then it would win Best Picture and some Acting category(s) (which Lupito absolutely deserved.)  The movie was good, don’t get me wrong, but I think the win was unjust and for the wrong reasons, which calls back prior years.

I didn’t mind that Argo won last year.  There were others I would have been ok with too but Argo was fine with me.  But aside from that, the past few years Best Picture winner have all gone to the wrong films.  The King Speech over The Social Network?  The Artist over Hugo?  I don’t like Crash but I don’t think Brokeback Mountain was near worthy either. Regardless, 12 Years is a very emotional movie that is very hard to watch and tells a remarkable true story and conveys its message: slavery was bad.

…It was bad.

I hate saying this but that’s the problem.  OF COURSE it was.  Haven’t we seen this before?  Hasn’t this been covered by countless movies? Rush Limbaugh recently drew criticism for his statements saying “the film was guarenteed to win because it used the magic word: ‘slave.'” While I don’t wish to put it so black-and-white as he did, I don’t think he was entirely wrong.

I don’t feel that I ask too much when I say Best Picture winning movies should be something to look back on; an achievement in cinema.  An accomplishment to be remembered for years to come.  I don’t know what deserved Best Picture necessarily, but if you want to talk about achievements and accomplishments in film, look at Gravity, employing techniques and state-of-the-art technology to show something we have never seen in movies before.  The academy has never been too fond of sci-fi/fantasy-ish topics (space? close enough) with Best Picture.  In this article, a proclamation is  made that if Gravity won over 12 Years, it would be for the wrong reasons and it would be about giving “old white people (the voters) what they want” over what is right.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Years from now, we will look back on The Social Network, on Gravity for what they said/did/etc.  12 Years will fade away in due time now that the buzz is over until the next one comes along.

But on a lighter note, congrats again to Lupita.  Well deserved win.  Production design would have been just as well.

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The Poor, Poor Stars of Hollywood

Captain Phillips was nominated for Best Picture.  I was suprised, but pleased, as I throughly enjoyed the movie.  One of the strongest aspects was the acting, and the nominees in the Best Supporting Actor category featured Barkhad Abdi for his role as Muse the pirate.  This was Abdi’s first time acting, as the Somali native came across the role with luck and chance.  And as he makes his award appearances, it was revealed that he is dead broke.

The New Yorker article revealed that he has to be comped by the studio to make his appearances, that his fancy clothes are loaned, etc.  It was revealed he was paid $65,000 for his role in the film, which is not far off from any actors first appearance such as his in a studio film.  But that was two years ago as it took a long time for the film to come out, and most of the articles one reads about it make it their point to show the true struggle in Hollywood.

Ok, but what about the $65 grand pay stub?

No, it’s not what Tom Hanks makes, and it should be obvious that not everyone in the bizz is a millionaire by any sort.  That is a foolish misconception to have.  But if you receive a single check for $65,000, you should be able to pull something out of that.  Abdi quit his job when the film came out as a phone salesman.  Why? I do not know, and I won’t ask him, but if you don’t work you won’t get paid.  You can’t sit on your money and not make more.  Many are making the argument that it is hard to find work as an actor and projects don’t come easily.  I bet they don’t.  But if it’s not paying, do something on the side to keep it going.  Abdi must have had living expenses before his breakthrough, so what happened?

Should he have been paid more?  I don’t know, he was wonderful in the movie though.  I just feel like something is amiss, because some people make that much money in a year and make it.  How does another get paid that much on one stub and it’s all gone unless there isn’t some “sitting on it” involved?  Harsh?  Maybe, I don’t care.  I loved his performance in the movie and hope he gets more work.  I’m sure he does too.

RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman… Not?

It was a gutting blow to acting when Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead.  Even more so that it was at his own hand due to drug abuse.  With the Oscars shortly to follow, it didn’t take long for British street artist Plastic Jesus to respond:  on the streets of Hollywood, an 8-foot replica of an Oscar statue stands with a needle injecting into it’s arm.  At first glance, it is easy to be offended and call it tasteless among other things: disrespectful, maybe?  I refuse to decide, personally, as Plastic Jesus claims it is meant for more positive hopes.  He views it as an attempt to raise awareness to these “stars” who are struggling with addiction and reminding them to seek the help they need before it is too late.

It’s sad to think that some people in the spotlight may feel invincible or something of the sort, but I don’t think it’s right to automatically assume so.   Maybe? Absolutely, but entertainment stars are people too, and unless you’re Barkhad Abdi (more on that later) they are people with some money.  But addiction is not set aside for poor people with nothing, or rich stars, or anyone, and that’s the point: it can happen to anyone who let’s it.  I think PJ’s reminder that they are not immune is well intended, I just as not happy with the idea that these people might have to be reminded of such.  But society has taken a turn for the dramatic.  When Miley Cyrus dances in a very provocative manner on MTV, it is everywhere for months.  When Randy Blythe (singer for Lamb of God, a heavy metal band) is wrongly accused of murder and arrested in the Czech Republic (2013) , very few in America were even aware, or still are.  But celebrity has taken a role in our society regardless. No one will know PSH’s struggle like he did, projected as it will be one way or another. Sad, nontheless.