The 85th Academy Awards
Update: Well, now we have an extra hour and a half of the red carpet! Talk amongst yourselves!
What is it about the Academy Awards? Intellectually, it’s hard to muster up that much enthusiasm about who “wore it best” (Ang Lee) or how modest Katniss will be in her acceptance speech, hopefully avoiding a First Wives’ Club reference that sounded like she was hating on Meryl Streep this time. And yet … we still feel compelled to watch. Maybe it’s because secretly, deep down, we still find it fascinating that the guy who does the voice of Stewie looks like the host of a reality game show about finding true love by having a dance-off on a stripper pole.
Or maybe it’s because we’re just suckers, who deep down believe that Beasts of the Southern Wild might still possibly have a chance against Argo or Lincoln.
Come join us, will you, on this the most magical of evenings for producers, people who are married to movie stars, and dress designers? We’ll be hosting a live chat below. Just click the big countdown button and you’re all set. Got it?
Awards Season Gets Underway
Tonight is the 85th Academy Awards, and for all intents and purposes it should be a good one. Look at all those serious films, and the one movie by Quentin Tarantino! And with big snubs for Best Director for both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, does that mean one of them will be be sweeping up the Best Picture Award as a consolation prize? And most importantly, is it too late to write in a ballot for Javier Bardem in Skyfall? Because he was great.
The red carpet was aglow with the incandescent twinkle of Hollywood’s stars on Monday night at the 22nd annual Independent Film Project Gotham Awards. With Oscar winners Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard amongst the evening’s honorees and the likes of Jack Black, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski and so many more blazing a trail through the double doors of Wall St.’s Cipriani’s, it was no wonder that the less glamorous side of the velvet rope was a veritable press feeding frenzy. Lucky for us, then, that we had sharpened our claws.
As the guests took their seats for the ceremony, The Observer was whisked upstairs to a private viewing room, lest we cavort too rambunctiously with the delicate A-List crowd. There we watched over the evening’s events like demi-gods looking down from the heavens upon the cherubs pecking away at their meals, with eight year old nominee Quvenzhané Williams and 13 year old Jared Gilman leading the underage coterie.
The awards soon got underway, much to the delight of the recipients. Honoring their intentions as champions of independent cinema, the jury not only rewarded the biggest Hollywood names but the industry’s up-and-comers for their contribution to film. Beasts of the Southern Wild writer and director Benh Zeitlin was undoubtedly the big winner of the night, scooping statuettes – well, glass cuboids – for Breakthrough Director alongside the Bingham Ray Award, dedicated to the late film executive.
Drifting in from various film festivals on smoke signals of lavish praise, the unique, fascinating and ultimately depressing film called Beasts of the Southern Wild— a low-budget independent film by Benh Zeitlin about survivors of apocalyptic Hurricane Katrina, shot in the back swamps of Terrebonne Parish, La., using local nonactors instead of Hollywood extras—is now ready to engage the movie-going public in the darkness of a dream. There is no guarantee that the movie-going public is ready. I don’t notice any critics offering to pick up its deficit tabs in case it floats away from good reviews. But get ready anyway. Brilliant, compelling and powerful, this offbeat look at a part of a world we live in but know nothing about is not going to disappear without at first making a noise.
In a desolate, burned-out butt end of nowhere (the shrimp-trawling, blackened catfish, Cajun part of Southeastern Louisiana), a little girl they call Hushpuppy is left alone for days and nights on end when her desperately ill father disappears, forcing her to invent her own survival techniques. The setting is the emotionally parched and geographically designed cartographer’s view of hell called The Bathtub—what’s left of an area of makeshift cardboard and toothpick shanties that Katrina devastated, scattering the region’s population to the wind like dandelion fuzz. It lies low between the Gulf and the Mississippi River—a man-made wall has gone up on the dry side of the levee to protect against annihilating floods. This is where nothing grows, catfish and crawdads from polluted water are the only food, and stubborn Cajuns who refused to evacuate to higher ground when Brad Pitt and Sean Penn came down to rescue them on CNN News still live in the ultimate depths of poverty and ignorance. It’s the most sobering view of the uneducated and disenfranchised outcasts the world has forgotten since Precious.