It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Best of the Best of the Best, Sir!!!

That line from Men in Black always reminds me of the Best Picture nominees for the Oscars. Mainly, it reminds me of them, because we seldom get the "best of the best of the best of the best of the..." Sorry, lost track there. No, usually what we get for Best Picture nominees are the films that were pretentious enough to pass for one, and that the Academy members had most of their friends working in.

That said, in keeping with yet another annual Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas tradition, here are brief summaries of the nominated films. As I've not seen any of them yet, they are a little... well, sketchy.

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Babel - Also, known as Crash II: The Fall of the Interpreters, this searing drama weaves a complex story of alienation, angst, and jaw-dropping sex and violence, which explains why Ebert and Roeper gave it "two 'thumbs' way up... if you know what we mean."

Two American tourists become stranded in the desert when their Vaught Corsair is shot down by the spittle of a camel with an amazing head cold. Their plight is linked to that of an illegal alien nanny crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, two Moroccan juvenile deliquents named Steve, and a Japanese teen-ager who thinks he is Puffy Amiyumi (both of them). How it's linked we're never quite sure as the various participants all speak in their native language without subtitles, except for the Americans, who speak a form of penguin. Finally, they are all killed when the camel develops an awful case of wind in a sandstorm, marking the only time in cinema history when screen flatulence leaves an actual physical burn. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, except for the final scene, which is directed by David Croenburg.

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The Departed - Martin Scorcese returns to the seedy, violent, and highly entertaining world of criminals for yet another attempt to appear dejected on camera at the Kodak Theatre. Leo DiCaprio plays the last living survivor of the Titanic, who happens to only be 30 years old as he is flung into the future by a daft, grey-haired, old git in a DeLorean. He joins the police force and then joins the mob, just to keep people guessing. Jack Nicholson plays the mob boss who swears he was possessed by DiCaprio's spirit in an isolated hotel in Colorado and has the ax to prove it. Matt Damon is the double-crossing genius mathematician who worms his way into the police force and threatens to fit Leo DiCaprio with a pair of cement Vaught Corsairs. One for him, and one for Shelley Duvall, who keeps hanging around the mob headquarters looking for some bloke named "Popeye."

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Letters from Iwo Jima - The tragic story of two Japanese soliders, fighting on Iwo Jima, who have the living hell bombed out of them by a Vaught Corsair. (Well, that was easy.) Very similar to Duel, only we know exactly who is flying the Corsair because director Clint Eastwood keeps sticking his head out and yelling, "You want some more of that you bastards?!?" Also starring Minnie Driver as a very lost college student from Boston, and Dennis Weaver as the twitching man in the 1970 red Plymouth Valiant.


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Little Miss Sunshine - A wacky, typical all-American family consisting of a derelict, ageing lecherous, hilarious hipster; a troubled, sensitive, yet funny, gay choreographer; a married couple with a prediliction for leather and witty repartee; a comical teenage boy with acne like chicken pox, and a loveable, little girl who spends the entire film wondering how the adoption agency saddled her with this sorry group, travel cross country in a Vaught Corsair - specially modified to look like a broken down 1969 VW van.

They are on their way to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in the belief that this will fulfill the dreams of the little girl, not realizing that she intends to flee the family at the pageant and request asylum. Unfortunately, the pageant is in California and the family is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, so the best she is able to manage is to get a screen test with Disney and spend all her time hanging out with Hilary Duff in L.A. malls and raves.

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The Queen - Helen Mirren dazzles in a career-making role as Freddie Mercury. No, sorry about that. I was way, way off. In fact, she plays HM Queen Elizabeth II.

The film details Her Majesty's dizzing rise to the top of the glam rock scene. After seducing David Bowie and murdering Ziggy Stardust, who as it turns out are two completely different people, Her Royal Glamness then goes on to force her weak-willed, elephant-eared son, Prince Charles (played by Brian May) to marry glamourous commoner Diana, Princess of Wales (played by Bette Midler). After Diana is killed in a tragic accident, Elizabeth, Regina the Second, saves the day by playing a wicked solo version of Bohemian Rhapsody during the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, on top of a Vaught Corsair, whilst wearing only a thong and two large postal stamps. Daring, highly unusual cinema.

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