Besting Loose 2015! - The 11th Annual Oscar Best Picture Review
Tomorrow is the night when millions of people from around the world turn on their televisions and celebrate the movie industry. And after the pre-Oscar shows about Hollywood's vast history, we all turn to the other business of tweet-mocking the Oscars show within an inch of its gilded, overwritten life.
There will be many awards given, but none so prized as the award for Best Picture, given to the producers of the best film of the year, instead of the directors, actors, writers, grips, or others who actually made the blasted thing.
Here are my annual capsules of the Best Picture nominees. (As usual, I've not really gotten to see them, so I've done my best to describe them as they ought to be. Seriously, if they're different from this, then I don't know how they got nominated. Take my word for this. I've been doing it for 11 years.)
Bradley Cooper plays Phineas Q. Farthingdoodle, a failed easy listening DJ who decides to shake up his life by going on a dude ranch vacation. After being informed that Billy Crystal has mined this territory twice, with mixed results, Phineas chooses the thrill-a-minute, devil-may-care, camouflage-glittered life of a woodlands hunter instead, reasoning correctly that he can live on the food he kills, and, in a pinch, can accidentally shoot some of the longhorns owned by the stuck-up bastards at the nearby dude ranch camp.
After outfitting himself in head-to-toe camouflage - including a very uncomfortable scene involving some Fruit of the Loom product placement and a zoom lens, he purchases several high-powered rifles and a dozen Duck Commander duck calls, the latter of which turn out to be a poor investment, as it is deer season.
Phineas proves to be a terrible deer hunter, partially because he has seen Bambi 100 times (and cried every time), and partially because he has also seen Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter 100 times, and is overcome with the insatiable urge to shoot any fellow hunters who look like Christopher Walken (a more common occurrence that you would expect, even in a Hollywood film).
At his nadir, he is mocked and shamed by many of his fellow hunters (all of whom are inexplicably named Bubba) and the dude ranch douche bags. The former suggest that Phineas go "snipe-hunting," and being completely oblivious to sarcasm, that is exactly what he does. He sets off into the wilderness into a personal odyssey of tracking, shooting, camping, beef jerky devouring, and uncomfortable outdoor constipation. Just when he is about to doubt the existence of snipes (having finally looked up the subject on Wikipedia), he accidentally fires his rifle into the air. Miraculously, it hits a Vought Corsair, forcing its pilot to crash land right on top of the world's only actual, existing snipe.
The snipe is killed instantly. Phineas is credited with the kill, and becomes famous, most of all for being sent to prison for 10 years for destroying an endangered species.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Iñárritu dares to go where no live-action director has gone before, which is to make a feature length film about the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Birdman. (The subtitle of the film is the director's plaintive hope that no one remembers this character or his well-known revival on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.)
Michael Keaton plays Birdman, giving the usually stiff and pedantic hero a lively, sardonic edge, mostly displayed by scratching himself in personal areas, and referring to all members of the opposite sex as "sweetheart" and "doll-face."
Unlike the original cartoon or the Adult Swim reboot, the Birdman of Iñárritu's film is an actor, looking for his big dramatic break. Ironically, it comes when he is awarded the lead role in Batman, directed by Tim Burton (played by Johnny Depp), Birdman gets the role because he already has superpowers and because "his natural wings give the Bat-cape a great flowing look in widescreen."
However, playing a different superhero than the one he already is gives Birdman a serious existential crisis, which he resolves by developing a personality disorder. (He thinks he is Helena Bonham-Carter.) The rest of the film explores how he tries to balance fighting crime with his acting duties, Tim Burton's amorous advances, and being mobbed by Harry Potter fans who are still furious that he killed Dobby.
The crisis all comes to a head when he is stunt flying the Batplane (a modified Vought F4U Corsair). He loses control of the plane and is about to crash when he realizes he is not Queen Lady Jane and can fly under his own power. He flies off joyfully towards the warm rays of the sun, and not understanding basic principles of astronomy, freezes to death in space.
Richard Linklater spent 12 years making this dramatic story of a young boy coming of age in a troubled family. Unfortunately, he recorded every single second of his young actor's life and the film is 12 years long. Academy voters and critics are still watching it, but report that it's started out well He's just starting to crawl and his boom-boom doesn't smell quite so bad since they got him off of the carrots.
Seriously, Linklater does not hold back on the details. Gene Shalit's initial draft review of the film uses the phrase "Linklater is Cuckoo for Ka-ka" 17 times.
Not having all that time to kill, we at DOUI got a copy of the extended trailer (only 4 hours) and can report some additional highlights of this gripping story:
- Age 3 - He gets his tooth knocked out when he tries to ride his pet Scottie (a monkey, dressed up to look like James Doohan) and falls into an open manhole (his father's beer cooler).
- Age 7 - He notices for the first time that girls are different when his 12 year-old sister explains how babies are made, using a tuning fork and a can of Cheez Whiz.
- Age 11 - He decides he wants to be a pilot after visiting an air show (and watching a stunning Vought Corsair flyover) but his dream is quickly shattered when he discovers that he gets airsick from plane noises. He quickly changes his vocational aspirations to "Cheez-Whiz manufacturer."
- In the scene with President Johnson, his tie is tied in a Double Windsor knot. Everyone knows Johnson favored a Half-Windsor.
- George Wallace did not travel via Vought Corsair to Tuscaloosa to block the doors of the University of Alabama. He made the trip in Bull Connor's Klanmobile.
- In scene 47, Martin Luther King Jr.'s mustache is clearly upside down.
- The "Tusks are looser" University of Alabama/Elephant joke did not originate with Hosea Williams. He borrowed it from Groucho Marx, who borrowed it from an early iteration of a Bazooka bubble gum wrapper, written by S.J. Perelman.
- The intricate relationship between dark matter and the way you can never quite get Marmite to spread evenly on toast.
- How the tenuous nature of the event horizon of a black hole explains Jim Carrey's erratic film career.
- Why the legroom on airplane flights would improve greatly if airlines would just apply the General Theory of Relativity and curved space to copies of SkyMall magazine. (Bad timing on this one, perhaps!)
- How quantum gravity is directly responsible for the appalling quality of writing at televised awards shows. (Edgy! But is it too close to home for Oscar voters?!)