Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Nods to Crime

Can I call it or what? Here's an excerpt from my November 2006 column in Bookslut, praising last night's Best Picture.

"I’m digging the visceral, straight up violence of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-worthy, bloodthirsty epic The Departed. It’s one of those flicks that is so immensely luminous that you wonder how the hell it didn’t start out life as a crime novel. Yet at the same time, it’s so truly cinematic that it couldn’t possibly translate in prose. Sure, all the Tarantino-esque cinema geeks are going to bitch that it’s a shot-for-shot translation of the admittedly terrific Hong Kong original Internal Affairs. The fact is that it’s been translated so thoroughly into the streets of South Boston that the original, surprisingly, pales by comparison. Between Jack chewing through scenery like a cheerleader on crank, the verisimilitude brought by the local boys Wahlberg and Damon, and the surprisingly method chops of the pint-sized Leo, you’d be hard pressed to find a better crime story this year."

We also saw nods to Pan's Labyrinth, another post-modern genre construction and a huge leap forward in quality from Guillermo Del Toro that belies the awkwardness of Hellboy and Blade II. Alan Arkin, who so memorably played the shrink in my favorite film, Grosse Pointe Blank, and did terrific work as Yossarian in Catch 22 and George Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross, wins the actor's award for playing a foul-mouthed septuagenarian heroin addict, the most together character in Little Miss Sunshine, a film full of flawed human beings.

Forest Whitaker wins well-deserved acclaim for a performance in Last King of Scotland that, though brilliant, is not the non-fictional biographical sketch that most audiences think it is. It's based on Giles Foden's biting novel, a historical fiction that embraces Idi Amin from the absolute worst point of view: right next to the monster.

All in all, not a bad night for the crime/fiction universe at all. I don't even have anything caustic to say about Ellen's surprisingly decent take on what has to be a very tough gig.

No, I save my bile for Will Ferrell. What the hell was that ungodly musical catastrophe about? Oh, that's right. It was about prostituting once-decent comedic actor Jack Black for the sake of promoting his self-indulgent Tenacious D flick, making sure that the publicity train wreck for Ferrell's disastrous performances in Stranger Than Fiction and Blades of Glory stays on its ill-fated course, and... I don't know what in god's name John C. Reilly was doing there. The man did star turns in Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Chicago and The Hours. Maybe he's the only one that can sing. Come home, John. All is forgiven.

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