Monday, February 29, 2016


First of all Chris Rock had his great Chris Rock moments and scored some solid [and brave] points, but either he was being disingenuous about the problem and solution to the lack of "racial" diversity in the acting nomination categories, or he has a whole lot less experience than me.  Because my experience in my almost two decades in Hollywood, and three in the movie business, is that most producers, studio upper echelon folks and movie finance people I encountered were conservative Republicans when it comes to economics.

Also many movie directors, comic actors, stars and even extras I worked with and knew were fiscally conservative Republicans. Maybe more moderate or liberal on some social issues, but basically fiscally conservative Republicans, so Rock's calling out Hollywood "liberals" as the problem was a way too easy shot. I also found the girl scout cookie business a weak comic bit and otherwise waste of time taken from what the show could have and should have been about (like calling out the people at the top of the movie business decision making process who seem convinced there isn't a large worldwide audience for movies with no big white stars and subjects that involve real social, political and economic issues etc.).

I also found it interesting that it wasn't Rock who broadened the idea of diversity from being about more "blacks" getting recognition (and more opportunities) to all minorities (Latino, Asian, Native American, etc.). I think it was a random guy in Rock's person-on-the-street-in-front-of-a-movie-theater-in-Compton interviews bit [a highlight of the show] who made that point.

Other things that didn't work were the incredible small print on the screen saying who the winners were and even smaller print in the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen with names of people the winners wanted to thank. And I would relegate short films to another time and place with brief clips of winners on the screen during the live show and add the tributes to veteran movie people—like the ones to Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowlands, and Spike Lee (that were done elsewhere and we only saw bits of their acceptances on screen)—to the live ceremony so they can get their standing ovations and the live audience and the TV audience can feel and express the nostalgia and gratitude those moments create.

As for the winners. My picks would have been different in many cases, though most of the winners were deserving. My pick for best actor is Abraham Attah in BEASTS OF NO NATION, and best supporting actor Idris Elba for the same flick (though winners DiCaprio and Rylance were completely deserving choices for those categories as well).

My choice for best actress is Saoirse Ronan for BROOKLYN. Even though winner Brie Larson is deserving for ROOM, my experience as a film actor convinces me that given the incredible arc of Ronan's character, and the depth of the changes she goes through, and the fact that scenes in movies are shot out of sequence so that Ronan had to calibrate every shot to exactly fit where the character would be in that moment in terms of the development of that arc, wow...much more difficult task to me than the  more obvious emotional content of Larson's scenes, brilliant as she was in expressing them. But I totally agree with Alicia Vikander from THE DUTCH GIRL winning the best supporting actress Oscar.

As for best director, Inarritu deserves his win for THE REVENANT, but the more surprising directing success to me was Adam McKay for THE BIG SHORT, a film that I would pick for best editing as well. As for best picture, my choice is BROOKLYN or BEASTS OF NO NATION, but the winner, SPOTLIGHT is also a close to perfect movie, so I'm happy for the people who made it.

[PS: Lady Gaga's song deserved the Oscar more than the Bond film one, to me, and her performance showed how an artist can overcome the challenge of moving a live audience in a theater and at the same time moving a worldwide TV audience. Though some might have found it over the top, I had tears in my eyes by the end of it.]

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