Tuesday, January 10, 2006

If By "Choice" You Mean "Desperate Grab for Relevance"

You all know I'm an awards show whore. But the Critics' Choice Awards on the WB was really pushing it. For one thing (and this is for those readers who aren't coming from The Film Experience and thus may not know the shameful truth about this awards show), the whole thing is a misnomer. These "Critics" represent the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which are all those crazily mustachioed dudes who get six minutes a week to plug some big studio product or another on the network morning shows. Oh, and also E! harpy Tom O'Neill, who I've heard comes flying and screeching into your window at night if you dare to speak "The Hours" three consecutive times. Not to be all snobby about it, but the general consensus is that the critics with the most gravitas behind them are print critics. So not so much the "Critics' Choice" as the "talking heads choice." Goody.

Also, the main problem with this ridiculous awards show is that it is so very disingenuous. As has been noted many a time by my fellow bloggers Nathaniel and Nick, the BFCA aren't so much interested in giving awards to the actors and films they themselves liked. They'd rather give out awards to those they think will eventually win the Oscar. That way they get to trumpet how accurate a "precursor award" they have. This attitude is present in the roughly seventy-five times reference is made to the BFCA's predictive Oscar prowess during the awards telecast. It's pretty damn lame.

So, I watched this year. But I promise you, there was nothing better on TV. Okay, Project Runway reruns were probably the more attractive option. Whatever, don't judge me. What follows is a run-down of the "high"lights:

-- Dennis Miller is hosting. Which is sure to be a delightful occurrence, since the Hollywood crowd -- with George Clooney as a ninety-time nominee or whatever -- probably can't get enough of him. And when did Dennis get so hacky? I mean, I knew that he had traded in his sense of humor back in the aftermath of 9/11 and all, but I don't remember him going for such dated and easy punch lines. He actually made a virtual reality joke. What century is this? And the "make crack look like Sanka" line? That's recycled from his HBO show in 1997, right?

Also, Dennis is bombing. Hard. He bails on the Brokeback Mountain jokes after about a half hour, because they are dropping like petrified birds. And, yeah, a sense of humor would be nice in this liberal Hollywood audience, but a) the jokes aren't funny, and b) I cannot feel that sorry for Miller. The guy turns in his funny bone so he can shill for the George Bush back in 2002, he can't exactly expect that his ragging on the gay cowboys is going to be taken in the good-natured spirit that he thinks he's intending it. Not when it comes from the other side of the fence, dude.

-- Crash wins Best Ensemble, as well as Best Screenplay, and my reaction to both makes me realize just how much I dislike that movie, in retrospect. At first I just felt it was overrated. Now I'm pissed-offedly yelling at my TV for Brendan Fraser to shut the hell up with his weird choked-up "I hope we all learned something from this movie" speech. Rotten-ass movie.

-- March of the Penguins (another overrated one) wins Best Documentary and there are fucking men dressed in penguin costumes in the audience. Are they serious? I hate this awards show.

-- Speaking of which, what kind of "critics" group gives awards for Young Actor to Freddie Highmore (over Jesse Eisenberg) and Dakota Fanning (over Q'orianka Kilcher)? You don't know who these people are, but I assure you, it's an outrage. Oh, and while we're on the subject of Dakota Fanning, if that girl is half as preternaturally evolved and mature as she projects herself to be, she needs to give Kathy Griffin a phone call as of yesterday and plan some sort of Betty Ford skit/PR stunt to diffuse the Griffin/Spielberg beef. I'd be the girl's biggest fan if she did that. Again, none of you have any idea what I'm talking about, but stick with me.

-- Amy Adams (Junebug) ties with Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) for Best Supporting Actress, which is the only unexpected award result of the night. Williams bagged on the ceremony to stay in Australia with Heath Ledger. Good call on behalf of the former Jen Lindley. As for Adams, she's delightful, and gives an exuberant, cute, and heartfelt speech. I hope she gets an Oscar nomination.

Although, if I were in a cynical mood, I'd mention that the tie was likely a result of the fact that Supporting Actress was by far the hardest category to "forecast" with an eye toward the Oscars. Which likely led to voters flailing wildly and voting for the first or last alphabetical name on the ballot.

-- Best part of the show, bar none: John Leguizamo steps up to deliver his little scripted banter before announcing some bullshit award or another. So he gets to the part about how "The Critics Choice has awarded the eventual Oscar winner in this category x amount of times over the past however-many years" line (the latest in several similar scripted pats on the back throughout the night). So Leguizamo says it, then pauses, and goes, "This is a cocky awards show." Oh, John. I forgive you for your entire career, up to and including Land of the Dead. That was awesome.

-- For Chrissakes, Matt Dillon. Stop glowering at me. What the hell have I ever done to you?

-- Paul Giamatti looks like a recluse literary genius or something. Wild hair going in all directions. Neither he nor Phillip Seymour Hoffman wore ties. They both certainly continue to cultivate their meticulously crafted images of shlubby artisans who sacrifice traditional beauty for their art. I was happy for them both, sure, but they did seem to be playing up the "I'm so awkward in this setting full of beautiful Hollywood glitz" thing.

-- Okay, so Reese Witherspoon took Best Actress, as expected, and starts her speech off with a joke: that old saw about film critics being pasty white shut-ins who are afraid to look actors in the eye or whatever the hell the perception is. And she's cute, objectively speaking, so it's not as jerky as it sounds here in print. But then it sounds like someone starts … heckling her? At an awards show? She actually seems a bit rattled by it for three entire seconds, before she pulls herself together, turns on the charm, and finishes beautifully. What a pro. Girl has ice water in her veins.

Honestly, that's all the noteworthy crap that went on. Brokeback Mountain took Best Pic, as expected. George Clooney got some bullshit "thank you for being liberal and handsome" award (presented by a particularly braying Julia Roberts), and Virginia Madsen was maybe drunk? Because she freaked the fuck out when Paul Giamatti won Supporting Actor. Oh, and Dennis Miller was really bitter about bombing, too. Don't expect him to be back doing this shit gig again.

I, on the other hand, will see y'all at the Golden Globes, next Monday.


adam k. said...

What kind of people award Freddie and Dakota over Jessie and Q'Orianka? The same people who awarded Keisha over Evan Rachel Wood. They are hacks.

It sounds kind of entertaining, though, all in all... I almost wish I'd seen it. The BFCAs can usually be counted on for a good laugh, unless you're watching with a non-insider who's trying to take them seriously but also thinking "why am I watching this? it's stupid" in which case it's just painful and awkward.

adam k. said...

Very funny post, by the way. You had me at the title.