Joaquin's take on the 80th Academy Awards
Hooray for the Oscars! It’s that time of year where truly landmark film goes completely unrecognized and the good ones that manage to squeeze onto the nominee list are typically overshadowed by their commercially successful counterparts. This year’s Oscars were no exception.
We all know (and if you don’t, get a clue) There Will Be Blood was the most unique film up for Best Picture this year. It is the story of a turn of the 20th century oil man who forges the path to America’s corrupt, big business morale, a film that sets out to depict the politics of a watershed in our country’s history. The story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel-Day Lewis) has been represented far less in film history than the undemanding cat and mouse crime drama of the other heavyweight Oscar contender, No Country for Old Men. Yet No Country wins Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. Oh, the injustice.
No Country for Old Men is to There Will Be Blood as Crash is to Brokeback Mountain, an undeserving Best Picture winner that pails in comparison to its fellow nominee of more groundbreaking content. The Academy has a long history of choosing the diverting, more easily digested film for the public. Like the producer moguls the Academy serves, they too have a reputation of success entirely reliant upon the average moviegoer. The “WINNER OF 5 ACADEMY AWARDS INCLUDING BEST PICTURE!” banner across the top of a DVD box means a lot to a Blockbuster customer. They need to be told what to watch, and the American movie industry will be damned if they’re recommending gay cowboy movies and bleak character studies about undesirable people who shape our country.
Although the Academy usually awards the deserving Best Picture nominees in other categories, it continues to reserve the “highest honor” for the safer film. The Best Picture accolade has gradually become the most farcical of the Academy Awards, a sticker given to an uncontroversial film the American public can easily enjoy and will take for well-deserving artistic cinema. No Country for Old Men will start to make everyone’s “Best Films of All Time” lists while There Will Be Blood will fade from the social conscience, only to be remembered 50 years from now for the masterpiece it is, in what I hope will someday be a sublime retrospective of Paul Thomas Anderson’s many decades of exceptional work.
In my opinion, the most deserving Oscar went to Robert Elswit for his cinematography in Blood. He frames an atypical American landscape that is ugly, inhospitable and roaring with the forlornness of our current state of affairs at the mercy of a black ocean under our feet. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.