26 February 2007

Check again

I enjoyed the Oscar broadcast last night--not quite as much as i did Jon Stewart's last year--but nearly. I thought Ellen was very funny in her awkward, embarrassed to be here Ellen way and over the past few weeks i'd made a concerted effort to see several nominated films so i was better informed as to who should win and lose than i am most years. That being said, the evening wasn't without disappointments, but most of my disappointments actually came at the nominee announcements, rather than at the actual broadcast. Films like Stranger Than Fiction and Borat surely deserved nominations in several categories (Borat's one illogical nomination for best adapted screenplay was a nod, i think, to its greatness, and also an acknowledgement of the inherent conservitism of the Academy). I also thought The Departed was tossed a few too many awards (Screenplay & Editing come to mind) beating out Children of Men and United 93, which i felt were very worthy movies that came away with no wins.

As to the show itself, Will Ferrell's song was apt, but it seemed like he'd already taken John C. Reilly's advice with Stranger Than Fiction without reward. I think its a sad state of affairs when the apparatus responsible for determining 'worthy film' (and then by extension most everyone) continues to see comedy as a lesser art. There are just as many terrible dramas out every year as comedies, but great comedies never get the recognition. For my money there wasn't a smarter, more important film last year than Borat, but not only does Sasha Baron Cohen get completely ignored for his stellar performance, the film was essentially wholly ignored simply because it's a comedy. I'm not the first to point this out (obviously, Will Farrell pointed it out less than 24 hours ago) and many have made the case far better than i ever could (Douglas Adams' introduction to P. G. Wodehouse's book Sunset at Blandings [also available in Adams' Salmon of Doubt {an absolutely amazing read}] makes this case quite well), but i think it bears repeating, because, to parrot Stephen King's argument about short stories, great comedy needs to be encouraged and supported, so consume it, read it watch it write it... write about it. Critique it analyze it live it. We need good humor in our world, not just as some sort of salve for our pain, but in its own right, as its own force. Humor is what will allow us all to step back, take a breath, and see things for what the really are... a farce.

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