Monday, February 16, 2015

Award Shows Round Up

Snow between the Grammys 
and the Oscars (with our predictions)

30s Hollywood Glamour
Bette Midler's
45 rpm Hat at the
1975 Grammys
with Stevie Wonder
     What to do on a snowy day?  How about write up the biggie award shows?  The Grammys were set up to get people to buy LPs (yes, it was that long ago) and the Oscars were set up so that Hollywood moguls could try to class up a glamorous factory system (yes, it was even longer ago).

Rosanne Cash, the Big Americana Winner
     The Grammys are now about promoting current and upcoming A-list tours because it’s the only way to guarantee a big income, thanks to downloading. The show is about who wins the night, i.e. the performer who makes the biggest
splash and it’s usually someone unexpected.  We were glad to see that some of our faves from the past year won:  Rosanne Cash with three, but she’s Americana – i.e. not commercial enough for the regular show; Miranda Lambert, when it looked to be Eric Church’s critical year in Country.  I liked his album, but didn’t love it.  He’s neo-late ‘80s rock, but she’s current/future Country pop; 
Pharrell Williams
Pharrell deserved more because about eight of the songs on Girl could be hits and that’s monster news in any year.  I wish he’d stop dressing like a 12 year old rehearsing for his Hip-Hop Bar Mitzvah and the new live version of “Happy” sounded like an airport lounge on steroids.

     And, best of all, Beck who released my favorite album of the year, which I think is a masterpiece and he’s been around for twenty years and he’s a genius – just not one that Kanye West, the other supposed genius understands and why is he always having to play Beyoncé’s protector when she’s brilliant, classy, and married to Jay-Z, who possesses the same qualities as her and they’re both real geniuses?  One caveat:  Morning Phase is an album and hearing one song out of context dissipates the overall listening experience.

     Besides Pharrell, I’d like to have seen Tom Petty win best Rock album because Hypnotic Eye is his best since Full Moon Fever (1989) and moves both forward in terms of subject matter – yes, middle age and beyond, which is usually Bob Seger’s territory, hits us all if we’re lucky, but Petty addresses it (unlike the various British Sirs and when did pop music become so Establishment as to kneel and grovel to a foreign title?), and his bass lines that go all the way back to 1976, plus a couple of songs that would have worked beautifully on Long After Dark (1982).  

John Legend Performing Glory
    Okay, enough of that rant and back to the show.  John Legend and Common ended the show on a powerful grace note, but why did they have to wait 3 ½ hours to perform?  The song is great and it better win the Oscar on Sunday.  Why didn’t Stevie Wonder get to perform solo and for longer?  Sam and Rose saw him perform for an over two hour-long concert in November and said he was terrific.  It’s nice that Sam Smith won and he performed well, but I wish he were a little less mopey.  He’s out, but he’s a little neutered.  I guess he learned that he better not express too much of his sexuality or he’d end up like Adam Lambert, who’s still the nicest and best looking white guy in pop music, but isn’t the superstar some of us hoped he’d become.  I realize we’ll never be over Tony Bennett, but aren’t we done with Lady Gaga, even if he isn’t?  
Annie Lennox
Hozier was touching, but Annie Lennox blew the whole thing out of the water with her still amazing mezzo/alto voice.  She didn’t win the Grammy, but she aced the show.  When will she tour next?  When will the British wake up and make her a Dame if we’re that concerned with titles?

Announcing the 2015 Oscar Nominations
     The Oscars are no longer about the movies because most people haven’t seen them.  This year, only American Sniper is a hit among the best picture nominees.  We haven’t seen it yet, but I’m glad a movie about the war is up there, regardless of its supposed politics.  The last blockbuster nominated was Avatar (2009) and the last hit was Django Unchained (2012).  The nominees are really good this year, but Hollywood no longer makes big movies that are also memorable.  They’ve whored themselves out because they have a casino Big Rollers mentality instead of building by quality brick upon quality brick.  The academy shot themselves in their other foot by not nominating a number of deserving African-American performers so they’ll lose about 3 million viewers right there.  

Björk's Swan Dress
     Instead, the show is about the red carpet and has been ever since Joan Rivers shoved a microphone in an actress’s face asking, ”Who are you wearing?”  Yes, we’ll be checking out the dresses, hoping that someone pulls a Björk swan out of her (or her stylist’s) closet and someone else wears an oversize silk towel that barely covers her décolletage like Jennifer Lopez.  

     It comes down to who will win, whom we’re rooting for, and whom we wished were considered.

Movie:  Boyhood (will and rooting for); Wished for Gone Girl (a hit) and Locke (a tiny, perfect tour de force)
Director:  Richard Linklater (will and rooting for – he committed twelve years to what could have been a weird exercise, but ended up as a masterpiece); Wished for Ava DuVernay for Selma
Actress:  Julianne Moore (will and rooting for – the best American film actress of her generation in a terrific performance yet again); why aren’t there more major female roles to even wish for?
Actor:  Michael Keaton (will and rooting for, plus he made a ton of money for generations of Hollywood moguls).  He could be knocked out by Eddie Redmayne, who gives the most externally acted performance.   Wished for Tom Hardy in Locke (Hardy could turn into the new Sean Connery BBMO – British, Brilliant, Masculine, Overlooked), Miles Teller in Whiplash, David Oyelowo in Selma, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler or whatever movie he’s in 
Supporting Actress:  Patricia Arquette (will and rooting for); Wished for Carmen Ejogo for Selma, Emily Blunt for Into the Woods, Sela Ward and Carrie Coon for Gone Girl, Sofia Vergara for Chef, Kristen Stewart for Still Alice
Supporting Actor:  J.K. Simmons (will and rooting for); Wished for Tyler Perry for Gone Girl, most of the Selma males, but particularly Wendell Pierce and Tim Roth, Robert Downey Jr. for Chef
Original Screenplay:  Birdman (will); Boyhood (rooting for); Wished for Chef because it’s the best family movie of the year even with its foul mouth
Adapted Screenplay:  The Imitation Game (will because it’s great); Whiplash (rooting for because we liked it); Wished for Gone Girl because Gillian Flynn improved on her book
Cinematography:  Birdman (will and rooting for because of the amazing camera pyrotechnics, though the lighting in Mr. Turner is amazing): Wished for Boyhood
Editing:  Whiplash (will and rooting for but the one thing going against it is that this usually goes to the longest movie, not the best cut)
Production Design:  The Grand Budapest Hotel (will); Mr. Turner (rooting for)
Song:  “Glory” from Selma (will and rooting for)

Overrated nominee:  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Underrated nominees:  Selma and Gone Girl

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