Much like Samwise Gamgee, I have missed the boat. However, instead of the Frodo-populated boat of world-weariness and angst bound for the hidden world of the Elves, the boat I’m left waving off into the distance is the one for Academy Award opinion and rants.
However, unlike Samwise, I’m not going to settle in to life as Mayor of Hobbiton (mostly because I like shoes and would get claustrophobic living in a hill). Instead, I’m going to rant and rave with the same level of passion I put into singing Simon and Garfunkel songs in my car.
What I really want to talk about is ‘Hugo’. Whenyou have Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and the girl who saidthe C-word in ‘Kick-Ass’ together in afilm directed by Martin Scorsese, it’s hard to know what to expect. ‘Hugo’was always going to draw in the audiences, even those mistakenly expectinga Saruman vs. Gandhi showdown. It was also always going to rake in ALL of theplaudits.
Based on ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’by Brian Selznick, the story follows Hugo (Asa Butterfield) the orphaned son ofa clockmaker (Jude Law) who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. Hisfather dies, leaving him with an alcoholic uncle and a broken automaton; aclockwork man who when repaired should have the ability to write.
Scorsese’s first film in 9 years to not include Leonardo Di Caprio was nominated for more awards than I could fit on my monitor to print screen. Thewhole thing is very box in a box in a box to explain. It’s a 3D movie about theearly days of film, and is based on a book based loosely on a true story.
I’m undecided about this film, which came as a surprise as I was expectingto unequivocally be won over. The weird thing is, you watch the trailer, go“that looks good”, and then head off to see it. I came out of the cinema going “yeah, I liked that”. Then, the next day, I gave it some thought and realised the wily manipulation I had just paid almost twenty dollars to see in 3D.
‘Hugo’ has wide appeal. It has cute young children, which can make you overlook some stilted acting. It tugs on your heartstrings with the wide, blue, computer-enhanced eyes of the protagonist, and throws about themes like “family!” “war!” “loss!” “redemption!” like it is going out of business. All of this, it seems is a disguise, to hide the fact that this movie is the celluloid incarnation Oscars. It is a film-maker celebrating a film-maker saying that film-makers do not want to be forgotten.
The ‘Lord of the Rings’ tilt of this post is no coincidence, despite my strong past history of shoehorning Hobbits and mithril into seemingly unrelated topics. Before year 8, the Oscars were a glorious time. I enjoyed predicting who would be nominated, who would win (with mixed success) and who would make an embarrassing speech in dubious attire. I would then proceed to bore my friends senseless with these endless predictions, and then proceed to demonstrate my lack of athleticism on the monkey bars.
Naturally, when the 74th Academy Awards rolled around, I assumed ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ would sweep the floor with all that Russel Crowe and Moulin Rouge nonsense. However, it was not to be, and, despite my careful avoidance of ‘spoilers’ all day, the inescapable school bus radio pronounced that ‘A Beautiful Mind’ had taken out Best Picture and Best Director. My reaction was somewhere between ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and since then, I have not watched the Academy Awards again.
It’s not just that ‘Lord of the Rings’ didn’t win. I think it just highlighted to me all the bureaucracy and red tape that is what really drives who wins in which year. ‘Return of the King’ won two years later, a decision I suspect that was made well in advance of the Academy even catching a glimpse of the film. The Oscar went to the trilogy – not the film. It seems to be more ‘whose turn is it to win’ rather than ‘who did the best work this year’. I know that this isn’t an attitude reserved for film awards, but the realisation of this in my early teens just ruined things for me.
It’s interesting that this year the two top contenders were both films about films. However, I’m glad that ‘The Artist’ won. It’s an original film, with an unusual concept, and a cast of mostly unknown, French actors. Good things.
Despite this however, I’m a bit worried. Sure, generally you can easily pick which films are built purely to rake in the Oscars. However, ‘Hugo’ with it’s thinly veiled desires and resultant success, might be cause for concern.
Or, maybe it’s a good thing. If the disguise and tricks are getting easier and easier, maybe in five years I can churn out my own masterpiece: set in 1930s England, a single woman struggles to find respect, happiness and love in a town which thinks she is a harlot and a witch. With her only friend, a dog, she starts a business from scratch; making floral print bowls for orphans to make their gruel look tastier. In a heart-wrenching scene her dog sacrifices her life when an evil, war-crazed villain shows up with a machine gun. However, in a wacky enemy-turns-to-lover twist, she restores his addled mind through the use of art and interpretive dance. His heart softens, his nose grows back and a flash forward shows them holding hands while skipping through a meadow, named after her late pooch.
I shall call it ‘NOMINATION FOR BEST PICTURE’ and the awards shall be mine, and they shall be my ‘AWARDS FOR BEST PICTURE.’