Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Penny Thoughts ‘15—And the Oscar Goes To… (2014) ***

TV-MA, 95 min.
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Writers: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Sharron Wood
Featuring: Ben Burtt, Annette Benning, Ellen Burstyn, Cher, George Clooney, Billy Crystal, Benicio del Toro, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Hudson, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Janusz Kaminski, Kathleen Kennedy, Ben Kingsley, Liza Minnelli, Helen Mirren, Ve Neill, Robert Osborne, Jason Reitman, Phil Alden Robinson, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Vilanch, Jon Voight
Narrator: Anjelica Huston

Oscar fever is starting to catch for me. I feel like I’m a dying breed, however, as more and more of my peers seem to have grown bitter and critical of the Oscars. And yet, somehow each of them will find themselves tweeting their snide comments live during the Oscar ceremony this Sunday night.

I will always love the Oscars despite any validity to the criticisms it receives from its detractors. Unlike other awards shows, the awards are actually a secondary element to the Oscars. It’s the glamour of Hollywood. It’s the nostalgic connection it brings to Hollywood’s rich past. It’s the fantasy that you could somehow live these lives that even these stars really don’t live. And… it’s usually a pretty good time. At least, when James Franco isn’t hosting.

Director Phil Alden Robinson makes a very important observation near the end of this fairly standard retrospective documentary that touches upon just about everything about the Oscars. He said that the day after he attended the awards ceremony for “Field of Dreams” he was on the set of his next production, and it was like he was in a totally different world. He was in a sound stage drinking bad coffee and eating donuts, a totally different experience than what he had the previous evening. He said that this daily work place setting was what the job really was, while the Oscars was an opportunity for everyone in the office to dress up and pretend they were some sort of royalty, and that only happened once a year. While the Hollywood lifestyle seems to require the dressing up a little more often than once a year, only on Oscar night do they all really seem to be embracing theirs and our fantasy of Hollywood.

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