Well, the Oscars are over. I must say, I did very well this year. I only incorrectly guessed 5 of the nominations, and 2 of the ones I missed were for the more obscure categories (as in for the short film categories). Despite all I said about the foreign film category, including the amazing article from the LA Times that predicted an upset and even predicted the upset would be ‘Departures’, I went with an obvious choice (‘Waltz with Bashir’). I am very glad that a Japanese film won because I think Japanese cinema is poorly made in general. Don’t get me wrong, some amazing masterpieces have come from Japan like Akira Kurosawa’s works (The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, etc.) But I think for the most part, Japanese cinema is lacking in major ways. Perhaps I am watching the bad films by accident, or I just don’t have the requried mindset to understand/appreciate the films. I am a Japanese major, so I do hope to have a bit more patience even for Japanese films. Now that ‘Departures’ has won, it also increases the chances of the film getting a much wider release than what may have previously been expected. It is expected to be released this May, and I hope to see it and review on it when that occurs.
The other two categories I missed (and I thought I might have) were Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Like usual, the program revealed the winner for Sound Editing directly before Sound Mixing. Once ‘Wall-E’ lost for Sound Editing, I knew I would probably lose on my prediction for Sound Mixing. To my surprise, the mold that has been set for the past 40 years was broken. To reiterate, if a movie has won Sound Mixing and was nominated for Sound Editing, it wins both. However, I was surprised that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won Sound Mixing. ‘The Dark Knight’ seems appropriate enough for Sound Editing, but because these awards tend to go hand in hand often, I had expected one film to take both of them. For that matter, it is very interesting that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won either of them at all. It just never seemed like a film that did much with sound. Then again, I thought the same for its music, but perhaps not.
I will likely be in Japan next year, so next year may be the year I take a break from predicting because I don’t think I could do as good of predicitng without even being in the culture from which these movies take their form. Then again, with ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ winning Best Picture, we may see a shift in the tide that guides Hollywood and its filmmaking. If people embrace this film as much as they have, we should expect Hollywood to follow suit. It brings to mind the way independent films have really taken over the film scene. Paramount Vantage distributed both ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘Babel’. ‘Crash’ was originally an independent film until bought for distribution by LionsGate Films. And in general, we’re just seeing a shift from rewarding big blockbusters like Titanic to different types of films. And I can support that. I love ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The Dark Knight’, and there have been many complaints of the newest Batman movie not even getting nominated for Best Picture. But while these complaints may be valid, I really don’t think as evidenced by the buzz Slumdog’s been receiving that ‘The Dark Knight’ would have had a chance at snagging that Oscar.
Well, I hope to do this again soon and I applaud the Academy for giving us an entertaining show to watch. While I can’t applaud some of the choices of winners, I hope that this can give the opportunity for filmmakers to have hope that a small film that is genuinely good can have a chance at something big.