January 23, 2008
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
A change in topic here, but one that I feel falls into the category of freethought. What this post is about is art, the most subjective and disputed of all of man's creations.
The list of nominees for the 80th Academy Awards was released today, and once again, the majority of the movie going public was struck sharply across the face by the elitist cabal of self-congratulating pricks that make up the voting members of the academy.
When you hear the words Best Cinemetography, do you not assume as I do that they are pointing out the fine achievement in visual exposition that one or few persons managed to capture; a feat requiring incredible skill to produce the desired effect shot after shot for an entire feature length film; a measured collaboration of light, shadow, color, motion, energy, temperature, atmosphere; a thoroughly calculated series of decisions as to what angle and speed and focus with hundreds of cameras, dozens of mediums, and millions of minute details that could through the whole shot off as per the director's specifications? Sit down and watch a film like 300, Transformers, Rescue Dawn, I am legend, The Bourne Ultimatum, Bridge To Terabithia, The Astronaut Farmer, Zodiac, Reign Over Me, Shooter, Grindhouse, Disturbia, Next, Spiderman 3, 28 Weeks Later, Fantastic 4, 1408, Live Free Or Die Hard, Stardust, The Invasion, War, Halloween, Into The Wild, Resident Evil Extinction, Michael Clayton, 30 Days Of Night, Rendition, Saw IV, American Gangster, The Mist, The Golden Compass, and Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem, just to name a few; ask yourself, "Did No Country For Old Men really have superior cinematography, with regards to the complexity, creativity, knowledge and ingenuity required to obtain those shots desired?" Personally, having seen many of those movies and having watched the behind the scenes footage, and by nature studying the screen for minor flaws and inconsistencies in a film, I absolutely refuse to accept the choices for the award this year.
What movies would I have chosen for that particular award? Transformers, Rescue Dawn, 1408, Sunshine, and 300. I haven't seen every movie that came out this year, but I can tell you that holding a camera and filming terrific acting, excellent directing, beautiful scenery bound together with an spectacular plot does not merit an award. The Academy's voters are rewarding the cinematographers of five very good movies for being a part of that movie and capturing all of it's elements; that is not all that is cinematography. A video camera today is capable of capturing a film and its elements and making a great movie (Blair Witch Project); so what is cinematography? Get rid of everything except the camera, the people operating it, and the scene that is supposed to be captured. A good cinematographer is an artist. Their muse is the director, telling him what is expected and what is wanted; their tool is the camera; their medium is the electromagnetic spectrum, both visible and invisible to the naked eye. We should reward the effort, not the product.
Why are the Academy Awards losing viewer ship? Because people are catching on to this crap. Last year the best movie to be released was V for Vendetta. It had action, drama, romance, comedy, a message (hundreds of them, in fact), it was relevant to the times, it was filmed beautifully, it was adapted quite well from a terrific source, and every person involved with the film had passion for it. It wasn't even nominated for best picture. And why not? What does Best Picture really mean? It means the best fucking movie to come out all year, the movie that touched the most hearts, inspired the most minds, drew in the most crowds, motivated the most discussions, had the most viral videos made about it. Hollywood has more power on earth than any other force. When a movie comes out that makes a significant impact upon Human Culture, it deserves to be honored. Last year The Departed won Best Picture. That was the first time in a long time that I have agreed with the academy's choice.
Right now, I have lost complete faith in them. They truly are a group of pretentious assholes, reveling in their ability to piss people off. Well, they succeeded with me.