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‘Avatar’ Robbed Like ‘Citizen Kane’? March 8, 2010

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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There’s an interesting debate brewing on Twitter over whether Avatar was robbed for Best Picture. Frankly I was surprised Hurt Locker had won. While critics had eventually forecast it would take the prize, I had put my money on Avatar, only for industry/political reasons. That said, I’m delighted Hurt Locker beat out Avatar, which spent too much money on creating lifelike blue people and not enough on script doctors.

A growing faction is claiming Avatar was cheated. /Film editor Peter Sciretta tweeted the first salvo: “The Hurt Locker will be this generation’s How Green Was My Valley” … and it began!

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“Up in the Air” Lovable, Borderline Insightful (Review) December 3, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Original at Splice Today! Comment there!

Jason Reitman’s newest release, Up in the Air, will no doubt encourage comparisons to Thank You for Smoking, the successful humanization of a heartless tobacco lobbyist in a humorous and efficient 90 minutes. Both films portray men who do despicable jobs—from the latter’s tobacco lobbyist to former’s professional pink-slip giver—and yet are lovable and charming. Both are loners, having failed in relationships while succeeding in their careers.

But the similarities end there. (more…)

Mo’Nique, Shilling and What An Oscar Means October 27, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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UPDATE: Mo’Nique has won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, praising the Academy for putting “the performance” over “politics”! Go ahead, girl!

UPDATE: Mo’Nique has addressed the controversy, saying: “Baby, people gonna talk. It comes with the territory. But didn’t they talk about Jesus? Then they killed him. So, what makes me think I’m so special that they’re not gonna talk about me?” [via Bossip]

ORIGINAL: Quick thought: Shadow and Act has a great post about the small controversy around Mo’Nique’s promoting, or rather not promoting, Precious. Mo’Nique, rumors say, has been demanding money for appearances — she has done some, including, apparently, Oprah — and generally snubbing the process of Oscar-schilling. But getting an Oscar nom, S&A points out, takes more than mere merit:

Being a very competitive business it’s not enough to have an Oscar worthy performance. You have to let the voters know that you’re grateful, humbled and most importantly 1) be someone well liked in the business and 2) hustle your ass off the award. You have to campaign for it for months. That’s what Forest Whitaker did for his Oscar for The Last King of Scotland. That guy hustled to get that award schoomzing, going to every lousy Oscar party and reception, glad handing anyone with even the remotest connection to an Oscar voter and practically doing handstands to get that award. (Jennifer Hudson was fortunate enough to have people to guide her to help her do the same thing) And it also helped a lot that Whitaker is extremely well liked in the business, a professional’s professional and considered one of the nicest guys around. In an industry filled with a–holes, that’s something that stands out

This makes sense. Some people I know have argued that Mo’Nique probably doesn’t see an Oscar as very meaningful, and maybe she’s just too busy with her new show. For a plus-size black women who already has a successful career as a comedian, the argument goes, an Academy Award does not mean much.  This may or may not be true. Certainly Oscar noms and wins have not hurt Queen Latifah and Whoopi Goldberg, two of the highest grossing black actresses of all time (based on B.O. grosses). Jennifer Hudson only did Sex and the City and The Secret Life of Bees after her win, but she’s put out an album and weathered a family crisis; besides, I think it’s safe to say she is a singer first, not an actress, and that the Oscar raised her stardom broadly (cover of Vogue much?!).

Most importantly, though, Mo’Nique needs to realize that an Oscar is about more than her career and bank account. It’s about slowly shifting industry standards of what is acceptable, honorable and marketable. It’s about other black girls — with a little extra — who need role models: imagine what it would be like to have both Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique take home awards (presuming they put Mo’Nique in supporting, which they should)?

Of course, having an Oscar in your pocket gives your career extra longevity; producers love slapping “Academy Award winning” before your name. Even if she only wants to do comedy for the rest of her life. It helps her. But more significantly, it helps all black women.

I’m not one to place the burden of representation on any one actress. If Mo’Nique doesn’t want an Oscar and feels she doesn’t need one, that’s her decision. But she should realize it affects more than just her wallet, and it might even affect that too.

Being a very competitive business it’s not enough to have an Oscar worthy performance. You have to let the voters know that you’re grateful, humbled and most importantly 1) be someone well liked in the business and 2) hustle your ass off the award. You have to campaign for it for months. That’s what Forest Whitaker did for his Oscar for The Last King of Scotland. That guy hustled to get that award schoomzing, going to every lousy Oscar party and reception, glad handing anyone with even the remotest connection to an Oscar voter and practically doing handstands to get that award. (Jennifer Hudson was fortunate enough to have people to guide her to help her do the same thing) And it also helped a lot that Whitaker is extremely well liked in the business, a professional’s professional and considered one of the nicest guys around. In an industry filled with a–holes, that’s something that stands out

FILM: MILK! November 30, 2008

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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It is a really good movie. Everyone should see it.

*YES It is very much pro-gay and in that way conventional.
*NO That doesn’t make it dull.
*NO That doesn’t mean the gay movement goes unquestioned (I’m certain Milk’s “come out” politics, which was so radical and appropriate for the time, goes down a little rough today)
*YES It beatifies Harvey Milk.
*NO This doesn’t mean he’s one-dimensional (a ruthless politician with a thing for men less powerful than he, for starters).
*YES It is a mostly white movie (with some Latino thrown in).
*NO That doesn’t mean it goes without critique (a notable telephone scene demonstrates the lack of diversity within the movement).
*YES They should have released it before Nov. 4th.
*NO It wouldn’t have made the difference.
*YES I felt politically motivated after seeing it (the film has enough demonstrations of anti-gay hate to move even the most passive observer).
*YES It’s gorgeously shot.
*YES It will get tons of Oscar nominations.

AND…I’m making a prediction!

*YES It will win Best Picture. Well, I really don’t follow these things, and Lord know my predictions are wrong half the time, but none of the other films gunning for the Oscar are as epic (it seems mediocre reviews have killed Australia, and that’s a shame) or historical urgency (Frost/Nixon, even if brilliant, I think will bristle in a post-Bush era). Che and Doubt don’t have as broad an appeal: if I’m reading BoxOfficeMojo right, Milk is on track to earn over $1 million this weekend on 36 screens. That’s a solid open. Gus Van Sant feels deserving after directing so many important and challenging movies. Last, but not least, the Academy should feel ashamed for passing up Brokeback Mountain three years ago, especially now in light of Heath Ledger’s death and Michelle Williams budding career. Milk is, as AfterElton said, the most outwardly gay major motion picture in US History. It will win even if it doesn’t obviously deserve to. But I think it’s plenty deserving.