Brent’s busy. I’m busy too, but as his wife I try hard to support him in all of his endeavors. In that spirit, I decided to help out my longsuffering husband, by writing a guest column for his blog.
Since for the past two years I’ve had baby brain, it’s very difficult for me to manage a coherent conversation about anything other than diaper rash and toddler toys. Being aware that these are not of much interest to most people who don’t have baby brain, I’ve stretched myself to the limits to write about something I used to know a lot about – the Oscars.
To be honest, if Brent wasn’t around I probably wouldn’t have watched the Oscars this year. I have developed a profound cynicism about that show that burst like an overstuffed zit in 2004 when Hilary Swank won the Best Actress award, beating out Annette Benning FOR THE SECOND TIME. That night, I said some especially fervent prayers and checked my food storage because I was sure that Hilary Swank winning a second acting award was a sign of an impending Apocalypse.
|Look how glamorous I am!|
Alas, I was mistaken. The world went on its merry way, happily convinced that Hilary Swank deserved her second Best Actress award because after all, she had played a female boxer who gets paralyzed and then makes the courageous (read: depressing) choice to ask her manager to kill her because she can’t endure living the rest of her life that way. I’m not sure what appealed to Academy members more – the fact that she was this hot (or not) actress playing a chick who beats up other chicks or that she was an actress who took on the hot button issue of assisted suicide. But having seen both Hilary in Million Dollar Baby and Annette Benning’s nominated performance in Being Julia, I’m actually shocked that those two women were nominated in the same category. Benning’s performance was subtle and strategic, bringing a character to life using her voice, her face, movement, all the tools of her trade. Swank turned in a performance that was notable for its subject matter. I have no doubt that any of a dozen performers could have given a similar performance.
Plus there’s her name, Hilary Swank. It’s just ridiculous and self-aggrandizing. She might as well be Hilary Glamorous or Hilary ChiChi.
|I'm everyone's muse.|
That’s beside the point. Really, at the heart of my jade-colored view of the Academy Awards is the conviction that like almost everything else in life, this contest isn’t decided by merit. Time after time we’ve seen awards given to what’s trending. Does anybody really believe that Mira Sorvino really turned in a better performance than Joan Allen in Nixon or Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility? Other than for that performance in 1995, Mira Sorvino has neither won or been nominated for another performance. While Allen has been nominated for three separate performances and Winslet has been nominated six different times. (When Kate finally won an Oscar on her sixth nomination, it was for her Holocaust movie, The Reader – more on that later). So why did Mira snooker the Academy into voting for her over these other women? Because she was playing a hooker in a Woody Allen movie. There’s something magical about that combination. It’s like playing someone with a terminal illness or any performance that has something to do with the Holocaust.
Adrian Brody won a Best Actor award in 2002 for The Pianist. Having seen that picture, I would say the most noteworthy thing about Brody’s performance was that his natural expression makes him look pinched and nervous. Of course, watching him sexually assault Halle Berry during the award ceremony might be unfairly influencing my memory of that performance. But was his performance more nuanced and skilled than the performances of Nicholas Cage, Michael Caine, Daniel Day-Lewis, or Jack Nicholson that year? Give me a freaking break!
I could go on and on with examples of films, performances, music that won awards and really didn’t merit them. But you’ve seen it, read it, posted about it on Facebook, all before. You probably have your own personal favorites that don’t include Hilary Swank, Mira Sorvino, or Adrian Brody. Feel free to share those in a comment to this post.
In the end, I’ve done what I do so often in my life when I don’t think things are fair. I packed up my toys to go home. Fortunately, my husband dragged me back to the game this year. For all my snarky asides during the broadcast, I was amazed when Meryl Streep won for Best Actress. In my mind, it made up for a lot. She’s the most talented actress in Hollywood. If the awards were based on merit, she’d win every year – no contest. So to see her win (her 4th out of 17 nominations) shut my mouth. Sometimes I guess they can get it right.