Monday, February 27, 2012
Why I could celebrate this year's Oscars
I actually saw most of this year's crop of nominated flicks, and I think there are many more people like me than admit it. I stay away from most movies because I hate watching violence. I also don't like witnessing other people's tragedies, and seeing splattering blood on screen makes me ill. In addition, I cringe at slapstick, because it's humor at somebody's expense, and I avoid films with hold-your-breath suspense, because I don't like that tense feeling of ill-boding.
Real life has enough unpleasantries, violence and harm; I'm not going to pay to see more. Also, I'm just too sensitive; I take make-believe scripts to heart, and empathize with well-acted characters; I tear-up, wince or withdraw when I witness tough events. It's just emotionally hard on me, so why go through it?
So the movies I do attend are...romantic comedies. I like the ones that yes, leave me hopeful, optimistic, happily satisfied. I like the guy to get the girl, and I like people to learn upbeat lessons and come out smiling. I like cheerful music; I like achievement, overcoming obstacles and the triumph of true love.
Call me a wimp, but even "excellent" films with positive moral messages that involve war or child endangerment or cruelty are out. I'll read about those movies in the newspaper, thank you, because I don't want a film's horrifying two minutes impressed into my psyche. I don't want to ever recall a torture scene, a car crash or somebody's arm being severed--even if in the end it turns out okay.
This year's Oscars honored films that met my criteria. "Hugo" was a lavish, wonderful story with eye-widening effects, winning characters and an uplifting finale. "My Week with Marilyn" featured a luminous actress and charming protagonist in a dreamy setting with no tragedies. "The Iron Lady," though admittedly portraying Margaret Thatcher in her declining years, showed Meryl Streep at her finest, with only fleeting violent flashbacks (when I closed my eyes). "Midnight In Paris," Woody Allen's tribute to the magical years when literary greats created a Paris of possibility, offered a stunning locale and romantic fulfillment. "The Help," I'm told, though I have yet to see it, also offers rewarding relationships. And most enthralling of all is "The Artist," an unusual film not only because of its wordless script and brilliant musical score, but because the entire cast, without exception, is likeable.
For me, "The Artist" is perfect because it offers conflict and pathos--but among honorable and sympathetic characters. There was no "bad guy," only unfortunate circumstances. Instead, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), playing a silent film star sunk by the obsolescence of his medium, acted honorably, admitting his love for the caring and dynamic rising star Pepe (Berenice Bejo) only after the end of his marriage. Uggie, the adorable Jack Russell terrier who at one point saves the day, is the icing on the positive-character cake. Perhaps tonight's Academy Awards show was satisfying because "The Artist's" sheer exuberance invited its "Best Picture" nod.
It was an occasion even a movies-eschewer like me could enjoy, and if the industry continues to offer fewer explosives and expletives, and more happy and heartfelt fare, then I'll be waiting with my popcorn in the theater, and anticipating another Oscars party next year.