Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I could celebrate this year's Oscars

Just got home from watching the Academy Awards with my husband and some friends, and for the first time in years, I enjoyed the show--and I bet you did, too. Here's why:

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.

Some other features of the show made the evening entertaining and delightful. Cut and unmissed were unbearably over-produced renditions of each of too-many nominated "best songs." Billy Crystal was succinct, charming and funny--and his introductions snappy.  The pre-recorded schtick, including a first-up Crystal movies spoof, a tasteful montage of deceased Academy associates, some star-interview snippits offering their views of the impact of film and quick recollections, broke up the line-up of presentations with laughter and thought-provoking moments.  The presenters did offer a few lame lines of patter, eye-rolling sexual banter, a silly pose by Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz, and dumb fake-vodka swig by "Bridesmaids'" Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne, but the yawn-content was far outweighed by awards recipients' genuine gratitude, and their sweet acknowledgements of their families and support in long-term marriages.

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.


  1. So true. It was nice to see a positive, uplifting movie win best picture.

  2. Unfortunately, when I realized the oscars were on, I watched just enough to be uncomfortable. I saw Robert Downey Jr's skit with Gwyneth, the "size does matter but length doesn't" comment with Melissa McCarthy and pal, so I was put off. I did think Will Farrell and Zach G. were funny. I have no complaint with Billy Crystal or the winners - "The Artist" was charming, but I did think other storylines were more compelling. The character in the "The Artist" was typically self-absorbed, not really heroic as in "The Help." But I suppose that is personal taste. I did love the dog, though.

  3. I completely agree! I have the same issue with movies--I don't do violent or sad movies, nor do I love slapstick or anything crude. So most movies are out for me unless they're not-too-inappropriate romantic comedies, Harry Potter, or Pixar movies. :) But I did see a number of the nominated movies, which made the Oscars more exciting to watch. The Artist was definitely more than earned its best picture award. Also, I highly recommend The Help. It's wonderful!

  4. Organize, yes, there were some double entendres at the Oscars show, but overall the awards are about the movies themselves, and this year's crop had greater appeal than usual--and I hope Hollywood gets the message that people like decent values and happy endings!