Back again for another highly opinionated — some might even say downright cranky — look at the week in fantasy. You’ve been warned!
AND THE OSCAR DOESN’T GO TO…
Much has been made of the fact that the Oscar nominations were announced this week and, having had the number of Best Picture nominees raised from five to ten, three of the nominees turned out to be genre movies: Up, Avatar, and District 9 (four if you include Inglourius Basterds).
Others have rightfully pointed out that this really wasn’t that much of an achievement, since they were three (or four) wildly critically acclaimed films that also wildly exceeded their box office expectations — exactly the kind of movie that usually is nominated.
In other words, the Academy would have had to be really, really biased to ignore these films. And that is absolutely true.
It’s also true that while the Academy nominated these films for Best Picture, they pointedly ignored all the actors in genre films, notably Zoe Saldana in Avatar and Lorna Raver as the gypsy woman in Drag Me to Hell (who had buzz, but was probably always a very long shot).
My response: duh! Of course the Academy is biased against genre films! They’re a group of some 6000 older industry professionals, most of whom don’t work in, and obviously don’t appreciate, genre filmmaking.
And so what? This is precisely why genre aficionados have their own award ceremonies.
I happen to love the Oscars, but the thing that annoys me about them every year is how people ascribe these grand meanings to the Academy’s judgment — and nurse resentments over movies and performances they feel were “slighted.” Yes, they call it the “best” picture, but it’s all just someone’s opinion. How could any group of human beings make an objective, factual statement about anything as subjective as film? Isn’t that screamingly obvious?
One thing I don’t believe is that the voting is corrupt — that awards can be “bought,” that they’re not the genuine opinion of those involved. Yes, there’s politicking, yes, Academy members are swayed by “buzz,” and they probably also vote for and lobby for friends.
Still, I think you can make a good case that the Oscars generally honor pretty decent films — much of what most educated film-goers think of as the “best” for the year (although not usually my personal tastes).
And for the record, I’ve judged many award contests myself, and the one thing they all had in common is that the people involved take it very, very seriously. It’s like jury duty: from the outside, you think, “That’s crazy! People are morons!” But once you participate, your faith in your fellow human beings usually goes up a little, not down.
(All this said, I’m personally still a little tickled District 9 was nominated for Best Picture, since it was easily my favorite film of the year.)
DOES ANYONE REMEMBER JIM HENSON’S THE STORYTELLER?
With the news that SyFy is producing a series of fantasy films based on classic fairy tales and legends (the first of which, Beauty and the Beast, premieres on February 27th), I couldn’t help but be reminded of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, a live-action/puppet hybrid series that starred John Hurt as the narrator (and, later, Dumbledore himself, Michael Gambon).
The show ran in 1988 as part of the failed The Jim Henson Hour (but won several Emmys anyway).
I loved this show!
In my opinion, one of the minor tragedies of the life of Jim Henson is that as he moved farther away from the Muppets, and closer to the fantasy themes that clearly spoke to him the most, his work became increasingly less popular with mainstream audiences (at least at the time of creation — much of the work, like The Dark Crystal and The Storyteller, has since become cult classics).
The irony is that I found his work here to be far richer and more sophisticated, and the puppetry far more impressive, than anything he ever did with The Muppets.
I haven’t seen The Storyteller in ages — why don’t I own this? — and I was a little worried it wouldn’t have held up. I don’t know why I was concerned. It’s amazing what they were able to do without CGI:
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THE IDIOT BOX
On Friday, Smallville goes all Watchmen as Clark tracks down the former members of the Justice Society of America, in a special “two-hour event” that co-stars Pam Grier. (Friday, 8 PM, The CW). Here’s the trailer:
This weekend, it’s a rerun of “Touched” (a decent episode) on Legend of the Seeker (syndicated, check local listings). And hey, I have an interview with Bridget Regan in the works!
On Tuesday, we have the last episode of The Jay Leno Show (10 PM, NBC). They thought this was going to save their network? Now that’s television fantasy!
On Thursday, we have the debut of a new show, Past Life, which is sort of paranormal Cold Case — detectives use past life regression to solve long-dead crimes. I’ll have a full review next week, but suffice to say, it’s pretty by-the-numbers (9 PM, Fox).
Also on Thursday, there are new episodes of The Vampire Diaries (8 PM, The CW) and Supernatural (9 PM, The CW), which has a Valentine’s Day ep entitled “My Bloody Valentine” about a real-life Cupid run amok (although the title is also a cheeky reference to the movie Jensen Ackles starred in last year. Get it?)
Well, this week’s flame has sputtered out, but join me again next week when I promise I won’t be nearly so cranky.
Oh, who am I kidding?!
Looking to buy any of the projects mentioned in this article (or any other media)? Support TheTorchOnline.com by purchasing it through this link.