Tonight was the 84th Annual Academy Awards for Cinema, Movies, Motion Pictures or whatever you wish to call it. Just to preface this, Cinema or Cinematography is from the Greek origin Kinema – a set of moving images, film, video or still photographs. Or, as legendary Director/Producer Martin Scorcese says “Cinematography is what is in the frame, and what isn’t”. So its clearly about framing a series of images put to movement.
Host Billy Crystal was quick to point out that Film isn’t even film anymore, its digital images captured by a camera on to a chip which goes on a physical hard drive. But none of this should matter, its still the art of framing a shot, acting, writing, directing and of course the most important part, editing. At the end of the day, or the end of the century, its still about a moving set of images no matter how they were captured or delivered. But the Oscar Academy Awards are bit more complex, there are categories for many categories most would not consider like music scores, editing, sound mixing, animation, special effects, and even shorts and documentaries. The one thing that fascinated me most tonight was costume design. If a movie were to take place more than half a century ago, designers would actually look at vintage clothing, the fabric, materials, designs, cuts and re-create them. And even more revealing, these actors portraying the characters could definitely be effected by what they had to wear. Imagine having to go out in public in an uncomfortable almost silly attire or outfit and need to be taken seriously as someone in the military or public figure like a president or first lady? Often today the clothes choose us, but way back when the people had to choose the clothes that were appropriate, standard and respectable. They did not have private designers. You wore whatever was issued or “off the rack” so to speak. Its interesting to note that we today never consider that Scotsmen in kilts are odd, its basically a skirt for men. Yet today this traditional form of clothing is kept for formal occasions, and with pride so I have seen. Often below the skirt line you see a tattoo and/or knife or pistol/handgun tucked into the sock or boot.
I guess what amazes me is how much research, especially from a historical film, goes into the movie itself. Often we think its millions of dollars price tag is just for the actors and film and advertising, but it goes much deeper to editing, continuity, costume design…imagine having to go buy 30-50 like outfits from the same era, or having to re-design them from scratch? We forget how much goes into Hollywood films. I can’t justify the price of the movie ticket, the actor, the marketing or even the popcorn (though I know movie theaters only get 10% of the revenues, the other 90% goes back to Hollywood, this is why they make their money off soda and popcorn and candy and even video games), they NEED to do this just to pay the rent and pay the staff.
Love or hate Hollywood, there is good and bad in every aspect of this world. For this reason we embrace other people (independents) and people around the world making moves. Tonight in the “Foreign Speaking Category” a Canadian on Twitter said “we speak English” – she, having forgot that there are major French-Speaking Populations like Quebec & Montreal, but why is there a category of “foreign speaking” at all? Shouldn’t there be an international category regardless of spoken language? I know Hollywood USA invented the Oscars, but if I were an Indigenous Native American making a movie about the history and culture, I would be insulted if it was not included in “International Films”. Language is unimportant as it is normally subtitled anyway… its the approach, the culture, the style, even the approach.
Oscars are a good thing, to bring awareness of the casual or non-movie goers. Many of us who are older have decided that $15+ to see a movie isn’t worth it, we can wait for it on Netflix or Cable or if we really love it, buy it on DVD or Blu-ray. However, there is the experience of walking into a hugh theatre with a screen the size of a 100’+ and having a cinematic experience while we munch on our popcorn and sip our soda. I don’t know what thats like for younger people under age 20, but for people like me twice that age, it brings back memories and I don’t think I had ever walked out of a movie theatre without feeling even slightly different about life. And, I think I actually did walk out of a movie once… because it was so bad. You think, “I paid $20 for this, I can’t possibly sit through it another 30-40 mins” and yes…. happened twice, once at a theatre, and once at a retro-mock drive in party at college, the movie, Hunt for Red October – sorry Mr. Baldwin… I have not seen it in 20 years, but I did see it twice, once I walked out, the other time my girlfriend insisted we leave and go get a beer, that would be more interesting. In this respect, this is why we have it so good, we don’t like it, we don’t watch it. We watch something else. Once we are in a movie theatre, we are almost obligated to sit through the entire thing, mostly because we paid for it.
In any case, Tonight’s Oscars gave me a list of movies I should put on my list to see and/or watch on TV/Cable and/or Netflix. As always, there are movies of great significance to watch, and others, though they are nominated, I really don’t care to ee for whatever reason.