Thursday, 4 February 2010

Antichrist & the Oscars...

Saw Nicholas Roeg give a talk in Brighton last night. After we watched a few clips from his films he was asked what he thought watching them now and he said 'I'm just glad we managed to get them made'. It's somehow reassuring to know that even films that influential and iconic were tough to get off the ground.

So I'm still rewriting the script I was rewriting all over Christmas - I'm hoping it does make it into production at some point because I think that's the only thing that will break the cycle! I finished draft 10 the other night and as I was sending it off to those concerned starting thinking of things that were wrong with it and things I could work on in the next draft. Which I think may go on forever until someone stops me.

Thought I'd give my limited opinion on the Oscar nominations although I've not seen many of the films this year. I like the Oscars. I know it's all a bit daft and doesn't really mean anything in the real world or even in determining whether a film is any good or not, but I like that for one day of the year films are suddenly more important than anything else. I even like the cheesiness and people going on and on about 'the magic of cinema' and celebrities fumbling over auto cues that attempt to explain the more technical awards to thick people. And I like the dead people bit, although there always seems to be some controversial omission.

So this year, in attempt to make up for not nominating The Dark Knight last year (which was stupid as it was better than all the other best picture nominations) there are ten nominations for best picture. Which is confusing. I like the idea of it, I like that the nominations won't just be 'Oscar' films (by 'Oscar' film I mean a film that seems to have only been made to win Oscars and though they look pretty and are full of worthy performances they'll be forgotten about before the next awards season) and there is some genre stuff in there too. But it's confusing and it makes me think about all the films that haven't been nominated in the past.

The problem is, it's been a bad year for big movies. District 9 is good, but it's really just a strong example of a good genre film. Paranormal Activity is also a good example of a strong genre film, but is not nominated. So is Star Trek for that matter and that isn't up for Best Picture. Avatar is an example of a fairly average genre film and should not be nominated outside the technical categories, in my opinion. And to be honest I think Watchmen was more of a spectacle so why isn't that on the list?

The point is, it just opens up a can of worms. As you are probably aware, I'm a huge horror fan so if we're saying anything can be nominated where are all the horror films? Can we go back in time and nominate The Mist for best picture? It certainly deserved it. How about Martyrs for best Foreign Language Film? And if we're saying sci-fi is now Oscar-safe, where's Moon? Moon was way better than Avatar, and arguably better than District 9 as well as being more Oscar-friendly, and yet there's not even a nomination for Sam Rockwell who deserves to win an Oscar just for accumulated awesomeness. If the trend for only nominating 'Oscar' films is considered a bad thing then this isn't doing anything to stop it - it feels like a patronising nod to to non-'Oscar' films to say 'we acknowledge that some other films came out but they've got no chance of winning'. And if it goes the other way, if Avatar wins Best Picture that will be no good either because it's a very average film. Yes, it did amazingly well and yes it has advanced film-making technology but have these things ever been important to the Best Picture winner before?

Some other thoughts...

I do think District 9 should win in the best adapted screenplay category because it's rare a film as tightly structured as that ever gets nominated. The scripts of most 'Oscar' films are incredibly flabby and this is one of the first that's as tight as we're all told film scripts should be.

Christoph Waltz is awesome and should definitely win best supporting actor.

Coraline should win Best Animation but it's up against some 'worthy' competition so I'm not too sure of its chances.

The thing I'm most happy about is that the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack is nominated, partly because Hans Zimmer is awesome and should've been nominated for the Dark Knight soundtrack, but mostly because it's a really good soundtrack. It's interesting and experimental and while it complements the film perfectly it's also a really good soundtrack to listen to outside of the film. Good for writing to anyway. I never thought it would actually get nominated because like Moon it really deserves it so I thought it would be omitted. I've been proved wrong, now I just hope it wins.

Also, Antichrist which I just saw the other day should be up for something, even if it's just Best Director. I like Lars Von Trier, and I also hate a lot of his films and that's kind of why I like him. I was a massive fan of The Kingdom, loved Europa, The Five Obstructions and Element of Crime but Dancer in the Dark, Dogville and Breaking the Waves made me angry. And I mean they actually made me angry, not that I just didn't like them. Which I later realised was probably the intention and began to appreciate the fact that he'd provoked a strong reaction, even if it was a negative one.

I think Antichrist is kind of the perfect Von Trier film. It's powerful and challenging and definitely raises some interesting issues but at the same time it maintains a consistently creepy atmosphere and has some great horror moments. As I've said a few times I'm a huge fan of horror films that take themselves seriously, and this one certainly does that. It's also the first film in ages that actually made me look away from the screen a couple of times. I'm actually kind of glad I missed it at the cinema, although at the same time I can see moments of it would work spectacularly well on a big screen.

There are also rumours that Von Trier's company, Zentropa, are developing a video game of the film. I am very excited.


autoganzfeld said...

I love Lars Von Trier. He loves to stir up shit and his films are bad ass. I saw his response to the media Cannes (I think) and he's just so unapologetic. Right on!

Chris Regan said...

I was in Cannes when Antichrist was screened and remember him stirring up the press - can't remember exactly what it was he said, but it was something about him being the best director ever and I think he may even have referred to himself as God, or something like that! It was awesome anyway - I need to look that up.

Chris Regan said...

Found it:

'An aggrieved British journalist kicked things off by demanding that the director “explain and justify why you made this movie.” Von Trier replied that he owed no explanations to anyone. “It’s the hand of God,” he said. “And I am the best film director in the world. I’m not sure if God is the best God in the world.”'

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