Aaron from Out of Focus here. Sadly, unlike the member's of Slate's "Movie Club," I don't get to make my living through my film opinions, and every now and then, this day job creeps up and takes control of my life. Today was one of those days. Hell, I haven't even been able to sit at a computer most of the day -- I'm shaking from the DT symptoms. But now, things are much better.
When the great and magnificent cinetrix (she's a Wizard-like figure in film bloggerdom's version of Oz to me) first contacted me about joining this modern film-oriented online Algonquin Round Table, I looked around to make sure she was talking to me. Of course, I was reading an email, addressed to me, so really this is just an indication of me being a little slow on the uptake. But I was honored and excited to be thought of and included with esteemed colleagues such as these.
What do I bring to the table? Well, aside from the pleasure of debunking any and everything Filmbrain ever tries to argue regarding Vincent Gallo, I suppose I'm the one of us who actually does try (and fail miserably) to see everything, large and small, good and bad, mainstream and indie, foreign and domestic. Hell, I'm even a Razzie voter, so while I may not "enjoy" bad movies, part of me does "enjoy watching" them. If you want to get an idea of from where I come, you can head over to my site and check out my top films of 2004, which I just posted this morning. No surprise to anyone who reads my site, Eternal Sunshine is number one on my list (and number two on Filmbrain's, by the way, signifying that we don't disagree on everything).
Meanwhile, David's comments about the Golden Globes are quite interesting, and as someone who has followed the awards and the secretive HFPA for many years -- and I actually did see the doc The Golden Globes: Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret on Trio last year -- I am ready, willing and able to discount the group as anything but a phenomenal PR machine. The only reason the Globes have gained as much recognition, and therefore power, as they have is due to their ability to throw a good party; one that this star wants to go to because he hears that that star is showing up with an entourage four times as big as the latest flash-in-the-pan star. The awards themselves? While I am loath to admit it, I agree with Tom O'Neil (to a point). Why anyone ever actually granted him "expert" status is beyond me. Most of what he says or writes turns out to be complete nonsense. (Case-in-point, his too-easily refutable Jan. 2 story in the New York Times -- reg. & $$ unfortunately req'd -- which tried to make the case that the more handsome the actor, the less likely he is to win an Oscar. Poor Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe -- never knew they were considered so ugly. Too bad he never takes into account any year's competition.) However, David's characterization of O'Neil's opinion in David's post is half-right: the Globes are a big scam. I don't think that's as true for the major critics awards or the Oscars, even though every group obviously exhibits certain biases. But no single event projects more importance without really possessing any credibility than the HFPA and the Golden Globes.
I don't want to dwell solely on the Globes -- there's plenty more interesting conversation to be had simply about this magnificent past year in film -- but I do find it interesting that for the first time in who-knows how many years, there are more truly great films nominated in the "Best Picture - Musical/Comedy" category than in the "Best Picture - Drama" one, even though the latter has six nominees to the former's five. Of the 11 total "Best Picture" nominees, I've seen all but Phantom of the Opera, and if you take a look at my Top 10, you'll see that I rank three of the comedies -- Eternal Sunshine, Sideways and The Incredibles -- in my top 5, while only The Aviator even makes the list, and at the very bottom. Obviously, plenty of great films didn't receive nominations, and some of the nominees made my "Next Tier" and "Honorable Mention," but I'd be curious to know if my fellow travelers here would agree with me that the lighter side had a better year, or at least existed at a higher level of quality than the more traditional dramas? And is this a result of many of these films really not being traditional comedies at all? (Ray and Phantom obviously fulfill the "musical" part of this category; Ray absolutely doesn't deserve to be here, and although I can't officially comment and state what I expect from about a huge budget musical production directed by Joel Schumacher, I suppose it's conceivable the film wouldn't be a total mess." Instead, all three of the "good" nominees in the "Musical/Comedy" category span genres and stories. The Incredibles is animated fantasy, comedy and family drama. Eternal Sunshine contains funny moments, but it too is more romantic fantasy, or maybe metaphysical romantic psycho-fantasy, than anything else. And Sideways has plenty of laughs, but also plenty of loneliness, obsessive compulsive behavior, and heartache. Are comedies becoming more serious? Or are these movies just more complicated? I vote for the latter.
That’s my time for now. I look forward to continuing this Conversation, and can’t wait for the others to jump into the fray.