Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Missing Oscar Nomination

The 81st Academy Awards have come and gone. Slumdog Millionaire won eight awards including best picture. Milk can be said to have come in second, as it took two awards: Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button got one more award than Milk did, but it got them for Visual Effects, Art Direction and Makeup; in other words, it was a movie that looked good.

I didn't go see Benjamin Button because I thought the premise sounded silly. Given how many times Jon Stewart has mocked and trashed the film on The Daily Show, I'm happy with my decision. I wanted to see Milk, but it disappeared from our local theatre before I got around to it. Such is the price one pays for living in a rural area. The one award-winning movie I did see was Slumdog Millionaire, which was a fine movie with a great soundtrack. If you haven't seen it yet, and you've been hearing it's a "feel-good" movie, I have to warn you that it contains scenes of torture and, most horribly, the deliberate blinding of a little boy. Really, it's only a feel-good movie if you forget everything that happened in the first half, something I'm not capable of. If you do go see it, have fun watching the main character Jamal's skin get lighter as he ages.

As far as I'm concerned, none of the above were the best film of 2008. The best film of 2008 didn't even get a nomination. I waited in vain to hear some mention of it as I watched the Oscars. I thought it might have made it into the category of Short Film (Live Action), but no such luck. Maybe it's too long to qualify. I don't know. At 40 minutes, it's too short to be called a feature film. It may fall through the cracks, not fitting into any category. Maybe it wouldn't have gotten a nomination no matter what, given the circumstances of its release.

The film in question is Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

I love this movie. For one thing, it's a musical. Hollywood doesn't make musicals anymore, unless you count the putrid Moulin Rouge, and I don't. For another, it's a story of superheroes and supervillains, but it's told from the point of view of the villain, who is not a villain at all, really, but a nice guy who's too shy to talk to the woman he's got a crush on. The superhero, on the other hand, is a conceited jerk. What's not to love about such a subversive story?

What's also subversive is that Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay during the writer's strike, and screened it for free over the Internet last July. Not being a Joss Whedon fan, I missed all of this and only got to see it on DVD last weekend. The movie is a tragicomedy in three acts. Acts 1 and 2 are comedy--there are some hugely funny lines--and Act 3 is mostly tragedy. All the way through are nifty musical numbers and fun visuals; for a film made on the cheap, it's got high production values.

Try not to miss the real best film of 2008. While you can no longer see it for free on the Internet, it is available on DVD and is quite reasonably priced, especially when you factor in the extras: making-of featurettes, commentary and musical commentary. (Yes, really. It's called Commentary! The Musical.) Besides, the makers need the money. As Joss Whedon says in his master plan: "We have big dreams, people, and one of them is paying our crew."


Anonymous said...

Aw, I'm glad you enjoyed Dr. Horrible so much. :)

- Y

Vivian said...

It's so good. Now I understand why Joss Whedon has fans. I couldn't figure it out before. ;)

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