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It appears that Heath Ledger has won an Oscar for being dead.

I don't know, but maybe I'm the only one around who didn't think much of the Dark Knight, and certainly I didn't think much of Ledger's performance. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, but as performances go, it was a little like inviting the uncle over for a birthday party and having him pretend to be a cartoon villain. Funny, but not anything close to being real. If he was actually doing a full performance from the Dark Knight, I would also have said that he kept it going on for much too long, ultimately over staying his welcome. It's been a little tragic watching Ledger win the awards he has for playing the Joker, in fact, and at times it makes me think that it is representative of what's wrong with Western films at the moment: shallow, without edge or bite, a pleasant distraction from anything real, and where alright has become the bar that we aspire too.

Still, what do I know? It certainly isn't anything to do with popularity and awards. After all, I saw Slumdog Millionaire, and while I liked that too, I didn't think it was worth an award of any kind. It was just alright, a good flick, but not one without its problems.

As I write this, I was asked why I felt the need to comment on this, because I don't actually value awards of any kind. They are, after all, the opinions of people, and if you don't know the people involved, there's no real way to gauge if they were actually qualified to make a value judgement. Yet, still, I'm drawn to the results of awards, possibly because of the status that is awarded to them in our society. It's interesting to see who the winners of various things are, if for no other reason that to trace to the slow disintegration of artistic merit within our society.

(crossposted)

Comments

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catsparx
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
I disagree. I actually reckon Leger won that Oscar fair and square.
ext_135212
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
as do I...not necessarily because his performance was earth-shattering, but mostly because his competition this year wasn't that impressive. Dead or not, I think there was pretty good odds he would have got it...dying just increased his odds even further. But we'll never know for sure, of course.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
If dying increased your odds of winning an Oscar, how come only two actors have managed it in the entire history of the awards?
ironed_orchid
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Because you have to die in the year you are nominated - or in the year a movie is out, and sometimes people die without any recently finished films in circulation.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
True, but I do think it's unfortunate that so many people are claiming the only reason Ledger won the award was because he died, when that really doesn't seem to be the case.

It's very common for an actor to arguably deserve the Oscar one year, not win the prize, then get given one a year or two later for a different role. Judi Dench in Mrs Brown, then Shakespeare in Love. Russell Crowe in The Insider, then Gladiator. It's not a stretch to consider Ledger's win last night as a similar sort of thing - giving him an award for The Dark Knight because voters felt in retrospect he may have deserved one for Brokeback Mountain.

All of that said, it was still the best performance by an actor I saw last year.
king_espresso
Feb. 24th, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)
Um, because they were both Australians? ;-) How did Geoffrey Rush manage it with a pulse?
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC)
you on crack.
catsparx
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
you a big grump
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
craaaack
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
And that's two votes for Ben being a big grump, and one for Cat being on crack...
drjon
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
You know, I kinda disagree with your post, but I can't stop laughing at this... bastard...
frogworth
Feb. 24th, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
Hey, I'M the raven round here!
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
I thought The Dark Knight was a mediocre action flick and ledger's performance, while better than perhaps the film deserved, didn't merit so much attention. It's ridiculous to think his suicide had no effect on his awards profile.

Worse yet was the Best Actor award which went to Sean Penn for his usual excellent performance, but Mickey Rourke's Wrestler was a once in a career thing and should have been recognized.
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
i haven't seen the wrestler yet, but i reckon i'll track it down soon enough.

as for ledger... yeah, i reckon its silly to think the death didn't have an effect on it.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
The Wrestler is great actors and very restrained, naturalistic direction propping up a one-dimensional script. I'm glad I saw it, but the script definitely lets the side down.
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
The Wrestler's the second best sport-related movie I've seen.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
How can you leave a comment like that hanging without mentioning what you think is first?!

(Personally I'd say Rocky is still #1. I love that film.)
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
It's not Rocky, but another boxing film, John Huston's great Fat City, strarring Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrell, made in the 70s.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Haven't seen it, but I do really like Jeff Bridges.
catsparx
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
I think 'ridiculous' is a bit strong... I'd pay 'reasonable' though. I thought it was a strong performance. But considering the great wadges of cash involved with the Academy Awards, I can't believe we're bothering to have opinions about what might have honestly deserved to win anything.

That Baz Lurman dance number featuring Jackman & Beyonce sucked big time. Too many songs crammed into it -- I don't know how those poor dancers were supposed to synch to the rhythm. It was all just noise to me... and I'm a fan of cheesy musical dance numbers!
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Agree about the dance number. Horrible. I was sort of embarrassed for Jackman the entire evening,

Triviall though it may be, I;m paid to have opinions about movies and I just can't break the habit. But you're right, of course.
catsparx
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
I still haven't caught up with the Wrestler -- but I'm looking forward to it.
king_espresso
Feb. 24th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
I agree. I'm really fed up with tone deaf people who think that Baz Luhrmann is the reincarnation of Busby Berkeley, Hermes Pan and Michael Kidd combined. His work is obvious and ordinary.
squirrel_monkey
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Ledger didn't have much competition, and I couldn't agree more -- Rourke was robbed. (Although I cannot say that I particularly LIKE Penn).
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
My point was that Ledgeer's compettor's did have much either,

Oscar voter like to vote for movies that make them feel good about having done the right thing, and so....Rourke was jobbed.
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
My point was that Ledgeer's competitors didn't have much either,

Oscar voter like to vote for movies that make them feel good about having done the right thing, and so....Rourke was jobbed.
hani
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
I don't believe it was suicide.
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
I believe it was officially recorded as such.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Nope, accidental overdose of prescription medication. (link)

Having seen the effect that the particular brand of sleeping pill Ledger was on has, I'm not surprised he accidentally killed himself.
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
It's odd, isn't it, how his gf assumed it was suicide and then it was recorded as accidental. Hmm. Doesn't matter, I suppose.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)
It's much sadder if it was an accident.

His sleeping medication has a bit of reputation for people taking it, waking up in a semi-comatose haze in the middle of night, not remembering whether or not they've taken one, taking another one, waking up later even more out of it and taking another, and so on and so forth until they either get a *really* good night's sleep, or die of an overdose.
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
nah, i read that it was accidental overdose. his kid just got a life insurance payout for that, apparently.
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
Well, that's nice, anyway. Suicide, whatever...don't make no difference to Heath.
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
dead be dead. maybe they could bury the oscar with him.
lucius_t
Feb. 24th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
Nah. when Heath come back, they'll have him turn it into loaves and fishes and feed a multitude...
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
least it'll have some value then ;)
hani
Feb. 24th, 2009 06:58 am (UTC)
I thought it was accidental overdose from combining lots of pills to combat several things like back pain, insomnia, etc...

Huh.
ironed_orchid
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
A lot of the time people get awards for a movie in which was okay, but it's because people realise they should have got the award a few years ago but some other movie got all the hype and they missed out, so there's a guilt/sympathy thing going on with the voters. So the award Heath got was probably for Brokeback Mountain as much as for the joker.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
Ha! I think we both just posted the same thing at the same time!
ironed_orchid
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
Yup. Russell Crowe woulda been the example I gave, if I gave an example.
angriest
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
It really was ridiculous them giving Crowe an Oscar for muttering and growling his way through ancient Rome for 2 1/2 hours.
ashamel
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
I thought the movie was decidedly average, but the Joker was the best thing about it, and Heath carried it off very well.
jeffsoesbe
Feb. 24th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
I too enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire, even though I had my issues with it (knew how it was constructed the second I heard the movie summary; the female lead was nothing more than an object of desire).

I might have rightfully given it the song/score Oscars, as the music was dynamic and different and not the same old overwarmed John Williams-esque movements.

When all was said and done, I thought "8 Oscars, no way it is as good as other films that have won a lot of Oscars".

Then I checked the list. Ben Hur, Titanic, English Patient, the list of "*that* won 8 or more Oscars?!?!" goes on...

- yeff
benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
...you know, i at least liked SLUMDOG, which is something i can't say bout a lot of them other films.
jeffsoesbe
Feb. 24th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I think with the surfeit of technical awards (effects, editing, etc) it means technically accomplished films like Titanic can rack up lots of awards.

My summary of Titanic was: "Corny story, great shipwreck."

Not too many films score a lot of acting and script awards. I wonder what ones won the most of those? One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Silence of the Lambs come to mind.

mondyboy
Feb. 24th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC)
A couple of the people I watched it was last night agree with you. I, on the other hand, thought Ledger was great.

I ado agree with Lucius below that Mickey R was robbed.
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benpeek
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
i actually do like lots of films. like, trashy stupid ones even. i enjoyed the first aliens vs predator film, for example.

i just, like, don't think it deserves awards ;)
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