Frankly Vulgar offers to improve the Oscars – free of charge

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It’s February 24th 2013. It is time for the 85th Academy Awards. It is the night where Seth McFarlane tries his utmost not to make a joke about the other Oscar in the news at the moment. If thats not enough to make the academy bosses who run the show nervous then the prospect of ever declining viewing figures which even the introduction of The Official Oscars App™ can’t stop must be truly terrifying. Short of having the indomitable, ego-puncturing Ricky Gervais host the glitzy ceremony I have some suggestions for how the whole five hour process could be improved to the point where it doesn’t feel like waiting in a really well upholstered, exclusively staffed by abnormally beautiful people, GP’s waiting room.

I think the biggest problem is the awards themselves. After 85 years in service they desperately need either some reinforcements in the form of new awards or retirement altogether. There is no jeopardy watching Daniel Day Lewis win yet an another Oscar – just make him ‘Best Actor’ for the rest of his wonderful fucking life. Frankly the awards as they are now are so moribundly American (according to the dictionary I have here this means they are po-faced and un-ironic) that they need changing.

Still this has to be an evolution not a revolution (that would be too un-American), the new awards have to be positive – this isn’t the Razzies. Lets get the more obvious categories out of the way. The award for Best Picture has to change. I propose a Best ‘Best’ Picture category ad well as an award for Best ‘Worst’ Picture. It makes sense, honestly it does. The first category is for films that are genuinely good, of actual artistic merit. They’re usually independent-ish films that cost nothing or studio prestige pictures made to win awards. Whatever. ‘Best ‘Worst’ Picture’ – thats an oxymoron right? To quote Arnie – wrong. This award will go to some shit films, maybe some really shit films that at the same time are utterly brilliant. Best ‘Worst’ Picture caters for the cinematic Big Macs of this world – yes it’s unhealthy, actually it’s really terrible but fuck me it’s tasty and I could have one right now quite easily. This award snatches the initiative back from crowd pleasing award-ceremonies like that MTV thing. In general, and in a way that isn’t dissimilar to some kind of algorithm that I wouldn’t understand anyway (Pythagoras’ theorem?), the shitter a film is the more people who watch it – when these films get nominated these people are more like to watch your show. Thats maths. Poor old John Stuart Mill will be turning in his grave – but who’s going to care when viewing figures increase. Mill’s been dead for ages anyway. 

Best Nicholas Cage Picture – a self-explanatory category. Cage is an actor of such intense, brain-meltingly stupid braggadocio that he deserves his own category. Given that he seemingly always makes more than one film a year it will always be a competitive field. The criteria are as follows: the more fucked up Nic gets in the film, be it through intensive crack cocaine use, genre-defining fear of honey, anger at filing systems – whatever, the more fucked up he gets the more likely your film is to take gallop home with the gong at a speed a findus horse lasagne would find obscene. Cage must accept the award via video-link and he must be accompanied by one of his pet lizards for the duration of his acceptance speech.

Best ‘Zinger’ in a Motion Picture – this award will probably be something of a dud. Despite it being completely against Academy regulations it will probably be one by this zinger every year (at 0.19 in this vid):

Best British Thespian in a Villainous Role – again, Alan Rickman will probably win this every year, but its worth having if anything, just to nullify a common British criticism of the Oscars – ‘why don’t we win as much as we should’, something that is wheeled out every year even though we win boatloads of the little gold statuettes.  Maybe it is just my fecund imagination getting ahead of reality but I’m pretty sure there is always some nonce on BBC Breakfast or The One Show bleating and bemoaning the fact that ‘we Brits’ lost out. Well, Best British Thespian in a Villainous Role award is designed to silence them and to reinforce some time worn American stereotypes that refuses to die like shape-shifting alien in ‘The Thing’ (I didn’t make a horse meat joke here because I’ve already made one, but please note that I could of).

Best ‘that should be my fucking award you ****’ Reaction Face – like any show on television thats been around for far too long (think The Simpsons) the Oscars needs to develop a desperate, knowing and self-reverential parody award. Face it – most people only sit through the four hour dirge that the ceremony actually is hoping to see two of two things – Halle Berry doing a Janet Jackson or those reaction mug shots of the likes of James Cameron dying inside as their former spouse wins an award they would kill battalions of schoolchildren to use as a paperweight. Seeing as I couldn’t think of an award to honour ‘Nipple Slips’ the award for Best ‘that should be my fucking award you ****’ Reaction Face will have to do. The best thing about the award is that all the reactions of the nominee’s when it is given out will be 100% real, as nobody will actually want to win this one.

Finally, The Mel Gibson Career Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Daily Mail Online Sidebar. This is an award for those stars in the firmament who like crashing cars, snorting suspicious white powders and getting caught having affairs (oh Kristen HOW COULD YOU). Without you guys popping up on the Mail Online sidebar I would probably be a far more productive, happier human being. Sincere and heartfelt thanks for keeping me in my present state – wearing pyjamas, eating shite and not working on my special project proposal. Lohan, Edward Furlong, Nick Stahl, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise – I salute you, you’re the real heroes. God bless them, and God bless America.

Enjoy the show…

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Les Miserables – The Frankly Vulgar Review

Russell Crowe. Admit it, you fancy him don't you.

Russell Crowe. Admit it, you fancy him don’t you.

There is plenty not to like about ‘Les Miserables’. It has the campest, most irritating nickname of any cultural ‘brand’ ever. When some numpty screeches ‘Lay Mizz’ I feel as if my head might explode like a watermelon caught in between Beyoncé’s SuperBowl mega thighs. Then there is the film’s dead-eyed a-historicism, which admittedly is a fairly boring criticism but as a nominal ‘historian’ (I study History at university), ground my gears in a way that most films about historical events do (looking at you ‘Pearl Harbour’). Ignoring that, you still have to deal with Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter irritatingly wandering in off the set of ‘Sweeny Todd’ to reprise their roles from that film seemingly ad verbatim. Amanda Seyfried does her weird Amanda Seyfried pouty fish thing and sings at a pitch so high that my (now dead) dog started barking. Anne Hathaway mirrors her character Fantine’s desperation with her pleading crowd pleasing give me an Oscar performance. Worst of all, most of the cast speak in a Danny-Dyer-on-his-way-to-watch-West-Ham-whilst-eating-an-eel-pie cockney brogue. Yet the film works; watching it you can almost smell the filthy verdigris and Dickensian grimness that souses every inch of every scene. Hugh Jackman is magisterial. The plot even with all it’s nonsensical contortions brims with a head-banging force that carried me along despite myself. Above this all, striding across the rooftops of 19th century Paris like a massively fucked off Quasimodo is a sombre, confused genius – Russell Crowe as principal bad bloke Javert.

‘Later, I did have a complete breakdown. No, not when Russell Crowe, who stars as evil, intractable Inspector Javert, sings ‘fallen from Go-od, fallen from gra-a-ace’ like a hoarse bulldog.’ – Jan Moir in the Daily Fail 

Clearly Russell performance wasn’t the most popular. Yet the lamentable Jan Moir is about as wrong about this as she is on  homosexuality,  a proclivity which excites an embarrassingly outdated  ‘Ewww gross’ reaction from her. Unlike her feelings about the gay community however, Moir wasn’t alone in disliking Crowe’s performance, most people I’ve spoken to about the film marked Crowe out for criticism. There are some understandable reasons for this – namely that Crowe can’t actually sing, which is something of a problem in a musical (but then the nature of musicals is that actors have to sing and singers have to act). It’s actually pretty odd, for Crowe singing seems to involve barking the words out in a blithely un-melodic manner. It’s scruffy, words are spat and snarled out, there is spluttering and mostly there is a definite sense of pain conveyed by Crowe the whole way through the film.

I didn’t really give a shit though. It made sense. In a film encrusted with realism why should every character sing like a choirboy? I’d actually go further: there is something exceptional about what Crowe does in ‘Lay Mizz’, his performance which is drenched in reluctance is also aflame with courage. He may as well be  performing naked, so stripped back, so close to the core does Crowe bring the audience to his Javert.

“For me, and this is probably an unpopular attitude to have, considering what we’re talking about, but I didn’t like the character in the stage show, I didn’t respond to it at all. I just thought it was overly simplistic and I couldn’t follow why he came to the conclusions he came to, you know?” – Russell Crowe talking about Javert with digital spy

Crowe’s reading of the character above is perfect. Frankly, in the stage show Javert makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You’re telling me that he chases Jean Valjean across 19 years for stealing a rancid loaf of bread? Bollocks. It’s nonsensical. Crowe understood this and that’s why his performance works so well. By adding depth and above all vulnerability (manifested starkly by the weakness of his singing when compared to Jackman or Hathaway) he makes an overly simplistic and unbelievable character into something as real as the grime director Tom Hooper coats his camera lens in. When Crowe belts out the lines:

“Lord let me find him
That I may see him
Safe behind bars
I will never rest”

The throbbing urgency he imbued it with left me thinking Javert had a bit of a ‘thing’ for Jean. No wonder Jan Moir didn’t like it.