Monday, February 20, 2012

That goddess is fit for burning

(The piece below was for a series of articles at the LAMB website on this year's Oscar nominees. Anyway, it's been up on that site for about a week or so, so I figure I can put it up here now as well.

Of the 5 nominated films in this category, I only missed out on
"W.E." (I watched about a reel of "The Artist" before having to leave on some work-related shit. I'll definitely come back to that one soon). Anyway, I had stepped up to the ticket counter, asked for 1 ticket to the Madonna joint -- then promptly changed my mind. I just couldn't do it, folks. If I did, I'd know that she got the best of me  -- and my eleven dollars -- every time I see her do something self-aggrandizing/lame on television, acting like she was Queen Awesome. FUCK THAT SHIT.

Old, irrelevant, and painful to watch. But enough about Billy Crystal, let's talk about the Oscars – particularly the category of Best Costume Design. Why? Because that's my assigned category for The LAMB Devours The Oscars, brother. But it's just as important as the more popular categories, considering that without costumes, we'd be watching a bunch of naked thespians doing their thing. That can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on who's in front of the camera. So I'm gonna judge the nominees on that aspect, as well as how well the costumes look on the actors, in a sex-type way, of course. Because as they say, clothes make the man...want to have sex with someone.

And now, the nominees:

Anonymous – Because this film takes place during the Elizabethan era, costume designer Lisy Christl had to bust out with the gowns and doublets. This kind of clothing works when you have an attractive bird like Joely Richardson looking all elegant and queen-like, which might have something to do with her portraying the young Queen Elizabeth I. But it also works when you have a cast that primarily consists of pasty Englishmen like David Thewlis and Rafe Spall.

Also, Rhys Ifans is in this flick, and if you've seen his bright white beanpole physique in Notting Hill, then you know Christl was doing us a favor covering that shit up from head to toe. Some of these guys are old too; so I'm giving this movie props for covering these dudes up in a way that leaves everything to the imagination, provided you even want to imagine someone like Derek Jacobi completely starkers. I sure don't. I couldn't handle that much sexy.

The Artist – This is probably gonna win, because nominee Mark Bridges did an excellent job in evoking the Hollywood fashion style of the late 20's/early 30's, and because the Academy is full of oldsters and this flick probably brought up happy memories of a bygone era -- the Good Ol' Days That Never Were (but nostalgia's quite the convincing beast, so good luck telling them otherwise). Some of them are probably old enough to remember dressing up in the same style as the characters from the film, either for the movies or for getting laid (or both).

Bridges had to deal with attractive actors, though, so he couldn't fuck it up, he had to make them look like the 20's/30's equivalent of Damn I Want To Bang Them. He succeeded; the French actor whose-name-I-don't-know looks dashing and debonair, the French chick whose-name-I-don't-know looks glamorous and gorgeous, and Penelope Ann Miller looks happy to be in a good movie again. They look as good in their tuxes and flapper-wear as they probably look when naked, so thumbs up to Mr. Bridges for working his magic in a costume-designing way.

Hugo – Man, I don't want to see little kids with no clothes on, and neither did Sandy Powell (thank God), so she clothed them up real good. While this film takes place around the same time as The Artist, Powell couldn't just dress these tykes like they were in a Hollywood film from that era. She had the unenviable task of having to clothe the actors in costumes that were both 1930's Paris authentic and have a touch of the fairy tale about them, because Hugo's one of those magical stories that could only come from a storybook (which is exactly what it is).

I liked Sacha Baron Cohen's station inspector costume the most, because it's the most representative of the real/slightly-unreal combo look they were going for (his blue getup looks like it was cut from the same material used for Adam Sandler's suit in Punch Drunk Love), and because it covers the actor from head to toe -- a fitting punishment for an actor with a tendency to show off his hairy body whenever possible. He did it in Borat, he did it in Bruno, and he'll probably do it again later this year in The Dictator. That's enough, Ali G, maybe your wife Australian Amy Adams likes looking at that, but as far as I'm concerned, you can take it outside, Cohen.

Jane Eyre – Costume designer Michael O'Connor covers up the actors in frumpy clothing, but hey, it was the 1800's, that's how they dressed. Plus, thanks to Shame, we've already seen about as much of Michael Fassbender as he's willing to show in front of a camera (everything), so being covered up in riding coats and breeches does him some good. And you know what? Mia Wasikowska and Jamie Bell are cute enough to wear their frumpieries well, so no complaining there.

But that still doesn't excuse O'Connor for bringing down some serious fashion hurt on poor Imogen Poots. Just look at that picture of her. I mean, it's bad enough that she has that name, but now she's got to deal with wearing this shit and looking happy about it. For that awful joke, the Academy should take away his previous award for The Duchess and not give it back until he apologizes to Ms. Poots (without laughing, of course, I mean c'mon -- Poots? She should hook up with fellow unfortunate-named thespian Alison Doody, they can make a buddy film together -- Poots & Doody).

W.E. - For this flick, nominee Arianne Phillips had to create costumes that represented late 90's New York fashion, in addition to recreating the kind of fancy duds worn by Wallis Simpson in late 30's England (on account of being one of those films that jumps back and forth in time & place). All this, and she also had to deal with working for Madonna as a director; I'm pretty sure Mads was a lot like fellow diva filmmaker Barbra Streisand and put a lot more thought into the wardrobe than most filmmakers usually would, so can you imagine being a costume designer and having one of those hens micromanage your shit? Damn.

Just on that, I'm not only gonna demand that the Academy give the Oscar to Ms. Phillips, they should also give her a fuckin' medal for putting up with Madonna's shit. Barring all that, she definitely deserves a win for coming up with some really nice outfits for the actors to wear -- and they sure do wear the hell out of them, as you can see. Even the biggest nerd around is gonna look too cool for school while wearing some of these clothes. Or at least come off as a well-dressed nerd.

Who will win? - If I had money, I'd pay my bills. Then I'd put the leftover money on Mark Bridges' work on The Artist taking home the golden Emilio Fernandez statuette. Having said that, I'm not sure how to feel about the Academy only honoring films that took place in the past – hell, three out of the five nominees take place in the 30's. They should've thrown some love over to the more modern joints, like Sanja Milkovic Hays' work on Fast Five; she had to create costumes with material strong enough to contain the gallons of torrential downpour sweat coming from Dwayne Johnson's 'roided-up body. Or how about Michael Wilkinson's pelvis-inspired costumes for the wanktastic Sucker Punch; man, those outfits were like the Albert Brooks-in-Drive of costume design -- criminally overlooked.

In conclusion, I'm probably gonna DVR the Oscars this year and fast-forward through all of the Billy Crystal hilarity, because he's too hardcore for me. If he starts singing songs based on the nominees, I don't think I'd be able to handle that much awesome.