Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

My take on the Oscars

Wick's World


Oscar season is upon us. Unlike last year when my wife and I were immersed in a plethora of great Oscar-nominated movies, this year’s lineup consists of as many duds as hits. A different issue has clouded the dearth of less than Oscar worthy nominees from 2015.

The subject in question concerns the array of stars that annually wraps the Oscar nominees in a lineup of Caucasians. A conspiracy theorist could readily make their case that the National Football League bought off Hollywood to keep the ugly tale of on-field concussions off the movie screen. Will Smith gets the short end of a very long stick wielded by the white geriatric board that represents the makeup of Oscar nominators.

Meanwhile, I, like many others in America, will not be watching the display of weakness that passes for Oscar-worthy performances. My lack of enthusiasm this year has more to do with the mediocrity of the films presented rather than the lack of racial diversity, although that certainly plays out in the equation.

Two of the movies I did like were “Spotlight,” the Boston Globe’s uncovering of the priesthood sex abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in the 1980s and “Trumbo,” the ingenious scriptwriter of the 1950s who was a victim of Hollywood’s blacklist of suspected communist sympathizers.

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad’s meth manufacturer) gets my vote for best actor and "Trumbo" for best picture. I will admit a huge prejudice for this film because of nepotism. Dalton Trumbo is my wife’s great-grandmother’s first cousin, which for me is close enough to lay claim to fame. A Trumbo family member is still alive and well and living in the Bay area near San Francisco. My wife has made several attempts to meet with this person to share the Trumbo genealogy, alas, to no avail.

Of the last five movies my wife and I attended, four we considered duds. The only Oscar worthy flick in the group is the well-done movie “Spotlight.” The next four movies we saw, although box office hits, left us wondering why we spent our money on non-entertainment.

One of the movies, “Star Wars” had great visual effects, possibly worthy of a vote or two for set design. As far as the plot line, I would rename this one “Run and Gun” — machismo played out with jets and weapons in an outer space setting. Daisy Ridley, starring as the movie’s heroine, obviously has a bright future ahead of her. The rest of the crew is relegated to a dull past.

The only saving grace for the movie “Joy” was Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as the movie's namesake.

Even Tina Fey’s performance, which was shaky at best, was unable to save “Sisters” as a watchable movie. Fortunately it was nominated under the category, nothing at all. A better title for it would have been “Stupid and Stupider.”

A pair of actors coming from the same generation starred in a couple of Oscar nominated films. While Matt Damon’s humorous performance was strong enough to garner a nomination for “The Martian,” all of the grunting and groaning in the world by Leonardo DiCaprio was inadequate to salvage “The Revenant” as a viable Oscar winner.

I admit my interest with the Oscars piqued the previous year, in 2014, due to personal reasons. As with “Trumbo,” I was thoroughly prejudiced to one film. It was called “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon. I would have called it “The Story of a Local Girl Gone Viral” starring Cheryl Strayed. The former McGregor homecoming queen turned successful author was our closest neighbor while we lived deep in the woods of Aitkin County. Having stayed in touch over the years, we were able to follow Cheryl on the road to success, sometimes at her Portland home or ours in Minnesota, and several times while on her book tour. She may not have won any Oscars but she won the admiration of readers worldwide.

Here’s wishing for a better movie season in 2016.


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