Thursday, February 06, 2014

And the Oscar Goes To...

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, And the Oscar Goes to… is a documentary about the history of the Academy Awards from its inception to the ceremony that it would become in its many years. Narrated by Anjelica Huston, the film features interviews from actors, filmmakers, and technicians who had won or were nominated for the Oscar as they talk about the good and the bad. The result is an insightful documentary from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

The film explores the history of the Academy Awards which was founded as a way to celebrate achievement in films while gathering the studios in the early 20th Century to celebrate and award actors, set designers, costume designers, editors, and such without the interference of the Union. Despite some issues during the Great Depression with the Union and the 1950s blacklist that would ban those who had been blacklisted at the time. Actors such as Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Annette Bening, Helen Mirren, Ben Kingsley, Cher, and Ellen Burstyn along with filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Jason Reitman, and Phil Alden Robinson talk about the importance of the Oscars but also the downside.

The downside reveals that despite winning the awards, there’s a room full of losers there that feel very disappointed as producer Kathleen Kennedy talked about the 11 nominations that The Color Purple had and ended up winning zero. Cher admits that it’s nice to be nominated, at first, until the ceremony where you end up feeling like a loser. Benicio del Toro reveals that while it’s fun to win, it’s not so good for the fact that there were other actors in the category that you won where there’s a feeling that they gave a better performance.

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman also use a lot of archival footage dating from the first televised Academy Awards in the early 1950s when television arrived to the world. With the help of editors Brad Fuller, Brian Johnson, and Jake Pushinsky, the use of archival footage as well as backstage clips showcase the sense of pageantry and chaos that goes in the presentation as Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal play into how difficult it was to host the Oscars. Cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, production designer Michael Fitzgerald, and sound editor Wade Barnett do much of the work for the interviews that is displayed on the film. The film’s music by Jeff Beal is low-key in terms of its orchestral arrangements that plays into some of the somber and humorous moments of the film.

And the Oscar Goes to… is an excellent documentary from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. While it’s not a perfect documentary where it did overlook some good moments and some bad ones. It does showcase the Oscars in all of its glory as well as why not everyone is so happy about it. Still, it does manage to showcase its importance and why people always watch the ceremony. In the end, And the Oscar Goes to… is a superb documentary from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

© thevoid99 2014


Ryan McNeil said...

This sounds like a pretty damned good watch! Thanks for the tip - looks like TCM is repeating it soon, so I'll have a chance to weigh in on it as well.

thevoid99 said...

It's the right film at the right time though it is pretty flawed as it doesn't cover everything but manages to cover enough to make it enjoyable.