Last night’s Oscars felt dead on arrival when Queen opened the show with a performance that was so lifeless and awkwardly shot one might have mistaken it for a clip from Bohemian Rhapsody. Fortunately, though, the ever-reliable trio of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph brought the energy back to the room. In the absence of the usual opening monologue, the trio offered a funny bit that ripped on the many gaffes the Academy made en route to this year’s Oscars, including losing host Kevin Hart and backtracking on its decision to award several categories during the commercial breaks and present edited clips later in the show. This year’s Oscar broadcast might have been the swiftest one yet since it didn’t have a host to pad the evening with jokes and filler. The Oscars didn’t suffer much without a host, but like the show could have used a bit more pizzazz. One can hardly fault the Academy because they ultimately listened to viewers and delivered a show that focused largely on the nominees and winners.
|Clockwise from top left: Roma, BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, A Star is Born, The Favourite, Green Book|
Another year, another utterly toxic Oscar season in the can. I don't know if this year was as brutal as the last one, but jeez - don’t you remember when the Oscars were fun? Don’t you remember when you could champion a movie because you loved it, because it moved you, or because it wowed you unlike anything you’d seen before? I mean, could you even imagine Titanic winning Best Picture in 2018? If The Boy Who Cried Woke thinks its classist to say “You’ve gotta see Roma in a theatre!” then Titanic would have gotten killed because Rose, the rich girl, survived the shipwreck and Jack, the magical boy from Steerage, died. An iceberg would be the least of Titanic's problems.
|Catch must-see Oscar nominee Minding the Gap at TIFF Next Wave|
Courtesy of TIFF.
Forget Max Ophüls, the archival 35mm print you need to see this week is But I’m a Cheerleader! TIFF’s Next Wave Film Festival returns this week offering youth-oriented programming with films both old and new selected by young movie buffs. Jamie Babbit’s campy and hilarious cult hit is just one of the retrospective highlights of the film that should attract moviegoers eager to explore films that didn’t make the cut at TIFF’s recent 1999 series. (Still waiting on that Thomas Crown Affair spotlight, dear Lightbox!)
Wowee, the short film branch of the Academy is a sadistic bunch. I love the five films they nominated for Best Animated Short, but the programme for Best Live Action Short is simply intolerable. With the exception of one contender, the nominees are relentlessly bleak, exhausting, and, at times, excruciating films. Oscar completists must tread lightly in this scenario, for it might better to fill out the ballot than endure the miserable hell of a screening. At the very least, find out the screening order of the films and plan bathroom breaks or walk out times accordingly.
I might have a bone to pick with Oscar voters for their choices in the insufferably bleak live action and documentary shorts, but the animation team delivered one of the few truly great sets of nominees this year. The five Oscar-nominated animated short films represent the best of the field and deliver the full spectrum of the art form by storytellers from around the world. The cherry on top is that Canadians hold the majority of slots in the category with one NFB production and two films by Canuck directors landing on the ballot—and the three films are honestly the best of the bunch.
Giant Little Ones
(Canada, 93 min.)
Written and directed by Keith Behrman
Starring: Josh Wiggins, Maria Bello, Darren Mann, Taylor Hickson, Kyle MacLachlan, Peter Outerbridge
|Josh Wiggins stars in Giant Little Ones|
Love stories often contain fireworks. Either literal or figurative, sometimes both, these bright bursts offer convenient metaphors for sparks that fly between connected souls. In Giant Little Ones, the long-awaited sophomore feature of Keith Behrman following his 2002 debut Flower & Garnet, the story offers no fireworks, but it does shoot off a few flare guns. The image of best friends Franky (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas (Darren Mann) sending little rockets into the air offers a touching, understated image of sexual awakening. The flares that fly upwards into the night don’t travel a straight path—they sail in unconventional arcs before erupting into bright, glowing euphoric bursts of red light that warm the heart. Handsomely shot and driven by an upbeat indie soundtrack, Giant Little Ones is at its best when it speaks for the characters without saying anything. These explosions in the sky are warmly reassuring gestures in an intimate coming of age story.