Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wah-wah wee-wah!

I'm not surprised to learn that Dreamgirls wasn't nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, since, hype notwithstanding, it wasn't a very good movie. Jennifer Hudson did give a pretty good performance, although she's not an especially good actress, so I don't begrudge her the Oscar nomination (or the Golden Globe she already won), but her career options are probably pretty limited whether she wins or not. Every few years we start hearing about how the Hollywood musical is back! But I'm not holding my breath. I guess there are still a few musical biopics to be made, though, and so I'll look for Jennifer to star in Billie in 2009. (After that, how about a movie about the Supremes? I hear they have a pretty good backstory!)

I'm also not surprised that Sacha Baron Cohen didn't get an Oscar nod, but I was thrilled to see him win the Golden Globe. I was sick of hearing about Borat long before I finally saw it, but in all the analyses I read of Baron Cohen's art - racist or progressive? crude or cerebral? significant or silly? - I never saw anyone paying much attention to the quality of his performance. It is an absolute joy to watch Baron Cohen embody the character of Borat, and that's true regardless of what he's saying, or whether a given scene is scripted. He had me laughing every time he crossed the screen with his awkward pants-too-tight gait. And the best part of his in-character appearance on Letterman was his entrance: just watch him sit down.

Having seen Baron Cohen in character as Ali G or Bruno, whose physical presences are completely different and just as fully realized, makes his performance as Borat all the more remarkable. So I thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for not being too snobby to recognize the year's most committed performance. I'm not sure the award will do Cohen much more good than it will do Hudson - obviously "Borat" can't take people by surprise anymore, and I don't think I'd want to see the character in an entirely scripted format. But any other character he creates would be worth seeing. And I wouldn't mind seeing more of Cohen out of costume. I feel a little weird thinking it while watching that acceptance speech, but it must be said: the man is handsome.

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