poses in the press room during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

The Trouble With Oscar – The Award Show Hollywood Loves to Hate

Another year, another maddening Academy Awards. I’ve spent most of my life happily hiding in a dark movie theatre, but I rarely tune in for Hollywood’s big night. Despite all the fanfare and designer rags and Harry Winston jewels, I always feel bad for the so-called losers.

But this year I watched. And once again, the show was too long, too uneven, too tedious.

Once again the wrong movie won Best Picture.

But that’s nothing new. Citizen Kane lost.

Bonnie and Clyde? Nope. Apocalypse Now? E.T.? GoodFellas? Pulp Fiction? Saving Private RyanBrokeback Mountain?

You guessed it. Nopes all around.

Of course, vicariously savoring the televised trainwreck is part of the fun, like snarking through the office Christmas party everyone’s forced to attend.

And that’s too bad. Hollywood is filled with brilliant, talented, hard-working artists. For every narcissist, there are a dozen generous, lovely people who’ll give you the crew-jacket off their backs.

But somehow the awards to honor them have come to resemble a ritualized blood sacrifice, Hollywood’s Burning Man.

And usually it’s the self-regard of the Academy itself that goes up in flames.

This year the irony was more in focus than usual. The diversity problems that afflict the Industry were front and center, adding an extra layer of discomfort to the usual Oscar night tensions. Read more


Charlize Theron “is” Mad Max & the Post-Apocalyptic Bacchanal is Everywhere!

Mad Max: Fury Road had a slightly different journey to the big screen than this year’s other smash sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

MMFR had years of delays, the absence of its original star Mel Gibson, and – compared to Star Wars – a smaller potential audience waiting (or maybe not waiting) for it.

Hollywood has, of course, been cashing in on dystopian futures for a long time. The Hunger Games just finished its 4-movie arc (not to worry – prequels are planned.)

Meantime, we still have part 3 of the Divergent franchise, and The Maze Runner, and The Fifth Wave, … etc.

We even got a prestige version – The Road, adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel.

And it’s hardly limited to the big screen – The Walking Dead dominates cable TV; The Leftovers lives on HBO; Colony just debuted on USA Network.

The post-apocalypse has been around for so long, it’s largely forgotten that George Miller pretty much created it back in 1978 with the original Mad Max.

In 1982, Warner Bros. gave Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior a respectable US release – and suddenly the end of the world was almost a whole new genre.

After the tragic death of his producing partner, Miller struggled with the third Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome, and it failed to grow the franchise (Mel Gibson, treating us to a taste of indiscretions to come, blasted the movie as a “piece of shit” in the press, then later apologized).

Miller and Gibson went on to bigger and (sometimes) better things: Gibson scored with the Lethal Weapon franchise; Miller baffled everybody by writing and producing the lovely family movie, Babe.

Eventually Miller decided that Mad Max still had some gas in the tank, and began plotting and planning as long ago as the mid-90s.

Financing came and went.

Gibson couldn’t commit, then aged out of the role; Heath Ledger was talked about to replace him, but we lost him before he had a chance.

Finally, with his small but impressive role in Inception, Tom Hardy satisfied the Warner Bros.’ criteria for a leading man.

One of the movie’s surprises, however, is that Mad Max Fury Road isn’t a Mad Max movie at all.

Read more