Monday, February 27, 2012

Five reasons why IFC's Film Independent Spirit Awards are more enjoyable than the Oscars (even though this year's telecast was more tedious than previous ones)

The 2012 Spirit Awards had more people of color than the 2012 Oscars did. Sorry, Oscars, just because you have all those gold little people in the theater doesn't mean your show is diverse.
At the 2012 Spirit Awards, the coming-of-age film Pariah, directed by Dee Rees (left) and starring Adepero Oduye (right), won the John Cassavetes Award. I haven't seen that film or The Help, but unlike The Help, at least Pariah doesn't look like Driving Miss Daisy II. 
5. The booze
Without it, Patricia Clarkson's classy and terse toast to the late Bingham Ray, a champion of indie movies and a co-founder of October Films (now Focus Features), wouldn't have been possible.

4. The cursing
When someone at the Oscars curses, it's an international scandal. When someone does it at the Spirit Awards, it's just another adjective.

Reason #6: The skirts are shorter
2012 Spirit Awards presenters Kirsten Dunst,
star of
Melancholia, and Jonah Hill, star of the
thought-provoking indie movie
21 Jump Street
3. The humor
The comedic material is sharper. Examples include 2012 Spirit Awards host Seth Rogen's swipes at Brett Ratner and Chris Brown ("At the Grammys, you can literally beat the shit out of a nominee and be asked to perform twice") and Garfunkel and Oates' musical number about the downbeat material in most of the nominated films. Sure, John Waters doesn't skew younger than the 50/50 star does, but he should really be the host of these things every year. Waters killed as the Spirit Awards announcer, delivering fake teasers for segments like an "In Memoriam" tribute to people whose careers died in 2011.

2. The pompousless-ness
Unlike the audience inside the Dulcolax Theater or whatever it'll be called next year, the audience inside the Spirit Awards tent gets the jokes.

At the Oscars, why is Chris Rock a frequent humorlessness magnet? A few years before Sean Penn didn't understand Rock's joke about Jude Law, there was this:
There's Fran Lebowitz, inhaling deeply, working her way, with ironic disdain, through a carton of cigarettes, while we chat up Chris Rock.

"Chris, loved it when you called Elia Kazan a rat!"

Long stare from Mister Rock.

Finally, he explains, "It was just a joke."

1. The pacing
It's paced like the NBA All-Star Game (and cut together frantically too--even the obligatory "cut to a black audience member when someone's joke references a black person" shot is faster-paced). Speaking of the All-Star Game, it aired against the Oscars and was a nice sanctuary from endless Chuck Workman montages. I don't get why those montages are so beloved by Oscar telecast producers. They're basically the opening credits of every That's Hollywood! episode.

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