Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Second Annual Taste My Sad Oscar Sadstravaganza.

The Second Annual Taste My Sad Oscar Sadstravaganza.

Welcome, FsOTB, to the second annual Taste My Sad Oscar Sadstravaganza. Last year’s edition was one of the longest things any human being has ever posted on the Internet. I’m virtually certain that no one read all of it. Why are we back? Because we just can’t believe it ourselves.

For those of you who are new to the blog, here’s what I wrote last year by way of explaining what this is and why in God’s name this is happening:

I’ll be going through every category and picking my winners, but I’ll leave the decisions on the 'best' in each category to the actual Oscar voters (you’re welcome), and stick to a distinction that I feel uniquely qualified to bestow: 'saddest.' And if you can’t wait to see how I determine which film had the saddest sound editing this year… well you’ve come to the right place. 
So sit back, relax, crack open a beer or seven, and LET’S GET SAD.

Saddest Short Film, Live Action
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

It’s for these short film categories that I’ll be doing the most research. And by research, I mean reading their IMDb plot summaries.

I rejected three of the films out of hand. The Shore, directed by Hotel Rwanda director Terry George, seems like a shoo-in from its pedigree, but is described as “equal parts hilarious and moving.” Can’t have any hilarity here! Time Freak (not starring Criss Angel, as I had hoped) is a comedy about time travel. Next. And Pentecost is about a mischievious Irish altar boy who has to serve Mass correctly or else “never watch his beloved Liverpool play again.” First of all, I was an altar boy. It’s not that hard. Second of all, what’s an Irish kid doing rooting for Liverpool? And third of all, as a devoted Everton supporter, I can’t get behind this. Pentecost loses.

The runner-up in this category is Raju, described on IMDb as follows: “A German couple adopts in Kolkata an Indian orphan. Their child suddenly disappears and they realize that they are part of the problem.” India + losing a child = quite sad. But I did giggle at the phrase “part of the problem,” which I’ve famously used to describe employees of Residential Property Management at the George Washington University. (Don’t worry about it.) But so anyway I can’t laugh during the plot summary and pick that movie to win, I don’t think.

The clear winner here is Tuba Atlantic, which I had hoped was about FOTB and tubaist (tubaer? tubasmith?) Erin McLean. I’ll just leave with you with the plot summary to explain why it wins: “Everybody is going to die one day. Oskar (70) is going to die in 6 days. He is now ready to forgive his brother for a disagreement years ago. Will he reach his brother, who he believes live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, before it is too late?” Good LORD. It starts off with the phrase “Everybody is going to die one day.” Someone’s been reading Taste My Sad! (Note: I seriously don’t know if anyone has been reading Taste My Sad. Like, literally anyone. It’s very possible that no one will read this.)

Saddest Short Film, Animated
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

I didn’t bother reading the plot summary of one of these. Guess which one. I refuse to type that stupid title out again.

Sunday is about a boy who puts a coin on the train tracks (UGHH DON’T DO THAT), which apparently has “unfortunate and bizarre results for a passing bear.” I don’t know. It’s a French movie. Let’s just move on. La Luna is about a young boy on a boat ride at night with his grandparents and AYYYYYYYYY PAISAN CHE BELLA CANZONE. A Morning Stroll’s plot summary made me mad: “When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll, we are left to wonder which one is the real city slicker.” I feel like I would hate that movie.

Wild Life is our winner. “Calgary, 1909. An Englishman moves to the Canadian frontier, but is singularly unsuited to it. His letters home are much sunnier than the reality. Intertitles compare his fate to that of a comet.” Comets are the saddest of all the celestial objects. Bonus points for being set in a city that is also the title of a Bon Iver song. It’s a shame that that other acclaimed short animated film, Dingy Cabin in the Woods of Wisconsin, was not nominated.

Saddest Documentary, Short Subjects
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Alright here we go. Documentaries are always sad. I’m already crying just looking at the titles!

We’ll dispense with God Is the Bigger Elvis, winner of the Most Ridiculous Title of Any Movie Ever award. It’s about Dolores Hart, an actress who quit acting to become a nun. Like the opposite of The Sound of Music, if Fraulein Maria had become an actress. The Barber of Birmingham’s title is pretty self-explanatory; it seems like a cool movie about a cool dude. 

But then the other three are just the saddest things I’ve ever heard. Incident in New Baghdad centers on an American soldier recounting the story of “the slaying of two Reuters journalists, along with a group of mostly unarmed men, on the streets of Baghdad by American attack helicopters in July 2007.” Yeesh. The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom is, as you’d expect, about Japanese people picking up the pieces of their lives after the tsunami. Oof. (It’s also about cherry blossoms, which is topical for us DC residents, amirite?)

But oh my good Lord does Saving Face sound sad. I thought, oh it’s about someone who committed a faux pas and tries to “save face” afterwards! So it’s a delightful comedy of manners that is also somehow a documentary. NO. It’s about women in Pakistan who have ACID THROWN IN THEIR FACES. WHAT. And I bet none of them turned to coin-wielding villainy like Harvey Dent did! I believe in Saving Face.

Saddest Documentary, Features
Hell and Back Again
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Some of these I’ve heard of. I saw a trailer for Undefeated the other day, which looks like a real-life Friday Night Lights and therefore I’m going to see it and cry. But high school football, while quite emotional, can’t match some of the other entries in this category. Pina, directed by renowned sadmonger Wim Wenders, is about the choreographer Pina Bausch. I’ve seen some sad dances in my day, but, again, some perspective here. If A Tree Falls is about “the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's ‘number one domestic terrorist threat.’” Clearly the FBI hasn’t met my buddy Chich.

This is a two-horse race. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is about the West Memphis Three, wrongfully imprisoned for nearly twenty years until their recent release. Very sad. But on the other hand… they were just released! And also this is the third in a series of docs about them. What’s the last good threequel you saw? The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is the correct answer. 

And so Hell and Back Again, about soldiers going to and returning from the war in Afghanistan, wins. Is this a makeup call from the last category, where I snubbed the war doc? That’s not for me to say.

Saddest Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Bring on the BIG-BUDGET FILMS. Oh by the way, how will we judge which film’s visual effects are the “saddest,” you ask? As arbitrarily as we do everything else on this blog.

All five of these films have legitimate claims for this award. The continued existence of the Transformers franchise is quite sad. And Hugo is about an orphan, or something, and maybe he saw mystical visions of his parents or something. Side note: I have not seen Hugo.

I also have not seen ROTPOTA, but I did consider it for this blog (“sad film about animal cruelty”). So it’s close. Real Steel is close too, because I cried during that movie. (Don’t worry about it.) But our winner is Harry Potter, because I can only imagine how sad-looking the visual effects were in the scene where Harry dies. Side note: I have not read the Harry Potter books.

Saddest Sound Editing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Drive. If only because it’s really sad that this is the only category it’s nominated in. C’mon, Academy. (Also, many, many people are killed in that movie. Killing sounds = sad.)

Saddest Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

A two-horse (GET IT) race between Dragon Tattoo (rape sounds are sad) and War Horse (war sounds are sad). I’ll go with War Horse, because horse whinnies, already sad on their own, must be way sadder in the context of war.

Saddest Original Song
The Muppets, “Man or Muppet”
Rio, “Real in Rio”

Muppets duh. That song is DEEP. “If I’m a man, that makes me a muppet of a man.” Words I can relate to.

Saddest Original Score
The Adventures of Tintin
The Artist
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

The first nomination we’ve seen for The Artist, which is just way too happy-go-lucky to gain much traction here at TMS. Sorry, Frenchies. Hope all the Oscars will keep you warm. Also I have not seen any of these, except for The Artist, which I slept through the first half of. I am a model moviegoer. Give it to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, because the other movies’ scores are probably either whimsical or inspiring, and Tinker Tailor’s all Cold War-ish, right?

Saddest Makeup
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Iron Lady

The Brits love their makeup, apparently. Albert Nobbs is all repression and cross-dressing before it was in style, but I hear from reliable sources that The Iron Lady is very dementia-heavy. Dementia’s hard to beat around here.

Saddest Costume Design
The Artist
Jane Eyre

I hate that W.E. has as many nominations as Drive. UGHHH MADONNA GET OUT. Again, the foreigns dominate this category (three films set in Britain, one in France, one in Hollywood but made by a bunch of Frogs). I didn’t see it, but, in the previews for Jane Eyre, Jane looked a bit dowdy. Let’s go with it.

Saddest Art Direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

These are all just blending together right now. What the hell constitutes sad art direction? Why am I doing this. Harry Potter again. Snape dies, right? I'm pretty sure I'm right about that one.

Saddest Editing
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I define this one as “movie with the most cuts to sad things.” By that standard, The Descendants is our winner for sure. That dying wife got A LOT of screen time.

Saddest Cinematography
The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

I really wanted to see The Tree of Life, but I haven’t yet. I heard there were dinosaurs in it. DINOSAURS. Crazy shit. And I hear it’s melancholy and all that. But we’re long overdue for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lots of shots of cold, bleak Sweden. Also, I think there’s been a rape up there! Side note: I have not seen or read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Saddest Foreign Language Film
In Darkness
Monsieur Lahzar
A Separation

Another one where I have to look up what they’re about! RESEARCH. And this category always features stiff competition. (As we all know, foreign people have things much worse off than we Americans do.)

The lightest of the five is Footnote, an Israeli film about a father and son who are both professors in Talmudic studies and have some sort of confrontation. Eh. It’s decently heavy. But this category has a high bar, and that ain’t cuttin’ it. Nor is the plot of Monsieur Lahzar, about an Algerian immigrant hired to replace an elementary school teacher who died tragically. Tragic deaths, yes, but apparently that happens before the main plot does. Sorry, Canadians.

The three remaining films are all TMS material. Bullhead is a Belgian film described as “an exciting tragedy about fate, lost innocence and friendship, about crime and punishment, but also about conflicting desires and the irreversibility of a man's destiny.” HEAVY. A Separation, which I hear is excellent, is about Iranian folks who have to decide whether to stay in Iran to take care of one of their parents (who has Alzheimer’s), or move to create a better life for their child. This is one of those films that’ll make me feel guilty for taking an hour to decide what to eat for lunch.

But step aside, folks: we’ve got a Holocaust film on our hands. In Darkness: a Polish film that tells “the true story of Leopold Soha who risks his own life to save a dozen people from certain death.” In the immortal words of Dirk Nowitzki: “Shut it down. Let’s go home.” (I could watch this video a hundred times in a row and laugh every time. Unreal. Take dat witchu.)

Saddest Animated Film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

Obviously Kung Fu Panda, right? No? It’s not sad? OK then. 

The two non-mainstream films duke it out for this one, and I think the winner is Chico & Rita. It’s about Cuban star-crossed lovers! Cuba is way sad. And plus A Cat in Paris just sounds like the name of an adorable YouTube video where they insert cats into scenes from Midnight in Paris.

Saddest Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gotta be The Descendants. As mentioned earlier, Clooney talks to the dying wife a lot. It’s sadder than some computer reciting newfangled statistics, amirite Joe Morgan? (Zing.)

Saddest Original Screenplay
The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris
A Separation

A Separation, nosed out earlier by that Holocaust flick, takes this award. (See FOTB Joe Kirkwood’s guest post on Schindler’s List for discussion of phrases like “Holocaust flick.” THROWBACKKKKKK.) I’ll even overlook the fact that it’s not written in ENGLISH. I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA, PEOPLE.

Saddest Director
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Technically this award is for “Best Directing,” not “Best Director,” but I’m tweaking this a bit:  here we tackle the question of which film’s director is the saddest person. I will not allow the fact that I have never met any of these five men to stand in the way of judging how sad they are.

Scorsese is just a jolly old Italian man, having a great time, making 3D movies about French kids. He's lovin' life. The Frenchman’s probably going to win the actual thing, so he’s doing well too. And Payne’s a young guy, and while he’s made some sad movies in his day (i.e., About Schmidt), he got to hang out with George Clooney in Hawaii for several weeks. There’s no way they didn’t get up to some crazy awesome shit.

That leaves Malick, the notorious coot, and our man Woody. And in something of a surprise to those who love Woody’s movies, particularly the early, funny ones, the answer is clearly him. The man doesn’t give that many interviews, but in every single one he’s given for the past thirty years, his subject of choice is his intense, overwhelming fear of death, and his belief that all art is ultimately meaningless. Take it from someone who’s seen nearly all of his movies and read everything there is to read about the man: he’s probably not a hoot at dinner parties.

Saddest Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Here we’re going by the performance, not how sad the people are. That was fun for one round, but I don’t really have any insight on Melissa McCarthy’s view on the human condition. I did enjoy the scene where she took a shit in the sink, though.

We’ll go with Janet McTeer. The Help ladies cancel each other out, like the two sides of a black-and-white cookie (racist?), and the other two are full of lolz. McTeer’s film is all about repression, and while I’ll probably never see it, I’m happy to (possibly wrongly) assume that her performance is fraught with sadness.

Saddest Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, Smash My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I don’t care that we covered EL&IC on the blog. Von Sydow was sadder in Hannah and Her Sisters (#WOODY). Christopher Plummer wins, for playing someone with cancer. I have not seen that movie yet and I desperately want to.

Saddest Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michele Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Some good candidates here: Viola Davis loves crying in movies, Rooney Mara gets raped, Michele Williams goes on to die tragically. But this is where it gets political: having just Nobbsed out in the Supporting Actress category, I’m gonna have to go with the coolest lady of all time, Meryl Streep. Again, I hear there’s a lot of dementia in that film, and we at the blog do love us some dementia.

Saddest Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

I’m mainly sad that FOTB Michael Fassbender didn’t get a nod for his dongtastic performance in Shame, which, all dong jokes aside, was truly remarkable. The actual candidates each have their sad moments: Pitt, when his scrappy A’s keep losing the playoffs (SORRY BRO GO YANKEEEEEEEES); Dujardin, when he’s washed up and sets his apartment on fire; Bichir, when he’s reminded by reporters daily that he’s by far the least famous one in the group; and Oldman, when he doesn’t get there fast enough to save Rachel from being blown up by the Joker. But Clooney really got it done in that movie, a movie that devotees will recall I did not love, but featured a fine, sad performance from one of the sexiest men of all time. (I’m referring, of course, to Matthew Lillard. Oh, and George Clooney was good too.)

Saddest Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Obviously, this award won’t go to the movie that made me saddest this year (that movie was Fast Five, which made me sad that it wasn’t five hours longer). It’s the saddest of these nine, two of which we’ve covered here on the blog. And despite Clooney’s best efforts, it’s extremely/incredibly difficult to beat a 9/11 picture in the sad department. (Yes I know that, not five minutes ago, I wrote the words "I don’t care that we covered EL&IC on the blog." Just leave me alone already.)

Congrats, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I didn’t like you, but I just gave you an arbitrary award.

I’m gonna go sleep for ten hours. Enjoy the Oscars, everyone!


  1. NOBODY TOLD ME MATHEW LILLARD IS IN THE DESCENDANTS. Without A Paddle on VHS got me through the 8th grade!

  2. Hi, John. I want to follow this blog so I get updates on my dashboard, but I don't see where I can. Any ideas? (I'm glad to have met you last weekend!) :-)

  3. I figured it out - I can just go to my dashboard and add a URL.