Well It is a tough competition after all added to the fact that with the screenwriters on Strike in Hollywood, the annual Golden Globes ceremony was reduced to an official announcement deprived of any glitter and glamour as in previous years. The Golden Globes result usually indicate strongly what will be the ultimate choice of the Oscar Academy even if the Oscars are always unpredictable and the suspense make the waiting painful but also exciting and hopeful. France’s choice for the Oscars: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud’s Persepolis deserved to be also or at best nominated in the Animated film category probably the most logical choice for its genre which was not the case. It would have by all accounts been a favorite had it been in direct competition with this year’s animations like Ratatouille, Bee Movie or the Simpsons. I continue to believe that this is a great shortcoming and unfair categorization for Persepolis not to have had the oppurtunity to run in the Best Animation Category and have a fair “fight” with fellow competitors. Instead it has to run against films which are competing on totally different grounds both in shape and content. Being an Animation Persepolis strikes a cord for its humor and unconventional approach as an adult oriented cartoon where emotional scenes are always at the threshold of humor. If it can compete on nearly the same theme grounds with Mark Forster’s Kite Runner by dealing with issues related to War and Exile and the call of the return to one’s roots, it appears as totally miscast with the other films in its category all of which are hardly what one can consider as “Funny” or “Ironic” films be it the Rumanian Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days which deals with the issue of abortion, Taiwanese Lust, Caution ( Ang Lee same director of Brokeback Mountain) which offers extra ground for its director in exploring onscreen graphical sex and stirring more controversy over his reputation as a provocative director.
There are certainly no given rules in selecting films to run in the various categories but the categorization of Persepolis outside its natural choice ANIMATION seems particularly unjust and quite suitable for the three ALL AMERICAN Animated films of the Year: Bee Movie, The Simpsons and of course Ratatouille. Given that the LA Critics Awards placed Ratatouille and Persepolis on equal grounds by Awarding them ex-equo. Persepolis also did very well at various film festivals across the US noteably the very slective New York Film Festival where it rallied both critical and public ovation. France remains honored however thanks to Marillon Cotillard’s convincing Performace in La Vie en Rose as French Diva Edith Piaf, probably because of Piaf’s image as the quentessential French Icon but also because she is as much part of France’s post WWII collective memory as of that of the US recurrent fascination with French Seduction which has facinated Hollywood through other French Ambassadors as Louis Jourdan or Maurice Chevalier. Strangely La Vie En Rose did not seduce French critics until recently given the Box office success of the movie ( 5 Million viewers) due to the positive echoes it recieved in the US but also in Germany. The lack of enthusiasm of the French critics was most probably due to the fact that they saw in La Vie En Rose a more commercially designed product aimed at a non French audience. Unlike in Hollywood or even British Cinema, Bio Epics, are not a genre in which French cinema has ever truly excelled in until recently. So in many ways the success of La Vie En Rose has proved most French critics wrong and probably for the good reasons that is: The audience’s identification with the extraoridnary destiny of a tragic yet cinderella like character who conquered its fans worldwide. Cotillard certainly captured the necessary magic and Truth about the real life Edith Piaf which explains why the French Icon’s life but also voice continues to last the Test of Time. The choice of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly as best foreign language film based on Jean-Dominique Bauby true autobiography who, in 1995 at the age of 43, suffered a stroke that paralyzed his entire body, except his left eye (which allowed him to communicate and write his book with the help of a nurse ) seems a just tribute ( even if I personally would have prefered to see Persepolis win) to the power of Man’s imagination but also determination to leave a legacy and thus in a way vanquish both his his predicament and ultimate death.
Not every Oscar ceremony Awarding list is shaped by a common theme or common denominator but sometimes they do reflect a certain preoccupation of what seems to have generated interest during the past year in the Film community. Last Year the choice of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth seemed to echo strongly in Hollywood and rally everyone beyond political preferences on global awareness and need for responsability towards Mother Nature. Also in 2007 the Oscar Academy seemed to find an oppurtunity to celebrate its “Own Royalty” by confering the Best Actress Award to Helen Mirren in The Queen, and Forest Whitaker as Best Actor for his breathtaking yet ambiguous performance as Uganda’s dictator Idi Amin Dada in The Last King of Scotland. So it would seem to me that this year’s Golden Globes choice of Julie Christie for best actress in Away from Her a film about rediscovering a new identity ( albeit unvoluntarily due to an uncureable desease i.e: Alzheimers) that destroys an otherwise happy married ageing couples relationship somehow joins the choice of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for Best Foreign film. If this years Oscar’s follows the same choice, then it would certainly draw attention and debate on issues related to Health Care in the US as denounced by Michael Moore in Sicko which should run for the Oscars in Best Documentary category this year.This also places La Vie En Rose Star Marillon Cotillard as a Rival to Julie Christie for the Golden Oscar Statuette at the upcoming Oscars. May The Best Win !.
Whatever the ultimate choice of the Oscar Academy for its 80th annual, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud’s Persepolis have nevertheless achieved their goal in seducing fans and critics worldwide and for a first film by first time directors it has made film History. The Oscar would be the Cherry on the Cake of a Wonderful Year for its directors but also a hopeful production for Diaspora directors in general who are slowly but gradually shaping our culture and in doing so also bridging Iranian Artists with non Iranian colleagues. We can only be admirative and greateful to the talented duo Satrapi-Parronaud for their remarkeable Achievement to date.
ALLEZ MARJANE & VINCENT WE LOVE YOU AS YOU ARE ! ;0)
VIVE LE CINEMA !
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