27.February.2012: You don’t need us to tell you who won last night, so better to point to a few of the editorials that ran over the weekend. First up, Nick Pinkerton’s critique of Oscar’s cultural pretensions for the Sundance Now blog takes a longer view than most, going all the way back to the 18th century to revisit a document called “Hierarchy of Genres” by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first president of England’s Royal Academy of Arts. Then the closer: “If the Academy’s simpleminded criterion for weighing accomplishment in this most extraordinarily multifaceted of art forms isn’t enough reason for the gorge to rise, there is also the return of host Billy Crystal this year, a comedian who to my remembrance has only once made me laugh, with his jaw-crashingly ill-calibrated monologue in the character of an elderly Negro jazz clarinetist in a post-Hurricane Katrina Comic Relief.”
Indiewire’s Eric Kohn mentions that The Artist’s sweep of the Independent Spirit Awards is making some wonder why bother: “The mood in the room was best described as a collective shrug; the entire ceremony had culminated in a little more than a rehearsal for the Oscars.” Elsewhere Indiewire reports on the dubious nominees for this year’s Razzies. Adam Sandler leads the pack for this past year’s Worst Achievements in Film: “Starring in two movies—Just Go With It and pulling double duty in Jack & Jill—in addition to producing Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, the Razzie folks had plenty to choose from in what was a banner year for Sandler mediocrity.”
Writing for The Guardian, J. Hoberman offers a characteristically astute analysis of this year’s many appropriations of film history and the literal magic of Georges Méliès’s films, many of which you can stream on Fandor. With all the discussions of film nostalgia, it’s only right to point to Academy Film Archive archivist Mark Toscano’s latest post on his Preservation Insanity blog, this one about Stan Brakhage and his choice in film stocks. Besides writing to educate those of us not up on the differences between reversal and negative, Toscano drives home the broader point about his subject’s importance: “From my work on Stan Brakhage’s films, it’s quite clear that Stan seemed to strive for prints that mirrored his cut original. In other words, he wanted the projection prints to look as closely like his originals as possible—what he saw in editing was what he wanted to get on screen.” Learn more from Jim Shedden’s documentary portrait Brakhage, also streaming at Fandor.
Finally, the Associative Press reported yesterday that beloved Swedish actor Erland Josephson, who collaborated with Ingrid Bergman on dozens of films and plays, has died at 88. Though best known for his work with Bergman, he also acted in two films by Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky: Nostalghia and The Sacrifice. David Hudson collects several past tributes to Josephson for the MUBI Notebook and The New Yorker’s Richard Brody offers one of his own: “Josephson was Bergman’s man, nothing but a man, whose imposing manner was matched by a boyish sensitivity, whose fierce passions emerged in his searching eloquence, whose dark eyes conveyed vast realms of will and intelligence, bewilderment and terror, whose gaze reached for the world with ardor and revulsion.”