Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Musings: Post Oscars Edition

The Oscars! What a night. For those of you who missed Billy Crystal's return to evening television, you can catch a round-up of the winners HERE.

My personal favorite moments were Octavia Spencer's acceptance speech for her award in the Best Supporting Actress category, Christopher Plummer's very classy and also very funny acceptance speech for his award in the Best Supporting Actor category - and boy, was it a long time coming! - and seeing so very many nominated and winning films that had been adapted from books.

But this brings me to my least favorite part of the evening, which was seeing my fellow writers on Twitter complaining that no-one had thanked Brian Selznick for writing the glorious book that became the film Hugo.

Guys, you know I love books. And I loved THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET - it is such a unique and special book, and it is truly award worthy. And I don't want to get preachy on this blog, and maybe all the griping was borne out of a basic ignorance of the way movies get made, so I'm just aiming to inform here.

But GUYS. The people who won awards for their work on the film? They were the sound mixers, and the visual effects people, and the sound editors, and the set designers. They didn't have anything to do with the words part. Their job was to make sure that the train whistle didn't drown out the dialogue, or that the music was loud enough that you could hear it without being so loud that you couldn't hear the sound of Hugo's footsteps echoing down the corridors. The visual effects guy was worrying about making everything look smooth so it blended in with the live action. The set designers might have seen the illustrations in the book, or they might have met with Scorsese and had him tell them, "You know such-and-such place? Make it look like that." (Plus, the set designer was an Italian lady who seemed not to speak much English - maybe thanking the author and everyone else was a little beyond her at that point.)

It kind of sucks to say it, but these guys didn't necessarily need the book. To pick on them for not mentioning Selznick is kind of like picking on a Newberry Award winner for not thanking their parents for giving birth to them so they could live to write something so amazing.

The people who always thank the original writer of the book are the screenwriters who do the adaptation, which Hugo didn't win, and the director (another category that Hugo didn't win), and the actors (and Octavia DID thank the author of THE HELP). Because these are the people for whom the original words were really, really important.

So, I hope you know a little more about what sound mixers and all those other people do. And I hope the next time you sit down to watch the Oscars, you can enjoy it a little more, and maybe cut them a bit of slack. They work as hard as we do, and it's wonderful to see talent and hard work recognized, in any field, but especially in the arts.

What were your favorite Oscar moments?


  1. These are great points Ishta. I only watched the beginning of it with Billy Crystal. Which was great.

  2. You are of course totally correct. Whether or not a movie wins an Oscar is not really an indication of the quality of the book. This was actually a great book. I heard a good review by Elaine Charles on her radio show, The Book Report. You should listen on

  3. I didn't watch the Oscars...I do like looking at the dresses the next day tho, LOL!

    Nice post!

  4. They didn't mention the author of "The Help" either. I have long thought that the Oscar for best screenplay should be split with the author of the book.

  5. Would you die if I told you I didn't watch a single minute of it...? Well, I won't say that then. :)