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Michelle Obama looked great at the Oscars but she should not have been there: Anna MM Vetticad

Updated: February 25, 2013, 3:09 PM IST
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Michelle Obama looked great at the Oscars but she should not have been there: Anna MM Vetticad
Film critic and author Anna MM Vetticad joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Oscar Awards 2013.

Film critic and author Anna MM Vetticad joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Oscar Awards 2013.

Q. Are you satisfied with this Oscar Awards 2013? If no then what are your reasons for the same? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. No. Not satisfied. Though it's not the worst of the Oscar shows in recent years (the one hosted by James Franco with Anne Hathaway gets that honor, though completely because of Franco, not Hathaway's fault), I must say this one was not even close to the best the Oscars have been - there were production glitches, and it was completely unacceptable that the song from 'Life of Pi' was not performed on stage! Still, it had its moments :)

Q. Didn't the Academy got it wrong when they didn't even nominate Ben Affleck for Best Director? Asked by: Harshad Hussain

A. Absolutely. Firstly I will never understand how the Best Film is not made by the Best Director. This is a question I've got for Awards worldwide, including our country, not just the Oscars. I'm not saying I don't have any reservations about Argo, but it was certainly one of the top 5 films of 2012 to my mind and I can't imagine why Affleck didn't get nominated for Best Director!

Q. I enjoyed Ben Affleck's acceptance. Remember watching him as a young kid with Matt Damon accepting the award for Goodwill Hunting. What a journey...your thoughts? Asked by: WMT

A. Yes, watching him give his acceptance speech for Best Film today was slightly emotional because we've seen this guy grow up right before our eyes. He was like such an excited kid when Good Will Hunting was made, and here he is today, one of the world's best writer-directors. It helps that he's gorgeous! :) I kept thinking - perhaps we'll see Suraj Sharma on that stage 10 years from now. Fingers crossed!

Q. Should awards like the Oscars reflect societal changes or should it be just pristine assessment of cinematic excellence? Asked by: Shaun

A. I think actual selections for Awards should judge cinematic excellence alone. But Awards are given by human beings, so it's inevitable that they will reflect social prejudices and societal change. That's why moments such as Halle Berry winning the Best Actress Oscar are not just about a great performance being lauded but also historic for African Americans and all people across the world who have ever been oppressed!

Q. I respect Michelle Obama a lot for her grace and demeanor. Do you think it was appropriate to get her announce the best film at Oscars. I mean what is the link? Asked by: Madhumita

A. I found that a very awkward part of the entire ceremony. I admire Michelle Obama for many reasons, but it felt so wannabe. I mean, what's the connection, (like you said)? The whole point of the Academy Awards is that the industry is applauding and recognizing its own people. Michelle Obama looks great in a fitted gown but she should not have been there. Plus, that part of the show was not even smoothly handled. The gap between when the presenter at the theater tossed to her and the actual announcement (because the envelope had not yet been handed to her) reflected poor production.

Q. Ma'am, I was touched that Ang Lee said 'Namaste' - he thought it important enough and also called out to the little boy....but Jen Lawrence - didn't mention Anupam Kher - Haven't seen the movie, but was it a significant role? And did he deserve a mention? Asked by: RM

A. Yes, that was a very nice moment for us Indians. Ang Lee always comes across as being such a decent, humble man on all public platforms, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised. I don't blame Jennifer Lawrence though- simply because although Anupam Kher gets a reasonably good amount of screen time in Silver Linings Playbook, his character is not one that you come away from the film remembering. And in the final scenes of the film, he's shown repeatedly, hanging around with the family with nothing to say or do. He was made to look like a hanger-on by the editor in those scenes! Ouch!

Q. Ok...so 'Zero Dark Thirty' didn't get anything...I'm disappointed, how about you? Asked by: Maya

A. Very disappointed. I loved that film very much. I think Kat Bigelow's achievement with Zero Dark Thirty is that we all know what the outcome of the story would be because Osama Bin Laden's end is so well chronicled, but the treatment keeps us hooked. And much as I loved Argo too, I have to say ZDT was a little more well rounded in that it put a human face to Osama's people as much as the Americans and showed American cruelty too. Argo was an American film about Americans for Americans with not enough of a voice given to the Iranians - lovely film, but that's my grouse with it. And this balanced approach is one of ZDT's many strengths.

Q. Do You think Michelle Obama was the biggest surprise in 2013 oscars? Asked by: sree

A. Certainly her presence was a surprise, but it was not gasp-worthy. Do see one of my previous answers about this. It was not an "wow" moment but more of a "huh? what's she doing here?" kind of moment that I found slightly embarrassing, much as I admired her strength.

Q. Only 3 nominations from India under "Foreign film" category thus far & none of those won the award. Are our movies that bad? Or are we (FFI?) sending the wrong ones? Asked by: Manoj Joseph

A. I think we're sending the wrong movies. We forget that we should send one of our best films that would also appeal to American sensibilities and the Academy's expectations of what they would like to see from India. If you look at the only 3 Indian films to ever get nominations - 'Mother India', 'Salaam Bombay' & 'Lagaan' - you'll know what I mean. For instance, in the year that there was a big fight between 'Eklavya' & 'Dharam', they should have sent Dharam because (a) it was a beautiful film and (b) the politics of the film - Hindu-Muslim tensions in small-town India - would have been something that post-9/11 Academy Award voters would have been able to relate to.

Q. Only 2 decent acceptance speeches this year - Hathaway & Day-Lewis. Agree? Asked by: Sandeep Loyalka

A. Most of the speeches today weren't sparkling. DDL rocked it. Anne Hathaway was good but not great. I also liked the way Jennifer Lawrence said she knew people were applauding her specially because she tripped on the steps to the stage. And the Best Film team - I like the way they subtly made sure they gave the Academy the message that it was silly not to give Ben Affleck a Best Director nomination. Just for the record, if this was an Indian awards function, it's likely they would have given him some weird award like "Best Director who is above 5-feet-10-inches-tall-and-looks-good-with-a-beard Award" to coax him to be present at the event!

Q. Barfi was nominated for the Oscar this year but in that movie many scenes were copied from Charli Chaplin, Don't you think that even nomination for the same in the Oscar was utter crap and insanity by them at the Oscar Level? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. 'Barfi' was not nominated, Anant. It was sent by India as our entry for the Foreign Language category Oscar. It did not get a nomination. Even if you argue that the Chaplinesque scenes in the film were a tribute to Chaplin, there's no point in sending a film like that to the Oscars as our entry because the Academy would really be more interested in an Indian Indian film (like say Paan Singh Tomar) than a film of the sort that doesn't seem rooted in the Academy's perception of Indian culture - we have to be practical about that while making our choices, or not bother to send a film at all.

Q. I haven't seen Django yet, but do you think Robert De Niro deserved this Oscar over Waltz? Asked by: Mithil

A. Christoph Waltz is an absolute chameleon on screen. I don't think I'd argue too much with this choice though de Niro was lovely too and thank god for that because sometimes when I see him take his viewers for granted in films in recent years or embarrass himself in films like Meet the Fs, I want to tear my hair out.

Q. What according you maybe is well suited Indian actor whom you think can win Oscar if he/she were in Hollywood? Asked by: Khalid

A. Hmmm, very generalized question, so I hope you don't mind that I answer from the point of view of the Indian actors who are getting noticed internationally these days. If Irrfan plays his cards right and does not accept more roles of the sort he played in last year's Spiderman film, hopefully we will see him nominated for an Oscar in the near future.

Q. Anna, According to you which is the movie for which you had deep aversion and yet that movie get any Oscar award 2013 can you name that movie for which you had aversion? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. I didn't have an "aversion" to any of the nominated films :) But I have to admit being disappointed with the Best Director win. I felt Ang Lee should have got the Best Film and Best Director for Brokeback Mountain but instead he got Best Director alone back then. This year, I didn't think he deserved the Best Director Oscar. Life of Pi was beautiful when the story was out at sea, but the beginning and the end were awkward and it felt like it was alien territory to the director, so there's a choice I don't agree with.

Q. Indian entry should have been 'Paan Singh Tomar'. Do you agree? Asked by: Madhumita

A. If you ask me to choose between 'Paan Singh Tomar' and 'Barfi', I would definitely have chosen 'Paan Singh Tomar'. But please don't forget that there are a lot of interesting films being made in languages other than Hindi in our country and too often India's choice for Foreign Language category Oscar shows an obsession with Bollywood!

Q. Ma'am, they don't have awards for best actor on a boat and all....why do Indian awards have that? Asked by: RaiSinBran

A. Haha, yes I agree. Indian popular film Awards (not the National Awards) appear like they are trying to please everyone and offend no one. If you have a Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor, I don't understand the logic behind Best Actor in a Comic Role, Best Actor in a Negative Role, Best Performer, etc. These actors would in any way come under the category of Lead/Suppoting Actor/Actress. Yes, they ought to change this odd practice.

Q. Don't you agree that strong scripts and gripping narratives are not necessarily Indian cinema's strengths? A reason perhaps for us not doing well on the international stage? Asked by: Shirish

A. Good quality is not the only factor in a film "doing well" - there's also great marketing involved in the success of the big Hollywood films that come to India. Hangover 2 was an awful film that recycled the formula used in Hangover, yet look how much it earned at the worldwide box office! I'm not making excuses for Indian cinema, but do keep in mind that what we see of American cinema is usually either their best or their biggest projects. There's a lot of rubbish they make too. So yes Indian film industries need to work on quality, but not for an international stage - our film makers should improve their quality for home audiences. And quality coupled with big marketing budgets (which will happen at some stage hopefully) will open the world to us.

Q. What was your best and embarrassing moment of this Oscar Award 2013? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. Michelle Obama's appearance.

Q. I Agree with your this answer: "I didn't have an "aversion" to any of the nominated films :) But I have to admit being disappointed with the Best Director win. I felt Ang Lee should have got the Best Film and Best Director for Brokeback Mountain but instead he got Best Director alone back then. " Asked by: Anant Jain

A. Thanks :)

Q. Yoyo Anna hi, I'm hopu from parks. I am a huge fan of you. olso I am not speaking English celery goodly but please excuse me. What do you think of Mr. Day Lewis winning best actor instead of Hughe Jack Man? Asked by: Hopesh Dangal

A. I have no question in my mind that the award should have gone to Daniel Day Lewis in a category filled with great performances by some great actors. And thank you for being my "huge fan" :)

Q. Ma'am you weren't too happy with the Best Director award. Who do you think should have got it instead? Asked by: Katie

A. Among those nominated - Michael Haneke. But I'd have liked to see nominations for Ben Affleck for Argo and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty.

Q. Do you think 'Life of Pi' is a little over rated to get 11 nominations, and 4 Oscars. AngLee is a good director but not the best...& yes his namaste was really cute. Asked by: Madhumita

A. I loved the portion out at sea in 'Life of Pi' (which was the largest part of the film) but the initial part with Pi's family and the narration by Irrfan and the ending didn't' work for me at all. This is not Ang Lee's best.

Q. Hi Ma'am, a quick question, what are your views about Zero Dark Thirty. I loved the effects and was hoping it would win. Don't you think it deserved an Oscar? Asked by: Katie

A. Yes. Do check my previous answers. It kept me on the edge of my seat despite the outcome, and the expression on Jessica Chastain's face right in the end when she's asked that question on the plane was just wonderful!

Q. I felt the performance of Emmanuelle in the movie Amour was better than that of Jennifer Lawrence in the movie Silver Linings Playbook. What do you think of that? Asked by: Bhartendu Vimal

A. I think the Best Actress category was much tougher than the Best Actor category - the men were all great, but i had no doubt in my mind that DDL was the best. With the ladies, I was torn between Jessica Chastain and Emmannuelle Riva, and I was leaning towards Chastain. But I'm not very upset that Jennifer Lawrence won either - hers too was a great performance though I think Chastain had the toughest role.

Q. Anglee thanked the crew in India and ended the speech with Namastey. I think it went into the heart of billions. Your take on Anglee the person and director. Asked by: sree

A. Comes across as being humble and down to earth always. It also takes my breath away that he works across genres and with each film seems like he was born to work in that genre - frankly, the only time I didn't feel that way about him was when he was handling the scenes on land in 'Life of Pi'.

Q. Hi Anna, don't you think beyond Barfi India had more deserving entries like Wasseypur and 'Paan Singh Tomar'...does commercialization overtakes commonsense even? Asked by: Deep

A. I'd have gone with 'Paan Singh Tomar', of the three films mentioned. I have to be honest: I'm not in love with the second 'Gangs of Wasseypur' film and though I liked GoW1, I think PST is the film (out of the three) that would have most fitted the Academy's expectations of a film coming from India plus it was a really nice film.

Q. Why do you think an above average film like Les Mis got 4 Oscars whereas an absolutely amazing film like Django got only 2 and Zero Dark Thirty none at all? Asked by: Piyush Sen

A. I certainly didn't understand all the Les Miserables love. But then that's also because I don't particularly like the source material for LM. Victor Hugo's story is touching and beautiful and ever-relevant, but from the time I first saw it as a musical on the London stage, I've found the music and treatment completely unappealing and dull.

Q. Do you think we will ever have someone like Satyajit Ray who won the Oscar even though all his movies were entirely Indian? Any Indians who have won in the recent past have been part of a foreign production. Asked by: Piyush Sen

A. Satyajit Ray was a great film maker but don't also forget that his films worked internationally because they often dealt with subjects that the international audience considered suitable subjects for a "Third World country" - no offence intended to his admirers. Re your second question: don't forget the number of Indians who were involved in Slumdog Millionaire.

Q. The Best actress today was perhaps a little unfair, Emmanuelle Riva deserved it. What's your take? Asked by: JAI

A. My vote would have gone to Jessica Chastain followed by Emmannuelle Riva and then Jennifer Lawrence, but it was a close contest so I'm not complaining :)

Q. If you could choose for the life story of a cricketer to be made into a film, who would you select? Who would play the role? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. Irfan Pathan ... played by Hrithik Roshan. There, I said it! :)

Q. Do you think Jennifer Lawrence is the next big thing in Hollywood? Asked by: Harsh Tiwary

A. At just 22, she's already got a body of work to be proud of. But in the post-Oscar backstage interaction, she was asked whether she's afraid she's peaked too early. She said: now I'm nervous. That's always a fear with people in the glamour business who achieve great success very young - can she keep her head on her shoulders? Will she make the right choices? Will she get distracted by the distractions that fame and showbiz throw a person's way?

Q. Did you think Argo was the best film of the year? Asked by: Pavitra

A. I preferred Zero Dark Thirty, though Argo was lovely too and extremely entertaining and felt amazingly real.

Q. Why do you think the Academy snubbed Ben Affleck for Best Director? Asked by: Ashutosh Sharma

A. Firstly I'd like to know from all Awards organizers how the director of the Best Picture winner doesn't win the Best Director. If the Best Director didn't make the Best Picture, then who did? Secondly, the Academy should either go back to having only 5 Best Picture nominations, or they should increase the number of Best Director noms to 9/10. Otherwise, on days like this, it feels like a please-all juggling act like most Indian popular awards functions.

Q. Do you think that Life of Pi is a little overrated to have been nominated in 11 and winning 4 Oscars. I mean it's a pretty good movie, and Ang Lee is really good too, but not the best director. Asked by: Madhumita

A. 'Life of Pi' is not my favorite Ang Lee film though parts of it were beautiful. But perhaps I shouldn't grumble since I felt the Academy chickened out of giving Brokeback Mountain a Best Picture Oscar because of the discomfort with the theme of gay love, so this is some sort of compensation - but no, that's not how it should work!

Q. 'Life of Pi' should have won more awards. Asked by: Sathyaki

A. It won more than I expected.

Q. Hi! Anna. Good afternoon. My Question to you is that, what are your opinions about this Oscar 2013 Awards? Why there is unexpected awards this time? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. Hugh Jackman was a far better host than Seth McFarlane. But of all the hosts I've seen in my lifetime, Billy Crystal is the best. I can't comment on Bob Hope. Today's ceremony wasn't all bad (Seth had some cheeky jokes and I love the fact that in America you are free to make Catholic-Jew jokes without being blamed for "hurting sentiments' and sparking off riots. Also, good performance by Jennifer Hudson and Adele) but it's certainly far far far from the best the Awards have been. Also, there were production glitches, some gaps and silences that should not have been there. Seth McFarlane himself was far better on Saturday Night Live than he was here today. Like I said, not all bad, but could have been much better.

Q. How surprised were you to see Ang Lee and Jennifer Lawrence win? I thought Steven Speilberg and Emmanuelle Riva had it in the bag! Asked by: Aneen Suresh

A. Very surprised to see Ang Lee. That was an upset. Not surprised to see Jennifer Lawrence win cos she's already got SAG and Golden Globe Awards for this role, but I would have personally preferred Jessica Chastain or Emmannuelle Riva to win.

Q. Why do you think an amazing film like Django Unchained only won 2 Oscars but an above average film like Les Miserables won 4? Asked by: Piyush Sen

A. Frankly, I've always wondered even at the stage success of Les Miserables - the story is moving no doubt but I find the music and treatment completely stretched and dreary and dull. Perhaps this is the difference between our Indian and Western film viewing sensibility. But also keep in mind that Django Unchained is a controversial film for the way its looked at African Americans and slavery and for the language it's used (that some people have objected to), so in that sense, Les Miserables was perhaps a safer film to give awards to. But to be fair, Django Unchained did win for its Screenplay which is a major category.

Q. Why our Indian movies are not getting any Oscar Awards? What do you think where and what are the loop-ups are in our Film Industries? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. We often choose the wrong films: films that are not good enough and / or don't appeal to American and Academy sensibilities. Plus there's too much politics and too little transparency in our selection process. And then our producers don't go and market our films aggressively the way Aamir Khan did so effectively. We mess it up for ourselves.

Q. If you have to give best director award for Oscar then instead of Anglee Whom you would like to give to that award? Asked by: Anant Jain

A. Kathryn Bigelow or Michael Haneke.

First Published: February 25, 2013, 3:09 PM IST
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