' ' Cinema Romantico: Oscar Reaction/Long Live The Oscars

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oscar Reaction/Long Live The Oscars

So a weird thing happened today. The Oscar nominations were announced, as per usual, before I even had my first cup of coffee and, as per usual, my jaw dropped. Last year my jaw dropped when Shailene Woodley, giving my favorite performance of the year in “The Descendants”, went un-nominated (though I was also sick – so sick, in fact, that I was partially convinced I had hallucinated her not being nominated). This year my jaw dropped when Kathryn Bigelow failed to land a Best Director nomination for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

John McCain & Carl Levin. Keeping tabs on American cinema since 2012 so film critics don't have to.
It’s not that that I’m a massive fan of “Zero Dark Thirty”, though I am (and though I think it gets even better the more I ponder it), but that it seemed as if this snub was politically motivated. As if The Capital Hill Gang – Senators Diane Feinstein, John McCain and Carl Levin – and their protests and the protests of so many others over the portrayal of torture in the film – which is to say showing torture AT ALL – held sway. And that, in turn, this inspired the Academy not to snub the lead actress (Jessica Chastain, nominated) - since she was excellent - or the film itself (nominated) - since anyone who supposedly has a grasp of how a movie works would understand not only the craft behind “Zero Dark Thirty” but how deeply it dares to challenge us and to ask ambiguous questions - but to snub the person most directly responsible for its creation in the first place. To say, hey, we have to thwack someone’s fingers with the ruler to appease The Capital Hill Gang and the other protestors and, sorry, Kathryn, but it’s you.

I was angry. I love movies and politics piss me off. Bring politics into movies and I get really pissed off. Thus, I was really pissed off. Thus, I composed my typical (fake) Q&A session littered with smarmy put-downs and declarations that the Academy had no balls (because it kinda doesn’t).

Then I read the esteemed Roger Ebert’s take on the nominations. He writes: "The Oscars are the most important way the American film industry can honor what it considers the year's best work. But for millions of movie lovers all over the globes, they are something else: A show."

He's right, of course. I'll rephrase: he's right...to me. Because when you cut through the Bigelow snubs and such what he says is what I love about the Oscars - the show. And not the show itself, per se, though I do love that a whole lot, but just, well, the Oscars themselves. The whole dealio. I've said it so many times before but I'll say it again - of course, they don't get everything right. How COULD they get everything right? What I think is right, you think is wrong. What you think is wrong, I think is right. And on and on it goes.

I perused the nominations again and I realized something. I realized my favorite film of the year "Silver Linings Playbook" was nominated for Best Picture. And its director - David O. Russell - was nominated. And its lead actor and lead actress, Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence, were nominated. (Lawrence might be the favorite.) And the prodigal Robert DeNiro was nominated for supporting actor. And Jacki Weaver was nominated for supporting actress. Why was I whining?!

The Academy Awards are a show! I don't care if "Silver Linings Playbook" doesn't win! It's just an honor for my favorite movie to be nominated for ANYTHING! And on Sunday February 24th my living room will make like the Linc (that is, Lincoln Financial Field). There will be food and drink and revelry! I might trade in my sleek suit this year for a Desean Jackson jersey!



Andrew K. said...

I really don't think Bigelow's omission was directly because of the "conflict" around her movie. Apparently they just really liked a whole lot movies this year, and I feel if it was an out and out dislike of the movie they would more sooner have "snubbed" it in something like the screenplay or the editing category even. It's just a situation where now there are more picture options than director options and something will be out. I'm vacillating on just what (if anything) to write on my thoughts for the ceremony going forward...but I'm not THAT invested in the crop this year, but I'm hardly incensed either.

Ah, the Academy and their trials.

Nick Prigge said...

Maybe it's just because I'm an American and I'm inherently inclined to distrust those with the power but I just can't help but feel her going not nominated was politically motivated. But maybe it wasn't. I'd really, really like to believe that it wasn't but I don't know that I ever will.

Even so, like Ebert said, they should be commended for thinking outside the box more than usual and I also don't want to take anything away from the directors were nominated. Or from anyone else, for that matter.

Helen said...

I'm far more inclined to think it was politically motivated in the Hollywood insider sense. She's already got a statue. Ditto Tom Hooper. They're not revered by the Academy ala Spielberg and Lee. Therefore, no nomination.

Also possible is the voters wanted to prove they appreciate "artistic" movies and ZERO DARK THIRTY and LES MISERABLES were too mainstream to make that kind of statement. AMOUR and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, on the other hand....

Ego, popularity, and image. The driving engines of the Academy.

Nick Prigge said...

"The Hollywood insider sense." Good point. Plus, as I have heard others mention since, she is a woman and the Academy does, more often than not, seem to frown on female directors. God, I'd like to think we were past that by this point in the world, but who knows?