My Reaction: The Good, the Meh and the Ugly, Part 1
All right. Here we go. I’ve been awake for the last six hours, and as if that didn’t put me in a cranky enough mood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences always manages to take care of that for me. There were some good things. I won’t lie. The voters always find a way of sneaking in a few items that even I can respect and say thank you for. However, if you look at this reaction on the whole, “Thank you” is not going to be the word you’d use to sum it up.
Note, I’m not going to go through and talk about every one of the 104 nominations. I’m sorry, but that would be madness. Instead I will simply focus on the true standouts of the morning, mostly the surprises and the hard-fought battles. If you’re curious about a nomination that I don’t mention, ask me, or simply wait for the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. The nominations should be ready within the next two weeks.
Let’s do this in chapters, shall we? Starting with the facets I enjoyed:
The ultimate highlight of the morning, and the thing that will probably be most remembered from this year’s Oscars as a whole, is Gary Oldman’s nomination for Best Actor. I think you would be hard-pressed to find an actor who has taken his licks, paid his dues, delivered some absolutely fantastic and groundbreaking work, and gone so long without being being honored with so much as a single Oscar nomination. Maybe Donald Sutherland, but I would easily say that Oldman’s talent surpasses his in so many ways. For all of its faults, this morning was made great because of this irrefutable fact: we now live in a world where Gary Oldman is an Oscar nominee. The world just got a whole lot better.
While this year’s Best Picture lineup may set a record for lowest coinciding with my own choices (I think only 3 films will end up overlapping), there is one movie that I am infinitely proud of the Academy’s rally of support around it. Earning a total of six nominations, tied for third highest amount, that film is Bennett Miller’s sophomore effort and absolute stunner of a film, “Moneyball.” When it came to searching for a film that raised my heart rate and got my blood flowing as much as last year’s masterpiece, “The Social Network,” this was the only film that came close (ironically co-penned by the Shakespeare of our time, Aaron Sorkin). Not only is it arguably the greatest sports movie ever made (barring “Raging Bull,” if you consider that a movie about sports), it is a touching character study of what we’re worth as human beings and what we come to expect of ourselves. This movie will forever hold a place of high honor in my mind and heart and I could not be happier that the Academy agrees with me.
As far as the female categories are concerned, there’s two nominations that really made me smile. The first is Melissa McCarthy’s well-deserved mention for “Bridesmaids.” The film, itself, was funny and decent enough, but without McCarthy’s absolutely hilarious and fearless performance, it would have been a fraction of what it turned out to be. This woman is fantastic and I am so happy for her and the year she’s having. Secondly, I am not only shocked, but overjoyed at the Best Actress nomination for Rooney Mara. This is a talented young actress who came out of nowhere, took on a highly anticipated role that has already been portrayed by another actress not less than three years ago, and against all expectations from many skeptics, knocked it completely out of the park. Her embodiment of Lisbeth Salander will forever live in infamy and now she has an Oscar nomination to show for it. Congrats.
There’s a few other nominations that tickled my fancy, here and there. An outstanding surprise in the writing categories was J.C. Chandor’s Best Original Screenplay nomination for his debut film, “Margin Call.” And I could kick myself square in the face for not predicting it. This film was a current of pure energy and intelligence that is more relevant than perhaps any of the nominated films. I cannot wait to see what this gentleman does in the future. Speaking of relevance, I also had a brief moment of joy over the nominated documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.” It has flown largely under the radar throughout the year, but is a valuable lesson on the damage we’ve done to our world, as well as how far we are willing to go to reverse that. Finally, even though it might be to many others’ chagrin, I’m pleased to see Janusz Kaminski score his fifth nomination for Best Cinematography through “War Horse.” It may not be his best work, but there are some shots in that film that are indisputably among the best of the year. Bravo my favorite working DP.
Well, that about wraps it up for my moments of elation, obviously few and far between. Perhaps after a while, I might be able to look back on this day and acknowledge a little more as being positive. For now, I brood.
I’ll be back later today with parts two and three, so stay tuned to The Edge of the Frame.