My Reaction: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly, Part 2
When writing the last post, I had realized that it would be too difficult to boil these nomination down into two categories of “good” and “bad,” because, honestly, so much of this morning’s announcement was just vanilla, to me. I don’t love them, I don’t hate them. They’re just kind of there. I wish they weren’t, but they could be worse. Some may say that this is kind of a useless post, but for me, this post pretty much defines the 2011 movie season. I don’t hate it, I’m just ready to move on.
Without a doubt, this year’s best picture line-up was the most mediocre I think I’ve ever seen. I look back at the sorts of ballsy, edgy choices that the AMPAS were putting on the table no more than few years ago, with nominees like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “There Will Be Blood,” and on top of that, winners such as “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Hurt Locker.”
Then I see this year, and I am BORED. “Hugo?” “War Horse?” And of course everyone’s favorite that’s rife with controversy, “The Artist?” Now, okay, I’m not saying that all of the year’s movies have to piss people off or twist people’s minds. My favorite on the year definitely doesn’t (though it makes up for it with astounding quality). Yet, as artists, filmmakers have a responsibility, to shake things up. To be bold. I don’t see a lot of that, here.
What could have shaken things up, you ask? Plenty. What about “Shame?” Steve McQueen’s quiet, yet somehow epic tale of sex addiction and deprivation is already probably better than anything else in the line-up. Then there’s Nicholas Winding Refn’s hardcore crime study, “Drive,” which isn’t exactly one of my favorites on the year, but it’s a nomination I could certainly respect the Academy for putting up. This should prove that there’s no accounting for taste with what I’m talking about. Hell, some of my least favorite nominations today were those surrounding Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” because at least that decision had some audacity to it. It’s films like that, whether I like them or not, that are going to be talked about and discussed, decades from now.
Then there’s the Christmas turkey. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which received more guild nominations than half of the other nominees (obviously popular within the industry), was left off, and it might be the most important of the bunch. That’s because the viewers can’t get through it’s gritty and uncompromising demeanor and see through to the beautiful and vital message it presents of sexism and the triumph of diversity in a quiet and unoffensive world. This film deserves to be in the conversation and should be on the Best Picture ballot.
When “The King’s Speech” won Best Picture, last year, I believed that that particular nightmare was over. I thought that the Academy had gotten it out of their system. This year, I was proven wrong. The Oscars, it seems, will never fully evolve into a body that respects style, nuance, and, more than anything else, change. The Academy needs to move out of the twentieth century and into a new era. Yet, more than any of these things, it needs to understand that sometimes, feeling bad is feeling good. Sappiness, melodrama and things that warm your heart are not necessarily tools of good filmmaking, at least not good enough to clog the higher ranks of these nominations with them.
Grow up, Oscars. As Billy Beane so eloquently put it, “Adapt or die,” before it’s too late, and nobody gives a crap, anymore.
Wow, look at that. I got all hot and bothered and I haven’t even gotten to “The Ugly” segment of this article, yet. I will try to have that part of the article done by tonight.