My Reaction: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly, Part 3
And now, the final segment of my three part thought piece on yesterday’s announcement of the 2012 Oscar nominations. After I’ve had a day to contemplate everything that has transpired, there’s still more than a handful of things that just aren’t sitting well with me. Like a bad case of food poisoning, they just aren’t letting me get any sleep.
Expect this segment to be longer than the others…
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the nomination that was so phenomenally bogus, you could count on one hand the amount of pundits who were predicting it. And if they were, they did it through gritted teeth. Announced at the end of the linup, like Sharek and Lawrence were in on some kind of sick, inside joke, the ninth Best Picture nomination was “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Despite not receiving nominations from the Producers, Directors, Writers or Screen Actors Guild, and being nearly universally panned by critics, the Academy somehow decided that this film was one of the nine best on the year. Granted, I will not be seeing it until sometime this weekend and therefore won’t be able to vent the movie through my own opinion until then. However, a film with a negative score from both Metacritic (46) and Rotten Tomatoes (48) has no business in any collective BEST Picture of the Year lineup.
Now, that we’ve gotten through with what shouldn’t be there, let’s get started on the long and sad list of the nominations that weren’t. Here come the snubs, and of them, one definitely reigns supreme. Steve McQueen’s unnerving and enlightening “Shame,” despite being one of the year’s greatest examples of direction, editing, writing, and all the other things that make up a damn good movie, failed to receive a single nomination. Even worse over was the exclusion of the film’s fine acting. Both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan both delivered performances that all but topped their respective categories and are nowhere to be seen. While Demien Bechir’s nomination is an inspiring and heartwarming surprise, Fassbender should have shown up here based solely on merit. A fine waste of phenomenal acting.
There were a few other above-the-line snubs that really bothered me. For one, Bennett Miller should not only should have been among the Best Director nominees, but a part of the conversation this whole time. Who do people think directed this phenomenal film? It received some of the best critical reviews of the year and earned itself six Oscar nominations, and yet Miller has not received even a single mention from any awards body or film critics society this year? I suppose that the film’s script is so good that critics and industry-types thought that the film simply ran on autopilot, but I disagree. There’s a very visible sense of style, mood and pacing in the film that only a skilled director’s touch could have brought. I really wish this man made more films, but he picks his battles, very wisely.
Even though I didn’t come close to predicting her, for I knew that this would be in far too good of taste for the Oscars to stomach, Olivia Colman was the most unappreciated individual of the day. Her astounding work in “Tyrannosaur” is good enough to stand by some of the best of Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda. Poor U.S. distribution and a lousy campaign really stinted her chances, but I’d like to believe that, in a perfect world, this is the type of work that could take home the gold. Yet, as yesterday’s nominations showed, we do not live in a perfect world.
While it still managed to earn a Best Picture nomination, I was disappointed by the underwhelming overall showing for “The Help.” Aside from its three acting nominations, the film was overlooked in a lot of areas. I think that Tate Taylor’s lively and entertaining screenplay deserved a mention. Also, the colorful and authentic costume design, which brilliantly accented the setting and vibe of the film, was overlooked. I can only hope that what little support it has is still enough to push Viola Davis through to a well-deserved victory in the Best Actress category.
Another film that was highly unappreciated was Joe Wright’s livewire action-fest, “Hanna.” Despite receiving a nod from the Cinema Audio Society, the film’s outstanding sound mix somehow missed the cut. On top of that, I had hoped that in the wake of honoring a fresh new style of scoring with last year’s “The Social Network,” the Academy would see the fantastic electronic rhythms of The Chemical Brothers score. Instead, the music branch opted to go back to traditional themes, not even giving mention to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ fantastic follow-up work in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
Speaking of the music branch, we come to probably the most appalling announcement of the morning. I am, of course, speaking of this year’s slate of nominees (or lack, thereof) for Best Original Song. There was a lot of fine work done by a wide range of artists this year, including “Lay Your Head Down” from Albert Nobbs,” “The Living Proof” in “The Help,” or the fantastic track “Think You Can Wait” from “Win Win.” And yet all they can conjure up is two nominations: “Man or Muppet,” one of the more underwhelming numbers from that title and “Real in Rio,” a song that most people who have actually seen the film cannot even remember.
I am so baffled by this category, I keep trying to search for explanations as to how they could have screwed up so bad. Perhaps it’s due to a flawed balloting system or maybe any sense of good taste really has been exhausted from said music branch. Some people think that the Academy just really wants to do away with the category all together, after emplacing more and more restrictions on it and even nixing last year’s nominated songs from even performing live during the telecast. If they a reserious about ditching the award, then they should just do it. Don’t insult songwriters and viewers of the Oscars by nominating songs that, quite simply, have no business being nominated at all, let alone ousting much more qualified work. This category is one of the biggest jokes in the history of the Academy Awards, plain and simple.
That about does it for my thoughts on the matter. Now starts the final leg of the race. My next order of business will be my first round of winner predictions for this year’s awards. To be quite honest, the image looked a lot clearer before the nominations were even announced. This is going to take a bit of effort. Stay tuned…