Friday, January 23, 2009

The Oscar Nominations--More Extensive Thoughts pt. 1

Now that I've had a day or so to marinate on yesterday morning's Oscar nods, I can finally give my thoughts about what went down. First of all, I'm not nearly as angry as most bloggers, who seem fuming mad that The Dark Knight failed to get a best picture nomination, and are blaming any and everyone (more on that later) for the perceived slight. I did terribly in my predictions, mostly due to wishful thinking. I was right and wrong about the best picture race. Right that the Academy would venture outside of the the preordained five (Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire), but wrong about which film would get the boot and for which film. I was sure it would be Frost/Nixon for WALL-E, but instead it was The Dark Knight for The Reader. Strange, but not so strange (more on that later as well).

The Good:
  • The Academy avoids category fraud and gives Kate Winslet her nomination for the better performance in the right category. Good on them for having a conscience. Though, Joe Reid over at Low Resolution has an interesting/genius theory on what might have happened there. Basically, the rules for acting nods state that a person can't be nominated for more than one performance in the same category, nor can they be nominated for the same performance in two different categories. Joe thinks that Kate actually qualified for 3 nominations. Two in lead (for The Reader and Revolutionary Road) and one in supporting (for The Reader). But she can only be nominated once in lead, so if The Reader got more votes, then there goes Revolutionary Road AND there goes her supporting nod. Plausible, n'est pas? It also explains the Amy Adams nomination, if one of the five only got in because Kate got the boot on rules and semantics.
  • Dev Patel is rightly passed over for an acting nomination. He seems like a nice kid and this nomination would have caused a backlash for him of monumental proportions. Maybe he can show some range his next time at bat and really earn it.
  • Clint snubbed for Gran Torino. This makes the best actor race that much easier to read.
  • Melissa Leo and Richard Jenkins. Score two for the little guys and early release dates.
  • Milk and its eight nominations. It's one more step to inclusiveness among awards voting bodies and a great one at that. Even though it's biopic fare (their favorite genre) AND a great film, Milk never seemed like a sure enough thing and we all know why.

The Bad:
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is our nominations leader. Brad Pitt coasts to an easy nomination here for his most vacant, inexpressive work to date. I've made my feelings about this movie known ad nauseum, and I won't get started because I'll never stop. Blech.
  • Bruce Springsteen passed up for his great song in The Wrestler. Are you fucking kidding me?
  • The Academy not thinking outside the box. This best picture shortlist contains too films from my top ten (shh...I'm not telling till I post) but it still shows a lack of imagination as far as genre goes. A nod for The Dark Knight, WALL-E or even The Wrestler would have gone a long way to fix this. Even though this best picture lineup isn't totally embarrassing (save maybe Benjamin Button), on paper you do have an epic, a Holocaust (semi at least) film, two political biopics and a picaresque coming-of-age tale. Not exactly ground-breaking.
  • Rosemarie Dewitt snubbed, though we saw that coming. Less forgivable is the snub for Jenny Lumet's screenplay for Rachel Getting Married. I have no words. And speaking of which...
  • Amy Adams. I love her and I even liked her in Doubt more than I've indicated, but this nomination feels very placeholder-y. A couple of years ago, when she was less famous, I could have gotten behind this nomination, but it's not like she needs these kind of throwaway nods to help her land better roles at this point. And not in place of more deserving candidates. Step it up, Amy.
  • Lastly, homophobia rearing its ugly head. A lot of aggression and anger is being directed towards Milk, of all things, from people who are angry at The Dark Knight snub.
Commence Rant--The anger being directed at Milk, kind of freaks me out/confuses me, honestly. Firstly, even with the Globe snub, Milk was always going to be here. So it's certainly not taking The Dark Knight's place. A very conservative former classmate of mine who is angry about TDK snub said that they nominated Milk simply because the Academy can't have people think they're homophobic...Have you ever heard such a middle America assessment of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences? Besides Milk, they have fully embraced only one other gay-themed film before, which was the awards leader going into AMPAS, and lost ONLY at the AMPAS. The only reason gay-themed movies get so much press when they're recognized by Awards bodies is because it so rarely ever happens, even with the good ones. So it sounds to me like the Academy can't let people think they're too homo-accepting. And that's the LAST I'll say on this ridiculous matter. --Rant over.

Things I don't know how to feel about:
  • The Reader. I liked it better than The Dark Knight, but I almost wish I could strip if of its nomination for best picture since it's getting a lot of undue hatred. Also, I wonder if this nomination is due to the Academy actually viewing and liking this divisive film, or if it's because of Harvey Weinstein, back in form with his offensively aggressive Oscar campaigns. I don't know, which is why I'm not sure how to feel about this one.
  • Taraji P. Henson. Love her and she was the best part of Benjamin Button, which really isn't saying much. This nomination will do great things for her career, but I don't know that I want her here in place of Dewitt or Hiam Abbas, or Lena Olin, or even one of the Synecdoche girls. But I'm glad to see her get some recognition at least.

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