So any that know me probably know how disappointed I am about the Oscars this year. The best films of the year had a chance. They had all the makings of nominees and even winners. But then the Academy had to fall back (for the most part) on medicore Oscar-bait films and a couple of movies that got stuck in everyone's heads like a bad song. I'll withhold my own thoughts on what the best films of the year were (i.e. My Top Ten for 2009) until later this week, but first I'll take a look at the nominees, generally. I would take the time to go category by category, but frankly, they don't deserve it.
Most people who follow the Oscars probably saw the freight train that was The Dark Knight for a while. The guild nominations, the critical acclaim, the popular support, it all should have led up to a Best Pic nomination. But alas, the academy anti-populist bias won through. They seem to have this attitude that they are the mystic guardians of what constitutes good film, and the Oscars are the general public's precious access to that secret knowledge. Sorry to break it to you, Academy, but now you've almost invalidated yourselves into oblivion.
The films that did make it through to the final five are largely undeserving. The only one out of the five that probably deserves to be there is Milk. It's solid, powerful, beautifully acted, and so on. It's not in my personal top five, but I can understand why it's in theirs. And on some levels, I can understand Benjamin Button. I liked the film in a lot of ways, but it just doesn't measure up when compared to the best films. But again, I can kind of understand why the Academy went for it. And got to give them at least some credit for going with a fantasy.
And that leaves the rest, including the frontrunner-apparent. A film that's got everybody wrapped up in some poverty-stricken wonderland that doesn't really exist. A film with all with all the visual capacity of a Michael Bay film. A film that just simply isn't "Best." It's not even great. It might be good, but at this point all the attention it's getting has just made me embittered toward it. And the future will prove me right. The backlash is coming. Of course, I'm talking about Slumdog Millionaire. And that's where I'll stop. The movie doesn't deserve my attention. Or anybody else's. That's all from me.
The other two, Frost/Nixon and The Reader are Oscar bait through and through. While I enjoyed Frost, it's nothing without those great performances, particularly Langella's. The Reader probably wouldn't be on anyone's radar if it weren't for its now deceased producers Minghella and Pollack. That's not to disrespect them in anyway, they both made some really great films, and they will be missed. But I have a feeling that if they weren't involved, the Academy wouldn't have taken notice like it did. And there's also Harvey to contend with. But oh well, my review on that later.
The acting categories are a little more varied, allowing for great performances from non-best picture nominees like The Wrestler and Rachel Getting Married. Mickey Rourke has my vote, but as you probably know, he's going to be neck and neck with a still-deserving Sean Penn. I'd love Anne Hathaway to win, but I think the Academy's going to give Kate Winslet her due, even if she's given better performances. Heath Ledger's got it wrapped up for supporting, and at this point it's Penelope Cruz's to lose for her subtly chaotic turn in Woody Allen's great Vicki Cristina Barcelona.
In most Oscar years, I try to see all the nominees right down to the shorts. This year, the spark is gone. Maybe it'll be back next year. It depends on the nominees. This year the nominations made me so bitter that I haven't been as into the whole race as I usually am. So I don't have much to say about the tech categories. As far as I can see, the evenings going to end up with more statues going to Slumdog than it deserves.
It's shaping up to be a big week for the site, as I hope to post reviews for The Reader, The Wrestler, He's Just Not That Into You, and Revolutionary Road. And then on Thursday, my top ten. I'll also try to update on what I've been watching on dvd (i.e., not as much as I'd like). So stay with me reader(s), there's more to come.