by Eric Paolini
Every big time film fan must at some point reach severe frustration with the Academy Awards. The preeminent film awards organization makes some strange decisions at times. And of course this year is no different. Films were snubbed that will cause outrage.
The Academy Awards are far from being a perfect system. They often recognize stuffy period pieces way too much for my liking. I don't mind period pieces, but calm down Hollywood. Speaking of Hollywood, if it happens to be about Hollywood it's an almost guaranteed winner. (The Artist anyone?) Grittier, darker movies or movies that are a little too independent are often forced aside. (Pulp Fiction immediately jumps to mind. Nominated but didn't win.) If best picture favorite Lincoln wins it will be the the third straight year a period piece wins (The King's Speech and The Artist).
While two of those three are good movies (excluding Lincoln) they personify the idea of Oscar movies. A brand has been created for what an Academy Award Best Picture is. And in my opinion, they delineate from that not often enough. My favorite movie of 2012 (50/50) and one of my favorites from this year (Looper) were both completely snubbed. And while that can be frustrating what can you do?
The Academy Award voters are predominately old, white men. I do think that the voter base should be widened. But the solution should not be to extend it to random fans voting repeatedly on their computer like the MTV Movie Awards does. You then would open yourself up to Twilightand The Hunger Games to dominate. I think it's important to have a consistent board of educated film people. Because what we want from the Oscars is to have the best made films win. Not the most popular. That is a HUGE difference.
Sometimes those educated film people can pick pretentious films that I may not like as much as they do. But that's what I think is ultimately great about the Oscars. It is an opportunity to talk and think about the years best movies. So even though Lincoln is heavily nominated it's kind of fun to act outraged. Because it really doesn't matter who wins or loses. Every year there are many films that are great and deserve some sort of recognition. And it's not possible for them all to receive it.
So with that being said, let's talk about this year's nominations. Here are a handful of initial thoughts on what was nominated.
-Lincoln is featured way too much. It is not one of the nine best films this year. Frankly it is not good. It's deserving nominations are for best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and possibly for cinematography or costume design. It being nominated for supporting actor, supporting actress, best director, and best original score is annoying and possibly insane.
-The best director category was absolutely mangled. This year is worthy of more than five nominees. Because Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Rian Johnson (Looper), Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), and Ben Affleck (Argo) were all left out. Instead Steven Spielberg gets a nomination for his reputation and name alone. Benh Zeitlin did a great job directing Beasts of the Southern Wild. It's a really good movie and is not undeserving of a directing or best picture nomination. But over Tarantino, Bigelow, Hooper, and Anderson? Ang Lee and Michael Haneke may have had fine directing performances but I'm still shocked Tarantino, Bigelow, Hooper, and Anderson are without nominations.
-At this moment Zero Dark Thirty is the best challenger to win best picture over Lincoln. I might be reading too much into it but the fact that Kathryn Bigelow wasn't nominated for best director isn't a good sign. 2006 was the last year that the person who won best director directed a different film from the best picture winner (Best picture: Crash, best director: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain). I really don't want Lincoln to win.
-It would be cool to see Quvenzhané Wallis to win best actress for her performance as a five or six year old. However, Jessica Chastain is deserving of this award. It'll will be a shock if she doesn't win.
-I'm pleased Moonrise Kingdom was recognized for original screenplay. My guess is the award goes to Zero Dark Thirty which would be understandable. Too bad Looper didn't get any love. It is completely deserving as well.
-It's time to bash Lincoln once more. While I'll be upset with anytime it wins besides best actor, I will really lose it for best original score (as well as best director). John Williams is so incredibly overrated. Every single movie seems to have the same score. It is always overbearing and incredibly heavy handed. The reverence he is shown baffles me. I really don't get it.
As time gets closer to the ceremony I'm sure I'll have many more Oscar thoughts. But for now, these are my initial reactions.
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