A Year Good Enough For Surprises: Thoughts On The 2013 Oscar Nominations
This year makes me pump the fist, because it’s what the Oscars are fucking for, man.
Last year was a thin, watery gruel of Oscars: a lack of good movies and a swollen Oscar category led to The Artist winning by default. The Artist wasn’t a bad movie, but its winning felt like that guy you’re dating because you don’t want to be alone, but God you wish you had a satisfying romance in your life. It was present, and competent, and even a little clever, but the best of a bleah bunch.
Yet with this year’s announcement, we have a bunch of movies that people loved, many of them box office successes. I’ve seen people go off on passionate loving rants for Lincoln, for Argo, for Life of Pi, for, well, every movie on that slate except for Zero Dark thirty… and even those people are going off on rants on how creepily effective that film is portraying torture. This is a field full of beloved movies, gladiators in the pit with people eagerly betting on them.
But more importantly, we have surprises.
Great but underlooked films had to go head-to-head with movies everyone has heard of, and liked. Hey, who saw Beasts of the Southern Wild? Amour? I didn’t. (And few saw Silver Linings Playbook.) But when you realize that Beasts and Amour nudged out Quentin fucking Tarantino, on a movie that’s his most financially popular flick ever, then it’s a strong recommendation: we saw Quentin, and he was brilliant… but this was better.
So what I predict will happen is that people will go, “Crap, people are saying this is as good as Lincoln? As Argo? I should check this out.” And tiny, tiny films will be financially rewarded – which always makes me happy, because “financially rewarded” means “these talented people will make more films, possibly with bigger budgets, leading to them having a career.” Jennifer Lawrence came from nowhere in Winter’s Bone to get cast in The Hunger Games, and now she’s a star, and that’s partially thanks to the Oscars shining a spotlight on a good performance.
This is what the Oscars are meant to do. Often, they’re this grim exercise in unhappiness, because the Oscar voting bloc seems to think that “no humor” == “MAGNIFICENT.” But this year, you had movies with a lot of funny bits mixed in the drama – Lincoln’s weird anecdotes, “Argo fuck yourself,” pretty much all of Silver Linings Playbook’s weird love affair – and so I’m energized to see the rest in this year’s Quest To See All The Oscars, as opposed to my usual “Oh God I’m in for ten hours of miserable people trapped in hopeless situations.”
So yeah. Go, Oscars. You took a good year and worked it.
- Silver Linings Playbook cleaned up, as it should. I dislike the director personally, as he appears to be a dick not too different from his manic-compulsive hero in Silver Linings, but as a quirky love story it’s a brilliant (and accurate) take on dysfunction. When the dinner conversation revolves around which anti-anxiety drugs you’ve taken, and their side effects, and it’s flirting? Oh, man, I hate to admit how many times I’ve done that.
- I hope the six-year-old actress from Beasts of the Southern Wild wins, just so we can say to Hollywood, “A girl who picked up all of her acting tips from Dora the Explorer did better than Sally Field.”
- First thing we checked: Yep, Anne Hathaway made it. We don’t have to kill anyone.
- Hugh Jackman also made it for Les Miserables, which… he didn’t deserve. I thought in many ways he was the weakest part of the film. But here’s the thing: I love High Jackman as a person – he appears to be generous for an actor, and sensible, and possessed of both a work ethic and a sense of humor, so I’m not going to bitch. I’m just going to be happy for him.
- I really wish Seth McFarlane had announced the Best Actor category by saying, “The nominees for ‘Best Actor’ are Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington, Hugh Jackman, and Joaquin Phoenix. The winner for ‘Best Actor’ is Daniel Day-Lewis. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
- Robert DeNiro’s turn in Silver Linings Playbook is, honestly, the first nomination I think he’s deserved. I mean, I like DeNiro, but to me he’s an actor like Will Smith – hey, this is someone pretty much like DeNiro, being DeNiro! So I don’t give him that much credit for acting chops. Nor did the producers of Silver Linings Playbook, since I know they auditioned him in the very scene where he convinced me he could act because they had worries it was outside his range. But they cried, and I cried, and dammit Bob why have you been wasting all this time playing mobsters.
- The big loser of the day, I think, was “Moonrise Kingdom.” I haven’t seen it yet, but I have heard good things – just not good enough for this year. Then again, it’s not like the Oscars have ever really loved Wes Anderson anyway, so I could be wrong about that.
- Quentin shut out for Best Director? Ouch.