Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Ennui

It wouldn't be much of a film blog if I didn't take a moment to talk about today's announcement of the Academy Award nominations.

In a word...meh.

Okay...that was the short version. Allow me to elaborate.

Was anyone really that surprised by what was nominated? Did you really think THE DARK KNIGHT had a chance? Understand: I really liked it a lot, but it wasn't a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, and how could it have possibly stood up against the lure of the obvious Oscar bait that came out on late November and December?

To be honest I'm more bored than anything else. When the nominations were announced there was very little in the way of genuine surprise. On the good side Richard Jenkins and Robert Downey jr. both got nominations for outstanding work, but nothing for Michelle Williams in WENDY AND LUCY or anything for HAPPY-GO-LUCKY. Hooray for a screenwriting nod to IN BRUGES, but sadly the Coen Brothers get shut out. For every cheer there's a roar of rage.

But wait a minute. Isn't this how it's always been?

When I was younger it was a point of pride that I would quietly tip-toe out to the den in the early morning to sit in the blue glow of my television set, pad and paper in hand, an orange juice or coffee (when I was older) within easy reach, eagerly awaiting the nominations. Every announcement was a cause for celebration or dismissal, and if nothing it was a chance to argue endlessly with friends over what got left out, what would win and what should win.

Maybe a part of this was attributable to my youthful innocence and fairly narrow scope of film. Unless it was at my local multiplex or Blockbuster the chance I would be aware of many smaller or (God forbid) foreign films was practically nonexistent. I was content with what was presented to me as the cream of the crop, the choicest morsels in cinema.

But then this thing called "the Internet" happened. Lines of communication effectively shrunk the physical planet almost as fast as it expanded the film world I had previously taken for granted. Not only did I begin to hear about films of every size from every corner of the world, but for the first time it was becoming economically feasible to actually see them. And not only see them, but find others who also saw it, and talk to them about it. The workload doubled: not only was I compelled to partake of this celluloid cornucopia, but I had to wade through the limitless sea of opinion that accompanied it.

I had been steadily expanding my film palette for a few years, and I began to realize how that, as large as the world of film was, even domestic film, the platter from which the Oscar nominations were derived was of an equally impressive if opposite size.

Does this mean that the nominated films are bad? Or that the choices are completely at odds with what should be awarded? Not necessarily, and despite my utter lack of interest anymore that the Academy will reach out a little further and 1) embrace a wider range of films, and 2) acknowledge that there is no set "type" of film worthy of recognition, I'm still interested in all the nominated films. So far I've see three of the Best Picture films (MILK, FROST/NIXON and THE READER), and this weekend hope to catch a few more movies that have been nominated.

I love movies - big, small...the deal I made when I was a child still stood. Amaze me, make me feel, don't cheat me and I'm yours.

That's all I ask. So let's leave the ire and rancor that this or that wasn't nominated and just do that much more to see the things that are worth seeing.

No comments:

Post a Comment