22 January 2009

Sins of Omission, the Oscar Nominations

It's time once again to express absolute befuddlement over the annual Oscar nominations. Or is it? Isn't it giving the Academy Awards way too much credence to bitch and moan about its picks?

Yes, actually it is. Better to save the outrage until the actual night of the Oscars, because as egregious as the nominations are, what actually wins and what doesn't is even more mind-blowing (who'll ever forget Crash over Brokeback Mountain in 2004 or Ordinary People over Raging Bull in 1980?)

Indeed, I've already raked the Oscars over the coals in a post last summer in which I  listed some of the great films that won nothing and some of the dogs that captured a statuette or two.

This year the flawed though enjoyable The Curious Case of Benjamin Button snagged 13 nominations. It isn't half the movie that David Fincher's preceding film, Zodiac, was which got a grand total of zero nods last year.

The Visitor was either to small budget, too independent or too good to get a best picture nomination although Richard Jenkins received a well-deserved nomination for best actor. Vicky Christina Barcelona, my favorite of the year,  was not a best pic nominee. One can at least take solace in the fact that Milk was nominated for the big prize.

However, the greatest sin was the failure to nominate not just the best performance by an actress in starring role this year but the one that I believe stands as the best of the decade: Kristen Scott Thomas in I Loved You So Long. (Pictured above.) Actually maybe Ms. Thomas was so good that she should be in a separate category: Best Inhabitation of a Character. Ms. Thomas was, after all, not so much acting a part as she was becoming it.

I'd not have blinked if Ms. Thomas had not won the award. Best actor and actress awards are so often gotten terribly wrong -- John Wayne (True Grit) over Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy) in 1969 being just one of many examples. But to not get so much as a nomination suggests a collective stupidity seldom seen outside of the Republican party.

Of course I'm again guilty of putting too much importance on the silliness that is the Oscars. It's a show that is impossible to take seriously while at the same time it is impossible to ignore. I find it excruciating to watch and impossible to miss. The various clips such as of those who've passed in the preceding year or the career highlights of an honoree are a joy. Some of the acceptance speeches are quite touching and nice. But the show is over long with many acceptance speeches that drone on from winners in categories that are of little interest. (And the award for Best Key Grip goes to...) The songs, often in the form of production numbers, are out of place and distracting. In the past the show has at least had some witty and delightful hosts such as Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Steve Martin and Johnny Carson. So this year they go with Hugh Jackman. Seriously?

I should boycott it for the Thomas snub alone. But we'll DVR it and fast forward through the tedium and I'll try to remain calm when they got something really wrong (Crash for best picture, that was a hoot).

Meanwhile I Loved You So Long has probably left theaters in your area. Its DVD release has yet to be announced. Take my word for it and rent a copy as soon as its out. Performance of the decade I tell ya. Screw the Oscars.

No comments: