the elephant in the room

Dear Don and Jay,

Jay, your argument about few films getting nominated for the Big Five nowadays goes well with the point I made earlier about women and Oscar movies. If you take a look at the movies that missed the Big Five nominations by one, it is most likely missing a Best Actress nomination.

Here is a list of recent films in the past five years that got nominated for Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay but not for Actress:

  1. The Artist
  2. The Descendants
  3. The King’s Speech
  4. The Social Network
  5. True Grit
  6. The Hurt Locker
  7. Up in the Air
  8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  9. Frost/Nixon
  10. Milk
  11. Michael Clayton
  12. There Will Be Blood

In comparison, here are the ones that almost got nominated for the Big Five without a Best Actor nomination in the same time period:

  1. Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  2. The Reader
  3. Juno

Clearly, there is still a heavy bias against female-driven pictures. Either the Academy doesn’t recognize those movies enough, or the entire industry is built around creating narratives that favor men more. In any case, there must still be some revamping in the way Hollywood creates female characters that needs to be done if you want another film to win the Big Five.

Speaking of nominations, I’ve finally seen the least nominated and much berated Best Picture contender, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I don’t know if its because the blogosphere already ate up this movie and shat it out of their collective asses, but I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. Sure, this movie is mediocre and is specifically designed to pull on our heartstrings, but to call it one of the year’s worst movies is grossly unfair.

Granted, you can accuse the movie of being lazy. It deploys the images of 9/11 and the feelings surrounding it clumsily to elicit an almost automatic response of melancholia from its audience. I must admit that it worked on me, and at the moment I found the feeling oddly cathartic, but the flood of tears was soon followed by a surge of guilt and self-awareness: did I really fall for that? It has that weird effect of making you feel like you’ve been duped, and some emotions really feel unearned.

But I say that it’s a good debut from Thomas Horn, and a nice addition to the already impressive oeuvre of Max von Sydow. The on-screen relationship between the two was the most enjoyable part of the movie, with von Sydow’s silent expressions complementing Horn’s constant verbalizing of the facts, ideas and data that he collects on his mission to make sense of his father’s death.

Onto the question of whether or not it should have been a Best Picture nomination: I don’t think so. I can honestly say that all ten Best Picture nominees last year were miles better than this movie both in terms of substance and style. Does it speak of the poorer quality of films this year, or the ineffectiveness of AMPAS’ new voting system?

With the Oscars a mere 12 days away and after having seen all the Best Picture contenders, I can’t wait to see who wins and to finally put 2011 to a close. I leave you now with Thomas Horn’s Jeopardy appearance.


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