The Movie Club

The Academy Gives a Surprising Big Wet Kiss to Amour
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 10 2013 2:04 PM

The Movie Club

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I have no legitimate complaints about Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone.

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour.
Emmanuelle Riva, nominated for Best Actress for Amour.

Darius Khondji/Sony Pictures Classics

I hate-love all of this as much as you three. I can say only "wow" about Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow. He bears the burden of being an actor who seemed to have just turned into Warren Beatty, and I think that's made some members of the directors branch roll their eyes, which is too bad since he's a better filmmaker than Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson. She bears the burden of the torture controversy, as Keith noted, which is both overblown and very much something on the film's mind, too. As for Benh Zeitlin and Beasts of the Southern Wild, I agree with Stephanie that it has a graduate-student quality that, after a year, hasn't aged well. It's a muddled, muffled attempt at a kind of solidarity that feels like a balled-up homework assignment that's been unballed, smoothed out, and turned in wrinkled. But this was a movie people loved at the Sundance Film Festival in a way you rarely see.

I really dug what Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone wanted to do in hosting the announcement and have no legitimate complaints. They were simply doing out loud what lots of other people were doing with their keypads: They were tweeting. Some of the quips worked, some didn't, and it will never happen again. The worst part of that experience is that the only time we get to see Emma Stone at her sharpest and most starry is when she's presenting at awards shows. This woman has wit and crackle and eyes that can roll like the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Her voice has husk. Her mind is quick. But the movies aren't doing anything with her. Nothing.

Easy A was two years ago, and I just don't want to see her sitting in windows waiting for Spider-Man or pin-balling between cops and crooks the way she has to in tomorrow's Gangster Squad. Stone isn't someone who can take a generic damsel or girlfriend part and use a persona to rethink it—she's not Amy Adams. First she needs movies that let her figure what that persona even is. I don't want to be having our McConaughey conversation about Emma Stone in 15 years. Nor do I want her to figure it out, win an Oscar, and become whatever's happened to Reese Witherspoon. Give her comedies. People will pay to see her in them. She's as much a gun moll as Richard Simmons is.

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For what it's worth, my favorite nominee is Emmanuelle Riva for Best Actress. She's great in Amour as is the omitted Jean-Louis Trintignant, and it speaks highly of the academy that the movie did as well as with them as it has. But this surprise wet Oscar kiss does allow us to return to the question of Michael Haneke and why this movie as opposed to his others. And the answer can't simply be "the voters are all old, too," even it's true.  

Also, everybody, do you really like that Adele song? It makes me feel like I'm pushing a shopping cart down of the aisles of that drug store Meryl Streep dreams about in Postcards From the Edge. Hmm. I just typed that. Next.

Wesley   

Wesley Morris is a staff writer at Grantland.