Let’s Talk Oscars
Entry 2: If The Artist wins best picture I’m going to barf.
Photo by Suzanne Hanover© 2011 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
Are you ready for the most self-important Oscars ever???
Troy, you’re absolutely right that this year’s nominations skew oooooold. They’re also cinema-obsessed. Glen Weldon of NPR had it right when he tweeted that nods for The Artist and Hugo have essentially guaranteed that this Oscar ceremony will be well-nigh insufferable. ("The cinema. Dreams made of light, flickering in the dark. Film is the very language of the soul …”) On Oscar night, I’m playing a drinking game in which I down a cocktail every time Martin Scorsese calls his movie “the picture.” We've already made a reservation in the penthouse suite of our local hospital.
Troy, I think it’s simple to explain why Demián Bichir was nominated: Academy members feel guilty about their gardeners. (I’m sure he’s very good; I haven’t seen the movie.) As for Albert Brooks, his pitch-perfect response (“You don’t like me, you really don’t like me”) was both a joke and not a joke; he gives the appearance of laughing it off, but he’s been such a prickly presence in movies and on movie sets and in studio offices for years that he may actually be touching on the real reason he didn’t land a nomination despite winning over half the precursor awards. He can go hang out with Patton Oswalt, Andy Serkis, and Michael Fassbender in the drawing room.
I’m focusing both my delight and my ire on best supporting actress, where the academy made one great move and one terrible one. The great move was nominating Melissa McCarthy, who played the insane, hyper-aggressive Megan in Bridesmaids, and joins Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams in an illustrious trio of actresses nominated for personifying important historical figures. (In McCarthy’s case, she was doing a dead-on Guy Fieri.) It wouldn’t surprise me at all if McCarthy won; the academy has a long tradition of rewarding broad, over-the-top comic performances in the supporting categories, from Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda to Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny to Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain. (Oh, she was serious?)
But why, oh why, couldn’t the academy make room for my favorite supporting performance of the year, Shailene Woodley’s in The Descendants? It’s a baffling omission, not only because Alexander Payne’s film (which I didn’t love as much as I hoped to, given our shared haoles-in-love-with-Hawaii sensibility) was well-rewarded elsewhere, but because literally the only thing the Oscars do consistently well is reward promising ingénues with nominations! They gave supporting actress nods to Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, and Saoirse Ronan; I’m bewildered by the omission of Woodley, who was tough, angry, confused, annoying, and real as the teenage hell-raiser who knows more about her parents’ marriage than her dad does.
Of course all of this implies that I take the Oscars seriously, which I don’t. AT ALL. But seriously, if The Artist wins best picture I am gonna barf. Dana, which nomination made you barf? Was it Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the movie the academy teasingly announced last in the best picture category, provoking gasps from the audience and howls of rage from film critics? (It certainly has the Academy Award for Awesomest Manohla Dargis Review locked up.) Was it the best original score nomination for Vertigo, I mean The Artist?
And what, amid the chaos and foolishness of the nominations, made you smile? Yes, Troy, I am very excited to see Jason Segel and his beloved brother Walter onstage with Bret McKenzie, singing “Man or Muppet.” I was happy to see A Separation in best original screenplay. And it’s ridiculous that this is Gary Oldman’s first Oscar nomination. Talk about due! It doesn’t make up for the (by my count) seven previous nominations* he was jobbed out of, but it’s still nice to see.
*Sid and Nancy, Prick Up Your Ears, Chattahoochee, State of Grace, True Romance, The Contender, The Dark Knight
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Dan Kois is a senior editor at Slate and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.