Three strides back and kind of OK with it
Have I mentioned that there are too many Best Picture nominees? Has that come up before? I digress. Once again find myself a few movies shy of the full category. And although I did manage to sneak The Help in at the buzzer – too late for an article – I was unable to get to Hugo, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Does having read the book count? And how about if I didn’t like it?) and Warhorse. C’est la vie.
I had convinced myself pretty early on that this was a bit of a down year. Having seen most of the films now I think that that was an unfair assessment. A few words that come to mind now are charming, insightful, sweet, and nostalgic. This may not have been a “down” year, per se, but it was certainly a pretty mellow one. It should also be noted that these are words one might use to describe a grandparent.
This year’s award show came and went without many surprises. Out of the films that I did manage to get to I could make a pretty solid argument for at least three of them winning Best Picture, The Artist being one of them. I wouldn’t have minded The Descendants taking it, but I feel like it was too humble to stand out, and The Tree of Life could’ve taken it on sheer scale alone (It’s a film about EVERYTHING!).
All told, I’m happy with most of the victors. It does seem to be a real shame that Viola Davis didn’t take home Best Actress, but she’ll get hers one day. Meryl Streep is certainly one of the best of our time, but I’ve not heard a great many good things about The Iron Lady, and historically speaking acting awards tend to go to great performances in great (or at least very good) films. Perhaps not being entirely on the Academy’s radar demographic-wise hurt Viola a little bit?
And where was the Best Supporting nomination for Albert Brooks in Drive?! Aside from that film being one of my favorites of the year, Brook’s villainy is pretty epic in it and I’m reasonably certain no one would have missed Nick Nolte’s name on that list. He’s very good in Warrior, but let’s face it; he’s played that character before.
Perhaps the biggest travesty for me, though, was the fact that The Tree of Life’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, didn’t go home with the gold. Yes, Hugo looks amazing, but I have never seen a film that looks or feels anything like The Tree of Life. Never. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better impetus for handing someone an award.
It’s funny, this year I didn’t find myself terribly concerned about missing the few Best Picture noms that I did. Would I have rather seen Hugo than The Help (my wife is largely responsible for that)? Absolutely. But do I feel that I’ve missed out on Extremely Loud and Warhorse? Not really. Which brings us full circle: Were their really nine films worthy of being considered Best Picture? Can anyone give me a solid reason why Extremely Loud, a film hovering just under 50% on rottentomatoes.com, was even mentioned in the same breath as some of these other films? Oh well, it’s all over and done with now. And I’m reasonably certain that I’ll have another opportunity to rail on about this again next year.
Kevin Mattison is co-editor of The Idler, and a filmmaker and videographer. You can follow him on Twitter at @kmmattison.