The Oscars aren’t something I think about often. In fact, I only think about the awards show—fleetingly—from nowish until it’s mercifully over. When is that, February? Whenever it happens, it’s not soon enough.
Be honest. The Academy Awards are boring—even kind of a sham. It’s not just because no person of color wins or is nominated for an award, ever. It’s because watching a bunch of mostly rich white people congratulate each other for doing things that only other mostly rich white people can do is a drag. And the Academy takes itself way too seriously.
But hey, who am I but a guy who’s willing to sacrifice his ideals on the altar of commerce in order to play the game, should the opportunity arise? That’s why I present my hastily thrown together reactions to Thursday’s Academy Awards nominations.
Again, this year, the Academy is honoring at least five and as many as 10 films for the vaunted Best Picture award (they decided, for a second year, on nine). That’s the only explanation for the inclusion of Les Misérables, the worst, but possibly only second-worst (read: Not Fade Away), movie of 2012. You can read my short review here, but here’s the shorter version: Fuck me, Les Misérables is terrible.
The only thing that surprised me in the list of nominations (read them all here) is one the Academy missed, and that’s John Hawkes as Best Actor for The Sessions. It’s not that he gives one of the best performances of the year—though it’s a shit-ton better than Hugh Jackman’s wretchedness in Les Misérables—but the Academy loves to recognize people with disabilities, and Hawkes’ character, Mark O’Brien, spends 20 motionless hours of his 24 motionless hours a day in an iron lung. And he still gets laid. What’s not to love?
And then there are what Oscar watchers call the snubs. Let’s be clear: “Snub” is an absurd word to use. You mean Ben Affleck didn’t get nominated for Best Director but Argo made the Best Picture list? THE HORROR. SOMEONE GET ME A CHICKEN BURRITO. I’M GOING TO PUZZLE OVER THIS SHIT ALL NIGHT.
That terrifically mean-spirited dismissal of so-called Oscar snubs aside, the snub-watchers do have a point: How can any movie nominated for Best Picture not also be nominated for Best Director (unless it’s Les Misérables)? Did these movies direct themselves? Maybe the members of the of Academy think it’s 1989, and a bunch of these movies suffer from Driving Miss Daisy syndrome. That’s when an otherwise pedestrian director has all the stars align for one picture. (Apologies to Bruce Beresford, but Her Alibi and Peace, Love & Misunderstanding undo Breaker Morant and Driving Miss Daisy, which is wildly overpraised anyway).
How did Argo end up in the Best Picture pile? It’s good. It’s not great. I’d wager many people think it’s great simply because it’s so much better than 97 percent of the movies released each year. But that doesn’t make it a Best Picture contender, because that other three percent includes Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained and Beasts of the Southern Wild, all of which I’d see again before I pony up $5 to watch Argo on pay-per-view.
Back to directors for a moment: How can you nominate Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained for Best Picture but not Best Director? I mean, Kathryn Bigelow put together one of the best action sequences in movie history. So the movie’s politics are a little hard to figure out (not really); I’d argue that’s one of the things that makes it intriguing.
And that brings me to what is surely the end-all be-all of Academy Awards lists: My picks for the major categories. I’ve helpfully broken it down by what my main pick is, followed by my sentimental pick. That means I’d be happy with (read: not kill anyone over) either of those people/movies announced as winner.
Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathway for Les Misérables; she provides that movie’s only non-shit moments.
Sentimental runner-up: No one. Amy Adams? Sally Field? C’mon.
Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained; he’s simply wonderful.
Sentimental runner-up: Robert De Niro; Samuel L Jackson (oh wait, he wasn’t nominated).
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook; this woman can do anything.
Sentimental runner-up: Emmanuelle Riva for Amour; this woman can do anything.
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook; he made The Words, too, which means he can recover.
Sentimental runner-up: Joaquin Phoenix for his bold portrayal of Popeye the Sailor in Paul Thomas Anderson’s confoundingly overpraised masturbation-fest, The Master. And how is Jean-Louis Trintignant not nominated for Amour?
Best Foreign Film
Toss-up: No and A Foreign Affair are both wonderful, and (SPOILER) Amour should win Best Picture.
Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Sentimental runner-up: How to Survive a Plague
Best Picture of the Year
Amour; I amour it. Je t’aime, Amour!
Sentimental runner-up: None. There were no better movies released in 2012. For realz.
There are other things we could quibble over, like SNUBS for Gael Garcia Bernal for No or Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained, but I’ve spent too much time on this already, and Jamie Foxx already has an Academy Award (and a cool porny last name!).
I plan on forgetting the Oscars is a thing until the telecast itself, which, this year, is thankfully hosted by Seth MacFarlane. I don’t love him (or Ted, which was stupid), but at least he’s not comedy vacuum Billy Crystal.
See you in the cinemaplex!