6:52 PM CST, January 14, 2013
The only useful quote regarding the Academy Awards is from NYT critic Manohla Dargis who said, “Let’s acknowledge that the Oscars are bullshit and we hate them.”
Nevertheless, this year should probably go down as a pre-eminent travesty, right up there with the years that lazy crowd-pleasing shit-piles like “Slumdog Millionaire” or “Crash” or “Shakespeare in Love” took the top award.
Evidence A) Kathryn Bigelow did not get nominated for “Zero Dark Thirty”—one of the most taut, suspenseful movies since, well, “The Hurt Locker”.
Evidence 2) Quentin Tarantino didn’t get nominated for the mesmerizing “Django Unchained”, which so far, is my pick for the best movie of this infant decade. There are some who will add Ben Affleck into this category, but “Argo” has become a somewhat overrated property, a well-done, conventional thriller dressed up in slick Hollywood clothing but ultimately more airless than we’re all acknowledging.
Evidence C) while Christoph Waltz was terrific in “Django” and certainly cannot count as undeserving, but the epic, courageous, transformational, critical, breathtaking role in that film was Samuel L. Jackson as house slave and plantation consigliere Stephen. It was one of the darkest, strangest, funniest, creepiest, most tragic roles this year, and the idea that Alan Arkin repeating “Argo f*** yourself” seven times is in any way as interesting doesn’t merit consideration. The fact of the matter is that Waltz, Jackson, and Leo Dicaprio all deserved attention, and it’s tough to nominate three actors from the same film. Again, this is a credit to Tarantino’s bizarre, brilliant brain that he could concoct three such odd, amazing roles for the same movie without any of them being the lead character.
Evidence 4) “Life of Pi” was not a good movie. Without commenting on the book, the Ang Lee film adaptation was pretty much everything I hate about “Oscar-bait” films, including but not limited to the notion that “stunning visuals” count for anything. This was what irritated me so much about “Avatar” because that movie sucked so thoroughly it was laughable—like James Cameron took the “Ferngully” screenplay and re-filmed it with superior animation. “Life of Pi” at its heart is also a “spiritual” movie, meaning it utilizes second grade philosophy to talk about God in as limp and hackneyed a manner as you'd imagine.
For more barely-informed ranting on movies and the Oscars this year, stay tuned because I was just on Hank Thompson’s podcast “Winners and Losers” ranting about all of this and more.
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