Waking up yesterday morning to the sunny, glowing light of my iPhone was a little bit like waking up on Christmas morning -- you sort of know what you're gonna get, but there's always room for surprise. Sure, there's plenty of buzz and speculation about who might be nominated for the Academy Awards. Sure, the Golden Globes are a strange, half-broken crystal ball indicator of some of what's to come, but you still don't really know until you read the nomination list.
I fell asleep half way through the list. It is a jumbled, confused, half-assed attempt at honoring the highest achievements in film for the year and frankly, I am bored.
It's hard to know where to even start. It's kind of like turning in a rough draft in a freshman year creative writing class and having your bearded, vest-wearing liberal arts professor tell you to start from scratch, and with a different protagonist.
I have high standards. I always have a bone or two to pick with the Academy when nominations come out. Why are we nominating good movies? Why aren't we nominating the greatest of the great movies? We should expect good movies throughout the year. We should applaud, on the largest stage, the best ones.
There are some fantastic films from 2011 that got barely a flirtatious wink from the Academy. I can barely bring myself to type the word "shame." The irony. Shame, shame, shame. Michael Fassbender gives the performance of three lifetimes. It is a haunting, horrifyingly honest masterpiece, and one that I could not shake for months. There is no Best Actor nomination, no Best Director, Screenplay or even Supporting Actress nod for Carey Mulligan who quietly brought power and fear to her performance as Fassbender's damaged sister.
And in a completely different way, Beginners is, without a doubt, the movie that stole my heart last year. I have seen it three times, listened to the soundtrack endlessly and adored every conversation I've had about it. Thankfully, Christopher Plummer secured a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but Mike Mils delivered the most visceral film about love I can remember and it sticks to your skin in the best of ways, it coats your eyes when you leave the theater and everything feels different, if even for a moment, after experiencing it.
It was the year of Ryan Gosling and that beautiful man got no love letter, no postcard. Drive was stylized, it was dark, it was heavy, it threw you around, it made you feel like you were and are a living, breathing human being in this world. Director Nicolas Winding Refn is a force to be reckoned with and the Academy doesn't seem to care. I would have even taken a Carey Mulligan nomination here, just to get the film's name on the ballot.
I am happy for many films. The Artist is one I resisted and resisted seeing, hearing it was "cute" and "charming." It is much, much more than that. I am thrilled for Bridesmaids and Moneyball and most especially for Best Actor nominee Demian Bichir for his film A Better Life.
What I am not thrilled about it the insistence on nominating names instead of achievements.
I love George Clooney and Alexander Payne as much as the next Westside-raised Angeleno. But I didn't feel any sorrow, sadness or even spirit from The Descendants. I didn't feel any magic from My Week With Marilyn.
I've read the list over a few times. And sure, I will be happy to see some nominees win -- but there's no excitement this year, there's no held breath or glorious moment of surprise when that-perfect-someone's name is called and their whole world changes on screen for the rest of us to witness. Christmas morning has come and gone. I no longer believe in Santa.
Follow Sasha Bronner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@sashabronner