Normally, at this point in awards season when the Oscar nominations (link here!) are announced, I feel like a low-level Al-Qaeda flunkee staring down Jessica Chastain in a no-nonsense pantsuit: beaten, cowed, humiliated, willing to trade my ideals, beliefs and loyal brothers for just a whiff of fresh figs. But THIS YEAR I've been out of the U.S., and more importantly, reliable Wi-fi, for almost all of the Pre-Season Death slog! So with this, my first Oscar post in over a year, I feel like a newborn infant fluttering his eyes in blinkered confusion as he beholds light for the first time.
It feels good. Frankly, I'm going to advocate that Oscar bloggers, much like starting pitchers, should be on rotation with mandatory rest years in-between. But before I start my online petition, I figured I'd muse on today's Oscar nominations from my completely uninformed, haven't-even-been-in-the-country privileged point of view.
Two words: Lincoln. LINCOLN!
The headline of today's nominations is that Steven Spielberg's refreshingly anti-epic biopic Lincoln, surprising few I'm sure, took the day with 12 nominations, nailing down pretty much everything in the Oscar roster (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinemato-editing-mixology) -- that is, except Best Actress and the kitchen sink. Now pardon me if I take an immodest moment and pull a Nikki Finke: TOLD YOU!* That's right, over two years ago I called this sucker for Vanity Fair. Don't believe me? Here's the link!
If you found that off-putting, sorry. Just know that I'm now passing from hubristic braggadocio to sincere regret that I didn't lay some money on this sucker when I had the chance. Anyway, the point is this pretty much obviates me having to have a rational discussion about the Oscars with anyone -- bloggers, publicists, obnoxious guy at work who thinks he knows everything -- from now until Sunday February 24th when hopefully I'll be too soused on cheap champagne to have a coherent conversation at all. What do I mean? Observe this theoretical conversation:
Oscar Blogger Who Takes This Seriously: So, I think Silver Linings Playbook has a real dark horse shot at beating Linclon for Best Picture. It scored noms in all the major acting --
Blogger: You're probably right. What do you think of the Best Director snubs?
Blogger: All right... well, Daniel Day-Lewis seems like a Best Actor favorite. But do you think Tommy Lee Jones can--
Me: LINCOLN, LINCOLN!
Blogger: Ok. I assume you think Supporting Actress will go to--
Me: LINCOLN FIELD!
Blogger: Right. You could have just said Sally Field. Anyway, Lincoln isn't even nominated in the Best Actress category, so--
Me: QUVENZHANE LINCOLN!
Blogger: Wait, are you saying Quvenzhané Wallis, the adorably precocious 9-year-old wunderkind from Beasts of the Southern Wild will beat Jessica Chastain or--
Me: LINCOLN LINCOLN LINCOLN.
Blogger. I see. You're just saying Lincoln nonsensically to prove a hyperbolic point. If I were to ask who you think the favorite for Best Foreign Film is, you'd say --
Me: Amour. That film is amazing.
You get the point. Lesson is: don't try to have a coherent conversation with me about the Oscars. I very well may hand-write Lincoln on all the fields in my Oscar party ballot and see how many people I beat. No one ever guesses best short doc, anyway. The only thing intelligent I have to say is that if everyone's so shocked about those Best Director snubs --Tarantino, Bigelow and Ben Affleck, all of whom more than deserved a nomination... Well, let me put it this way: how can you switch up the voting system from good ol' paper and pencil to ONLINE VOTING on the geriatric Academy in one fell swoop and not expect Benny Hill-style madness to ensue? Some of these guys are still bitching about the advent of talkies! Let's all admit something right now: half of the votes probably came from grandchildren of Academy Members who were asked to set up the online voting profile cause Gramps fell asleep watching his screener of The Master and the extended deadline was minutes away...
Just for kicks though, I'm really sad Zero Dark Thirty didn't get Kathryn Bigelow a second best director nomination. Sure, we can laud ourselves that a woman winning best director means we've come a long way, but I'd argue women still aren't adequately represented on the other side of the camera until it's so quotidian that the barely-there Academy just nominates one out of habit. Dear Kathryn, when you make your next just-kind-of-ok film and the Academy nominates you anyway, that is progress. (I'm also bummed Zero Dark didn't get nominated for Sound Mixing. Mixing you say!? Yes, mixing. Ray Beckett is a genius and deserves a second Oscar. Ask anyone who's worked with him.) Also, Zero Dark Thirty is just by far and away the best and most important movie of the year, Senate-probes-be-damned! We should be falling all over ourselves that Hollywood is putting such a thoughtful, challenging, disturbing, perfectly executed film (and exciting!) into wide release this weekend. I mean, Lincoln's great, but Steven, come on, you know you should have ended it after that shot of Lincoln walking down the hall! That was perfect! Honestly, only you have the creative sway to make a movie with Lincoln that ends before he gets assassinated. Sigh.
Anyway, the point being: Lincoln. And Amour. Intelligent, insightful analysis to follow. Maybe. First I need to see Life of Pi.
*purposefully misspelled -- rather, properly spelled -- to avoid a lawsuit.