A few days have passed and I can finally take another look at what became of my Oscar nomination predictions. At first I thought that I had 25 right, beating last year’s miserable score of 24, out of 30. But no, I missed Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” beating out Angelina Jolie in “A Mighty Heart.” So it’s the same old mocking 24 right and 6 wrong score that happens every year I engage in this delusive exercise.
The Fool! Of course Blanchett would beat out Jolie! Even though the film sucks (so does “A Mighty Heart;” when did quality ever become a consideration?) and it’s a reprise of Blanchett’s Oscar nominated turn a few years back for the previous “Elizabeth.” Don’t you realize that any year there’s a queen, especially a queen named Elizabeth, the role must receive some kind of nomination?
Which, I suppose, reflects the still dominant support of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination by Hollywood types. Or is it sympathy and shock at the assassination of Bhutto? And that is my sole consolation. That I may be wrong, but it’s for all the right reasons. As noted by Siegfried Kracauer in “From Caligari to Hitler,” popular movies reflect the mood and subconscious of the audience. And since the Oscars are the quintessence of popular movies, they provide the clearest reflection of all. So all it takes is a discerning eye on world events and movies to guess who will get nominated. (For an alternative, or complementary method, look here) Not to mention predict the future course of human history (for example, my Super Bowl pick: Pats by 10).
So I still believe in the rationale and method; it’s the execution that needs a little work (and bear in mind that the fluid in my Magic Eight Ball dried up two years ago). Which involves learning from my mistakes.
Mistake # 1: immoderation.Like the movies themselves, the Oscars seek out a balance, knowing that any extreme is bound to alienate some element of the audience. So though my notion that the appeal of demonic male behavior would be the dominant impulse behind the choices, the voters hedged their bets by voting for something neutral. Hence there was indeed room for “Atonement,” which also represented that Oscar favorite the staid, plush British period picture (á là Merchant Ivory and “The English Patient” et al). Hence its nomination for Best Picture in lieu of the altogether too bloody, tuneless and irredeemable musical “Sweeney Todd.”
Mistake #2: sentimentality.I should have known the Academy would have picked “Atonement”’s bland Jo Wright as Best Director over the feisty, octogenarian auteur Sidney Lumet. But my heart just went out to the guy.
Mistake #3: underestimating the bad taste of the AcademyI knew “Juno” would go far, but Jason Reitman for Best director? Even the insufferably pretentious Sean Penn showed some genuine artistic aspiration. Maybe being the son of Ivan Reitman pulled some weight with the Directors Branch of the Academy. It sure beats being a pal of Hugo Chavez.
Mistake #4: underestimating the cowardice of the AcademyBe honest, could you tell the difference between Tommy Lee Jones’s performance in “In the Valley of Elah” and in “No Country for Old Men?” Other than that the latter is in an immeasurably superior movie. No, the fuzzily liberal vaguely anti-war or something Paul Haggis cartoon beats out the inflatable doll fetishist for Best Actor every time.
Mistake #5: making a mistakeI had a chance to pick Viggo over Denzel. I blew it.
Enough excuses. If I don’t get 30 out of 30 next time, I give up. Or maybe I’ll get a new Magic Eight Ball.