Nominal success


This year I feel less embarrassed than I normally do after the Oscar nominations announcements, getting fewer prognostications wrong - four - than my usual six or more misfires. On the other hand, those I got wrong were really the ones that would have taken any genuine acumen to figure out. So as it stands I got 31 out of 35, around 88%, or a B+ average. Eh.

Anyway, to console myself, I must point out that even the wrong guesses fit, sort of, into my overall and overbearing theses, in particular the one suggesting a growing trend of honoring performances in roles portraying characters from the lower classes, the backwoods, or the demimonde. Poor-nography, you might call it.

Like dark horse candidate Jacki Weaver as the bloody mama of a Melbourne criminal family in "Animal Kingdom" beating out Mila Kunis as the definitely-not-lumpen rival diva in "Black Swan." Now there's a case where if I had stuck to my guns I would have been rewarded. At least both have animal references in the titles [memo to self: another trend? maybe not.]

In other instances I might not have gone down and dirty enough. Like Javier Bardem's petty hood in "Biutiful" over Robert Duvall's hermit coot in "Get Low." I should have remembered that the guy who pees blood beats out the guy who looks like he might smell every time.


Or Michelle Williams, playing the long-suffering wife of a blue collar loser in "Blue Valentine," edging out Hilary Swank, the working-stiff Ayer, Mass. woman who gets a law degree to get her brother off a bogus murder rap in "Conviction." Has any one ever won an Oscar playing a lawyer?[never mind: Gregory Peck in "To Kill a Mockingbird"] Maybe if Swank had managed a good Boston accent she could have swung it.

Finally, Tom Hooper, director of the royal worshipping "The King's Speech," which also got the most nominations of any film with 12, doesn't fit in with my schema at all. Or does it? Because the real hero of the story is Geoffrey Rush's (nominated for Best Supporting Actor) speech therapist without portfolio, initially disdained because of his commoner, colonial (Australia) origins and his lack of any official acknowledgment (like a degree) of his profession, who ultimately [SPOILER!] saves the day [and isn't Rush's character a kind of "director" himself? Possible wheel-spinning question for any future Hooper interview]. Or maybe the key to his and the film's success is that it's the property of the most ruthless of Oscar campaigning buccaneers, the Weinstein Brothers.

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