The last critics organization, The National Society of Film
would been there but my flight to New York for the meeting got snowed out) has voted,
and it looks like "The Hurt Locker" has pretty much cleared the table with
(in a mirror image of Boston, among others), Best Picture, Director, and Actor.
This might not be good news, however, for Kathryn Bigelow
and company, for, as some people have already pointed out, such an alignment of
critical organizations is not necessarily an omen of Oscar success.
Which makes sense. Everybody hates critics, and in a year
when the Oscars are trying to expand their audience by increasing the number of
Best Picture nominees from five to ten, they don't want to appear to be
slavishly echoing the opinions of those noxious, elitist and obsolete pinheads
with their own awards. Besides, who wants to watch a film that is a realistic
depiction of a war that nobody even cares about any more, that doesn't star any
big names, and doesn't draw any easy, clichéd resolutions or leave you sated
with cloying platitudes?
On the other hand, they still want to maintain the illusion that
the Academy presents its awards on the basis of artistic merit, which might
augur badly for "Avatar." True, a number of critics, perhaps desperate to
assert their relevance, have lauded the film. Also, there are no doubt a lot of
Academy voters among those listed in the film's credits, which is about as long
as the LA phonebook, enough maybe to
give it an edge, especially since there are as many Best Picture nominees splitting
the vote as there are candidates in an Iraqi election. But I think that in the
end they just won't find it seemly to honor a film that's making over a billion
dollars and whose vestigial human cast of actors is utterly superseded by CGI
And so the next likely candidate is the film that has all
the trappings of a "serious" movie but which in fact is just another glib piece
of Hollywood crap -- "Up in the Air."
In short, this year's Oscars looks like a reprise of 2005, when every critics
group pounced on the "controversial" "Brokeback Mountain," and the Academy gave
its prize to the pseudo-art piffle "Crash."