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
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.