The coldest month of the year for film fanatics is January. Typically, the crop of films invading the multiplexes at this time is absolute garbage, while the AMPAS announce their Academy Award nominations. The former hurts, but the latter delivers a great deal of butthurt across the cinematic landscape. Obviously the awards themselves, which finds Hollywood blowing itself over the course of three hours, fail to define any film. We should always place our own distinct value on a film, regardless of the accolades it may collect. Of course, we’re complex people who incessantly need our love for anyone or anything validated by a third-party. Invariably, this is why I follow many Oscar prognosticators as well as the Oscars themselves: I want the films I love to receive the coverage they deserve. In many ways it’s like I have a horse in the race. The horse may never win, but being in the Kentucky Derby of award shows holds a great deal of merit.
Originally I planned this post as an angry rant, demonstrating my innate ability to transform from a semi-rational adult into a petulant child that purposely shits himself because he didn’t get his way. But then I realized I’m very rarely satisfied with the Academy’s selection, so I might as well try to approach it from a more positive angle. Here are the highs, lows and the fuckery from today’s nominations…or at least how I see it.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: An unbelievable fairy tale deep-fried in the South, Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the most imaginative and emotionally resonating films of the year. Not only did it receive a Best Picture nomination, but its director and lead actress received nominations in their respective categories.
Mychael Danna for Best Score (Life of Pi): Finally, one of my favorite composers gets the love and recognition he deserves. Having been passed up last year for his memorable composition for Moneyball, Danna receives a much deserved nomination for his beautifully ethereal score for Life of Pi.
Best Director Selection: Even though the Academy passed over the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, and Ben Affleck, the core five they’ve assembled are all worthwhile selections. If I’m being honest, I’m more so pleased that Tom Hooper failed to make the list. Fuck him and his lustful yearning for close-ups.
Best Picture Selection: Considering how deep the film pool was this year, the nine or ten films nominated had no choice but to be solid. Sure, Les Misérables stole a spot from better films, most notably The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, and Looper, but the collection of films nominated are more than worthy of gold.
Jessica Chastain: I have yet to see Zero Dark Thirty, but Chastain looks nothing short of amazing in it. I gain no greater pleasure than seeing one of film’s finest actresses getting what she deserves. You all should take notice.
The Master: I didn’t expect The Master to register a nomination for Best Picture. The film is far too polarizing to receive anything but acting and tech nominations. It’s the kind of film that film fans will appreciate in time, not the immediate future. I can live with that result, but what really boils my blood is the fact that Jonny Greenwood, who has concocted another score that perfectly fits the film’s given time period and explores the undercurrent of each character, missed the cut in favor of John Williams. Adding insult to injury, the film’s cinematography is criminally overlooked. Watching the film is like watching a vintage photograph come to life. The work of cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. is arguably the year’s best.
Looper: People demand originality, yet when something original comes along, it’s passed up in favor of something familiar. Did Looper deserve a best picture nomination? Maybe, but in the very least it deserved a best original screenplay nomination. No film was as inventive in its premise or as perfectly written as Looper.
Hugh Jackman: Basically he gets a nomination because he can sing. Never mind the tremendous restraint and power in John Hawkes’ performance in The Sessions. He doesn’t sing, so who gives a shit?
Leonardo DiCaprio and Rick Ross: The supporting actors selected are tremendous, but I’d much rather see Leo in over Alan Arkin . Tearing viciously into his character, DiCaprio spits and spews vile that is at once sickening and impressive. Also deserving from Django Unchained is the song “100 Black Coffins” from Rick Ross. Check out the song on YouTube and tell me that isn’t the kind of song to shakeup the Academy Awards. Fuck, they already awarded 36 Mafia with an Oscar, why not toss the Teflon Don some love?
Cloud Atlas: For a film that finds characters swapping genders, races, and places in time, Cloud Atlas sure got boned in the technical department. I’m not a fan of the film by any means, but even I respect the ambitious heights it reaches in makeup and special effects.
The Dark Knight Rises: Much like The Master, I never thought The Dark Knight Rises would garner attention from the big categories. It simply wasn’t going to happen, and even if there was support behind it, it would likely fight over votes with The Avengers. Nonetheless, in the very least I expected it to receive nominations in the technical realm, more specifically Wally Pfisters’ grand cinematography, which he received nominations for in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
All right, I’ll stop the bitching right here. There will be countless debates about what films deserved a nomination and what didn’t. All I can say is that a film is ultimately what you make it. We shouldn’t fret or whine over what our favorite film didn’t get. We should just be happy that we found a film to love in the first place, unless we’re talking about Les Misérables. I fucking hate that film even more.