As I’ve been floored with a head cold over the past week, I’ve neglected my posts. Since I’ve written, there’s been some news in the Academy:
The Oscars’ Own Curse of the Bambino Broken
The unthinkable has happened: Gary Oldman has been nominated for an Oscar. It’s about time. After nearly three decades of churning out scenery-chewing and movie-stealing performances, one of the best has finally been admitted to the club. I try not to let the Academy decide my own opinion of filmic worth, but I have to say that it’s nice to hear them acknowledge his awesomeness nonetheless, and especially for this performance which is so understated. (In case you need to be told, the Academy likes it BIG, which makes his lack of nominations all the more striking given most of his previous roles). The movie in question, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, unfortunately wasn’t nominated for a whole lot else but this is the one that counts. Even more unfortunate, I don’t see how Oldman can possibly beat the Academy darling that is George Clooney, but I’ll be rooting for him all the same.
As far as the other awards go, nothing too surprising, as usual. The biggest upset was the lack of a nomination for Ryan Gosling for either The Ides of March or Drive, the latter of which I have not yet seen but have heard excellent things about. Also missing was his Drive co-star Albert Brooks. In fact, the movie itself was snubbed entirely, which makes me all the more interested to see it given its great reviews and success in the UK. There were, for the most part, the expected noms for Hugo, The Descendants, Moneyball, The Artist, The Help, Midnight in Paris, etc. Meryl Streep is (if I read the tea leaves right) on her way to her third Oscar. Shocking to nobody is the total omission of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 from the major awards. The Return of the King it is not, but it was a solid piece of film-making and it’s a shame that it couldn’t rally enough votes to grab that empty tenth place in the Best Picture category (lacking the requisite 5% of votes). Clearly Peter Jackson’s ROTK sweep nearly ten years ago was a fluke, and did not signal any fundamental change in critical open-mindedness towards fantasy as a genre, even now that they’ve doubled the amount of Best Picture nominations. Clearly the professed point that the reason was to include more types or genres of films wasn’t effective at all: There are the same types as always, just more of them.
In other movie news, I’ve seen a few good films which are up for Oscars: Beginners and The Ides of March. The former walked the fine line of sensitive films, barely escaping whineyness, mostly due to the unbelievable likability of Ewan McGregor. Any other actor and I would have tuned out halfway through – what a brilliant piece of casting. For any that doubt his charm, watch this. As for Clooney’s great Ides of March, it was refreshing to see a movie about the corruption and backstabbing within a single political party rather than the more predictable bi-partisan strife. This helps it to transcend the same old Left vs. Right dichotomy and become a story about the problems inherent to politics itself. The problem is systemic, and no one is innocent or exempt. At just an hour and a half, it is also a tight little powerhouse of a movie. There is no flab, no unnecessary scenes or time wasters, just the bare bones of a focused morality tale.