Quick Thoughts on the 2012 Academy Awards

Hey there everybody. The 2012 Academy Award nominations were announced today.

Just in case you didn’t know.

And considering every film blogger is gonna be leaping on this story like a steroid-enraged frog, I’m just gonna leave a few quick thoughts on the nominations in general.

Now why don’t you be a dear and press “Continue Reading.”

Now, dear reader, I try not to take awards shows too seriously. Ultimately, they don’t decide what movies I like. I do. They’re just a fun way of showing support to some of the best movies of each year.

So with that in mind, I’m going to keep this as bile-free as possible.

Oh and here’s the full list if you haven’t seen it yet: http://oscar.go.com/nominees

As a general rule, the Oscars are very conservative. A quick check online shows that major sites like The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter are all noting the average age of an Oscar voter is fifty-seven.

So normally you’re going to get a whole bunch of uplifting grand stories of underdogs that end happily and cater to the award show crowd. I’m ok with that. I’ve come to expect it. And usually there are enough interesting choices or well-deserved nominations to counterbalance everything.

But this year in particular feels like the Academy’s unwillingness to nominate films outside their comfort zone is a huge hindrance.

Just look at the Best Picture nominees. Outside of The Tree of Life and The Descendants, everything else on the list is big, exciting, fairly family-oriented and designed to make audiences stand up and cheer. The Descendants is the only film that’s even rated R. Granted, I’m not saying that R ratings automatically imply a higher quality movie (that’s insane), but the overabundance of appropriate-for-all-ages films shows the clear bias here against anything risque.

And I’m not even saying that being big and positive and uplifting is a bad thing. It’s not. The Artist is sweet and funny and has an ending that left me with a big goofy grin on my face. It’s one of my favorite movies of the year. But a great film isn’t always a happy one.

That same bias falls into the acting categories too- just look at two of the biggest snubs of the year. Michael Fassbender was not nominated for Shame, in which he played a warped, hopeless sex addict. Albert Brooks also got a fairly substantial handful of nothing for playing a cold-blooded killer in Drive.

These were two of the best roles of the year. They were also two of the nastiest, both in the characters themselves and in the actions these characters take. And they were both given zero recognition by the Academy. This is especially heinous considering that Brooks has won nearly every award under the sun for Drive and has been courting the awards circuit like crazy this season. But hey, at least “Oscar Nominee Jonah Hill” is a real-life thing now.

The Best Animated Picture contenders look interesting. There are a couple films there that went totally below my radar in that category. So that’s certainly neat.

Overall, though, I find myself more dissapointed than usual this year. And so I address my parting words to Oscar himself, who I assume is a real person and runs the Oscars every year.

Oscar,

Please try better next year. For all of us.

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42 responses to “Quick Thoughts on the 2012 Academy Awards

      • Really? I thought it was great too, but couldn’t bring myself to watch all of it – had to stop when the violence reached extreme heights (first time ever this happened to me, ouch!) Drop a Valium and try again? 😉

      • On the one hand, it is a great movie, but on the other hand if it’s too gruesome for your tastes it may just be too gruesome for your tastes. I’d say it’s up to you.

    • It feels like disappointment is a recurring theme for the 2012 Oscars. Maybe when they actually broadcast the show they could have each presenter give an irritated sigh after opening the envelope.

  1. I was pretty annoyed by the Oscars too. Seriously, no Steven Spielberg for Best Director? And I don’t understand the snub of Albert Brooks.

    • It’s the Albert Brooks snob that just boggles my mind. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it at all. They gave a nomination to Jonah Hill in the same category.

  2. Amen. I am stunned that Drive and Shame were shafted when they were such interesting, deep stories with some seriously good acting. I was also curious that Puss in Boots was picked over Tin Tin and agree with ckckred, where’s Speilberg? So yes, Oscar, please do us a favor and do better next year.

    • I think the issue with A Cat in Paris and Chico and Rita is that they were foreign films, and may have had the exposure in the United States to even be shown until 2011. If that’s not the case, however, then I have no idea.

    • That article was an interesting read- on the one hand, I love the comparison between the Miss America Pageant and the Oscars, and a lot of the author’s opinions are very well-argued, but some of those points just lost me completely. Bashing Oscar voters for being old and stogy and picking safe choices is fine, but that stuff about them picking “serious” films to atone for being bad people (and then goes on to cite movies like Wedding Crashers and Mr. and Mrs. Smith as more deserving than said “serious” films) is just asinine.

      Either way, though, it brought up a lot of great points and was an excellent read. Thanks for posting it!

  3. Exactly what I was thinking. I noticed a lot of the movies were ones that came out in theatres fairly recently, too. It’s like they forgot about what happened last March or something.

    • That’s sort of an unwritten rule with the Oscars- if you want a nomination, you release your movie in November/December. There are so many things they do wrong it gets a little unbelievable.

  4. “…the Oscars are very conservative” Indeed! Even just reading the history of the Best Picture category alone it’s obvious that they can’t think outside the box! The ‘genre biases’ I mentioned in my post earlier this week still hasn’t changed much after a century, I mean come on! And that’s just one category! Seeing Pitt and Clooney’s names on the noms also made me think this whole thing is just one big fancy country club.

    • I think describing it as a country club is the pppppppperfect way to describe the Academy. I mean, there’s no way you could have room for Oldman, Shannon AND Fassbender when you’ve big famous actors like Pitt and Clooney to lavish attention on.

  5. I’m predicting a win for Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting, Beginners). And while I wouldn’t be at all sad if he wins it, Beginners should certainly be up for Best Original Screenplay. If, you, know, not up for Best Picture.

    /2¢

    • I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about Beginners, and frankly, I’d like to see anything getting nominated that’s a little more off-the-beaten-path. Which I assume Beginners is.

      Even though I haven’t seen it yet. And yeah, my money’s on Plummer too, but I have a weird little inkling in my brain that Malcom McDowell may take it just because Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was such a surprise. An unwelcome surprise. But a surprise.

      • I actually didn’t like “Beginners” at all, apart from the acting. It looked like one of those self-indulgent movies which are desperate to be liked. I’ll be curious to know what you think about it when you see it.

      • Interesting. A lot of what I’ve heard about this movie has been really polarizing- everyone I know who’s seen it either loves it or hates it.

        I’ll need to find out for myself (hopefully sooner rather then later) what my own opinion is.

  6. Completely agree with this post. It’s time for some fresh blood in the Academy. The lack of recognition for Fassbender, Gosling, Olsen, Brooks, etc. is really disappointing. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly surprising either.

    • Yeah, things have been this way for years. If it’s any consolation, most of the international film awards have given accolades to the people who actually deserve them- Fassbender won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, and Nicolas Winding Ren won Best Director at Cannes.

  7. You said: “. . . Michael Fassbender was not nominated for Shame, in which he played a warped, hopeless sex addict. Albert Brooks also got a fairly substantial handful of nothing for playing a cold-blooded killer in Drive.. . . ”

    oh god, that is so so so true.
    George Clooney? Excuse me? If he wins, he’ll be the only actor who’s ever won for acting with his eyebrows. This is an actor who’s at the top of his game when in an ‘Oceans’ caper. They have no business casting him in such roles as The Descendants. A hundred others could have been picked over him. How does that old cliche go? ‘he covered all the emotions from A to B’.

    • It’s eerie how well that cliche works in this situation. Every year the major awards shows just get closer and closer to just being a shameless popularity contest. It’s almost sad, really.

      Thanks for your comment!

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