This is the absolute last race that anybody wants to talk about, because we all know inevitably what it's going to be. "The Artist" is going to win, and I still feel decidedly undecided in respects to that win. Why the hell do I feel that way? Because even though I love "The Artist" more than any other film in this category, I am still rather looking for some kind of adventurous buzz from the Oscars. I want something exciting to happen that will radiate vibes and talks to be bandied about for weeks. For several weeks, I did not have a film that I really wanted to champion. I look at the list of nine, and I honestly don't care enough about really any of them. Not even "The Artist".
Then last Friday I revisited "Moneyball", Bennett Miller's math-behind-baseball film that was well liked back in September, but lost its heat since then. It's easy to flash an indifferent eye its way, and in fact in many other situations I would. But I keep on circling back to a line that I believe defines the situation that the Academy Awards happen to be in right now. "I know these guys. I know the way they think, and they will erase us. And everything we've done here; None of it will matter." In going across every single category, I find the films that will win are never the ones I'd want. I don't have any feeling of satisfactions about the group that the Academy assembles as the best in these particular fields.
That's where I get off sore. "Moneyball" is a film that's entirely about the undervalued, and it's been greatly undervalued time and again this year. Mind you, it's far from my favorite film of the year, and in fact it didn't even crack the honorable mentions with me. I just adore the message it would send if it did win that impossible win. But I suppose I can't feel too bad about my favorite film of the bunch, "The Artist", winning on Sunday either. I just get annoyed with what they've fill the categories with this year. There is a far better group of nominees that have been criminally overlooked in this particular year. It seems so easy to make the right decision, but this year they just fouled up as hard as ever.
I am not speaking of all the nominees, but simply most of them. I have already professed a passion for "The Artist", "Moneyball", and even though it may not be of brilliant quality, I can't help succumbing to the various laughs from "Midnight in Paris". It's not Woody Allen's best this past decade, but damn is it fun. Won't win, but it's fun. And I don't have much qualms about "The Tree of Life" being here. True, I'm not as enthusiastic as most about Terrence Malick's latest, but it's worth noting that the Academy had enough sense to put it here. But then we descend into five films that absolutely do not belong.
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" is going to go down in Academy history among their worst mistakes. They've had worst films nominated, I'm sure, but to have one in this day and age can't be overlooked. The film is just as emotionally manipulative as "Remember Me" was, but it hasn't raised nearly as much anger as it should have. "War Horse" is another case of the Academy thinking with their vein and not with their head. Spielberg can't be chastised for continuing to do what he has always done. All the more power to him when he eventually puts out a film we like, such as "The Adventures of Tintin". I still have nobody else to blame but the Academy. It's nothing you haven't seen before, and it's only more sentiment without purpose.
"The Help" is an okay movie, and I don't want to thrash it to hell, but it will never deserve to be here. It wasn't of that high a quality when it released in August. It still isn't, and nobody is making any illusions out of that. More than anything else, this is the film that makes me give pause about the fact that this category is meant for the best films of the year. It only gets less agreeable from there. I can only mildly understand the Academy passion for "Hugo" and what the film means, but I do not feel it at all when I see the film. It's just not there. And for the life of me, I just don't feel anything about "The Descendants". It doesn't make me sad. It doesn't make me happy. I am totally indifferent to it.
I know that this isn't really the place for it, but I can't help but raise awareness to the many films that should have been here but weren't. At the start of the season, I thought I had it down pretty well. "The Ides of March" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" seemed so possible as contenders, and so likely to. For the life of me, I don't know what happened. Their placement in the writing categories shows how well they deserved to be here, but somehow weren't. I felt that "Drive" had a solid chance of cruising in from the outside. And I honestly felt that "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin" would eventually hook on in the way that "Winter's Bone" and "Black Swan", respectively, did last year. So now I just haven't a clue what happened. In one paragraph, you sit in a pool of the way things could have been, and you feel so much more misanthropic about the way they are now.
WILL & DESERVES TO WIN: "The Artist"
SHOULD WIN: "Moneyball"
SHOULD REALLY WIN: "Meek's Cutoff"
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", amongst many others.
1. "The Artist"
2. "Midnight in Paris"
4. "The Tree of Life"
5. "The Help"
6. "The Descendants"
8. "War Horse"
9. "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"