Miniature Golf

Let’s say for the sake of argument I’m having this hypothetical conversation with these other guys, and someone asks if there’s a clear Best Picture frontrunner out there now. Let’s imagine this conversation and see where it goes.

The Descendants has it all,” I would say. “And so does Moneyball. You or yours may not like that idea, but they both mix honest emotionalism (as opposed to cloying sentiment) with smarts and great style and thematic wholeness. They’re the top dogs of the quality-movie fraternity right now.

The Artist is a lovely homage to Hollywood’s silent, black-and-white past as well as the tradition of A Star In Born and Singin’ in the Rain. It’s a must-see for even half-hearted Movie Catholics. But it’s also sloshing around in cloying oatmeal sentiment. The dog alone takes it out of consideration in my book.”

And this other guy, let’s say, says “not that I agree at all with the idea that The Artist is ‘sloshing around in cloying oatmeal sentiment’, but even if it was, since when would that be an Academy turn-off?”

And then he says there’s a certain comfort in knowing that others beside himself aren’t that much love with The Descendants. It’s Alexander Payne ‘s “least adventurous or affecting film,” he asserts. Beginnings of an anti-Descendants cabal?

And this other guy, let’s say, says he’ll take all serious bets that “there’s no way in hell either The Descendants or Moneyball win Best Picture. They’ll both get nominations but other than possibly Clooney for Best Actor and Best screenplay, Payne’s movie will have to be fine getting nominated but not winning anything.”

And I say that this “no way in hell” proclamation about The Descendants or Moneyball “is precisely why I loathe and despise the industry criteria that everyone associates with a Best Picture Oscar win.

“People want the ‘big thing,’ the lump in the throat that pulverizes, the movie that delivers some profound bedrock truth about our common experience, that makes you want to hug your father or your daughter….and if I ever get to the point that a movie like War Horse (if it follows through on the indicatoions of the trailer and the ads) or The Artist or The Help makes me feel that way, then take me out behind the building and shoot me in the head, twice.”

Somebody says this is an antiquated definition of a Best Picture Oscar winner, and I respond that “i didn’t say people won’t settle for this, that or the other thing when it’s Crunch Decision Time. Obviously they went for something less or different or more granular with The King’s Speech, The Departed, Chicago, No Country For Old Men, The Hurt Locker. But they’re always looking for the “big thing” element at the outset. They always want that comfort, that assurance, that meltdown, that touch of a quaalude high.

And then I add that “when Gabe The Playlist begrudgingly said there ‘wasn’t a dry eye in the house’ toward the end of a recent NY screening of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I felt a little button-push sensation in my chest. I thinking it might be the one….maybe. He said he’s not a Stephen Daldry or a Sandra Bullock fan and that he didn’t care for the Asperger’s kid, but he still recognized or acknowledged that it delivers the emotional payoff that it set out to deliver. That impressed me.”

And then another guy points out another factor in Extremely Close‘s favor is that the Academy “truly loves Daldry. He’s the only director who has been nominated for every single feature film he’s directed to date.” So it’s looking like Extremely Loud might have an edge at this stage…maybe, sorta kinda, bullshit-wise.

18 thoughts on “Miniature Golf

  1. actionlover on said:

    (I imagine it would more likely go like this…)

    “Is there a clear Best Picture frontrunner out there now?”

    “Dude, it’s fucking October. What the hell are you talking about? Anyway, gotta run. I get the kids today and I’m taking them to that boxing robot movie they wanna see so damn much.”

  2. It’s been said many times by folks wiser than I about things like this, but the Academy wants to give Best Pic to a film that makes them proud to be in the Academy. Go figger what that means, but it’s a good benchmark.

  3. I love Moneyball. There is no way Moneyball wins best picture. The A’s don’t win the World Series, hell they lose in the 1st round of the playoffs, its not even like they lose in Game 7 of the World Series. Beane doesn’t ever win them a World Series even after 2002.

    It is my favorite movie of the year up to this point but it is also a total guy movie that with too much restrained sentimentality to win Best Picture. Some of this could maybe overcome if it was brilliant along the lines The Social Network. It is not. It is just a very good to terrific movie I look forward to watching over and over again through the years.

  4. Saw the trailer for “Extremely Loud…” today at a screening of “The Rum Diary.”

    The trailer is powerful – looks like a winner

    “The Rum Diary” is awful. Did you discuss this one, Jeff?

  5. 10/29/2011: the day Jeff Wells finally realized nobody in their right mind talks about the Oscar race in OCTOBER so he begins having conversations with himself.

    Time to stock up on URINE JARS.

  6. Can we just stop with the complaining in regards to talking about the Oscars 4-5 months out, you are on a movieblog with a writer renowned for Oscar predicting who does a weekly podcast called OSCAR POKER!?!?!?!?! This is like going to ESPN and complaining there is too much sports coverage.

  7. Since it sounds like many others here have seen it, IS “The Artist” cloying sentimental oatmeal? The trailer plays as super dark bordering on EVIL, so I’m expecting some ripped-off-the-facade, kinky, grim, violent underside of Hollywood deal that plays as a silent movie with period stylistics but features rapes and suicides and closeted gay sex orgies and murders and nonstop brutality and lesbianism and graphic sex and violence…

    That is TOTALLY the suggestion of the trailer, and that’s been the MO of EVERY movie like this (Good German, Far From Heaven) that uses the outdated cinema techniques to expose the dark undercurrent of the age.

    You guys are telling me it’s OATMEAL? Have you seen the DEPRESSING and DARK and SATANIC second half of the trailer?

  8. Lex – It’s a pretty straightforward homage to silent-era comedy and classic Hollywood melodrama – the latter of which accounts for the darker vibe of the second half of the trailer and the film, but it’s not like what you’re imagining. No sex at all, for one. One of the characters does get to a pretty dark place, and I was surprised at how far that was pushed, but a happy, redemptive ending is never *really* in doubt. This is a love letter to old movies and old movie making processes, and folks will either like it on that level or not.

  9. @Los Bostonian — Point taken on the Oscar podcast (which I never try to complain about given its title). However:

    “This is like going to ESPN and complaining there is too much sports coverage.”

    No, not really. I feel like that’s an inadequate metaphor. This is like going to ESPN and complaining there’s too much World Series prognosticating (did anybody on the face of the Earth pick the Cards this year, btw?) in early-June at the expense of coverage of the NBA & NHL finals.

  10. It really depends on the degree of explicitness/implicitness you’re requiring a of a given film’s subject matter, George.

    If Crash wasn’t Hollywood coming to terms with racism a full 40-50 years after the fact, I don’t have a fucking clue what that flick was “about”.

  11. The Artist is an adorable, sweet, sometimes brilliant forty five minute film, and yet, it runs about two times that length. People who loved it must have had their minds made up at the halfway point and never looked back.

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