Happy Oscar Day everyone!
I celebrated the same way I have for a couple years now, by making sure I was on the treadmill at the gym watching the broadcast. That way, I’d be too worried about embarrassing myself to scream out something like, “No Jonah Hill for Moneyball? Screw you Oscars!!!” It’s more peaceful this way.
Here are some random thoughts about the Oscar nominations announced this morning before the Feb. 26 ceremony:
UP TO 10 APPARENTLY MEANS NINE
If you haven’t been able to follow the changes in Oscar’s best picture nominee rules, here goes: The best picture nominees were increased to 10 for the 2010 and 2011 awards shows. For whatever reason, that didn’t work so the voting process changed and the new limit was “up to 10 films.” Only movies that ended up on 5 percent of Oscar voting ballots would make the cut. Oooooo, a mystery number! It turned out to be nine. One less than 10, if my math is right. And one of those nine is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which has a 48 (!) on Rotten Tomatoes and ended up on a fair number of well-respected critics’ “worst movies of the year” list. Why not just round it off to 10? What does that say for the movies you would imagine were the final cut? Does that mean Bridesmaids wasn’t good enough even though it received two other major nominations? Or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which beat out War Horse for a best adapted screenplay nomination, suddenly doesn’t belong in the same conversation? It was a weird rule in the first place, and now that we see it in action, it looks plain stupid. Go back to 10.
Man, this is a really white bunch of acting nominations. Twenty nominations are available for acting, and three of them went to minorities this year. This comes one year after Spain-born Javier Bardem was the only thing close to a minority. It’s the 21st century. Let’s act like it.
EPIC FAIL OR THEY GOT IT RIGHT?
Every year is going to have snubs, no matter how many best picture nominations there are. But this year, it doesn’t seem like there are too many movies that have legitimate “We should be in there” cases. The Bridesmaids fans will argue, but it had way too many flaws and wasn’t nearly as funny as everyone made it out to be. Since it’s a comedy and everything, it should probably be funny? Young Adult didn’t get nearly the heat people thought it would, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was probably too brutal and Ryan Gosling’s double nominations at the Golden Globes may have been the anomaly, not the norm.
THE OSCARS CAN STILL SURPRISE
With all of the attention paid to Awards Season, it’s almost impossible for any movie or actor to sneak into the race at the last minute. Nick Nolte’s nomination for best supporting actor at the Screen Actors Guild for the mixed martial arts movie Warrior was thought to be a fluke — until he repeated it with an Oscar nomination. Demian Bichir has a Screen Actors Guild nomination and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for A Better Life (which made a total of $1.8 million at the box office over the summer and is now out on DVD), but an Oscar nomination seemed out of reach — until his name was announced next to George Clooney’s and Brad Pitt’s. I’m convinced Margin Call got a screenplay nomination because it sounded cool when you watch it. Admit it, academy — you didn’t understand all that lingo either.
ORIGINAL MOVIE MUSIC IS DEAD, OFFICIALLY AND PROBABLY FOREVER
If you grew up in the 80s or early 90s, you owned at least one movie soundtrack for your boom box. Chances are you owned about 10. Whether it was Footloose, Top Gun, Do the Right Thing or Singles, you loved movie soundtracks filled with all those cheesy songs and videos that acted as MTV trailers for the movie. Then came 1994, a year that gave us two great movie soundtracks — Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction -- offering exactly no original songs (Urge Overkill’s cover of Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon in Pulp Fiction was the closest). Suddenly, movies stopped making original music as a general rule because it was cheaper, and the exception became songs like My Heart will Go On. Even though the Academy was notorious for skipping the biggest movie music hits — nothing from Purple Rain??? — they at least threw a bone to one or two hits each year. But in this century, I count three best original song nominees that had any kind of Billboard chart action — There You’ll Be (yuck) from Pearl Harbor (yuck squared) at the 2002 awards, Lose Yourself from 8 Mile in 2003 and Accidentally in Love from Shrek 2 in 2005. Not exactly the 1929 Yanks there. And then this year, the Oscars set a record low with only two nominees for best original song. It’s super cool that Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords is one of them — but where has movie music gone? Kenny Loggins needs to make a comeback, pronto, if for no other reason than I just laughed at least 10 times watching this video. No really, watch it. The whole thing. I triple dog dare you. I think I’ve changed my mind, maybe it’s good there are no major soundtracks anymore.
ANY DAY NOW, MELISSA McCARTHY MAY TAKE OVER THE WORLD
By April, she had the highest rated new comedy on television with Mike and Molly. In May, she received a lion’s share of the credit for going makeup-less and turning Bridesmaids into a worldwide hit. In July, she announced the Emmy nominations and looked like she was about to have a heart attack when she was on the list. She won that Emmy and now she’s got an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids. Not too shabby. The lesson here is that going No. 2 in the bathroom sink of a snooty dress shop is always a good idea.