The Oscars: Silence is deafening

The Artist posterAs of this moment, I’ve seen zero 2011 Best Picture nominees. All year long, I said to myself and anyone who would listen, “Seems like no good movies are coming out this year.” I changed my tune after seeing the trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and it lived up to expectations, but then I found myself saying, “Seems like no good movies are coming out this year that weren’t already done spectacularly in Swedish.”

After watching the Academy Awards last night (with a break to watch The Walking Dead), I see I didn’t miss anything.

The ArtistThe Artist?!??!?!!?

THE ARTIST??????

No.

I should have known something was amiss when the Academy proved it couldn’t count, nominating only nine films for Best Picture rather than 10. Even more confusing: Dragon Tattoo was absent from the list. Straight-up confounding: The Tree of Life WAS on it.

And then…this. Not only do I doubt that The Artist is better than half the 2011 nominees (I’d bet on Descendants, Moneyball, Hugo, The Help, and Midnight in Paris), but I’d be willing to bet that The Artist falls short of some non-nominees, and not just TGWTDT50/50Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Muppets, Drive, The Ides of March, Warrior, Contagion, The Debt, Crazy Stupid Love, Super 8, Beginners, Bridesmaids (which I did see and didn’t like all that much, but still…), Rio, Meek’s Cutoff, Super, Source Code, I Saw the Devil, The Adjustment Bureau…

Remember 2010? You can’t tell me with a straight face that The Artist would have even cracked the nominee list last year. Seriously, what would it have bumped? The only argument I’ll even listen to is The King’s Speech…which, of course, won the big award last year.

This leads to the question…

Which is the bigger travesty: that The Artist wins Best Picture in a weak year, or that The King’s Speech took the crown in a year full of royalty?

To me, it’s the latter. 2010 was the latest “I’ll never watch again moment.” Earlier moments included:

  • 1994: Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption lose to Gump (which isn’t a bad film, but I really, REALLY like PF).
  • 1998: Shakespeare in Love prevails over Saving Private Ryan.
  • (And if I had really paid attention back then, 1990when Jimmy “Two Times” lost to Smiles A Lot.)

2010 saw Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, True Grit, Winter’s Bone, and two other films I’ve been meaning to see but haven’t (127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right) lose to something that bore more resemblance to “bad after-school special” than “transcending cinematic achievement.” (And bore it did; I was nearly sawing logs at the halfway point.) I felt The Fighter told a much better story of overcoming obstacles/long odds. I thought Black Swan and Inception were far more fascinating exercises in storytelling. I felt more connection to a cotton-stuffed cowboy as he made his way toward an incinerator than I did to some blubbering Brit.

So as annoying as I found last night’s ceremony, I’ve dealt with greater feelings of disappointment. And as I stated up front, I haven’t seen any of the Best Pic noms from 2011. Until I’ve seen the films, maybe I should just sit here in silence…

That would make one hell of a movie, wouldn’t it?