Monday, January 24, 2005

Oscar Is a Punk

There is no good reason why a diluted, inveterately mainstream, persistently dubious, and politically compromised little movie award—what Addison DeWitt dismissively and fabulously calls "those awards presented annually by that, uh, film society"—should obsess me so. But in the days leading up to the nomination announcements, I really do find it hard to concentrate on other things. Which is bad enough. (Though, hey, Addison DeWitt himself didn't scoff when Oscar came calling.)

Worse, I start not being able to recognize myself. Oscar makes me do crazy things. I just came back from Hollywood Video, where I was frantically trying to rent The Notebook, seemingly a lily-white piece of schmaltz that I wouldn't go near during its summer release, despite the ameliorating presence of Joan Allen. Now, because Gena Rowlands and James Garner are being whispered about as possible spoiler candidates in the Supporting races, I'm in a tizzy at the notion that something might get nominated that I won't have seen. Then I find out that The Notebook doesn't debut on DVD till Feb. 8; frankly, they're probably waiting to see if they can flag "Nominated for # Oscars!" across the display box. So now I'm preoccupied by not being able to see a movie that I didn't want to see at all when it was everywhere around me. And if it doesn't get nommed, I'll probably never consider it again. What's my problem?

To help me relieve my own dawning dementia, here is a list that should put me back in my right mind and Oscar back in perspective. It's hard to muster surprise when Oscar ignores the Bergmans and Bressons and Godards, the Wongs and Sembènes and Makhmalbafs that have been pinnacles of world film culture at various times but, as if for that very reason, have no chance at love from the Golden Guy. And obviously experimental stuff never even registers, and documentaries are totally ghettoized to their own, infamously fickle race. But Oscar also has a nasty habit of passing over some of the best English-language narrative films that pass right under his nose. What follows are 20 inexhaustibly brilliant English-language movies that didn't score a single Oscar nod. I even limited myself to one film per director.

When you look at this roster, and you imagine for even a moment that the AMPAS voting body might conceivably honor The Notebook where these films were forbidden to's instantly difficult to care quite as much. Or, it's at least easier to sit out the two weeks till that DVD appears. (I'm insane.)

1. Modern Times (Chaplin '36)
2. His Girl Friday (Hawks '40)
3. The Scarlet Empress (Von Sternberg '34)
4. Touch of Evil (Welles '58)
5. New York, New York (Scorsese '77)
6. Safe (Haynes '95)
7. Holiday (Cukor '38) - read my review
8. Marat/Sade (Brook '67)
9. Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick '99) - read my review
10. Dead Ringers (Cronenberg '88)
11. The Wind (Sjöström '28) - read my review
12. The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock '38)
13. Daughters of the Dust (Dash '91)
14. This Is Spinal Tap (Reiner '84)
15. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophüls '48)
16. 3 Women (Altman '77) - read my review
17. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jarmusch '00) - read my review
18. Trouble in Paradise (Lubitsch '32)
19. Opening Night (Cassavetes '77)
20. Vanya on 42nd Street (Malle '94)

Labels: ,


Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

Thank you for the perspective. But coming from you it remains suspect, since you sent me BACK to my nomination predictions last night in a tizzy. Ah well, such is the life.

In addition to the films you noted, it's also worth remembering that when nominations are announced in the acting categories and our favorites are left out just keep repeating: The following people have Oscars... Roberto Benigni, Sally Field, Hilary Swank, Cuba Gooding Jr, Marlee Matlin, [insert 100+ other random mediocre names here]. The following people do NOT: David Lynch, Julianne Moore, Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, [insert 100+ other great names here].

And finally, the ultimate sanity restorative should useless Oscar obsession keep you tossing and turning in bed tonight: Ron Howard beat Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Peter Jackson, and Robert Altman for Best Director. And he beat them all at once.

11:14 PM, January 24, 2005  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

I tried to post something witty and snippy (since Nick here sent me into my own pre-nomination jitters and THEN preceeded to say it was silly to have them) last night while my eyes refused to shut but the moment slipped away

my post disappeared into the ether...

Just like the dreams of Paul Giamatti, Uma Thurman, Alexandre Desplat (and many more deserving folks toiling hard in Hollyweird) this morning.


1:15 PM, January 25, 2005  
Blogger par3182 said...

21. The Ice Storm (Lee, '97)

7:07 AM, February 11, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home