Today I’m joined by occasional culture debater (and previous reality TV fan) Lauren to bitch like an old married couple about today’s Oscar nominations. This is a different kind-of debate than usual as Lauren and I actually agree about most politics and this is purely about entertainment. Just as I don’t quite get reality TV but she does, I don’t quite get how Bridesmaids can be nominated for “Best” anything of the year but she does. Also, this is a clever way to talk about today’s Entertainment News before next Monday…which is when I would usually talk about it.
Brody: Hi Lauren, thanks for joining me on this most unhistoric of days.
Lauren: Great to be here.
Brody: Firstly, if you go back and check last Monday’s “Entertainment Editorial” you’ll see I had a mostly accurate correction rate, and higher than most of the people who get paid to prognosticate Oscars for a living. Would you like to kiss my ass now or later?
Lauren: All hail, great and all knowing Brody, may he be the broken clock that’s right twice a day.
Brody: First off, let’s see if you can explain why in THE hell a movie like Bridesmaids deserves to be nominated for Best Picture. I mean, it wasn’t nominated but a lot of people are disappointed it wasn’t and thought it would be. Why? Isn’t it good enough that Melissa McCartney stole a nom from Shaine Woodley of The Descendants and ditto for Bridesmaids script which is vastly inferior to the snubbed Young Adult?
Lauren: Woah, woah, woah, well I haven’t seen The Descendants–
Brody: Big surprise. Was there a Jersey Shore marathon that day?
Lauren: Hey! I haven’t seen The Descendants but Melissa McCarthy deserves her nomination. It’s so rare to see a comedic actress get nominated for anything, and to see a woman get that kind-of role is also pretty rare.
Brody: The category is Best Supporting Actress…there are only women nominated in that category. I don’t find it so rare that a woman is nominated for Best Supporting Actress…now a BLACK woman, maybe, as Oscar historically snubs them.
Lauren: You know what I mean about comedies not getting nominated–
Brody: I know that comedians bitch about it all the time. I do know that much. And they also seem oblivious as to why comedies SHOULDN’T be nominated a lot of times, as if it’s really as difficult for Steve Carell to be Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love as it is for Leonardo DiCaprio to disappear as J. Edgar Hoover.
Lauren: OR George Clooney to play George Clooney in The Descendants! Or Jonah Hill to play Jonah Hill in Moneyball, or Brad Pitt to play Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Come on, none of those is a big reach for those guys.
Brody: People always say that but Clooney is always subtly different. Look at his smooth criminals in Out of Sight and Ocean’s Eleven and his world weary fixer in Michael Clayton and his rumpled spy in Syriana and his smooth but tired corporate shark in Up in the Air, he’s always tweaking his persona. The Descendants continued that by having him play one of the schlubbiest characters he ever has. But I totally concede that Jonah Hill didn’t deserve it for Moneyball and Brad Pitt should have been nominated for Tree of Life instead because that performance was the real revelation.
Lauren: I didn’t see Tree of Life.
Brody: And that brings us to another point…Why do people always complain about the Academy nominating smaller films no one has seen instead of these huge movies that everyone already has?
Lauren: You are jumping around so much it’s like…I have five things to say about topics you’ve already covered.
Brody: [Laughs] Okay, go ahead.
Lauren: I was thrilled that Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis got nominated for The Help. I really hope they both win.
Brody: I hope so too but it’s doubtful Viola will beat out Meryl Streep.
Lauren: Uggghhhh, how many Awards does that woman need?
Brody: Agreed. You’ve got Glenn Close who has never won before in that category and Viola who knocked a mediocre role out of the park with depth that wasn’t on the page, and Meryl’s going to get it for an impersonation? It doesn’t seem fair. Nor does it seem fair that Jonah Hill was nominated for Moneyball and Nick Nolte and Max Von Sydow were nominated for two movies nobody likes [Warrior and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, respectively] while Albert Brooks wasn’t nominated for his great performance in Drive.
Lauren: That’s true. He was so good in Drive. It was completely unlike anything I’ve ever seen from him. He took a stock villain and made it feel like somebody’s warm grandpa…before he killed people, which just makes it scary and more real.
Brody: Absolutely. I think Christopher Plummer will win Best Supporting Actor for Beginners and deserves too, but Albert Brooks definitely is right behind him in terms of “deserves this.” To not even get a nomination is a scandal. Let’s talk more about the snubs.
Brody: Charlize Theron from Young Adult.
Lauren: She was great but maybe not as great as the others.
Brody: I think she was better than them. Her performance was the only one I’ve ever seen that’s both vulnerable and hateful. Not to mention depressed, sexy, mean, and funny. At least she didn’t lose out to some bullshit choice like Kristen Wiig from Bridesmaids.
Lauren: Agreed. Melissa did own that movie.
Brody: Woody Harrelson for Rampart.
Lauren: Didn’t see it.
Brody: No one did. That’s the problem is that it opened too late in the year and got ignored.
Lauren: Well, okay, so now I don’t feel so bad.
Brody: I didn’t think he would sneak on there but wanted him and Michael Shannon from Take Shelter to sneak onto the list. Still, it comes as a shock that both Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Fassbender got snubbed.
Lauren: Probably, but I guess the Academy didn’t want to nominate them and Brad Pitt and George Clooney and just look like they were going through People Magazine’s Sexiest Men edition.
Brody: Maybe so. Still, I was at least happy that Damian Bichir snuck onto the list for his great, deeply affecting performance in A Better Life.
Lauren: I loved that movie. More people should see it.
Brody: They should and that brings us full circle back to the question that “Don’t the Oscars have an obligation to promote smaller movies that no one will see if they aren’t ‘Oscar nominated?'”
Lauren: I would like to see more of a mix. Lately it just seems that it’s all smaller films and that can be kind-of like “Who cares?” for most people watching at home, who maybe haven’t seen any of the nominees.
Brody: But this encourages them to see them. I think the Oscars need some sense of advocacy where they’re promoting the Ramparts, and the Take Shelters, and the Young Adults, and the Damian Bichirs, and The Tree of Lifes…Even if they only nominated a few of those, it’s better than only nominating Bridesmaids and Harry Potter 7 or a lot of movies everyone has already seen and won’t get anything out of Oscar nominations.
Lauren: But it’s not right to penalize these excellent movies just because they’re successful.
Brody: They’ve already won BECAUSE they’re successful and that’s all Hollywood cares about. Being the highest grossing movie of the year is much better than winning Oscars.
Anyway, thanks Lauren and congrats to Tree of Life for its (very) deserved nominations!