Thursday, January 22, 2009

And the Nomination Goes Away From...

This morning the nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards were sent out, and it looks like my prediction was dead wrong: The Dark Knight did not get nominated for Best Picture.  Granted, I made this prediction months and months ago, before the Oscar campaigning and everyone announcing that TDK was a shoe-in for the nomination and perhaps for the award.  This was also before Slumdog Millionaire came out--the movie that's probably going to get the BP Oscar as well as do some serious house-cleaning on February 22nd (it cleaned up at the Golden Globes this month as well).

There had been recent talk of TDK getting snubbed in favor of WALL-E, but it didn't get a BP nod.  Instead, the "huh?" spot on that list is The Reader, which, aside from a Best Actress nod for Winslet, only got a handful of smaller nominations.

Oddly, though, the dominating film for nominations is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with 13.  I say "oddly" because it's masterfully directed and a technical marvel, but it did not review nearly as positively as either Slumdog or Dark Knight (not to mention The Wrestler, which also got snubbed).  As it stands, TDK is in 3rd for nominations with 8 (behind Slumdog with 10), but it got none of the big nods except for Best Supporting Actor for Heath Leger.  Instead it was largely relegated to technical awards that it will almost certainly lose (deservedly) to Benjamin Button.  So, a technical marvel is being honored for being a great film, and a great film is being honored for its tech achievements.


I'm not saying that all things Oscar should correlate absolutely with Metacritic scores, but the availability of critic aggregators makes more and more apparent the distance between what the Academy thinks constitutes a great film and what... well, people who are paid to rate films think constitutes a great film.  Going by Rotten Tomatoes, The Reader's paltry 60% barely constitutes a "fresh" film, and Benjamin Button's 72% is pretty soundly in good-but-not-fantastic territory.  So while Slumdog (95%), Milk (92%), and Frost/Nixon (91%) all make sense, consider some of the other highly-rated movies that were beaten out by Benjamin Button and The Reader.  The Wrestler (98%), WALL-E (96%), The Dark Knight (94%), and Iron Man (93%) all ranked much higher.  Even Tropic Thunder (83%) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (88%) rated better.  Button and Reader didn't even crack RT's top 100 for the year.

This phenomenon is pretty interesting, I think--the interest of it far outweighs (for me, anyway) the upset of TDK getting snubbed for Best Picture.  Indeed, when I made my prediction in August, I thought it was a long-shot--I thought TDK actually getting the nomination would be an upset.  Amazing how the world can change in just six months.  Look at it now: combine it's extremely positive reviews with it's oh-my-god-how-did-they-do-that box office take, plus the fact that it sort of became the poster boy for a year that featured lots of great comic book films and, that it was cited by many critics as evidence that a movie based on a comic book can still be a great film--does this all add up to an Oscar?  Not necessarily, but I think a nomination would have gone a long way towards proving to a younger generation of movie-goers that the Oscars are still... what's the word?... relevant.

Doubly so in an age where there are fifteen awards ceremonies in the month of January.  But whatever.  I don't think it's going to be a situation like the '06 Emmy's, when the year had been clearly dominated by Gnarls Barkley's Crazy but the Emmy went to some Dixie Chicks song I'd never heard of.  But at the same time, the only authority the Oscar's have is that people respect the decisions they make, and the only way to maintain that authority is to continue to make decisions that people respect.  Maybe RT can start hosting an awards show.

Maybe not.



Abigail R. said...

first - Dark Knight's chances were hurt due to being released in July. if it had been a Christmas weekend release to as huge reviews as it had in July, then it would have been a shoe-in.

second - of course The Reader got a nod. it's about a woman on trial for her affiliations in Germany in WW2. and as we know, the academy thinks that nothing makes a dramatic movie like Nazis, and since Valkyrie was BAD then they had no choice but The Reader.

third - you mean upset at the Grammy's. Emmy's are TV awards.

Kurt said...

First - yes, good point.

Second - another good point, but I still don't agree with it.

Third - yes, I meant Grammy's. You can see how much I watch them.