Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yet Another Whiny "Why Doesn't Oscar Nominate Popular Films" Article

From the Star-Telegram:
Over the last two weeks, The Pursuit of Happyness -- the affecting, fact-based drama starring Will Smith as a homeless single father struggling to pull his life together -- crossed the $160 million mark at the box office and became the 10th-highest grossing film released in 2006. That's an impressive feat for any movie, but especially a harrowing drama that reckons with poverty and class issues.

Considering that the rest of the top 10 hits of 2006 included five sequels, three animated comedies and a movie in which Ben Stiller gets chased by computer-generated dinosaur bones, well, the success of The Pursuit of Happyness also suggests that Hollywood might still be capable of creating mainstream movies for and about adults.

Except on Oscar-nomination morning last month, The Pursuit of Happyness earned only one mention -- a widely expected nod for Smith for Best Actor. What's even stranger is that despite earning mostly favorable reviews, the film was never really regarded as a serious contender in the categories of Best Picture, Director or Screenplay. As the Oscar blogger David Poland noted in a recent column on MovieCityNews.com, the film "may be the quietest $160 million in movie history."

Ummm...because it's not Oscar worthy. It's a merely average film with a pretty good lead performance by Will Smith.

He goes on to make a Best Picture case for The Devil Wears Prada, which isn't a bad film at all - certainly better than The Pursuit of Happyness. But this is the part that really gets me:

Except this attitude doesn't give short shrift to just The Devil Wears Prada. The Pursuit of Happyness and Dreamgirls also fell prey. All of them strike me as much worthier Best Picture nominees than the cripplingly pretentious, Japanese-language Letters From Iwo Jima. This also does a disservice to adult moviegoers, whose tastes were more widely ignored by Oscar voters this year than ever before. Indeed, when a lopsided, overwrought "epic" like Babel -- a movie that, despite two separate theatrical releases, has barely made $30 million at the box office -- is considered the Best Picture front-runner, well, all good sense seems to have officially been thrown out the window.

Happyness, Prada, and Dreamgirls more worthy than Letters from Iwo Jima? Is this guy insane? Oh yes, let's give it to some popular movie and show that the Oscars are in tune with the tastes of "regular" people and ignore the second half of one of the MOST IMPORTANT CINEMATIC WORKS OF THE DECADE.

That's not to say that they aren't good films, but to say they are more worthy of the title of Best Picture of the Year than Clint Eastwood's brilliant and daring artistic achievement shows, well, total ignorance about cinema. But what can you expect from someone who is credited as a "staff writer" and not a film critic? It's just another newspaper who thinks anyone can review films, and assigns some beat reporter who doesn't know the first thing about film to be their reviewer. It's embarassing, and an insult to true film criticism.

And I know Babel has its haters. And that's fine, people are entitled to their opinion. I just happen to think its the best of the bunch. But to say good sense has "gone out the window" because it is the front runner is just asinine. It's obviously a finely crafted film, no matter what you think of its effectiveness. If The Pursuit of Happyness were the frontrunner, then we would have a problem.

Warming your heart does not equal cinematic greatness. The emotional complexity and intricate exploration of global issues in Babel does. Can people not tell the difference between their personal favorites and the "best" made film? There are movies I really like that I would never give Best Picture to because they're not that kind of film.

This guy should stick to reporting about the traffic.

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