Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar the grouch

The Oscar nominations crept out on little cat feet this morning. I didn't even know they were there until I saw a blog allude to them.

As usual, I compiled a list of the movies receiving nominations for the major awards (picture, directing, writing, and acting). This year these nominations are highly concentrated, in only 12 movies. That's the smallest number since 1981.

And of those 12 movies, so far I've seen only one: Captain Phillips, a thriller of an intensity only Paul Greengrass can reach, especially considering (this isn't a spoiler, since it's based on a true incident) that the second half of the movie consists largely of the US Navy sitting around watching a small lifeboat bobble on the ocean waves.

There are, however, some movies I intend to see on DVD, certainly Philomena and Nebraska and possibly Blue Jasmine. I might see Gravity if I'm assured it holds up on the small screen in 2D. I skipped that one in the theaters because my appetite for near-Earth space movies has been sated by ones based on real events. I have no hankering for one based on fiction.

I don't intend to see 12 Years a Slave. I already know that slavery was horrifying and evil. I don't need a movie to tell me that. If I see this movie to tell me that, I'll feel like a voyeur and one who enables the cruelty.1 I already felt uncomfortable enough, for this reason, watching Spielberg's slavery movie (Amistad) and his Holocaust movie (Schindler's List).2

I probably won't see The Wolf of Wall Street for similar reasons. I already know these people were evil; I don't need to watch them enjoying themselves.

I won't see August: Osage County whose descriptions make it sound like this year's Fine Acting ghetto. Every time I see that kind of movie (Terms of Endearment, Junebug, There Will Be Blood), I regret it afterwards.3

And I don't want to see Her, for a reason expressed in two words: Joaquin. Phoenix. Can't stand the guy.4

1. This comment explains further what I mean. The term "torture porn" comes up.
2. What particularly bothered me about both those movies is that they each featured a gratuitously extended scene in which characters are degraded by being paraded around naked. How, I wondered, is that separable from the actors being degraded by being paraded around naked? Because they're being paid?
3. A Fine Acting ghetto is when you take a bunch of fine acting and lock it up in a ghetto without the accompaniment of anything else that makes a movie good. Like a plot. Or characters that make sense.
4. I watched The Master on DVD, or began to. Soon enough I got to the point that whenever I saw this guy's mug on screen, I would just fast-forward until it wasn't there any more.

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