last week, they announced the nominations for the 85th academy awards. there were nine nominees for best picture. here's what i think about that.
amour - every now and then, academy voters will put up an obscure foreign film not because they think it deserves to win, but because they want to show off that they saw it. this movie handily wins the academy award for best foreign language film, does not win best picture, and the members of the academy feel good for having made the rest of the country feel ignorant.
argo - it's very hip to like ben affleck movies. liking ben affleck-directed movies is almost as hip now as shitting on ben affleck-starring movies has been for the past 15 years. of course, the inverse is true of his brother casey affleck. argo is a great movie, but there is nothing groundbreaking about it.
beasts of the southern wild - ?????????
django unchained - it's very hip to like quentin tarantino movies because it suggests, by extension, that you are as film savvy as he is. you are aware of, and agree with, his conclusions from a lifetime of studying fringe cinema. django unchained is very good, but not as good as 2009's inglourious basterds, which should have won, but lost to the hurt locker, because the hurt locker was more obscure and directed by a woman.
les misérables - it's kinda hip to like tom hooper movies, as justification for what is now, in retrospect, the perhaps unwarranted degree of enthusiasm lavished on 2010's then-obscure academy awards mega darling the king's speech. les misérables is wonderful, but it's considered okay to take a big shit on it if you want.
life of pi - it's pretty hip to like ang lee movies, especially after paul haggis's perhaps overhyped crash beat ang lee's extremely competent brokeback mountain for best picture of 2005. that year, ang lee got to win best director and still come off looking like his film got robbed-- a film that was especially hip to like because of its homosexual protagonists. ang lee is so white hot hip that whenever he makes a movie that people don't like, they just pretend it never happened. when i saw the trailer for life of pi, i said "i will never see that film," but i did, and it's one of my favorites of 2012.
lincoln - it is equally as hip to like steven spielberg movies as it is to say that they are saccharine frivolity. lincoln could win all or none of its 12 nominations and either outcome would be acceptable, depending on which randomized group of film buffs you ask. to an extent, this is true of every film, but it is especially true of a film directed by steven spielberg.
silver linings playbook - it is very hip to like david o. russell movies because of 2010's the fighter and its strong showing in that year's academy awards. nominating the new david o. russell movie says, "we were right to nominate the last david o. russell movie for so many things, and we knew his next effort would be brilliant." silver linings playbook is a great showcase for david o. russell's unique voice as a filmmaker, but so were 1999's three kings and 2004's i heart huckabees, neither of which was nominated for anything.
zero dark thirty - it's very hip to like kathryn bigelow movies, because in 2009, not only was she a female director and the ex-wife of hollywood living legend james cameron (and therefore somehow connected to his powers), she made an obscure movie about soldiers that, by virtue of its release date, became counterprogramming for the lumbering transformers 2, and these coalescing elements made the hurt locker so ripe and juicy for oscar buzz that it won best picture.
so what should win best picture this year? the cabin in the woods. but it was not nominated for anything because there's nothing hip about a funny horror movie.