It's Oscar Time Again (Grumble, Grumble, Rant)
The Oscar nominations came out last Wednesday, and once again I found them less than satisfactory. (Is anyone ever really satisfied with the Oscar nominations?) By now it's become a YouTube staple that a scene from the German film "Downfall"--featuring the great Bruno Ganz as Hitler, ranting at the news that the war is lost--is retooled over and over again, with subtitles expressing the latest disappointing trend in sports, entertainment, etc. Yesterday, I saw the "Downfall" scene once again, this time with Der Fuhrer venting his rage that the Academy passed over Albert Brooks' performance in "Drive" for Best Supporting Actor, nominating Jonah Hill for "Moneyball" instead. "All Jonah Hill did," Hitler shrieks via subtitle, "was stare at Brad Pitt for two hours like a fucking sheep in heat!"
At the risk of being considered a Movie Nazi, I have to agree with the "Downfall" funsters that Brooks' performance as a movie producer-turned-mobster was infinitely more thrilling and charismatic than Hill's as a baseball statistician. (It probably doesn't matter in the long run, because Christopher Plummer has a virtual lock on this year's award with his performance in "Beginners," and deservedly so.) I will extend the grumbling to the Best Actor nominations. The race seems at this point to be between George Clooney for "The Descendants" and Jean Dujardin for "The Artist," and both actors deserve their nominations. I haven't seen "A Better Life," so I can't comment on Demian Bichir's performance. But it is a crime against all things cinematic and thespian that Leonardo DiCaprio for "J. Edgar," Brendan Gleeson for "The Guard" and Michael Shannon for "Take Shelter" were passed over in favor of Brad Pitt for "Moneyball" and Gary Oldman for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." Not that Pitt or Oldman were bad; far from it. But DiCaprio, Gleeson and Shannon were on an entirely higher plane of excellence, in notably more difficult roles. There wasn't even any serious buzz for Gleeson or Shannon, though Gleeson did at least get a Golden Globe nomination.
I have heard many other grumbles about this year's nominations, but these are the ones that bother me the most. So here's my message to Albert Brooks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Gleeson, and Michael Shannon: for what it's worth, the Miles David Moore/Scene4 Acting Awards, for actors unfalrly slighted at Oscar time, go to you.