|Robert Redford in ALL IS LOST|
However, the announcement that this year’s Oscar ceremony is focusing on a theme of ‘movie heroes’ seems more egregious and out-of-touch than any nominating omission. For starters, this year’s slate of Best Film nominees hardly qualifies as an outstanding year of ‘heroic characters’ in the movies, certainly not in the Indiana Jones, Clarice Starling or Atticus Finch sort of way. The protagonists of AMERICAN HUSTLE and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET are ridiculously the opposite. They’re wildly anti-heroic. The main characters in HER, NEBRASKA and PHILOMENA are many things, but heroic wouldn’t be the first adjective anyone would use. I doubt it would be even the tenth.
|Amy Adams and Christian Bale in AMERICAN HUSTLE|
True, the main characters in 12 YEARS A SLAVE, GRAVITY, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB and a few other nominees qualify as genuinely heroic, but do a handful of films that fit the desired show criteria warrant making it the year's theme?
One could argue that the true theme of this year in movies is survival. It’s literally that, explicitly and writ large, in seven of this year’s nine Best Picture nominees: 12 YEARS A SLAVE, GRAVITY, AMERICAN HUSTLE, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, NEBRASKA and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. I talked about that and the lonely battle that it is in my 10 Best List late last year (http://bit.ly/1ajXgA6). If anything, most of this year’s top movies illustrated how tough it is to make it in the ugly world out there. And how too often, we’re alone in that fight, with no one really having our backs.
|Leonardo DiCaprio in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET|
The theme of the telecast should be about the given year of the movies being awarded, not a love letter to the past or the industry as a whole. But unfortunately, the Academy does that oozy-gooey thing too often. And then they wonder why their ratings keep slipping. And you know that all the clip packages this telecast are going to have the same cast of characters and scenes the Oscar show highlights year in and year out. I mean really, how many times do we have to see that same shot of Gary Cooper standing alone in the middle of the dusty town in HIGH NOON?
|Gary Cooper in HIGH NOON|
Seemingly, the Academy doesn’t care. They’ll just keep running the same type of Chuck Workman clip montages as they've done for so many years since his award-winning work PRECIOUS IMAGES created back in 1986 for the DGA 50th Anniversary.
But if the point of this year’s show is to “honor movie heroes” as all the promotions are now exclaiming (http://bit.ly/1gVGcF7), then the Oscar show deserves the derision it will likely get for once again trotting out the same-old, same-old.
The sad part about it is that this year’s Oscar nominees are, by and large, one of the best rosters in years. The Academy did themselves very proud with their choices, and regarding the Best Picture nominees there isn’t a dog in the bunch. But if AMERICAN HUSTLE takes as many statues as it’s expected to, including the top prize, then Oscar not only is sending mixed messages, it’s looking utterly ignorant in their show's theme. The nominations weren't that clueless, why does the show have to be?