The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Scattered thoughts on the Oscar nominations from a Swedish perspective

with 18 comments

I hear you people. The buzz about the Oscar nominations is everywhere. I could sulk and put up a signpost at my café, claiming this to be an Oscar free zone. After all I’ve only had the chance to see a fraction of the most talked-about movies. Or I could embrace it and give it a go anyway because the Oscar frenzy is here and there’s no way to escape it anyway.

I choose the latter. So here we go folks: my first reactions to the nomination list.

Getting out of our bubble

First of all: The Oscar nominations is a good time for film buffs to get out of their bubble.

So Shame didn’t get a single nomination. Drive got one for the “sound editing” – whatever that means. Call me a noob, but I have no idea of what distinguishes “sound editing” from “sound mixing” (they are different categories.) And exactly what constitutes a good “sound”? Is it that they are particularly good at finding up faked sounds of punches and explosions and such? Well, I’ll leave that question for now. All I know is that neither Michael Fassbender, nor Ryan Gosling got nominated for best actor.

For someone who is spending most of her film-related time dwelling in forums and blogs and podcasts with other nerds, this was a little shocking. We loved those movies and performances so much! Haven’t they seen any of the love we’ve shed over it over the year? They deserved a nod!

But let’s face it. We live in our own little world with our own trends, our own darlings, our own preferences. The Academy lives in a different world with different rules, different considerations and in the end sometimes very different choices.

As a matter of fact it appears as if my 65 year old mother-in-law, who goes to the movies once every second year – at the most – has more in common with the Academy than I have. She watched The Help months ago and urged me to watch it since it was so good. I felt quite lukewarm towards it after what I’d read and the fact that SHE liked it so much made me even more reluctant to watch it. I know, I have prejudices against mothers-in-law. So I ended up not doing it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’ll turn out to be a fan of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as well. She’s got a sense of what’s an Oscar worthy movie that I obviously lack.

The ones I missed

For all I said above about film buffs living in an isolated bubble I can’t refrain from sharing a few of the names and movies I miss most. No Oscar post is complete without it!

1. The Skin I Live In
With the risk of being repetitive – this is one of my favourite movies of 2011 and it was a shame that Spain didn’t nominate it for best foreign film. The Academy could have picked it for a different category. They didn’t. I disagree.

2. Senna
With the exception of Pina, I’ve never heard of the films in the documentary category. Perhaps they’re awesome. I still find it hard to imagine that all five of them are better than Senna. It’s mindboggling that it didn’t even make it to the short list. I would also have loved to see This is Not a Film getting a nod. I don’t know why it didn’t. Perhaps not spread enough? Perhaps not politically OK? Perhaps it’s not considered a film (Panaha calls it “an effort”).

3. Melancholia
OK, I get it. Lars von Trier has made himself quite impossible in PR situations. And what’s the Oscar if not one huge PR arrangement? No one wants to let him anywhere near media. I figure the Academy wanted to save themselves some troubles. I might have done the same in their situation, what do I know? I still think it’s sad. If The Tree of Life could get some love despite being off the beaten track, Melancholia could have gotten it as well.

4. Miscellaneous complaints
I would have loved to see some more love for Beginners. Best screenplay perhaps? The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is competing in the visual effects category, but I’d rather have seen Andy Sirkis nominated. He’s more than just a visual effect, isn’t he? And no love for Hanna? At least the score should have gotten a mentioning. I know a lot of people will be sad at the disregarding of Tintin. I wasn’t a fan myself, but I can understand if they’re puzzled.

The Swedish perspective

The Swedish candidate, Beyond, wasn’t among the nominated foreign films and to be honest I’m OK with that. I’m not opposed to showing misery on screen, but watching Noomi Rapace doing absolutely nothing expect looking generally sulky in a tableau gets tiresome after a while. 2011 just wasn’t a particularly memorable year for Swedish film. Tomas Alfredson became an export and Lukas Moodysson seems to have tired on making films. Still there were a couple of Swedish connections to mention.

One is obviously the love for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with three nominations. Some of the light on Oldman belongs to Alfredson, right?

I was also delighted to see Max von Sydow nominated for best supporting actor. I’m a huge fan of him. He’s got a crazily diverse list of roles. He’s done silly roles in super hero movies such as Flash Gordon and he’s worked with some of the biggest directors such as Woody Allen and Ingmar Bergman. His range and productivity is outstanding and I would love to see him grab an Oscar one day. Sadly enough he’s competing with Christopher Plummer, who was fantastic in Beginners and deserves an Oscar just as much. It’s a tough call. I’ll be happy if either of them wins (in the case of von Sydow for old love’s sake; I haven’t seen this particular movie).

The third Swedish connection is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, nominated for the best actress category. I liked her a lot, but I wouldn’t say that she’s better for the role than Noomi Rapace. It’s not her fault; Fincher just made some different choices. I preferred her a little older and less vulnerable. Swedish connection or not though – there were other actresses I’d rather have seen winning, but they weren’t even nominated: Olivia Coleman in Tyrannosaur. Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. Elena Anaya in The Skin I Live In.

In the end: I don’t think we’re supposed to agree with the Oscar nominations. On the contrary: it’s a take-off for discussions, an excuse for us to go through all the movies from 2011 yet another time.

It’s working as intended. I’m actually starting to become a little bit interested in this Oscar business. I blame my blogging. I might even consider watching it this year. 🙂

Written by Jessica

January 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm

18 Responses

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  1. I will probably watch the Oscars avidly again this year only to get to the end and feel like I wasted four hours of my life. Thus is the rite of the cinephile. I agree with you on almost every one of those Oscar oversights but have learned not to be too surprised.


    January 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    • The rite here is even more tiresome since it takes place in the middle of the night due to timezone issues. It remains to see if my cinephilia is strong enough to keep me awake.


      January 25, 2012 at 7:31 am

  2. From my understanding, Sound Editing is the creation of the sound effects, and Sound Mixing is the assembly of all those sounds into the final package.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    January 25, 2012 at 8:16 am

    • I see. It must be very important then since it’s got two different categories. I definitely need to start paying more attention to sound.


      January 25, 2012 at 8:43 am

  3. […] Jessica over at The Velvet Cafe had a few words:  “The Oscar nominations is a good time for film buffs to get out of their bubble.” […]

  4. The Skin I Live In, Senna, and Melancholia – I’m with you on those, Jessica. I’d add Take Shelter (shameful shut-out – at the very least Michael Shannon deserves a nod). I suspect I’d want to see We Need to Talk About Kevin there, too, though I’ve not seen it yet – but Ramsay is a fantastic director and Swinton is amazing in everything.

    • Sadly enough Take Shelter hasn’t come up in Sweden and as I checked it up the other day it seemed as if it isn’t even planned to come up at all. Perhaps it’s one of those movies that only will be released on DVD. I’ll definitely watch it when it comes out. I’ve heard so much good about it.


      January 25, 2012 at 8:56 am

  5. Great post, Jessica. I agree with a lot of what you said, particularly the point about how we bloggers tend to live in bubbles. We talk and talk with the same bunch of people about the films we love until we start thinking that this is what the world at large thinks, or even that this is what is TRUTH. And then the Academy members comes along with their own opinions, and we are shocked. It’s kind of comical when you think about it.

    Helpful tip from a fellow Swede if you do decide to watch the Oscars: If possible, sleep before the ceremony rather than after. If you go to bed at around 9 PM, you can still get almost 5 hours sleep in. If you stay up all night, you will have to stay in bed until about 11 in the morning to get the same, plus you run a bigger risk of falling asleep halfway through the show. 😉


    January 25, 2012 at 9:26 am

    • Thanks for the advice! I guess I’ll be on a coffee diet that day (I usually have about a litre a day, I’m afraid). In combination with my constant lack of sleep that should be enough for me to be able to hit the bed early and grab a few hours before it’s time.


      January 25, 2012 at 9:33 am

  6. I was pretty outraged watching the Noms. I am gutted by the mainstream and political way it has gone. But needless to say i will be there, awake all night watching it! 🙂

    Scott Lawlor

    January 25, 2012 at 10:07 am

    • I think I’ll go for Emil’s tactics: Go to bed in the evening to get a bit of sleep and get up super early.

      I’m not really upset. In my little world the Filmspotting community awards matter more. 🙂


      January 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

  7. We have an oscar nomination! We’ll probably loose against A Separation but it’s a great award for the movie. Bullhead is a really good movie which deserves the prise.


    January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    • That’s great news Carra! I will keep my thumbs crossed for you. Perhaps the nomination will be enough motiviation for them to show it in Sweden as well.


      January 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

  8. The only thing I know is that I almost screamed aloud when a Swedish journalist interviewed Alfredsson as if he personally (and thus, naturally, all of Sweden) had gotten the three nominations. Jesus, get some perspective! And no shadow from this attitude should of course fall on Alfredsson himself. I prefer to blame the media 🙂


    January 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    • Silly. Sure, there is a little Swedish connection as I said, but he’s just one in a huge team….They should rather focus on celebrating von Sydow, the grand old man.


      January 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  9. Strike up another vote for Drive being vastly underrated by the Academy. Good work here Jess – I too wanted to see Melancholia get a bit more love, especially in the visual areas like Cinematography or something. That film looks amazing – I haven’t seen it yet, but can’t wait!!

    I’m with you on Senna.

    I feel for you guys in Europe having to stay up so late… or early, depending on your view…. to watch the Oscars. Here in Australia, the time difference means we’re watching it just after a good hearty lunch…. on Monday.

    On an unrelated note, that photo of ABBA looks like some kind of tribute to Star Wars – I can almost see Chewie, Leia, C3PO and Han sitting in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon…. squint hard enough and you’ll see it too!! 😉

    Rodney Twelftree

    January 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    • There are some quite astonishing images in Melancholia indeed. It’s one of the movies I watched in 2011 that made the strongest impression of me.

      The ABBA image is from their album Arrival. I actually think it’s meant to be a helecopter (giving a proper Swedish perspective I imagined), but it definitely has a bit of a sci-fi vibe to it.


      January 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm

  10. […] Jessica gives her perceptive thoughts on the 2012 Oscar nominations. […]

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