Scattered thoughts on the Oscar nominations from a Swedish perspective
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.
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.
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”).
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 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. 🙂