I Feel Like I'm Taking Crazy Pills!

I have been very behind with this year's lot of best picture noms...so I've been feverishly trying to catch up with as many as I can before Sunday. The other day I put on Beasts of the Southern Wild in the background while I was working on a project....and what can I tell you about it? Hardly a single dang thing. So then I thought...okay I really don't get the hype for this film, but maybe I should give it another go when I have more time to pay attention to it. So I did. And what can I tell you about it? Hardly a single dang thing. My goodness this film was so slow and boring. Many years ago on my very first day of my first film class at BYU, my teacher showed us an animated short designed to encourage us to discover the beauty of watching something as an active viewer....how things become more rewarding when you have to actively search for meaning. And guess what? I HATED that short film....absolutely hated it. Here's the thing: I heartily believe that the audience should be involved in watching a film. A good film is not a passive experience. But...as the viewer you also should not have to do all the work yourself. A good film shouldn't just sit there and pose questions...it needs to be engaging. It needs to make you care about the characters so that you actually want to hear the things it has to say. A film should not be tedious. I get that spoon feeding is bad...but there has to be a happy medium between doing too much and doing nothing.

I didn't care for Beasts of the Southern Wild at all either time I attempted watching it. Yes I watched it all the way through both times but I think midway through the second time my brain just decided to make a new, more entertaining movie in my head. Yet somehow this film is adored and nominated for best picture!? I could not tell you why. Sure it had a pretty score and some good performances. But even the performance of the young star Quvenzhan√© Wallis I feel is overrated. I mean she does well...but she is called upon to hold the entire movie on her shoulders and I just don't think she is up to the task. She has a unique presence and a very nice ability to scream and also stare blankly into the camera...but I believe I have seen better child performances. Maybe I'm wrong...but I watched it twice without it captivating me once so I doubt my opinion would be swayed by a third viewing. Who knows...maybe I had to see it in a theater free of distractions to pick up on its subtle beauty...because at home I wanted nothing else but to distract myself from the boredom this movie brought on. This is not the first time I have not been able to see what others adored in a best picture nominee. I debated doing a list of things I'd rather do than watch Beasts of the Southern Wild again...but instead came up with this list of equally head scratching, unworthy best picture nominees. Sometimes films I hate (Emperor's New Clothes syndrome..) and some that were merely popcorn movies mistaken for art. But here's the list of ten Oscar noms I just don't understand the love for.

Avatar - Really? Pocahontas: Alien Edition gets a BP nod? Really!? I don't know why I'm surprised...the Academy is a sucker for overhyping James Cameron as evidenced by the slew of nominations Titanic got. That film was also no more than popcorn fodder...but at least it didn't have the horrific dialogue found in this film (but I guess that's debatable.) This story was so ridiculously re-hashed from everything else ever made and I can't understand the love for it. Beautiful special effects and a cool world does not a movie make. If there's one thing I hate it's when people blindly love something that's mediocre and refuse to admit its flaws. Avatar is not anywhere near a great, let alone perfect movie. Just admit you got swept up in the spectacle Academy...because actually considering this a BP contender is insulting.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Oh boy...if there's something I hate as much, if not more than Avatar its this. This film and it's ridiculous 13 nominations has me convinced that the Academy are full of far too many people that get distracted by shiny objects. It's true that this was, technically speaking, a well made and beautiful film. The sets, costumes, special effects are all top notch. But the story and anything resembling depth or significance in anything the characters did? Not so much. Again...just because a movie is pretty, doesn't mean it is good. This had to be one of the most manipulative movies I've ever seen....it takes the audiences through the motions and then at the end jerks your emotions around, so that when it's over you think "Why... that movie made me feel something, it must be intelligent!: No....it's just stupid. This over any other item on the list had me feeling like Elaine after seeing The English Patient. Everyone loved it...but I stood alone.

The Kids Are All Right - I'm not really sure how this lifetime movie equivalent got an Oscar nod. Because really...this movie is nothing more than a glorified soap opera. Sure it poses an interesting social situation, but like I said earlier....I'm not a fan of movies just posing ideas and concepts and hoping that's enough. Don't just try to suggest things to say for art's sake....say them. It was an interesting film....but hardly memorable. The performances were all good, but not oscar worthy either.

Winter's Bone - This is probably the strongest film on the list, but in keeping with the theme of Beasts of the Southern Wild, boy howdy this movie moves slower than molasses. This was a film far more noteworthy for performances than the actual substance of the film. I definitely didn't hate this movie...nor would I say it's bad. There were a few very chilling scenes, but this shouldn't have been nominated over Blue Valentine.

Babe - This one is on Avatar & Benjamin Button level of hate. I also had to watch this one for school (after already hating it years earlier) and later was forced to write a B.S. paper on its strengths...when really it killed me to write every word. I hate hate hate hate HATE this movie. Haha! Why? Because I don't get how it's revered, loved and held in the esteem it is. It's a movie about a talking stupid pig. It is so unbelievably average. It's not charming. It's not clever. It might be cute and have a simplistic nicety to it....but that does NOT make it a masterpiece or good enough to be a BP nom. The only comfort I can get from this film is hoping that one day Babe will become some tasty bacon. My level of hate is probably unjustified....I mean Babe's existence never hurt anyone right? True, but like I said...if there's something I can't stand it's overhyping something average.

mmmm Bacon!

The Aviator - I don't deny that there are some great aspects to this film. The central performances are good....but my GOODNESS I wanted to die a little inside when I was watching this movie. This is one of those where I was seriously counting ceiling tiles or imagining myself in the theater of another movie to pass the time. The pacing of this film was awful and it just felt so long.... If the point was to make you descend into madness at the same time as Howard Hughes I guess the mission was accomplished...

Mary Poppins - So....I have a confession to make. I don't think Mary Poppins is the lovable saint she's portrayed to be. In fact, she's kind of a bayntch. Seriously though. I've never found her likable....even if she's played by the incredibly likable Julie Andrews. Sure it's a charming Disney classic...but it isn't a masterpiece, and her performance wasn't worthy of the Oscar she did win. Kind of ridiculous in fact.

Her? What is she funny or something?

Working Girl - A pleasant chick flick that isn't BP material. 'Nuff said.

Ghost - A silly romance that isn't BP material. I mean really....it's got Ghosties in it! GHOSTIES!!!! But Whoopie is hilarious in it. It's a fun movie....but not a best picture. 'Nuff said.

Jerry Maguire - A sports related rom-com that isn't BP material. Yes I'm getting lazy with these last three....but summing them up is just as simple as that. None of these movies were great art...they were pleasant popcorn people pleasers. Some quotable lines and memorable moments....but a BP should be so much more than that. Does "You complete me" stand the test of time? Well it's certainly mocked a lot and will never be forgotten....but I don't know if it's quite as grand anymore as they once hoped it would be.

So yeah...sometimes I just don't get what people see in some of the best pic nominees. So far of 2013 I've only seen half...but I'll let you know what I think of the rest when I see them! Any BP noms you remember going "what were they thinking!?" Let me know in the comments below!


courtney wightman said...

BABE??!! i can't get over it. also, i watched extremely loud and incredibly close the other day ... huh?? i don't get it. I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!

Johanna said...

See, I liked "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," but still not best picture because it got a little cutesy at the end. "Ghost" was one of the worst ever! I started laughing at the end. Whoopie is good though.

I do like Mary Poppins, but it's not BP worthy. And in the book Mary Poppins is not a likeable character at all and there's not the focus on the family. But they were so imaginative and, surprisingly, Disney didn't know how to work it.

Karrie's never felt the same about me since I didn't like "Babe."

Howard said...

I repeat: Sometimes a Best Picture nomination has as much to do (or more) with the competition as with the nominee. The Academy HAS to choose something. It's all releative.

Now, before all you film buffs blast me, let me confess I did not look up the competition to the films mentioned here, so it's entirely possible that some really worthy films got snubbed. That happens, too.

I do have to admit, though, that you've chosen a list of films that got more recognition than they deserved. None of them are great. I do like Mary Poppins, though, not so much for Andrews' performance as for Dick Van Dyke's. He was wonderful!

Sarah said...

Wow, I can't believe these movies were nominated for best picture. It just doesn't add up!

Unknown said...

Aww, I enjoyed Mary Poppins; she's practically perfect in every way. :D
I agree with you about James Cameron. I don't get the hype about him or his movies.