Curiously, this year looks like one where the most widely panned films have crept into the Oscars nomination basket. Movies such as Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Albert Nobbs, W.E., and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close are some. The last perhaps is one of the most criticised films to have ever been given the Best Picture nod by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
What is equally strange is that highly clichéd works like Warrior and Moneyball have clinched nominations. And the movies of master directors (Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris), far from their best, have also been recognised.
Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, for instance, was miles ahead of Midnight in Paris, which attracted a lot of publicity largely because France’s First Lady, Carla Bruni, was part of the cast. I am sure many Europeans must have seen it only because of Bruni, controversial as she has been.
It is such a pity that some excellent fare like Shame, We Need to Talk about Kevin, A Dangerous Method and Carnage have been left by the wayside. These are power packed dramas tackling subjects as provocative as obsessive sexual urge, teenage violence, Freud and adult ego.
Yet, to be fair, the Academy must be lauded for giving greater prominence – more than the usual – to foreign language cinema. While two of the five animated features are from countries other than America, Iran’s A Separation gets a well-deserved Original Screenplay nod. The movie also figures in the Best Foreign Language Film section. The Artist with a Best Picture nomination is certainly set in Hollywood, but is very French even though it has no French dialogues.
The Academy’s mood to look beyond American shores augurs well for cinema.