Is anyone else feeling a bit underwhelmed by this year’s Oscars nominees? At first, I thought that a lackluster movie year accounted for the malaise. 2011 presented lots of good movies, but not many great ones. But in listening to the ether it seems 2011 did not lack for great movies; they just weren’t nominated.
Take the best actress categories. The noms for Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) just feel rote, as if they were a given. And they resulted in snubs for Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) who were, by all accounts, incredible. I can’t help wondering if Kristin Wiig (Bridesmaids) also deserved a place on that list.
In supporting actress, Jessica Chastain rides the wave of love for The Help but should probably be up for The Tree of Life. I’d also like to see Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) who quite handily rivaled Melissa McCarthy in awesomeness. And having just seen The Descendents, Shailene Woodley was seriously robbed of a seat at the table.
I have less trouble with the actor categories and am looking forward to Christopher Plummer winning for the lovely, pitch perfect Beginners. Should Ryan Gosling be on there, however, if not for Best Actor in Drive than at least for Supporting Actor in Crazy, Stupid, Love?
Best Picture, however, epitomizes particularly well this problem of good films instead of great one. The Artist is overrated. I’m troubled by the love for The Help. Midnight in Paris is both overrated and troublingly beloved. And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close symbolizes an Academy more interested in one-note schmaltz and surface-level political correctness than truly great cinema.
Looking over my complaints, however, the problem reveals a plethora of great and good roles for women and films about women. This list includes women with varied lives (although I wish the diversity went deeper than The Help and France). How often do we have such a problem? It’s a problem that’s nice to have for a change.
And even if the Academy has lost the ability to even recognize the true best in their own industry, at least we can look forward to the gowns.