But oh man do they suck. Thought I was probably exaggerating when I declared this year's Best Picture lineup to be the worst ever (on Twitter), but after examining the evidence I must say I can't find a crappier year in my own personal lifetime. Were I an AMPAS member, I'd be forced to cast my vote for Frost/Nixon—a choice that would surely be neck and neck with Mr. John Kerry for this decade's nose-holder sweepstakes. (In truth, I might opt to vote for Milk instead, on political grounds, given my general apathy*.) All other options = egad. It's particularly galling to see David Fincher finally get some long-overdue recognition for what is easily the worst movie he's ever made, Alien to the Third Goddamn Power included. And never before has there been a nominee (viz. The Reader) that was so indifferently received by critics that I didn't even bother to see it.
Admittedly, the prospect of future trailers hyping "Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon" is pretty awesome, even if he has no chance whatsoever against the ghost of Heath. (The S. Actor slate is remarkably strong overall, actually—albeit in part because Philip Seymour Hoffman is in the wrong category.) And some freak spasm of good taste resulted in a Foreign Language nod for Götz Spielmann's superb Revanche, which will hopefully increase the profile of its forthcoming micro-release by Janus. Beyond that, almost a total cringefest. Fortunately, the annual corrective I call the Skandies is only a week and a half away. I can assure you that you'll see few if any instances of the words "Slumdog," "Button" or "Daldry."
* Funny story. At this year's NYFCC voting meeting—I believe I can safely relate this anecdote without incurring the Wrath of Schwarzbaum, since it only involves myself—I inquired, with regard to Best Director, whether a vote for Gus Van Sant for Paranoid Park could theoretically contribute to an eventual Van Sant win that would be credited solely to Milk. (We vote for the individual, only deciding after a winner is declared whether to cite that person's work in more than one film.) A great deal of hair-splitting debate ensued, during which I repeatedly stressed that while I very much wanted to vote for Van Sant's extraordinary work in Paranoid Park, I also very much wanted to avoid inadvertently contributing to a Milk victory. Because this was so obviously a purely aesthetic battle in my mind, it literally never even occurred to me that my dogged insistence on not wanting to support Milk in any way might come across to some as homophobia, though I'm told that in fact it did. So now I'm the group's resident Cro-Magnon, I guess.