Jeff Smith 8:45 a.m., May 22
Black-Spotting the Oscars
Well, Mr. Marks was his usual wonderfully grumpy self in his coverage of this year's Oscar nominations - no sense in blaming it on the early hour, he's always like that. But what struck me is that, grumpiness aside, there really is no certain overlap between critic-bait and Oscar-bait any more. Just look at these nominated goodies that our movie experts - and they are experts - couldn't stand:
Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants. Elliott: "As for Clooney, nice try, but his beautifully haired handsomeness is only slightly dented by emotion."
Best Actress: No call - but in all sincerity, I feel like Viola Davis in The Help should get it just for being different and good. Different because hers is the only performance that isn't either an impersonation (Meryl Streep impersonating Margaret Thatcher, Michelle Williams impersonating Marilyn Monroe, Glenn Close impersonating a man) or a reprisal (Rooney Mara as the new version of Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth Salander). Good because Mr. Marks said she was "remarkable" in a film he hated.
Best Supporting Actor: Again, haven't seen the review, but alas, the big loser has got to be Max Von Sydow, if only for this image. I'm gonna have to go watch The Virgin Spring again to get right.
Best Supporting Actress: Sheesh, here we are, back to The Help. Marks: "Minny later finds employment with a stereotypical dumb blonde (Jessica Chastain) who hires the cleaning woman in order to fool her husband into thinking his bride did the cooking and housework all by her lone self."
Best Director: Easy: Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life. Elliott: "Sadly but blatantly, the gaseous inflation of themes virtually destroys anything personal or profound. Malick has become not a Kubrick, but another Stanley Kramer — the Hollywood producer and director whose message-films were like burritos stuffed with significance. Or rather, he is like Kramer with some visual flair."
Best Original Screenplay: Maybe no obvious disasters - though Mr. Marks will probably disagree with me and say something about how The Artist was one more retelling of the oldest story in Hollywood and calling it an Original Screenplay is nothing short of cinematic blasphemy - but maybe Margin Call? Elliott: "New York glows like a fabulous hell, but this slick story feels like necro-nostalgia for the masters whose feet of clay led up to computerized hearts."
Best Adapted Screenplay: Toss-up between The Descendants (Elliott: "The trip stays on Hawaiian time, with so little dramatic momentum that it’s almost another coma. This plodding disappointment from Alexander Payne, creator of the brilliant Sideways, is like a stressed holiday, a lachrymose luau.") and The Ides of March (Elliott: "Simple stuff with very good casting.")
We could go on (and maybe we will)! But that's enough for now, I think.