This year’s awards, like many other years, will reaffirm that the Academy does not eschew the American canon of fortitude and the nation’s obsession with happy endings. The French hunk named Jean and his Terrier perhaps had less to do with last year’s sweep at the Awards than the fact that The Artist was after all a celebration of the fruits of forbearance. Abraham Lincoln, America’s greatest hero, is formidable in the hands of Steven Spielberg and the body and mind of Daniel-Day Lewis, an actor the Academy and Americans have always loved. I have no doubt that Lincoln will get at least seven awards. It is the politically correct film with heavyweights.
It has become easy to predict the sweep. In its message and theme, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild are perfect candidates. (Lee’s film has 11 nominations too, just behind Lincoln, which has 12.) They fall into a neo-spiritual category that glorifies the human ability to beat the odds and embrace life. Amour is perhaps the film with the most fatalistic subject, but here too, love triumphs old age and decay. I expect Quvenzhane Wallis, who plays the little brave girl protagonist in Beasts of the Southern Wild to get the Best Actress award, and for Life of Pi to bag all the visual effects categories, but the obsession with the ‘good’, the ‘happy’ and ‘the persevering’ makes the Awards far less interesting than it should be.
Note what’s missing in the Best Picture category (it has “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Life of Pi”, “Les Miserables”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Lincoln”, “Amour”, “Django Unchained” and “Argo”): Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which questions the cult of Scientology. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, a beautiful film about tainted childhood and silent sufferers, certainly deserved a writing nomination. Tarantino will never qualify for Best Director, but the film being about slavery, an integral part of American history, made it to the Best Picture list. A Tarantino film will, at best, get a writing award, like Midnight in Paris got the Best Screenplay last year. (The writing award is equivalent to the Indian version of the ‘Critic’s Award’.)
I hope for some surprises and till the time comes when the award winners release in Indian theatres, I will pass on my copy of Moonrise Kingdom to as many people as I can.
Mint Lounge’s wishlist:
Best Picture: Amour
Best Director: An (uneasy) tie between Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis
Best Actress: Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)