As you know if you followed my blog last year around this time, I have a love-hate relationship with the Academy Awards. I love discussing them, watching them with friends in a party-like atmosphere, and competing with my family to see who can predict them the most accurately. This year, I have a new activity to love: watching as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible in one weekend with my friend and fellow blogger Allison (allisonscoles.wordpress.com) and some other friends. Here’s what I hate: the Academy’s narrow and outdated ideas of what a nomination-worthy film looks like. I also bear a pointless hatred toward the practical constraints of an awards show; I wish every good movie that came out in the past year could get a nod. Yes, the ceremony would be really long, but I would watch it!
Over the past week, I have gone to the local second-run theater to see three movies that will not be winning any Oscars this year because they weren’t nominated. Even though I didn’t plan this “Oscar Resistance,” as I’m now calling it because it sounds AWESOME (cue that song by Muse), it will serve as a nice counterpoint to the above-mentioned event, Allison’s “Moviepalooza.” And now I’m going to tell you about the movies I saw.
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I saw this on strong recommendation from my two siblings and my mother, none of whom are teenagers. So I figured it wouldn’t be just a cliched teen angst movie, and I was right. All of the main characters are in high school, but the problems they face–and this is a movie, like most good movies, about people with problems–aren’t unique to teenagers; they’re human problems. As you can probably guess from the title, one of those problems involves finding a few people you can feel comfortable with, so that you can be okay with not “fitting in,” whatever that means. If you’ve never faced this problem, you are one of a very few fortunate people, and you probably won’t get this movie. If you have faced this problem, whatever your age, this movie will probably make you cry. The carefully chosen songs on the soundtrack are a large part of that; so is the excellent acting. Logan Lerman broke my heart (I mean that in a good way). And if, like me, you’re a Harry Potter fan wondering how Emma Watson will fare playing an American Muggle, have no fear; she’s great. But I do have to admit that when her character, Sam, admitted to completely bombing her SATs, my first thought was that Hermione would never do that.
2. Here Comes the Boom. Okay, look. I know this movie doesn’t deserve a single Oscar nomination. But neither was it a complete waste of my time. There is an in-between, you know. Some movies don’t want to win Oscars, and that’s fine. I do have a slight beef with the way Here Comes the Boom was advertised; it was made out to look like a zany comedy, and it was actually more of an inspirational teacher movie plus an inspirational sports movie, with some zany comedy thrown in. As with most films from the above-named genres, I was asked to accept a few improbabilities, but Kevin James as a mixed martial arts fighter was actually not one of them; the guy has muscles. Who knew? The other notable cast member was Henry Winkler as a somewhat pathetic but lovable and very funny baggy sweater-wearing music teacher. Between the teachers in this movie and Paul Rudd’s character in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I was just full of inspiration for my first week of spring classes.
3. Hitchcock. Now here’s a movie that may have been trying for a few Oscar nominations. In fact, Helen Mirren was deservedly nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Alfred Hitchcock’s talented and long-suffering wife, Alma Reville. Probably the reason why this film ended up flying under the Academy radar is that it isn’t a DRAMA. There were no tears, no screaming (except when one character was getting stabbed…in a shower)–it was actually a pretty conventional love story between two people who share thirty years of marriage. The context in which the love story takes place, however, is rather unconventional: it’s the making of Psycho, complete with quirky actors, cantankerous censors, and some trippy magical-realist scenes in which Hitchcock (you can call him Hitch; everyone in the movie does) voyeuristically observes and converses with Ed Gein, the real-life, significantly less sympathetic (mainly because he isn’t cute) version of Norman Bates. I believe my own familiarity with Psycho helped my enjoyment of Hitchcock, but my aunt and cousin with whom I saw Hitchcock had never seen Psycho and still had a good time. (Oh, if you’re worried about spoilers, you may want to avert your eyes frequently. But seriously, Psycho has been out for 53 years; you have no excuse.) As the title character, Anthony Hopkins does an excellent job, as always. Even putting his acting aside, he deserves some props for gaining an alarming amount of weight for this role. (I thought the Academy liked that kind of stuff, altering your appearance and all that? But maybe they didn’t want to be seen to condone obesity. Heaven forbid.)
Well, this post is entirely too long. I apologize. I invite you to join the Oscar Resistance by watching some recent films that didn’t get the blessing of the Academy. And remember, you can be part of the resistance and still go see the nominees–I’m going to see Les Miserables next week.