Tuesday, January 31, 2006The Oscar nominations have been released. Let me say a few things.
To begin, I have not seen any of the movies. I plan to see Capote sometime next month when it shows at a small art theatre here in Tuscaloosa. The others I have not seen, though I would like to see all of them. Having said that, in an information age such as ours, I believe there is enough available by way of criticisms and reviews for me make some slight comments.
There will be a lot of clamoring that the Oscars no longer represent mainstream America. Indeed, it has already begun. I am sympathetic to this notion on a lot of levels. I do not expect most Americans to head off to the movies after a long week to watch the gay cowboy movie. I do not expect anyone with a firm grasp of history to be jumping at the prospect of watching George Clooney's naive interpretation of all that took place during the McCarthy era. Beyond that, I understand that for many folks, the movies are an escape. They want to laugh and cry, but rarely do they want to think. I am tempted to criticize this point, but life is hard sometimes. I won't fault anyone for wanting a fun movie to relax with on a Friday night.
And yet I find it increasingly disturbing that so many Americans champion movies for superficial reasons. A movie is not good because it is clean. It is not good because it makes you feel good and warm and fuzzy. It can be all of those things, but a lack of profanity or the promotion of a cheap emotional reaction does not necessarily make for good art. I do feel that good movies were left out: King Kong and Cinderella Man. (Don't think of suggesting the mediocre Narnia) I think most of the movies nominated for best picture are products of a liberal Hollywood but by all accounts, they are still art. They are pictures that must be engaged. They must be critiqued and challenged. And those with differing political viewpoints must be willing to create vibrant art that challanges that liberal status quo.
Complaining gets you nowhere. Powerful art will open doors that we cannot currently imagine.