Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Screenwriter’s shamefully poor Oscar nap.

Well, it wasn’t a complete disgrace. Screenwriter, at least, managed to have all the front runners in place. But, in two areas at least, I received a fairly serious drubbing. Your correspondent felt that both Tomas Aflredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier …

Tue, Jan 24, 2012, 22:26


Well, it wasn’t a complete disgrace. Screenwriter, at least, managed to have all the front runners in place. But, in two areas at least, I received a fairly serious drubbing. Your correspondent felt that both Tomas Aflredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close would (and not just because their titles were too long) figure absolutely nowhere. As it happened, both secured significant nods. Gary Oldman finally gets his best actor nomination for TTSS. Max Von Sydow is in the best supporting frame for ELAIC and that Daldry film is up for best picture.

There are four of them, and Smiley.

Come to think of it, as Dan Ashcroft noted beneath the last post, these Oscars have kicked up more surprises than any recent edition — which just goes to show how predictable they usually are. Virtually nobody felt that Extremely Loud had a serious chance of a best picture nomination. Earlier tonight, on BBC Radio Four, Mark Lawson suggested to Daldry that this was the worst-reviewed film ever to secure a best picture mention. (Daldry took it quite well.) Yet there it sits. Demian Bichir did receive a nod at the Screen Actors Guild for his fine turn in the (to my mind) useless A Better Life. So we can’t say his nomination was the greatest upset of all time. But I would never have felt he’d take the place marked for Michael Fassbender. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this result shows the Academy at its most wishy-washy. The bloke in the film about the hard-working Mexican immigrant (a travesty of Bicycle Thieves, incidentally) beats out the guy in the sordid (if moral) film about an unstoppable shagging machine. I haven’t seen Extremely Loud yet. I will, nonetheless, point out that the 9/11 story beat the racy Drive and the lubricious Bridesmaids to the presumed last spot on the grid. Draw your own conclusion.

What else has gone unnoticed? Well, the most notoriously stupid category — that for best foreign language picture — did manage to hang on to Asghar Farhadi’s fine A Separation. There is still every chance it could lose. If it does so to the excellent Footnotes then I will just about live with it. A victory by any other film will cause my eyebrows to raise.

Having already won quite a few awards for his supporting turn in Drive, Albert Brooks looked even more of a shoo-in than did Michael Fassbender. It is, however, hard to get too upset about Max Von Sydow sneaking in ahead of him. What a pleasure to have two great octogenarians — Christopher Plummer remains strong favourite — in the best supporting actor competition. Hats off to movie royalty. You have both helped movie-goers’ lives seem worthwhile over the last 50 years or so.

Great, an excuse to post a photo of my heroes.

Mark, also, an interesting exclusion in the best feature animation race. For the first time since its inception, the relevent year’s Pixar film has failed to make it into the enclosure. When you consider that this was a particularly weak year for that genre this result seems all the more notable. What in the name of Tex Avery was John Lassetter thinking of with Cars 2? The first film wasn’t great. But the second was a roaring disgrace. For the last decade and a half we have been praising Pixar for working hard on their scripts and not slipping into lazy talking-animal (or, in this case, automobile) cliches. The relatively poor box office for that film and its shameful performance at the Oscars will, we hope, give the people at that great animation studio pause for thought. Advance word is good for their upcoming Brave. Don’t let us down, boys and girls.

It’s also worth pondering the decline of the “original song” category. Just two tunes turned up in that race: Man or Muppet from, erm The Muppets and Real in Rio from, erm, Rio. I like the Muppet tune. But nobody is likely to mistake it for Somewhere Over the Rainbow or As Time Goes By. Where have you gone, fair songwriters? Come back to the fold.

In so far as we give a damn, the list did offer quite a bit of food for thought. And we haven’t even mentioned that 40 percent of the nominees for best live-action short were Irish. We’re almost as good at that discipline as  we used to be at the Eurovision Song Contest.

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