I saw two brilliant, deeply affecting movies this weekend: Gran Torino and The Wrestler. The characters in both films were broken, regretful old men looking for redemption, and the actors who played them both nailed their parts with sublime majesty. It’s no wonder Mickey Rourke is up for Best Actor– he was Randy “The Ram” Robinson. The question is, what the hell happened with Clint Eastwood’s film’s nominations?
Here’s the reality: Hollywood is all about politics and political agendas. It has nothing to do with a reflection of how we as a nation feel about a movie. It’s a friggin’ political rally and only one party gets to vote.
Case in point: The movies up for Best Picture are Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire and Milk. Here is what each of them earned in domestic dollars to date, and combined average film critic scores:
Benjamin Button: $120M (B)
Frost/Nixon: $15.6M (A-)
The Reader $16.1M (B-)
Slumdog Millionaire $77.4M (B)
Milk $22.3M (A-)
And the movie that didn’t get one single acknowledgement?
Gran Torino $120.3M (A-)
To date, Gran Torino out-earned all the others and received as-good critical acclaim as the highest contenders. So what would it have taken for the film to have gotten a nod– if Tom Hanks played a slow-witted gay Korean? Is it because Clint already cleaned up with two Best Picture and Best Director Oscars? I thought this award went to the best performance, not to whoever they could look at next in line since the best already got their quota of Oscars. Hell, give it to Clint for Best Actor– that’s one he didn’t earn yet.
Seriously, why does the Academy laud mediocre junk? The English Patient?? You couldn’t give it away after the Oscars– Lord knows you never see it on cable. I remember how piles of that dog languished on the rental shelves until they were quietly given the Final Solution. Elaine on Seinfeld got it right:
(At the movie screen) Quit telling your stupid story, about the stupid desert, and just die already! Die!!
How about Crash?? Ooh, topical baby, yeah! Chicago, A Beautiful Mind… Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan– can you believe that?? Who goes back to watch Shakespeare in Love anymore??
Well… *sigh*… the big political Hollywood machine is a lot bigger than you and me. It’s a spoiled, petulant birthday girl, insisting that whatever she says, goes. At least this year I hope the Oscar goes to Mickey Rourke. Of course, I’m looking at it as if this were actually based on merit. I know… what am I smoking, right?
Incidentally, The Wrestler– who NO ONE talks about– has made $16.2M. And the grade? Got a solid (A).