I don't know much about this year's Academy Award nominees for most of the categories. I will be the first to admit that I haven't even seen Frost/Nixon or The Reader and I really have no interest in them. What's the point? 2008 is over and all I've got to show for it is a list of favorites that weren't even in the movie theaters for more than a weekend (except for New York and LA). As far as the nominees themselves, the only group that really bothers me is the acting. There are some choices that are utterly mind boggling compared to some of the other performances that I have seen this year. Like I said, I haven't seen everything, but I've seen enough.
Take the Best Actor category for instance. I have no problem with Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke. Sean Penn is brilliant as Harvey Milk and Rourke puts on a tour de force in The Wrestler which is deserved of this award. I understand and appreciate putting up Richard Jenkins for the award because of all his service rendered as a talented character actor who finally got his chance. The thing that gets me in his case is that he deserves better than a straight laced white guy who learns how to play a drum from some whacky foreigners as his best actor moment. And I like Brad Pitt a lot as an actor and even respect what he has done over the past years lending his name to some films that would have never even been made unless he was involved. But this isn't a popularity contest and they shouldn't throw him a nomination just because he's a cool guy. You're the Oscars for God's sake! If we're gonna do it this way, throw every guy's name into the hat and we'll text in our vote. The Best Actor then assuredly going to Zac Efron for his performance in High School Movie 3.
Then there is the Best Actress category. Again, I have no problem with some of them. I think Ann Hathaway was superb in Rachel Getting Married and Meryl Streep should win hands down for her mesmerizing performance in Doubt (Believe me, I went to Catholic school for eighteen years of my life and watching her in that film gave me goosebumps.). Going into Frozen River, I was excited to see a harsh, gritty performance by one of my favorite actresses since her days on Homicide: Life on the Street. Then I watched the film. Props to Leo for her acting, but if this is a student film at best. Again, if you are going to give this long shot a chance, give a little more to chew on than human smuggling (oh, cutting edge and so controversial) and a movie that could have been totally resolved by her son getting a job.
All I'm saying is that if you are going to call yourself the Academy Awards and hold yourself in higher esteem than all other awards shows, don't lower the bar with your heart string nominations and popularity contest standards. The biggest shame of this past year was the films such as Revolutionary Road and Snow Angels that didn't even see the light of day let alone garner as much attention as they should have. If you want to change the whole thing into the Red Carpet Film Festival where every man, woman, and child can enter whatever bat-hitting-crotch moment they recorded with their I-phone in hopes of winning that cash prize, be my guest. My advice is to go against the grain of modern everyone is a winner mentality, put on a tuxedo, give awards to films based upon their merit and evidence that they will stand the test of time along with the classics, and start acting like the fucking Oscars.