Sep 3, 2010

Do not feed the Oscar prognosticators!

What strangely metabolised creatures the Oscar bloggers are, their entire year spent recording the minute fluctuations in buzz, hype and heat that will allow them to hazard a guess — no more — as to which films may find favor with the hundred or so members of the Academy some time in late February. It's like trying to guess which side of their soup an elderly relative is going to dribble by staring at a windsock all year. Throw in the fact that they have to do all this without seeing the movies and the task approaches Swiftian heights of freeform gasbaggery, as witnessed in this recent post at Awards Daily:—

Stephanie Zacharek continues to carve out her oddball niche as the critic whose opinion has Zero Oscar relevance. Zacherek, we must recall, is the critic who would’ve been happier seeing BeyoncĂ© Knowles nominated for Best Actress over Meryl Streep two years ago. It’s a good thing she never tries to align with the Academy’s taste because she absolutely sucks at understanding what scores on awards night. In fact, it’s becoming a very reliable gauge: if Zacharek hates your movie then you’re probably winning an Oscar. So her trashing of Black Swan can only be seen as more good news:

Black Swan is really just a high-toned version of Showgirls, a movie that’s frequently derided as just being “bad,” although I think Paul Verhoeven knew exactly what he was doing, and he was honest about his goals: He wanted to give us a glitzy, over-the-top show-biz fable, and he did.

There’s an opinion you won’t see coming from anyone else: “Showgirls is better than Black Swan.” That’s worth posting for its sheer ludicrous perversity.
Let's back up a little here, shall we? First off, Zacharek sounds terrific. "A high-toned version of Showgirls" is a salty slap-down to the mounting hosannas being piled on Black Swan, which sounds, quite frankly, about as enjoyable as a rash. The fact that she dissed Streep in favor of Beyonce just makes me like her all the more; Streep long ago turned into the female Jack Nicholson, her performances far too busy telegraphing their own prowess with a single eyebrow flex. Zacharek seems to be providing sinewy, surprising opinions of precisely the sort we ask critics to express, and Awards Daily is condescending to her for not guessing the Oscars right? I would not venture within a 25 mile radius of any critic who agreed with those fearful old goats at the Academy on anything like a regular basis, and here is Zacharek, condescended not because she dared disagree with their vote, but because she disagree with what some Oscar blogger, looking at the tea leaves and sticking a damp finger in the air, thinks might turn out to be the vote of these tanned, arthritic fools in four month's time? Because she dared upset the cosy consensus that seems to be forming around Black Swan, sight unseen, in the dark, mole-like burrows through which the Oscar prognosticators scurry and sniff? Chastised for her independence from blind guesswork? It's almost enough to make you weep hot tears of shame at the bullying, herdlike instincts of one's fellow man, as dramatised in that episode of The Simpsons where everyone taunts Milhouse for going on a date with Lisa Simpson. "That is so... gay," splutters Nelson Munst.

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