This week Will Leschber splits hairs and Oscar camps…
Ok theater geeks, it’s go time. This is our Super Bowl. The Academy Awards.
So many Oscar races come down to a title fight: 12 Years a Slave vs Gravity; Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker; The Kings Speech vs The Social Network; Crash vs Brokeback Mountain; Shakespeare in Love vs Saving Private Ryan; Goodfellas vs Dances with Wolves; Forrest Gump vs Pulp Fiction; Gandhi or Tootsie; Kramer vs Kramer vs Apocalypse Now; Annie Hall or Star Wars; To Kill a Mockingbird or Lawrence of Arabia; All About Eve or Sunset Boulevard; Citizen Kane or How Green Was My Valley; Gone with the Wind or Wizard of Oz; Wings or Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans… (trick question film nerds).
As you peruse this list I’m sure you are thinking a few things: I’m sure 12 Years a Slave is great and maybe I’ll watch it one day; Thank god that towering achievement Dances With Wolves won over the endlessly forgettable and uninfluecial Goodfellas; I know Pulp Fiction is better but I’m not gonna feel bad about loving America’s Tom Hanks. Win Forrest Win! And lastly, I can hear you thinking, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans…? Are you making shit up again? What the fuck is that?
I’m getting around the posing of the dichotomy…What is more important, the Unique and Artistic Production or the Outstanding Best Picture award? Once upon a time we had an award for both (all the way back in 1927) but now it seems there can be only one. These days, bouts between the heavy, artistic “important” pictures and the awesome spectacle that only lives in the places between the silver screens has become a common conversation. (See Avatar vs Hurt Locker, and 12 Years a Slave vs Gravity.) There’s no assumed judgement here. I loved all of these films for very different reasons. I know, I know, the best films are a balance of these elements, but that doesn’t make for a good debate! I’m saying, if you only get one and you had to pick, dear reader, which do you choose?
What is more valuable and what is more valued? Do we strive to delight and transport in a way only film can? Or do we strive to reach new depths of the human experience? Or do we strive to rage against the dying of the light? Calm down Christopher Nolan, we get it, you are super deep.
This year that title fight looks like Boyhood vs Birdman. I show up to spectacle any day. Birdman was a visual feat and feast! But the greatest and best film this year is also the quietest and the most unassuming. That’s why it achieves more. I’d love to see Boyhood win because it’s a one of the most successful films to capturing something all of us experience that rarely makes it into narrative film; the feeling and memory of growing up and the importance of all the unimportant moments that build the mortar of who we are. That’s my pick. But what should win isn’t necessarily what will win. I made peace with that award show truth long ago. Who knows Imitation Game may show up and surprise us all. We’ll see.
There can be only one…Who will you choose?