On the season’s emotional split

Posted by · 8:25 am · October 26th, 2009

PreciousEver since (and before) I mentioned in print that, for my money, “Precious” is the frotrunner of this year’s Oscar race, I’ve been trying to understand why.  After all, it’s hardly your typical ahead-of-the-pack favorite.

Over at The Hollywood Reporter, Steven Zeitchik takes note of the emotional split that is slowly characterizing this year’s slate of Oscar contenders and, in the process, begins to offer some insight, I think, into this conundrum:

With the widened field, there’s a wider split between the feel-good contenders and the downbeat ones, between movies that depict the world as it is and those that show the world as we wish it to be.

Voters, for instance, will have to choose between the story of an inner-city girl whose stepfather has repeatedly raped her and an old man who takes a magical, life-affirming balloon ride. They’ll have to decide between a group of male bomb-defusers drawn to the nightmare of the battlefield and a group of male friends drawn hilariously to the escapism of Vegas.

Zeitchik then goes on to reduce things even further by noting that a vote for darker, grittier fare could be a vote in favor of specialty divisions that have been shuttered as of late.  After all, the majority of those films “celebrating life’s aspirational side,” as Zeitchik puts it, were developed and released through major studios.

It’s an interesting perspective, to be sure.  Or it could be a stretch.  What do you think?

→ 8 Comments Tags: | Filed in: Daily

8 responses so far

  • 1 10-26-2009 at 8:47 am

    Loyal said...

    A stretch for now.

    I’d sooner link a Precious win to the Obama presidency. Maybe Gabby, Mo’nique, Freeman, and Geoffrey Fletcher will all win and we’ll have a racial and cultural upheaval instead of an emotional one. The Audacity of Precious.

  • 2 10-26-2009 at 9:12 am

    Jim T said...

    Well, I don’t know about this year but I think Slumdog was a combination of the two elements. Hard reality and happy ending.

    But I really don’t think the argument is really strong. Up(?) and Hangover(???) are not exactly a match for Precious and The Hurt Locker.

  • 3 10-26-2009 at 10:36 am

    Brian said...

    I think, in all honesty, people really loved seeing the open jaw “this is happening to us?!” glee of the Slumdog team. This is, however, the exact opposite from the Precious team (Sidibie excused), and remains my hold out for it really taking center stage.

    Slumdog also had the full force of the British vote behind it, which is another thing I think gets forgotten about a lot.

  • 4 10-26-2009 at 12:25 pm

    kmoore8435 said...

    Over at Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeff Wells has already taken offense to your assertion that “Precious” is a frontrunner. His supporting argument is fairly weak, only vaguely disguising that fact that “Precious” isn’t a frontrunner in his book because he simply doesn’t want it to be one.

  • 5 10-26-2009 at 1:12 pm

    Brian said...

    Haha, sounds like you nearly physically injured Wells.

  • 6 10-26-2009 at 3:15 pm

    Stephen P said...

    what the hell, heres a top 10 prediction:

    The Lovely Bones
    Up in the air
    An Education
    The Hurt Locker
    District 9
    Julie & Julia
    Bright Star

  • 7 10-26-2009 at 10:12 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    do we have to be sad for it to be a good movie

  • 8 10-27-2009 at 11:36 am

    Fitz said...

    Slumdog was less of a combination of hard reality and happy ending than an exploitation of the downtrodden to make the happy ending more appealing than Disney fare.

    Boyle’s lesser work get rewarded. Go figure.