January 25, 2005

Nope, I haven't seen any of the five nominated films this year. In fact, I haven't seen any of the nominated performances yet, and only one of the films nominated for writing (The Incredibles). It's too damn expensive to take myself to a matinee; I can only imagine what those of you with children and significant others have to do. Live-action movies are becoming more and more akin to radio drama in the early-50's, an archaism running on fumes, and the last time I checked, my TV works just fine.

The reaction of the blogosphere has been far more telling. So far, the big story seems to be not that Martin Scorcese will finally get his gold watch this year, or the unjust(?) snubbing of Paul Giamatti, or the long-unanticipated rematch between Hillary Swank and Annette Bening, but that Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't become the first documentary ever to be nominated for Best Film. Apparently, bloggers of the starboard persuasion live in an alternative universe, where controversial documentaries are given rubber-stamp nominations by the Academy as a matter of course. Those of you who have long memories might note that Hoop Dreams, The Thin Blue Line, and, of course, Roger and Me weren't even nominated for Best Documentary in the years they came out.

As much as they hate to admit, the fact that they could even contemplate the possibility that Michael Moore might go where Peter Davis, Barbara Kopple, and Maysles brothers couldn't is a testament to what a powerful film 9/11 was; after all, when was the last time the failure of a documentary to merit an Oscar nomination for best film was even noticed? AMPAS represents the geriatric wing of Hollywood, its membership disproportionately from the business end of moviemaking, and it is no surprise that more controversial fare gets shunned (remember Citizen Kane? Double Indemnity? High Noon?).

Moore fans, of course, have no right to complain: the animated film The Incredibles was the best thing shown in theatres last year, and it didn't get a best film nod either. But the obsession conservatives have with Mr. Moore is starting to get rather creepy.

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