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Pretentious Movie Alert: Best Picture Oscar Noms, You Failed

The week everyone's been waiting for is here -- Oscar season. Snooooooooze. While the actual awards show will doubtlessly be a complete snoozefest (thankfully saved by Chris's annual Oscar party, complete with mandatory ballot completions and Oscar-shaped cookies), we can lament the fact that our real favorite movies of the year will remain "our" movies for another year. Unwashed masses, you can have your Slumdog Millionaire, i.e. "I liked it the first time when it was called City of God but more heartwarming (slamma-jamma!)" I'll take my pretentious movies any day.

Here are the best pretentious movies of 2008 that should have been nominated for Best Picture, were we living in a magical world where everyone would recognize the genius of slow-motion cinematography, handheld camera, steadicam shots of people walking, untrained actors, and worlds within worlds within worlds. Some day, the Academy will be run by an 83-year-old Paul Thomas Anderson, who will lament the long-past days when pretentious movies only meant using colors and sound as symbolism. (In 2065, pretentious movies will just be shapes.) Until then, we can only dream...

Qualler's Pretentious Movie Alert Best Picture Nominations:
Rachel Getting Married
Seriously. How did the Academy not nominate this for best picture? Were they afraid to nominate a movie with handheld camera work? Was the movie just too real? Did it make the voters sad because of the happy-yet-ambivalent conclusion? No excuses, Academy voters. This was your opportunity to make pretentious movie fans and Ma and Pa Box Office Champ happy. Pretentious movie fans could have been overjoyed by the diverse musical choices and intense performances, while Ma and Pa Box Office could have enjoyed even more stories about Anne Hathaway's conversion from sorta-child actress to real deal actress. (Okay, I know she was nominated for Best Actress, and the movie was nominated for best screenplay, but come on. Isn't best screenplay actually the best movie? Usually. Duh.)

Wendy and Lucy

Yeah, it makes sense why this one didn't get any Oscar buzz. Plot description: a young woman traveling with her dog faces difficulties when her car breaks down. But for pretentious movie fans like myself, the whole thing is soooooo wonderful. The constantly-improving-in-my-eyes Michelle Williams owns the movie with her spare, strong-yet-vulnerable performance. (Plus, she makes former Dawson's Creek co-star James Van Der Beek, currently starring in the Lifetime Network's new original film Taken In Broad Daylight, look like a jackass, which is always a good thing.) I'm a sucker for movies that have no light at the end of the tunnel, and Wendy and Lucy shined very bright in that category.

Paranoid Park
Young actor Gabe Nevins made an apperance in the aforementioned Wendy and Lucy, which makes sense, given that this movie, like the aforementioned, also takes place in Portland, OR. (As a fan of maintaining the movie/television universe, I support any and every opportunity to show that characters in one movie/television series exist in another movie/television series, but that's for another blog post.) A few months after catching this film, two scenes stick with me: Nevins' character showering off and slowly feeling the guilt while ambient music swelled, and the near-closing scene with him burning a manuscript set to Elliott Smith's "Angeles". When Gus Van Sant also releases solid but obviously Oscar-bait films like Milk in the same year, it's easy to understand why something like this could be overlooked. Still, c'mon.

The Wrestler

Another totally wasted opportunity, Academy. You already nominated Mickey Rourke for Best Actor; how hard would it have been to throw in a Best Pic nom for the movie, too? Or, even just a director nom for Darren Aronofsky?? Too late released in Minneapolis to be included in the Blogulator's original Top 10 Films of 2008 list, this one instantly became a Blogulator favorite by the time the last unbelievably moving reel ended. I never knew I could have so many feelings during a movie about a washed-up wrestler. Aronofsky proves that it is possible to make a heartwarming comeback story that also makes your stomach curl in disgust the way Requiem for a Dream did.

Synechdoche, New York
Not only was this film totally overlooked by the Academy, it seems to have been totally overlooked by critics as well, based on its serious lack of major Top 10 honors. Months after seeing it the first time, I can't get the image of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton (whoa, what a cast in this film!) talking in a burning house out of my head, not to mention Tom Noonan taking Philly-boy's identity (Tom's new role in Damages sealed the deal for me with his skillz), and the always fantastic Dianne Wiest bringing it home. Sure, Charlie Kaufmann's directorial debut could have trimmed a good 10-15 minutes, but the sum of the parts was indeed less than the effect of the whole. The comforting part of this movie is that it makes me feel like I'm not alone in the world if Charlie Kaufmann can dream up such alternately beautiful/disturbing situations with some hilarious/tragic dialogue to accompany it. Can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve next now that he has his directorial debut under his belt.

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  1. Blogger chris | 10:11 AM |  

    Nice batch! I would actually pick the same 5, except replace Paranoid Park with Redbelt. I really liked both Paranoid and Milk, but ultimately neither hit me the way I wanted them to. I think that was just an expectation problem though. Elephant and Gerry are just too amazing to beat.

  2. Blogger qualler | 10:14 AM |  

    Yeah -- still gotta see Redbelt. Gotta hit up the Nerdflix on that one.

  3. Blogger Adam | 10:37 AM |  

    I watched Redbelt after Chris wrote on it. Then I watched it again the next day. It's amazing

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