I for one am totally past the traumatic 2012 Oscar battles and into the present, but to hear it from TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, the year-long “season” was interesting and certainly change-ridden at times, but altogether civil and mild-mannered. The Best Picture race was described six days ago by Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone in much more dramatic terms. She and Pond experienced the same basic saga on a story-by-story basis, and yet their impressions diverged.
I feel a greater kinship with Sasha’s version, no offense.
Consider Pond’s recap of the journey of Silver Linings Playbook, a film that will be getting to Average Joes and turning their spigots on long after Argo and Life of Pi have been relegated to “uh-huh…yeah, I saw those films…pretty good, well made.” Here’s Pond’s summary:
“David O. Russell‘s film did not come into Toronto with anywhere near the buzz of Argo or Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master or [even] Terrence Malick‘s To the Wonder; it came in quietly and under the radar, after months of tweaking by the director who was coming off the 2010 Best Picture nominee The Fighter.
“But its premiere at Roy Thomson Hall, which came one day after the Argo premiere in the same building, came as a delicious shock. “Silver Linings is a perfectly calibrated comedy that is also deeply moving,” I wrote after the screening. “[I]t’s another major step in Russell’s comeback from movie limbo, and a mainstream film with enough heart and clout to immediately figure into a number of Oscar races, definitely including Best Picture.”
“That night, Russell wasn’t so sure he wanted the acclaim. ‘I like being the underdog,’ he told TheWrap at the party that followed his premiere. ‘Now we just have to see if we can stay the underdog for the next two months.’ He didn’t exactly do that, with the film landing eight Oscar nominations and becoming the first movie since 1981’s Reds to score noms in all four acting categories.”
Pond doesn’t mention the vicious anti-SLP campaign that kicked in a few weeks after Toronto, but speaking as an infantryman in the Turkish Army as General Allenby’s shells exploded all around for weeks on end (“Pound them Charlie…pound them!”), I can tell you it was relentless. It was awful.
I’m past it and have moved on, as noted, but Pond’s piece brought it up again. A movie that so many loved and which has now crossed $100 million and which held to a 92% average on Rotten Tomatoes and 81% on Metacritic, and won four Spirit Awards and corralled eight Academy Award nominations (including noms in all four acting categories) along with JLaw’s Best Actress Oscar)…but God, the hate! A movie as perfect in its own way as a film of this type (a schizzy psycho-dramedy about meds, sports, superstition, love and denial) could be, and yet countered by currents of acidic blood and blocked from greater Oscar glory.
I got my first taste of the coming rancor on the evening of 9.28.12, which I described in “Incredulous Parking Garage Rage.” From that moment on the Toronto Silver Linings high was over. By the time SLP opened on 11.16 the Hate Brigade had been formed as surely as the Irish Republican Army had assembled in 1922.
I was so appalled and upset by this current that, meager as my pulpit might be, I wanted to fire back with my own British artillery, and I think on some gut emotional level I decided that the General Allenby counter-strike had to be aimed at Lincoln. In my mind and to its immense and lasting credit, SLP was in several ways everything that Lincoln was not. There was also my ongoing theory that Steven Spielberg has had his ass kissed too much over the last 35 years and that…well, that the somber reverence and historical portentousness of Lincoln represented a kind of polar-opposite aesthetic — “an Oscar-worthy film has to maintain a tone of importance and gasbaggery!” — and that this idea needed to be punctured or defeated or at least temporarily stopped in its tracks.
So basically the Lincoln “takedown campaign,” if you want to call it that (and I maintain to this date that I did nothing more than simply try to counter-balance the excessive Lincoln gush), was a kind of revenge hit on the SLP haters. I know that it didn’t actually work out that way in reality, but that’s how I was feeling it on some strategic or emotional level. I’m just being honest. It’s over now and on to 2013, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a certain satisfaction in the fact that Lincoln never really caught on during awards season except for Daniel Day Lewis‘s stellar performance and the many trophies that came his way.