In the same way that one formerly Democratic U.S. Senator (Connecticut’s Joseph Leiberman) and two conservative Democratic Senators (Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln) have stubbornly pledged to kill the public-option portion of the health care bill in defiance of common sense and against the wishes of almost everyone, I was the only Envelope Gold Derby Buzzmeter pundit to say “no” to Precious as a Best Picture finalist. In so doing I singlehandedly kept it out of the unanimous column.
I voted as I did not because Precious won’t be Best Picture nominated — of course it will — but because portions of it are so ugly and unpleasant and horrific to sit through that they literally made me convulse. Someone had to stand up and at least symbolically say no. To me the Precious crimes — i.e., the ones committed by Mo’Nique in the context of the film — are not relatable aspects of the human condition. They are so malignant that it’s very hard for me to nod and go “fine, good, well done” even within the remove of dramatic depiction.
I didn’t vote as I did because Precious isn’t a powerfully-acted film that’s finally about caring and compassion — it is that, at least in the third act — but because I feel that a depiction of parenting this cruel and sadistic and beyond-the-pale deplorable — in effect a slow murder of a child by her own mother — must be responded to with an initial vote that says “uhhm, well, okay, it’s a good film and I realize that Dave Karger and all the others are right…but not now.”
Here’s a summary of the yesterday’s L.A. Times/Envelope Gold Derby Buzzmeter poll results, which will be refined and updated as things move along.
The only two unanimous choices for Best Picture (i.e., chosen by all 20 pundits) are Up In The Air and The Hurt Locker. The other big-vote getters are Precious, Invictus, Nine, Up, An Education, Inglourious Basterds and A Serious Man.
Again….where is A Serious Man? You’d think that critics and pundits, at least, would understand that (a) now (i.e., mid November to early December) is the time to mix tea-leaf predictions with convictions and persuasions of their own, (b) a lack of soothing emotionality (and a chilly, analytical or even clinical vibe in place of same) is sometimes a hallmark of great, world-class filmmaking and (c) the fact that A Serious Man is ruthlessly brilliant and hilarious and honed like an effin’ diamond…you’d think that critics and pundits might recognize this fact and, you know, have it count for something in their calculations? No?
The leading Best Actor contender is A Single Man‘s Colin Firth, followed by Up In The Air‘s George Clooney, Invictus‘s Morgan Freeman, Nine‘s Daniel Day-Lewis, Crazy Heart‘s Jeff Bridges and The Road‘s Viggo Mortensen,
And in the Best Actress, An Education‘s Carey Mulligan is in the lead, but only a notch ahead of Precious star Gabby Sidibe. Next comes Julia & Julia‘s Meryl Streep, The Last Station‘s Helen Mirren and Bright Star‘s Abby Cornish.