So the mob is going apeshit over Warrior, and I think it’s just a rousing, brother-against-brother, forgiving-and-healing, emotionally manipulative MMA movie. Rank-and-file festivalgoers are creaming over The Artist…every Telluride viewer I’ve spoken to loves it…and I think it’s just a clever, assured, highly diverting curio — a tribute to the lore of black-and-white silent cinema and the divergent-Hollywood-career plot used by Singin’ in the Rain and A Star Is Born. And women of all shapes and sizes and social classes love The Help, and we all know the name of that tune.
So what am I to do? Do a flip-flop and say I was wrong but now I’ve seen the light? Twist my neck 180 degrees like Linda Blair in The Exorcist and say, “You know what I did? I saw three Best Picture contenders and failed to recognize them as such”?
I don’t think so. I know precisely how good these three films are, and they’re all con jobs. They aren’t Illuminating Truth-Tellers. They aren’t addressing the deep bedrock stuff. They’re all highly accomplished entertainments, but don’t tell me they’re serious Best Picture contenders. None of them dramatize or illuminate some aspect of our common experience all that primally or skillfully or meaningfully. They’re all about their own realms and realities — the racist South of the early ’60s, the movie business in the late 1920s, the secular world of Mixed Martial Arts. You come out the theatre saying, “Well, that was good but it wasn’t about any place I live in…later.”
If they all become Best Picture nominees, fine. If Hollywood Elsewhere gets to run ads supporting these films, great. And if one of them wins….forget it, won’t happen. Or at the very least it shouldn’t.