I identified no one in my description of last night’s sputtering rage parking-lot argument about The Silver Linings Playbook, but Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil has copped to being one of my opponents by posting an explanation and a response. Good on Tom for his manly candor. Here’s a portion of his article and a closing response from me:
The Silver Linings Playbook is “one of those awkward love stories about two social misfits who find salvation in each other’s arms. Arguably, you could say that Silver Linings is thus in the tradition of Slumdog Millionaire or, even better, Annie Hall (both have comedic qualities), but Oscar voters aren’t often smitten with love stories in this race, especially comedic ones. Usually, they believe Best Picture = Big Serious Picture.
“However, the most important quality a winner must have is The Rooting Factor and The Silver Linings Playbook has more passionate fans than the Philadelphia Eagles on David O. Russell‘s silver screen. We saw evidence of that earlier this month during its screenings to critics and industry chiefs at the Toronto International Film Festival, and in a parking garage last night after a screening in Beverly Hills. That’s where Jeff Wells had a pop-eyed meltdown when some of us mentioned the film’s predictable plotting (it’s obvious as hell how the film’s big dance competition will end — and, for that matter, how the love story will play out too).
“But such criticism is quibbling. Overall, The Silver Linings Playbook is extremely well made, deeply felt. It delivers. Of course, it will be nominated for Best Picture, director, screenplay. Twenty of the 23 Oscarologists polled by Gold Derby say Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress. With 17 to 10 odds, she’s a virtual shoo-in. Robert De Niro is in second place to win Best Supporting Actor, (6 to 1 odds).
“What was behind Jeff Wells’ meltdown last night in that parking garage? Why does he adore this film so much? I have a cynical answer that will probably get Jeff mad again, but I think it’s pertinent to this film’s place in this Oscar derby. The Silver Linings Playbook is the ultimate masturbatory fantasy of mature str8 guys. They feel like they can have a failed marriage or two behind them, they can even be a bit loopy in the head and cast off by the world, but, hey, somewhere, on some back suburban street, there’s a hot chick chasing him relentlessly, begging for sex.
“Now consider all of the loopy str8 geezers who dominate the membership of the motion picture academy. Hmmm…maybe The Silver Linings Playbook really is out front…and unbeatable?”
Wells to O’Neil: I honestly felt no horndog feelings for Jennifer Lawrence in this thing. But I felt enormous liking for her character’s cut-through the bullshit, straight-talking manner. She is dead solid real and steady and uncompromised every second she’s on-screen. So for me it wasn’t some fuck-fantasy thing — it’s the “I would love to meet a girl who loves me, sure, but I’d really love to connect with a woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t play games or beat around the bush and calls people on their bullshit” fantasy. Big difference.