From yesterday’s “BOFCA Showoffs” comment thread, posted last night: “The scolds on this thread are aware of the fact that prominent genre-level performances (i.e., leads in rowdy-dude comedies, CG space fantasies, heist flicks, randy romcoms, rowdy-girl comedies, whodunits, police-vs.-corrupt politician thrillers, Marvel or D.C. superhero sausage, action adventure spectacles, elevated horror films, zombie and monster flicks) are almost never singled out for year-end acting awards.
“Every now and then this kind of performance will win an Oscar (Gene Hackman in The French Connection) but for the most part it doesn’t. Remember that Joker is not a run-of-the-mill D.C. film but a moody portrait of urban nihilism and despair, so if Joaquin Phoenix wins it won’t count.
“There’s a reason, of course, why Oscar and critic-awards trophies are rarely given for genre-level performances. That’s because these performances are almost never about exposing the underbelly or parting the clouds or shedding light on some aspect of the human condition or experience, and are almost always about merely serving genre requirements or expectations. Because that’s all the scripts usually allow them to do.
“This is what Lupita Nyongo’s Us performance, however unusual or inventive, essentially does. It’s a stand-out, agreed, but it operates within a restricted arena.
“The scolds know this, but they have to play their games.”
Bobby Peru replies: “Absolutely not. It’s a parting of the clouds performance. Let me explain it to you:
“It is about the human tendency to push down our demons until they threaten to overtake us; to subvert our secret selves. It is about how the past always comes back to reclaim us if we do not deal with it. It is about reconciling our dark sides and figuring out which parts are really us. It is about overcoming those demons, however painful they may be.
“It is a hell of a performance and [a hell of a] character. That’s why it’s winning while you sit there stamping your feet. I can’t believe that you missed all of the above and are still determined to tell the rest of us there’s nothing there.”
HE to Peru: “I’m not saying there’s ‘nothing there.’ I’m saying (a) it’s basically a genre performance, (b) that Lupita’s zombie doppelganger is mainly about bugging her eyes out and speaking in a choked, raspy voice, (c) that Jordan Peele‘s script is more creatively noteworthy, and (d) that maybe some of you might want to come up for some air.”