Last night Sasha Stone tapped out a longish paragraph [below] that explained the idea of a hothouse flower Best Picture contender. She was responding to people who were attempting to belittle the idea of Spider-Man: No Way Home being Best Picture-nominated.
My definition of a hothouse-flower Best Picture nominee is fairly generic — one that is frail and extra delicate, and can only thrive inside a glassed-off, temperature-controlled, lovingly pampered environment…a film that would sadly but instantly start to wither and die after being exposed to the raw and unruly elements.
The hothouse flower caregivers are the virtue signallers, the secular elitists, the Passing fancies, the Drive My Car raise-high-the-roof-beam carpenters, the friends of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Annette whisperers, the Green Knight worshippers, the festival wokesters, the precious misters and constant gardeners (Eric Kohn, Jessica Kiang, Justin Chang, David Ehrlich, Anne Thompson)…the Gold Derby whores (safety in numbers)…the Telluride lovebirds who oohed and aahhed over Spencer like parents smiling at a newborn infant.
I don’t happen to feel that Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s The Lost Daughter qualifies (I think it’s a real movie…a bit weird but true to itself) but every Kelly Reichardt film is, by natural default, a hothouse flower. And the biggest hothouse flower of the entire award season, of course, is Jane Campion‘s The Power of the Dog.
You can call Spider–Man: No Way Home this or that, but one thing you definitely can’t call it is a hothouse flower.
Friendo: “The reason [certain films] aren’t hothouse flowers is that they weren’t conceived and financed to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Not every ‘small’ or independent or foreign movie, made simply to be itself, is a hothouse flower. Parasite wasn’t a hothouse flower; what happened there was a fluke. But The Power of the Dog was most definitely conceived as Jane Campion‘s Return To Oscar Glory.
“Yes, it would be absurd for Drive My Car to be nominated for Best Picture. To nominate that movie — as the rich-kid fucks on Twitter are now advocating — would be insane. The rich kids want to kill the Oscars. They want to kill democracy. They want to kill everything.
“But not every smallish film of artistic reach that plays on the fall-festival circuit necessarily meets all the criteria for hothouse -flowerdom. Sure, those films are, by definition, being positioned as potential Oscar contenders. But partly it’s an aesthetic judgment. I feel like The Power of the Dog and Belfast are hothouse flowers in no small part because they fail as storytelling.”