This is hardly a new or even a profound thought, but everyone seems to overlook the fundamental current driving the end-of- the-year superlatives, and particularly the Oscar-contender positioning. Arguing or lobbying for this or that movie as the best is not, in the final analysis, about this or that movie or even the awards that may result, but about certain visions, themes, philosophies and capturings contained in these films.
It’s not an insipid thing to recognize, salute and/or champion certain values or spiritual poems that matter to some of us in this day and age — films that express and reflect who and what we feel we are deep down. This, for me and (I suspect) many others, is what all the end-of-the-year horseshit is really about.
Just as cigarettes are “a delivery device for nicotine” (a term coined by The Insider‘s Jeffrey Wigand), good movies — the ones that are about more than craven emotional button-pushing or EED (extraordinary eyeball diversion) — are delivery devices for visions, dreams, philosophies…ways of thinking, feeling, being.
The Departed is not just a package of high-octane Scorsese flash but an idea, an immersion, a Boston street-crime theology of sorts — something that most of us were moved to let inside and reflect upon after seeing it, apart from its obvious cinematic razzle-dazzle. Ditto The Good Shepherd, The Lives of Others, Little Miss Sunshine, Children of Men…reflections and summations of what life is, might be, used to be, ought to be, inevitably is.
When The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil enthuses over Dreamgirls, he’s really saying “it’s the movie, of course, but more to the point, this is a world and a spirit that moves me…that I want to live in and share and spread around.” Substitute any Oscar prognosticator and film and the same equation applies.