Do you want to feel momentarily depressed? Just for a couple of minutes, I mean? In Contention‘s Kris Tapley believes that Departures, a Japanese-produced nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, is “waiting in the wings to upset” — i.e., may take the Best Foreign Language Oscar from Waltz With Bashir.
Maybe. Not having seen Departures (i.e., nobody ever offered me a screening or a screener) I’m hardly in a position to speak about quality or the odds or anything else, although I’ll be flabbergasted if Bashir loses. But listen to Tapley’s description of Departures and ask yourself if this is really the sort of thing that people might prefer to vote for.
“It’s a beautiful film in a lot of ways,” Kris begins. “Certainly not a more artistic achievement than Waltz With Bashir but the kind of soft, safe, solid work that tends to take out the frontrunner in this category time and again.” In other words, it’s a Salieri movie and what the hell, people have shown a soft spot for the old Salieri brand around Oscar time so who knows, maybe it’ll win.
“It deals with death in a really affecting way, at once eerie, humorous and, ultimately, moving,” Kris continues. “When it threatens to pass into trite territory, it finds a way to stay fresh and alive, very human and absolutely satisfying.” Trust me — when a guy like Kris observes that a film in question “threatens to pass into trite territory,” he’s politely saying that it fucking steps into the trite swamp for a bit — period, underline, boldface.
Does Bashir flirt with trite? Uhhm, no. Does it dabble in trite for even a minute or so, glancingly, in and out before you know it? No. Then why are we talking about a film with slight traces of trite stuck to its shoe soles…why are we even talking about that film overtaking a majestic accomplishment like Waltz With Bashir?