I apologize for suggesting during last weekend’s “Oscar Poker” podcast that Matt Reeves‘ Let Me In is all but finished as a potential awards contender because it fizzled at the box-office. It’s not. It’s one of the finest films of the year and one the most touching and thematically rich vampire films ever, and just because the popcorn crowd didn’t rush out to see it last weekend shouldn’t mean all that much.
I certainly shouldn’t have succumbed to the conventional wisdom, and anyone else who erred as I did needs to apologize also. It was wrong of me. It was an abdication of what columns like mine are supposed to do, which is to say over and over “most of the time the crowd has no taste, box-office performance is over-prized, and if a film is really and truly high-end then it’s really and truly high-end, and attention must be paid.”
Every so often the best and the brightest (or those who imagine themselves as such) need to step back and remind themselves that there’s a lot more more to movies than the Preakness betting-window mentality, and that we all need to step back and consider the greater scheme, and if we don’t do this we’re all just a bunch of monkeys in a cage.
In the ’60s or ’70s Let Me In could have potentially hung in there and sought to establish a box-office footing. If a 30 year-old Warren Beatty had produced Let Me In he’d be banging right now on the door of Ryan Kavanaugh (the current owner of Overture) and demanding that the film be re-released with a different marketing campaign. Now, as we all know, it’s a game of sudden death or the opposite, and more often the former.
I don’t dispute that that the Academy members have probably forgotten about Let Me In — they primarily reward films that make them cry and/or make money — but don’t forget that a war film that made a small amount of theatrical change won the Best Picture Oscar last year, so a precedent has been set. It’s certainly the responsibility of critics groups to respect and salute the year’s best films regardless of how much money they’ve made, and this should definitely be one of those times.