Zero — count ’em, zero — Academy Award nominations were given to a quartet of films that made lots of other peoples’ lists, and I know exactly why.
The films are Shame, with Michael Fassbender as a pussy hound who can only get it up for quick, anonymous sex;
We Need to Talk About Kevin, with Tilda Swinton as the mom of a murderous kid with a lot of axes to grind;
Young Adult, with Charlize Theron as a woman who cracks up and mentally regresses to an old high school obsession, to the embarrassment of many;
and Martha Marcy May Marlene, with Elizabeth Olsen as a damaged girl who flees a horrific commune.
These films are a little too “edgy” for Oscar.
Their protagonists aren’t always protagonists.
There are dirty and/or disturbing scenes.
And they don’t offer simplistic, sappy resolutions.
I mean Fassbender doesn’t end up meeting a lady he cares about, suddenly realizing that sex with an emotional connection is so much more fulfilling.
Kevin doesn’t silence all the talk with a bevy of good deeds.
The young-adult-fiction writer stays hollow, patronizing, and positively crazy.
And there are no easy answers for the haunted Martha Marcy May Marlene either.
In the post-No Country for Old Men era, Oscar doesn’t like that type of thing very often.
Oscar likes War Horse.
And yes, I know they’ve honored The Tree of Life, but that’s an epic-scale film, not a relatively obscure art-house item, and the ending … well, let me not give it away.
End of lesson.
Except to add that Melancholia, The Skin I Live In, Take Shelter, Rampart, and A Dangerous Method also got zero nominations!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 1, 2012