Jeannette Catsoulis tells us the Oscars should embrace the lowbrow in Las Vegas CityLife:
[S]tudios spend all year milking dollars from young people only to turn around at Oscar time, overcome with shame and a newly minted commitment to quality, and nominate a bunch of old-lady favorites. (Only one of this year’s nominees is even set in this century.) Am I — gasp! — arguing for award by populism? Damn right I am: If Hollywood wants support for its sickeningly expensive, annual display of onanism, it needs to be proud of what it does best. Leave the recognition of Art to the Independent Spirit Awards and the Director’s Guild and give Oscar back to the people who keep him in business: average Americans.
She makes a compelling argument that the movies overlooked by Oscar like “Dark Knight” and “Quantum of Solace” are not just bigger at the box office — they are better.
In the future, the organizers should give Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin co-hosting duties (with no restrictions on the jokes), have Matt Stone and Trey Parker write the intros, give Stan Lee as many awards as possible and invite Miley Cyrus and the Jonas clones to sing the nominated songs.
Christopher Orr also objects to stuffiness of the nominees at The New Republic, which he describes as “the mushy middle, a showcase of high-toned, politically palatable films meticulously engineered to approximate art.”
“WALL-E,” for my money the best film of the year, was relegated to the animated-film ghetto from which only “Beauty and the Beast” has ever emerged. “The Dark Knight”–which, for all its flaws, was an ambitious, fascinating work of pop mythology–will have to content itself with whatever technical awards it can scrape up. (Best Visual Effects! In your face, “Iron Man!”) And even as the Academy ignored the summer’s big mass-cultural phenomena, it simultaneously managed to skip over the fall and early winter’s quieter, more thoughtful indies–“The Wrestler,” “Rachel Getting Married,” and the bleak, bewildering “Synecdoche, New York.”
Dana Stevens in Slate finds the “aestheticization of Indian poverty unsettling” in “Slumdog Millionare” and is bothered by the “icky premise” of “The Reader.” She wistfully hopes for more “weirdness,” not just in the movies but from the actors, to make it more fun to watch.