Nobody likes a movie buff around Oscar season.
After all, hell hath no fury like a fanboy scorned.
As a person who tends to get too close to the movies I really like, I often have to check my righteous fury and remind myself that my teenage-boy opinions might not hold as much water as I think they do.
But lately it seems like the Oscars, to use the new slang, have gotten sketchier and sketchier.
And this year, things seem even more off than usual.
My concern has progressed from a “questioning the opinions of the voters” level to a “concern for the mental health of the Academy.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are now elevated to DEFCON3.
I could go on about how Jake Gyllenhaal had one of the most convincing and disturbing portrayals of a sociopath to date in “Nightcrawler,” or how David Oyelowo managed to humanize a monumental figure in American culture in “Selma,” but I won’t.
The depths to which the Academy has fallen can be seen by looking at the accolades for two movies—one snubbed and one celebrated.
As you may have guessed, I speak of “American Sniper” and “The Lego Movie.”
“American Sniper” has received six nominations. Six! I went into it hoping that my doubts would be assuaged and all that positive testimony was true. I came out confused.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around the notion that that film deserved to be in the running for best of the year or that Bradley Cooper deserved accolades over Oyelowo.
I am no liberal. Anyone can attest to that. I hold no pretensions about “propaganda” and the suspicions that Eastwood is making me a puppet of the man.
No, my reasons are much simpler. “American Sniper” is just…not a good movie. It’s not bad, but it definitely ain’t good. The story is bland, and we never get to see what makes Chris Kyle really tick. Ultimately, I feel like it’s just another one of Eastwood’s Westerns masquerading as “The Hurt Locker.”
Conversely, “The Lego Movie” was something I did think would speak to the Academy. It is at its core a tribute to the imagination, not just in children but in all of us.
The concept is original, the story is madcap but well-paced, the characters are likable and it’s amazing technically. I could go on for hours.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved all the competitors for Best Animated Feature. They’re great and it’s anyone’s game. But to not even give “The Lego Movie” a nomination—the meagerest of bone-throws? It’s a crime.
The Academy had a chance this year to honor something different and special. Instead, they just stuck to their guns, afraid that their voting for a movie with a corporation’s name in it would void their “culture arbitrator” badges.
I’m disappointed in you guys.
Previously published in the print edition on Feb. 17, 2015.