Friday, February 26, 2010

Academy Awards, The Way They Were Meant to Be

As much as they break my heart every year, I can' help but be an Oscar junkie. The forced smiles of generosity stinging the heavily made-up faces of the losers. Women tripping on dresses that cost more than most of the films nominated in the Best Screenplay category. A young starlet proving that either a) reading from a teleprompter is hard or b) she's illiterate. Jack Nicholson patiently waiting for the party to end and boozin' to start. The inevitable obituary montage complete with applause-o-meter, only slightly more tasteful than the typically garish musical numbers that try to force choreography on.

Yup, I love 'em, but you know what would make me love them more? If instead of this Vera...

We got this one:

Sadly, she never had a chance for Joshua, nor her fine work beating up a little girl in Orphan. Unless, of course, we're talking Doll House Oscars , where we judge the current Academy nominees the right way: based on the past genre films.

Penelope Cruz
Vera Farmiga
Maggie Gyllenhaal 
Anna Kendrick

The easiest Oscar race, providing you're using the genre film formula. Mo'Nique may have played one of the most hatable villains of the year in Precious, but what else is on her resume? Half Past Dead with Steven Seagal? Should we just assume it's the same as Hard to Kill or On Deadly Ground without Alaska? Blah. Maggie Gyllenhaal doesn't fare much better, as the closest she comes to horror is being the subtle object of desire to her brother--real and fictional--in the sci-fi-ish Donnie Darko (although that is admittedly creepy, particularly if you have a fear of oversized bunnies or incest).Penelope Cruz tries to borrow some Oscar luck from Halle Berry in Gothika, but apparently some of that Catwoman charm dripped over because the movie is messier than Garfield's litterbox following a lasagna bender. Having not yet subjected myself to the Twilight series, I refuse to instantly damn the name of star Anna Kendrick, but her only other credit comes from an episode of NBC's fear itself, so meh. But let's face it: not one of these woman can hold an ice pick to Vera Farmiga, now mother to not one, but TWO genuinely evil cinematic preteens. Any woman who birthed the sociopathic piano prodigy Joshua is not to be trifled with, something she further proved by going head to head with evil Esther in the movie she SHOULD have been nominated for, Orphan. That’s right, I’ll say what you’re all thinking.

Matt Damon
Woody Harrelson
Christopher Plummer
Stanley Tucci
Christoph Waltz

I’m almost tempted to throw out all other criteria and just give my firstborn cat to Christoph Waltz, but that implies overlooking Christopher Plummer’s contributions to the horror genre, namely a straight-to-video Canadian slasher called The Clown At Midnight. The sight of Captain Von Trapp dressed like Pagliacci on a murder spree in an opera house trumps even a twinkie hunting zombie fighter Woody Harrenlson, Talented Mr. Damon, and Monkey Shining Tucci. Hamlet with a clown nose? That my friends, is a bingo.

Sandra Bullock
Helen Mirren
Carey Mulligan
Meryl Streep
Gabourey Sidibe

Perhaps the weakest selection on the ballot, as not one of these admittedly talented---if cursed with bad agents--actresses have any genuine genre films of note to their name. You could stretch the idea of Precious to call it a certain form of urban horror, but that's something of a cheat and by something, I mean total. Similarly, the ingenue Carey Mulligan needs an education in genre choices, since aside from what I assume to be a hard-boiled British mystery movie based on an Agatha Christie tale (I assume this because IMDB credits the title as Agatha Christie Marple: The Sittaford Mystery), she's got nothing. Sandra Bullock's 28 Days is often confused for another little film, but contrary to The Office's Pam and probably many a video renter without sharp reading skills, there are no infected cannibals to be found in the rehab center. For that alone, we'll discount any other genre cred she may have tepidly earned for The Net or, dear me, The Vanishing.  That leaves us with two of the classiest dames in pictures, neither of whom  really has a genuine horror to claim. Helen Mirren danced for Malcolm McDowell’s Caligula and cursed King Arthur in John Boorman’s fantastically dark Excalibur, while Meryl Streep racks up the deeply black comedy points for Death Becomes Her (an actual Oscar winner!…for special effects) and She-Devil. I suppose Streep wins an extra point for earning legendary (to us horror fans) director Wes Craven with a nod for Music of the Heart, besting Mirren and the most awesome child death of all time in Caligula, but it’s a lackluster win. I guess this really was a bad year for women in the movies after all.

Jeff Bridges
George Clooney
Colin Firth
Morgan Freeman
Jeremy Renner

Now I love The Dude more than a White Russian made with skim milk, but Jeff Bridges, I regret to inform you that your fine work in such classics as TRON and, um, movies like King Kong and The Vanishing simply don’t come close to some of the contributions from your competition. George Clooney once shook his ebony curls all over the ‘80s in both Return to Horror High, and, far more impressive than any bloody scone eaten by Colin Firth, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! Note the lack of exclamation point in Pride & Prejudice, thank you. Morgan Freeman gets a solid vote for his grizzled Detective Sommerset in Se7en, but you’d have to be a vegetarian cannibal gone loopy from anorexia to compare anyone to Jeremy Renner. Not only did the Current It Boy play a believably likable military hero in 28 Weeks Later, he also crawled under many a skin with his creepily spot-on work as the titular villain Dahmer. Hand him the statue please (just fill it with chocolate rather know).

So non-Academy member readers, any predictions on who should take home the fake genre earned gold?

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