The Return of the Disagreeables
wo years ago, I entitled a blog post about the three New York Times film critics’ annual Oscar picks “The Disagreeables,” since its critics, A.O. Scott, Mahnola Dargis and Stephen Holden, agreed on only four nominees out of 45 slots. Three were “Hurt Locker”-related and they all wound up with Oscars: best pic, best director, best original screenplay. The fourth was Colin Firth, best actor, for “A Single Man.” Missed by a year.
A week ago Sunday, The Disagreeables returned in an equally disagreeable mood. Of the now-40 slots (five each for eight categories: best picture, director, actor, actress, plus the two supporting and screenplay options), they agree on ... three and a half. Each has both Christopher Hampton (“A Dangerous Method”) and Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (“Moneyball”) nominated for best adapted screenplay. Each has David Cronenberg (“A Dangerous Method”) nominated for best director. The half is Brad Pitt for best actor, whom they all choose but for different roles. Scott goes “Tree of Life,” Dargis and Holden “Moneyball.”
Since agreement is boring this is how you want it. My disagreement with the Times has to do with placement. They line them up in order of status within the Times—Scott, Dargis, Holden—when I’d put Holden between the other two because he seems the middle-ground between Scott’s adamant populism (“Warrior” and “Bridesmaids” as best-picture nominees) and Dargis’ equally adamant minimalism (“Mysteries of Lisbon” and “Poetry” as best-picture nominees).
Even Scott’s attempts at being outre seem conventional compared to Dargis. For best supporting actor, he chooses, among others, Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”), John C. Reilly (“Cedar Rapids”), and Andy Serkis (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”). Dargis counters with another “Cedar Rapids” player, Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Clay Davis from “The Wire”), adds the little-mentioned but quite good Jean-Pierre Darroussin from “Le Havre,” and tops it off with Cosmo the dog from “Beginners.” This last is either a bit of a cheat or payback for the fudged 1927 Oscar vote.
Two categories I’d like the Times to add for next year? Best documentary and best foreign-language film. New York gets so much more of both of these than the rest of the country. It would actually be nice to see their picks there.
I’ll do my list soon. I'll have to. The real nominees are only a few weeks away.
I can haz Oscar nom?