The Return of the Disagreeables: Disagreeable No More!
he Disagreeables are back, and this time they're more agreeable!
Three years ago, the three film critics for The New York Times—A.O. Scott, Manohla Dargis and Stephen Holden—told the world, a few weeks before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did, what “the nominees should be...” There were 45 possible choices and all three agreed on just four. I think Congress does better than that. (Three of their four, all “Hurt Locker” related, would win Oscars.)
Two years ago, they were more agreeable, seven of the 45, and two would go on to win Oscars: Natalie Portman for best actress and Christian Bale for supporting actor.
They shrunk the best picture category from 10 to five last year and agreed on only 3.5 of the 40 possible nominees: adapated for “Moneyball”; and screenplay and director for “A Dangerous Method.” The half was for Brad Pitt, whom all three agreed on for different pics: “Moneyball” or “The Tree of Life,” depending. None of their 3.5 won squat. “A Dangerous Method” wasn't even nom'ed.
I don't know if it's a good or bad sign for the movie year that our disagreeables are so agreeable this year. Of the 40, all three agree on a record 14 nominees:
- Best Picture: “Amour” and “Zero Dark Thirty”
- Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Michael Haneke (“Amour”)
- Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”), Jean-Louis Trintignant (“Amour”) and Denzel Washington (“Flight”)
- Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”)
- Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”) and Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”)
- Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (“The Master”)
- Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”) and Michael Haneke (“Amour”)
- Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Most of the agreement this year stems from two movies, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Amour,” neither of which has opened for anyone not in an abbreviated city: N.Y. or L.A. So it goes. The movies with critical buzz keep opening later and the Oscar nominations keep getting announced earlier. The official noms are now just 10 days away by Nathaniel's clock. One day the Academy will announce and we'll all go, “Huh?” Or *yawn*.
Manohla was the one who withheld most of the “Lincoln” love: no best picture nom, nothing for Kushner, and either Jack Black (“Bernie”) or Denis Lavant (“Holy Motors”) over Daniel Day-Lewis. Yet somehow she found all this love for “Silver Linings Playbook.” I think some critics get caught up in auteur love—witnesss the agreement last year on the less-than-dangerous “A Dangerous Method”—and no amount of logic or argument will stand in the way.
Supporting tends to be where the good surprise nominees come in. I like A.O. Scott's nom of Charlize Theron for “Snow White and the Huntsman,” for example. But the most contrarian nomination has to go to Manohla (of course) for the voicework of Hugh Grant in “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.”
So all that agreement—good or bad? Probably because I feel this way already, I think it's a bad sign that the Disagreeables are so agreeable this year. It indicates that there's not many great 2012 movies from which to choose. They agreed, in the end, because that had nowhere else to go.
The Disagreeables: Scott, Holden, and the mysterious, unphotographable Dargis.