A few thoughts about the Oscar nominations this year:
It’s time for the Academy to enlarge the performance Oscar Nominations to go with the Best Picture Oscar nods. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there is just too damn much good work being done out there in Lead and Supporting roles, particularly in the “Supporting” category. Performances that come immediately to mind are Idris Elba in “Molly’s Game,” and Jamie Foxx in “Baby Driver,” and, depending on how you want to look at it, Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, or Mela Murder in “The Florida Project.” And I’m tellin’ ya true, “Get Out” would have flopped without LilRel Howry to the rescue (I still defy anyone to tell me exactly what those white folks were doing to those black folks in that movie).
The other reason is, the nominating committee sometimes seems to get completely confused about what is a starring role and what is a supporting role. Take the horrible decision to deny Jake Gyllenhaal a nomination (and perhaps an Oscar) for “Nightcrawler” because somehow Steve Carrell was the “star” of “Foxcatcher,” not a supporting actor, albeit with a large role. The movie was Channing Tatum’s.
More egregious, they just could not see their way to nominating Meryl Streep for anything other than Lead Actress, despite the fact that “The Devil wears Prada” was Anne Hathaway’s move. Again, a meaty role, but the Academy denied Streep yet another Oscar she would have run away with in the Supporting Actress category. We need more nominations: I’d say seven or eight in each acting category. This wouldn’t exactly hurt their ratings either.
On a completely different note, if you haven’t seen “The Insult,” drop everything and go. It’s a powerful movie that touches on many themes. Here’s one that occurred to me that may not occur to everyone: The rule of law, in its most formalized sense. The movie is a Lebanese entry, and focuses on a dispute between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee. The initial insult referenced in the title is minor, but it’s ultimate resolution becomes major. But it is not, as the trailers and your imagination might lead you to believe, played out in the streets, but rather, and quite dramatically, in a court of law.
It got me thinking. The West may not have created the concept of laws, I think that one usually goes to Hammurabi, but we have refined the concept of the process of law. Look at all the countries that now have a Supreme Court, or something that functions that way. This is really America’s and the West’s greatest gift to world culture, and even in war-lord driven and tribally shattered Lebanon, that concept anchors the drama of “The Insult.”
Without realizing it, perhaps, that movie, and it’s conflict between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee, showcases how important our system is, and should awaken everyone to the assault our laws and legal process now faces under the current administration.