So, you know what was a great movie? Blue Valentine. Yes, you walk out of it feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut, and it may be one of the worst first-date movies of all time, but good lord, the performances are crushing, the structure is masterful, and there’s just not a moment of it that you don’t believe. Oh, and you know what else is great? Rabbit Hole. Again, not exactly an upbeat, fizzy movie, but wow, it’s so subtle and restrained but it just absolutely breaks your heart. Now, these aren’t the kind of movies that do gangbuster business based on their loglines (“Enjoy this heartbreaking tale of a couple falling to pieces!”), but it’s a good thing they’ve been properly recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so they can promote all those Oscar nominations, right?
What’s that? They each got only one nomination? Oh dear. Well, still, even getting one Academy Award nomination is a big deal, right? A movie’s got to be pretty exemplary to even be considered for that kind of award recognition. Just take a look at the full list of nominees, and you’ll see some of the other movies that got nominated this year, like… Salt? The Wolfman? Country Strong? Wait, so, at least in terms of the number of nominations, Blue Valentine is somehow comparable to Country freaking Strong?
But wait, there’s more. Tim Burton’s awful Alice in Wonderland remake? Not one, not two, but three nominations. Yes, friends, Alice in Wonderland is three times as Oscar-worthy as Rabbit Hole.
We know, we know, those films are nominated in secondary categories, technical awards and “best original song,” and the like, slots which hone in on specific (rather than overall) qualities of the picture at hand. But still. If the phrase “Academy Award nominee Country Strong” doesn’t stick in your throat…
Then again, for all of its cachet as the last word on quality motion pictures, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is far from infallible. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the first year that perfectly terrible movies have been nominated for Academy Awards. In fact, some of them have even won. Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious entries in Oscar’s Hall of Shame.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a bewildering, noisy, sloppy, cynical piece of work, a movie that sneers at the audience for 147 minutes and expects us to lap it up as entertainment — and be grateful.” So wrote Robert Wilonsky in The Village Voice, summing up the general tone of those critics unfortunate enough to draw the short straw and get sent off to review Michael Bay’s bombastic, mindless, endless sequel to his inexplicably successful 2006 effort, based on the cartoon series that was based on the toy line. (So it’s basically a sequel to a film version of a cartoon commercial.) But hey, how about that sound, eh? New York’s David Edelstein complained, “Much of the movie is computer-generated hash, weightless even with nonstop BOOMS and METAL GROANS and THUDS,” but somehow, the “film” (we use the term loosely) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound. (It lost to the year’s Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker). So, as we count the days until the next Transformers movie (there’s Transformers on the moon! Holy cow!), just remember to always note that it is the sequel to “Academy Award nominee Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”