The Oscars have come around again, and they are as oh-so-very-serious as ever.
A man watches his wife die. A soon-to-be-assassinated president fights slavery. A woman hunts a mass murdering terrorist. A poor girl in poverty has to fend for herself. Quentin Tarantino. Thank goodness for the people with anger issues, because without them there wouldn’t be even the smallest trace of levity here.
Let’s give a tip of the hat to David O. Russell. It took him massive star power and a script dangerously close to equating mental illness to quirkiness to get some laughs involved.
The Academy loves its dusty period pieces, conflicted men of power and high-stakes political thrillers. Anything averaging at least one laugh per minute need not apply.
We’re left to ask where the laughs are. Comedies can’t really be so unworthy. They have to merit more than maybe one nomination per year.
The 2011 movie “50/50” was a prime example of a comedy that. It even had a serious undertone—cancer. Did they tell the Academy about the cancer?
Then there were the performances: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the best actors out there; Seth Rogen in one of his finest performances yet; and the breaking-out Anna Kendrick in a fine, awkward-as-ever role.
There was no nomination for “50/50,” though, just as there wasn’t one this year for “Pitch Perfect,” “Bernie,” “Goon,” “21 Jump Street” or anything other than “Playbook.” There probably won’t be one for “This is the End of Anchorman: The Legend Continues” next year, either.
It’s a shame, and it really isn’t fair.
For one, there’s the degree of difficulty. Think for a second about how hard it is to make a good comedy. Count how many great comedies come out every year. There aren’t a lot; that’s one reason the great ones last for so long. When it comes to the ratio of good movies to bad, far more dramas aren’t so bad. Comedy weighs heavily on the bad side.
Bad comedies litter Netflix. Bad comedies are offensive in their awfulness; bad comedies are memorable. Bad dramas are merely forgotten. It’s much harder to make a movie that’s consistently fun.
I don’t mean to dis the nominated films—at least, not all of them. Any movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis is worthy, and I’m sure a film from the twisted mind behind “Funny Games” is just great fun.
There’s no reason we can’t fit in at least one more “50/50,” “Bridesmaids” or “Easy A” in there.
Sure, genitalia jokes and crude banter don’t necessarily jive with the Academy’s normal bread and butter of stilted super-seriousness and such. There is an art to those jokes, though, and to keeping the good jokes coming for an hour and a half.
Kick back, Academy. Loosen that tie and let yourselves live a little.
Also, while we all admire “Lincoln,” can we at least admit we don’t actually like it? That should count for something, right?