Nathan Rabin, my resident mancrush over at the Onion AV Club, once shared a simple system he used for winning his Oscar pool every year: whichever movie filled him with the most contempt would be the Best Picture of the year. It’s a pretty cynical rule, but as I started to think about it, the evidence piled up. Titanic over L.A. Confidential. Crash over Brokeback Mountain. Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Since I’m a bitter crank, I thought I’d use this rule and see how well I could pick the winners in the major categories. In honor of Nathan, I’m calling this the Rabin Method.
The Rabin Method: Despite the fact that I don’t have a mustache, I’m going to start this with a story. On Christmas Eve, I watched The Matrix for the first time in years. Now, when this came out a decade ago, I loved it. I wanted to settle down with it. I wanted to have a bunch of little matrices with it that I could give ridiculous hacker handles to, like Triptych or Bristol. When I watched The Matrix in December, what was once fresh had become cliché. Wire Fu has been overused to the point of self-parody. Keanu’s performance, always the weakest part of the film, could no longer be ignored amidst the spectacle. Even the once razor sharp styles now looked faintly ridiculous. I didn’t dislike the movie, but I no longer love it. Which brings me to Avatar. In ten years when its apologists pop the
DVD in on Christmas Eve they’re going to be shocked at just what an empty, bloated mess Avatar is. Stripped of its gee-wizardry, Avatar’s poker-faced acting, one–dimensional characters and utter lack of anything resembling story will be thrown into sharp relief. In short, expect a big night for giant blue cats.
In a Sane World: Of the movies I saw this year, The Hurt Locker was the most original. It challenged its audience, posing questions with no easy answers. Also, there was not a single scene in which the hero rapes a pterodactyl. Thus, it has no chance. On a side note, I missed A Serious Man, so apologies if this movie is even half as good as I suspect it to be.
Actor in a Leading Role
The Rabin Method: I actively like everyone on this list except for Colin Firth, to whom I am indifferent. Yes, I know he was in Pride and Prejudice. The thing is, I have a penis.
In a Sane World: Jeremy Renner anchors a film so complex it demands multiple viewings just to unpack his psychology. He has roughly a virgin’s chance in Tijuana of making out with any hope alive.
Actress in a Leading Role
The Rabin Method: This one is easy. Though I haven’t seen the movie (and since when does one actually need to do that to accurately predict the Oscars?), Sandra Bullock wins this one in a walk. Who doesn’t love a movie about a selfless rich white woman that picks a saintly black boy at random to raise as her own? With no ulterior motives whatsoever? Man, good thing that kid wasn’t a mathlete or something lame. He’d still be in the ghetto.
In a Sane World: Either Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep. Shouldn’t they win it every year they do something?
Actor in a Supporting Role
The Rabin Method: Of the films with the nominated performances, I only saw Inglorious Basterds. It says something for the Rabin Method that this is biggest Tarantino movie of all time, despite it being his worst by far. Christoph Waltz is one of the few bright spots in this undercooked and overlong slog. It’s barely possible he breaks the dreaded Nazi Curse that allegedly robbed Ralph Fiennes.
In a Sane World: …some of these guys would be in movies I would actually want to see. Seriously, listen to this. The other nominees were in Invictus, The Messenger, The Last Station and The Lovely Bones. Am I going to shell out ten bucks for any of those?
Actress in a Supporting Role
The Rabin Method: Penelope Cruz. Are you escare? Cruz’s screen presence is an obnoxious distraction in whatever film she decides to pollute. Listen up, casting directors, either hire someone who can act or someone who’s hot. Not this wooden duckfaced homeless-man’s Salma Hayek.
In a Sane World: I would probably have more contempt for Precious, but my hatred of Penelope Cruz runs too deep. This is a case in which I’m actively using the Rabin Method despite the smart money being on Mo’Nique’s turn as the villain of Tyler Perry’s After School Special.
Animated Feature Film
The Rabin Method: The Fantastic Mr. Fox because fuck Wes Anderson.
In a Sane World: This category wouldn’t exist. You see, animated films are just films. Even ignoring that obvious fact, this category grows more ridiculous by the year. Avatar is 99% animated, yet for some reason it is considered legitimate. Ridiculous.
The Rabin Method: For a Best Director win, the director in question should have a few of his actors nominated somewhere. That’s a big part of what a director does: coax good performances out of his or her actors. Notice that Avatar doesn’t have a single cast member represented? Granted, Cameron saddled himself with the twin black holes of talent Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, but he did have pros like Sigourney Weaver and CCH Pounder in supporting roles. Sure, their characters weren’t given much to do. See, we needed more shots of fucking blue cats jumping through trees. James Cameron is a technician and nothing more. Thus, he will win and deliver another douchey acceptance speech that will make everyone regret liking his piece of shit opus in the first place.
In a Sane World: Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t have the CV Cameron does, but Bigelow is just getting started. Seriously, the woman hasn’t aged since Near Dark. Hang on… she hasn’t aged since she made a vampire movie? Yeah, that’s not suspicious. Anyway, Bigelow doesn’t need to rely on the tricks Cameron uses, instead relying on “character” and “story.” Moron. She’s going home empty handed.
I’ve decided to leave out the writing categories for a simple reason. If the mouth-breathers are right and Avatar has changed the way movies are made, then Hollywood needs writers the way Bigelow needs a stake through her immortal heart.
That’s enough bitterness for now. Next week I promise to return to things that don’t suck.
Not this wooden duckfaced homeless-man’s Salma Hayek.
Let’s see how I did!
Rabin Method: Avatar
Sane World: Hurt Locker
Reality: Hurt Locker
Rabin Method: Colin Firth
Sane World: Jeremy Renner
Reality: Jeff Bridges
Rabin Method: Sandra Bullock
Sane World: Meryl Streep/Helen Mirren
Reality: Sandra Bullock
Best Supporting Actor
Rabin Method: I didn’t really pick anything
Sane World: Ditto
Reality: Christoph Waltz
Best Supporting Actress
Rabin Method: Penelope Cruz
Sane World: Didn’t have a pick
Best Animated Film
Rabin Method: The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Sane World: I didn’t have a pick, but Up was my favorite
Rabin Method: James Cameron
Sane World: Kathryn Bigelow
Reality: Kathryn Bigelow
Looks like we live in a mostly sane world! Chalk up a defeat for cynicism!