2013 Oscar Nominations and some SFF Links

The 2013 Academy Award nominations have been announced and once again I am completely underwhelmed by the nominees. The only film I actually care for and am happy to see nominated is Beasts of the Southern Wild. Not that it has any chance to win, Lincoln and Tarantino’s fake Django are going to squash it. And what’s with the Academy’s love affair for Michael Haneke? There are few directors whose work I dislike more vehemently than Haneke’s. Tarantino, Lars von Trier, Fassbinder, all of them have some redeeming features and the occasional film that’s good. Haneke is just awful.

And no nod for Intouchables at all, not even in the foreign language category? Never mind that Intouchables was a huge critical and commercial success worldwide and the highest grossing film of 2012 in Germany (and likely many other European countries). Meanwhile, the highest grossing film in the US, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, doesn’t even make it into the German top ten and is beaten even by the German made comedy Türkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for Beginners). Trying to pass off Cleveland as Stuttgart doesn’t win you many fans in Germany. Though to be honest, the most common reaction to The Avengers in Germany was a big fat “Who cares?”. I don’t think anybody I know in real life watched the movie, no friends, no students, no relatives, nobody.

Steve Buchheit has some interesting things to say about media violence and realism and the lack thereof. Found via Jay Lake, for whose ongoing medical expenses there’s currently a fundraiser going.

Gail Z. Martin has a nice article about why (fictional) heroes are important at Disquieting Visions. Found via SF Signal.

The Atlantic has an article on the evolution of SF covers from the pulp era to the 1970s. I’d really love to try making one of those psychedelic covers one day, but first I need the right book.

More on the subject of SFF covers, Harper Voyager will reissue several SFF classics with striking new minimalist covers in the UK.

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8 Responses to 2013 Oscar Nominations and some SFF Links

  1. Pingback: [links] Link salad is still baffled about yesterday | jlake.com

  2. I quit watching the Oscar presentations for years after they stiffed The Color Purple for that horrendous soap opera Out of Africa back in 1986. That’s just they way they are — nominations go not to the truly best films, but rather to the films that the Academy feels we SHOULD like.

    In 2007 this was really brought home when one of the best performances ever (and not just of 2006) was completely stiffed by the Academy because it was in a long-running movie franchise. There is absolutely no way one can watch Daniel Craig’s incredible performance during the torture scene in Casino Royale and seriously tell me with a straight face that it wasn’t one of the top five performances of that year (or top five performances that decade, for that matter).

    Latest outrage? Same actor; same franchise. Skyfall was an absolutely incredible film that rewrote the whole spy genre and redefined a character that’s been part of cinematic history for half a century. Yet no major award nominations for actors, screenplay, direction, or for Best Picture? Are they kidding? I don’t review a lot of movies in my own blog, but you’d better believe I reviewed that one with gusto.

    By the way, speaking of movie reviews, I also once reviewed a German film I thought positively outstanding — Nordwand (2010). Can’t believe that got ignored by the Academy in 2011, and the insipid 127 Hours (2008) received six nominations — three in major categories — back in 2009. Although the films have similar themes, Nordwand was vastly superior in all fronts while 127 Hours seemed . . . well, like it ran on and on for 127 hours.

    • Cora says:

      Unfortunately, performances in franchise films, action flicks and the like, no matter how good, don’t garner nominations, unless the actor in question is elderly and might die before getting nominated again or already dead. Does anybody think Heath Ledger would have won an Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight (which was excellent, and I don’t even like the film), if he hadn’t died shortly before?

      As for Nordwand, that film fell afoul of a little known rule that every country may only put forward one movie for the foreign language award. And in 2010, Germany put forward The White Ribbon by the aforementioned Michael Haneke. Now I don’t like The White Ribbon at all, but since it was considered serious and important, it was nominated. Even though Nordwand was better.

      But the foreign language category is generally even more of a joke than the rest of the Oscars. Two of the most critically and commercially successful German films of the past 15 years or so, Lola’s Run and Good-Bye Lenin (which is actually the third highest grossing film of all time), didn’t even get nominated in the respective years, whereas the insipid Nowhere in Africa (think Out of Africa with German Jewish emigres), which was only put forward because it was a horrid year for German film, actually won a couple of years before. Aimee and Jaguar from the 1990s is another example. A lovely film that was even about the holocaust, i.e. a serious and important topic. Steven Spielberg reportedly cried when he saw it. But it did not get nominated, because it was a lesbian lovestory and apparently, lesbians were not yet acceptable at the time.

      I totally agree with you on The Colour Purple versus Out of Africa BTW. Out of Africa literally bored me out of my mind.

  3. Daniela says:

    We don’t know each other in real life but I watched Avengers (more than once even) and so did a number of my friends, but we are a bunch of Fantasy/SF and Comic geeks.

    I actually liked Avengers a lot despite the Stuttgart snafu. The fact alone that someone had the idea to pick Stuttgart as the location for a technological company (which makes sense) instead of going with the more well-known Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin or Hamburg gets one points in my book.

    Most of the time I don’t really care for the Oscars. It’s way too US focused and often ignores really exceptional movies for reasons no-one knows. I guess it’s a lot of internal politics and ‘Vetterleswirtschaft’ as we down south like to call it.

    • Cora says:

      Come to think of it, a couple of my geeky university pals may well have watched The Avengers, especially since there are some comic and Joss Whedon fans among the bunch. But I don’t see them all that often these days and when I did see them, there certainly wasn’t any geeking out about The Avengers. By contrast, we just had a geek-out about The Hobbit at the monthly translators’ meeting a couple of days ago.

      I agree that actually naming Stuttgart rather than Berlin (because everything in Germany happens in Berlin, don’t you know?) was a neat move, though it was still Cleveland. But the reason I didn’t go to see The Avengers was that I intensely dislike both Captain America and Thor in any form, so much that even the presence of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man (lovely performance of a character I never paticularly liked in the comics) couldn’t make up for it. I may catch it on DVD or TV sometime, but didn’t bother with the cinema.

      I totally agree with you on the US-centredness and weird internal politics of the Oscars. There were several cases where the flat out best film or performance was ignored, because the actor/director/producer had apparently been caught doing drugs or pissed off someone important.

      • Laran says:

        I don’t think Stuttgart is so very far out of the American horizon because it was in the American Occupation Zone* and has had (still has?) an Americal Army Base nearby. Therefore I am not surprised at all that it got chosen.
        I would have been surprised at Jena or Erfurt or Saarbrücken …

        • Cora says:

          By the reasoning, Bremerhaven would have been a logical setting, too, since they used to have a US Army base. Ditto for Osterholz-Scharmbeck, only that no one can pronounce the name. Though come to think of it, Bremerhaven was mentioned as the site of some supernatural phenomenon in the old X-Files spin-off Millennium. My friends and I got a kick of noting all the errors in that paticular episode back in the day.

          Though I agree that Stuttgart is closer to the horizon of the average American than Jena or Erfurt or Saarbrücken.

        • Daniela says:

          I’d completely forgotten about that but you’re right, Stuttgart actually has several Army bases. So maybe it was just a coincidence that they also picked a town that’s know for having innovative tech-companies.

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