Commentary Magazine


Topic: Paolo Sorrentino

And the Best Picture Oscar Goes to … Everybody

I hate the new Best Picture scheme. Sure there are always laudable efforts that get overlooked when you reduce the nominees to five in number, but this list makes it seems as if all you had to do was get your film uploaded onto YouTube and you were in:

“Avatar”
“The Blind Side”
“District 9″
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”
“Up in the Air”

Where’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans? Or Confessions of a Shopaholic?

And how is it that five of those Best Picture nominees didn’t also rate Best Director nods? Were they first-rate films helmed by second-rate talents?

What makes this all the more obnoxious is that the best film of 2009 is missing altogether: Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo. In case you haven’t seen it (which is almost a sure best), imagine that Federico Fellini, Quentin Tarantino, Ken Russell, and Oliver Stone collaborated on a fictionalized account of former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti’s career, and you’re almost there. Fast, funny, witty, creepy, telling — with an extraordinary performance by Toni Servillo, who plays Andreotti as Renfield to his own Dracula.

Oh well. I console myself that the greatest director this country ever produced, Orson Welles, never won a Best Director Oscar. (At least the second best, John Ford, won four, almost as a kind of compensation.) And of course, that Red Buttons never got a dinner…

I hate the new Best Picture scheme. Sure there are always laudable efforts that get overlooked when you reduce the nominees to five in number, but this list makes it seems as if all you had to do was get your film uploaded onto YouTube and you were in:

“Avatar”
“The Blind Side”
“District 9″
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”
“Up in the Air”

Where’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans? Or Confessions of a Shopaholic?

And how is it that five of those Best Picture nominees didn’t also rate Best Director nods? Were they first-rate films helmed by second-rate talents?

What makes this all the more obnoxious is that the best film of 2009 is missing altogether: Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo. In case you haven’t seen it (which is almost a sure best), imagine that Federico Fellini, Quentin Tarantino, Ken Russell, and Oliver Stone collaborated on a fictionalized account of former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti’s career, and you’re almost there. Fast, funny, witty, creepy, telling — with an extraordinary performance by Toni Servillo, who plays Andreotti as Renfield to his own Dracula.

Oh well. I console myself that the greatest director this country ever produced, Orson Welles, never won a Best Director Oscar. (At least the second best, John Ford, won four, almost as a kind of compensation.) And of course, that Red Buttons never got a dinner…

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