Oscar predictors like to complain that the ludicrous number of movie awards handed out in December and January make the Academy Awards themselves too predictable, but let’s give credit where it’s due: This year, critics helped to create a remarkably diverse field of candidates—eleven different actors have won prizes so far. So there’s really no excuse for Oscar voters to resort to autopilot nominations. But when have Oscar voters ever needed an excuse?
Just before today’s 5:30 a.m. press event announcing the Golden Globe nominations, a Hollywood Foreign Press Association arranger wearily droned into the microphone, “We’re three minutes away. Can we get talent back in the room, please?” Dude, it’s the Globes: Talent was never in the room. And talent, taste, even the movies themselves seemed to have little to do with the relentless blare of nomination announcements — the Broadcast Film Critics Association Critic’s Choice nominations on Tuesday, the Screen Actors Guild nominations on Wednesday, the Globes this morning — that made every day feel like Christmas. That is, if what was under the tree included several empty boxes and a couple of immaculately wrapped turds.
Last week, while seeking evidence of how quickly Academy Awards campaign rhetoric can hit bottom, I came across the following Huffington Post headline. I know it’s still early, but we may have already found, in five words, the perfect storm of hysteria, prematurity, and inaccuracy. Here’s the headline:
“Madonna Bombs; Oscar Hopes Dead?”
Let me offer a word-by-word translation, since unless you are dangerously fluent in awards hyperbole, this announcement should be completely incomprehensible to you. “Madonna” is Madonna. She has made — meaning directed, but not starred in — a movie called W.E. “W” stands for Wallis Simpson; “E” stands for King Edward VIII, so in historical terms, this is a movie about the romance that caused the British abdication crisis in 1936; in movie terms, this is a spinoff of The King’s Speech that’s all about Colin Firth’s sneering Nazi-symp asshole brother, except now he’s a good guy. Even though Madonna has enough psychic power to have successfully mind-wiped the world’s population 10 years ago into believing that she is the descendant of a lovely old-money family from Sussex instead of a crabby Italian lady from Michigan, this particular piece of image alteration may be too tall an order.