Perhaps, but Liam Neeson is no ordinary human, and this Alaska-set battle between man and nature is no ordinary B-movie. I love everything about The Grey; the solemnity and silliness, the characters' lack of first names, the beard icicles. Forget the fact that there are no wolves in the part of Alaska where the movie takes place. Focus on how Neeson elevates what could have been camp into his own King Lear.
On February 26, we are, I think, likely to see Viola Davis walk to the stage to accept a Best Actress Oscar for playing a maid. It will have been about 26,000 days — is that a lot or a little? — since Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for her role as Gone With the Wind’s house slave Mammy and tearfully expressed the hope that she would “always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.” How far we’ve come. How far we haven’t.
As the Academy continues to discuss an accelerated awards calendar for future Oscars (coming in 2013: Goodbye, paper ballots; hello, electronic voting and endless conspiracy theories about hacking!), there’s one thing I hope the Board of Governors will bear in mind: They need to allow one week for generalized postnomination rage. This wasn’t necessary before the Internet, which tends to reinforce in everyone the need to express, via blog, tweet, or status update, the conviction that anyone who doesn’t share their taste must by definition be dumb or corrupt. This year’s anger seems to have taken two forms:
Some years, it’s a stretch to come up with five decent candidates for Best Actress; such are the seemingly permanent inequities of the movie business. So it’s a pleasure to report that, despite a deeply problematic set of films, this year’s field is actually stronger than the roster of Best Actor candidates — the women contending for nominations this year did more with less. (But why should they have to? That’s another story.)
Just like serial killers, sociopathic children, and nudists, celebrity stalkers are much more fascinating when viewed through an artistic lens. A real person with a serious mental illness is not so much fascinating as he is sad. The people who stalk their psychiatrists, their exes, and, of course, celebrities and microcelebrities range from the seriously confused to the dangerously delusional, but the fear-inducing capabilities of a stalker may be misleading. According to The American Journal of Psychiatry, “Stalkers who are strangers and overtly mentally ill produce the most fear in victims, but those who assault are most likely to be rejected ex-partners." Maybe that’s why Fatal Attraction is more chilling than The King of Comedy.
You know that Oscar season has probably gone on long enough when it calls to mind the war in Iraq, but, in surveying the terrain this week, I was reminded of perhaps the only useful thing that Donald Rumsfeld ever said: his distinction between “known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know” and “unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
While George C. Scott might beg to differ, the trailer for Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler’s latest high-concept excuse for him to hang out with his buddies farce has confirmed what we’ve long suspected: Comic cross-dressing is back, baby! Sure, none of the other contenders appear to reach the awesomeful heights (or lows) of Sandler’s Linda Richman: The Movie, but they certainly suggest a transv— er, trend.