Freelance critic and photographer N.P. Thompson blogs at Centuries Since the Day.
Given that our nation’s critics (almost all of whom are center-right) failed to champion Ang Lee’s "Taking Woodstock," Woody Allen’s "Whatever Works" and Terry Gilliam’s "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," it is scarcely a wonder that the three most engaging films of '09 were Oscar shutouts (save for "Imaginarium's" nods in costume design and art direction). Demetri Martin, Larry David and Christopher Plummer all should be in the running for best actor, instead of the current crop of granite-faced milquetoasts thrust on parade. Among Allen’s flawless cast, Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr, note perfect as Christian conservatives, most assuredly were robbed of their deserved nominations in the supporting categories. And of the actual nominees, what is there to say?
Well, it was nice to see Plummer recognized in some way, even if it’s for a bomb such as "The Last Station." Be that as it may, it is moreover nauseating to see Colin Firth’s non-performance in the disgracefully bad "A Single Man" receive a nod of any sort. The novice writer-director Tom Ford turned Christopher Isherwood’s tough-minded novella into a simplistic piece of victim art, and the overrated Firth walks through the wreckage like a somnambulist. At least the Academy ignored "A Single Man" in every other regard. Would that the institution had done so for Penélope "can’t act, can’t dance, can’t sing" Cruz’s embarrassing work in the wretched "Nine."
As for the rest, this Oscar year is no different from any other Oscar year: safe, crusty choices choke and weed out anything of genuine interest. The nominations are once again a bore -- hardly a worthy preoccupation for a right- (or left-) thinking adult.