The inclusion of District 9 among Best Picture nominees has me wondering if I have any concept of quality anymore. For I found it a mediocre b-movie, often ridiculous, riddled with contrivances and dramatically anemic. Too much slamming and banging to keep the ADD crowd involved. Too little consideration given to its science fiction framework; likewise its political ambitions. Even the effects seemed chintzy. The nomination had me thinking that, had there been ten films vying for Best Picture fifty years ago, would the Academy considered pictures of District 9’s aesthetic weight to appease the masses? It was a different world then — a little more rigid and ruthless when it came to placating all tastes. No one gave a shit about being politically correct. (The term had yet to be invented.) Had the premise of District 9 been filmed in 1960, say, it would’ve been constructed within the limited parameters of its era and genre, just as the existing version is. It would’ve played the bottom half of a science fiction double feature; the few critics who’d condescend to review it would refer to it as a ‘kiddie movie’; and today it would be just as forgotten as the existing one will likely be fifty years from now.
Similarly, nominating Up — no relation, not by a long shot, to the Russ Meyer movie bearing the same name — is way too generous a nod to modern Family Viewing. Up isn’t a poor film, just slight, and appears eager to shed its niceness for forced mean spiritedness when the old man, the kid and their sidekick livestock make the acquaintance of the bad guy who resembles Kirk Douglas. Plus its allusion to the couple’s childlessness felt harsh; for a generation so obsessed with shielding its offspring, contemporary parents sure are dumping a lot of heavy realities their way. Why this is necessary in a cartoon is beyond me. If this wins Best Picture, I’ll… I’ll… well, I don’t what I’ll do, but whatever it is, it won’t be pretty.
More Oscar babble to come!