Hollywood Babel On!

Little Miss Sunshine

If “the little movie that could … and might”5 takes the prize, it will be due to young Abigail Breslin: “they really ought to give it to the little, or not so little, girl”7 who was “the key in it”7. Many might enjoy the moment “when the teen-aged boy finally can’t take his family anymore (we’ve all been on both sides of that),”6 but it’s worth noting that “the family at its center seemed virulently unrelated to each other except by way of Central Casting.”10 But although the “deliriously fluffy and uplifting”9 film may “lack the gravitas for Best Picture,”9 many who “hate gravitas”9 will find it “terrific”!7 In a perfect world, the five nominated pictures really could each take “20 percent each this year,”4 but the Little Miss “might creep through”4 to win. While “it bucks the trend of ignoring comedies as serious contenders,”1 Academy elders might see it as “only intermittently funny, and hardly in the same league as the other four nominees, but who knows how these people vote or what they’re smoking when they do it?”1

Letters From Iwo Jima

“Who would have imagined that the star of the Dirty Harry pictures, those neo-fascist exercises in wish fulfillment, would make a great film about the Second World War, and not only that but one of greatest Japanese films about the Second World War as well?”2 Even so, it’s not a shoo-in for old Clint. “Eastwood has had so many honors and won so frequently, it might be working against him this year.”3 And don’t forget, “the younger Academy voters think Iwo Jima is a sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, and the older voters who remember World War Two and haven’t died off yet will not sit through any movie more than two hours long in Japanese.”1 In other words, “We’re ‘turning Japanese’ but not that quickly!”5

The Queen

So much has been said about Helen Mirren’s décolletage, we might forget that she managed to “look like QEII even from the back.”6 Talk about a movie being “perfect within the parameters it set for itself”!10 After all, “virtue’s a cheap thrill, art isn’t.”2 For sure, Ms. Mirren’s performance is key to “the most striking and unusual of the films”4 nominated. But while “Mirren is worth the tiara”5, “the picture of itself has been overshadowed by her performance.”3 Still, “if it won, The Queen would be acceptable.”3 “For academy members, all the people, it may have been the most incredibly entertaining film of the year.”4Though “most likely the film will get nothing.”5

Babel

“The thing is, there is no downside in being wrong this year, and no upside to being right.”5 So everyone wins in the argument over the Crash of this year, right?! Even if you haven’t seen it, one suspects we all “would warm most to it, its imperfections notwithstanding—but that remains in the realm of the hypothetical.”10 The Pitt/Blanchett/Morocco/Tokyo/Mexico vehicle “is the best—as well as the most important, original and memorable film of 2006,”1 but that might mean “it will not win anything more than enthusiastic applause. Besides, they can’t pronounce it.”1 Or maybe “it’s pretentious!”4 No doubt “it’s a type of typical, multi-character film that lately they seem to be attracted to,” but it’s also “well-done, accomplished, and that’s what makes it a very strong contender.”3

The Departed

Is Scorsese’s bid “bloody excellence apropos of nothing?”5 A “quite derivative, old-fashioned gangster film, with no resonance, no meaning”?4 “The most overrated movie of the year and besides, a movie Scorsese keeps making over and over again”?1 Will he “be able to overcome the curse of Ordinary People?”8 “They don’t usually nominate bang-bang films”, but “he’s a great New York artist and it’s about time he had his night.”8 Oh, PS: “Little Children should have been nominated.”7

The Key

1—Rex Reed; 2—David Rieff; 3—Andrew Sarris; 4—David Thomson; 5—David Carr; 6—Jane Smiley; 7—Robert Stone; 8—David Remnick; 9—Simon Doonan; 10—Daphne Merkin.

Hollywood Babel On!