What YOUR Best Picture Choice Says About YOU

02/20/2012

To quote Homer Simpson, “Who is to say what is right these days, what with all our modern ideas… and products?” As I consider the status of the Oscars in the age of internet, this sentiment seems doubly true — perhaps even triply or quadruply! Now that practically every opinion of everyone who ever lived is posted online for the world to see, like the world’s biggest art project that conclusively proves post-modernism (or nihilism, however you look at it), awards that use terms like “Best” or “Worst” feel at best unnecessary. At worst, as obsolete as film critics.

Take Best Picture favorite The Arist: one person’s buoyant tribute to silent cinema is another’s one-dimensional turd on the corpse of Charlie Chaplin. Palmes D’or winner Tree of Life is both the most beloved and most hated movie of the year, a grandiose vision that cements a master’s legacy and an indulgent, ponderous death knoll for his waning career.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a taut psychological thriller, or would be if anyone had any idea what was going on ever; and Shame is a raw expose on sex addiction that hearkens to a more daring era of cinema, but wasn’t nominated for any awards because watching it is like masturbating with a cheese grater. And DO NOT get anyone started on Margaret!

Even if a movie sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with  an average review of God/10, I guarantee I could find a critic — not just a Youtube troll, but a real, respectable critic — who absolutely loathes it.

“But you gave it an A in your review!”
“I reserved the right to completely change my mind about what happened. It’s practice for when I run for president.”

Sorry, that was an easy joke.

“But you gave it an A in your review!”
“I reserved the right to completely change my mind about what happened. It’s practice for when I coach Penn State football.”

Is that too late? Or maybe too soon?

“But you gave it an A in your review!”
“I reserved the right to completely change my mind about what happened. It’s practice for when my personal beliefs are challenged by science.”

There, that one’s timeless and carefully worded to be relatable yet unoffensive. You can’t fault it.

So what’s the problem? Why can’t the dissenters just agree to disagree and even turn those differences into an exciting discussion that expands universal awareness? Well let’s take it one step further. Why don’t I just admit The Artist people are right and sit idly by while my favorite movies get trashed again and again by the ignorant masses!? Huh!? I bet you’d like that! It’s a slippery slope my friends. Somebody has to budge, and it’s not going to be me.

Fortunately, there’s another alternative; one I’ve taken from the internet. Let’s just personalize the system. Instead of arguing over what multiple people think the best movie of the year is, why not ask, “What does YOUR favorite movie say about YOU?” YOU get to pick the movie, and then YOU get to read about YOURSELF. This way everyone gets to win equally and nobody gets their feelings hurt.

The following list is a prototype based on the Best Picture nominees. I’ve taken the liberty of writing the analyses myself, from careful study and observations of critical feedback and audience responses. Please choose your favorite film (or the closest available answer) and read the corresponding description to discover who you really are. See, no subjectivity at all.

The Nominees

The Artist – You are ignorant — but blissfully so! The world is a wonderful place for you, so why bother expanding your awareness to anything that might challenge that? You probably called this “the best silent movie ever,” despite never having seen another silent movie. Don’t think about it too hard. It’s fine. You already called Life is Beautiful “the best foreign film ever” and you’d never seen another one of those either. (in your defense, that opinion held even after Slumdog Millionaire) And even though you’ve never seen Citizen Kane, you feel comfortable vehemently defending The Shawshank Redemption as “the best movie of all time!” Or as comfortable as anyone can be when there’s also Forrest Gump, Braveheart, and Titanic to consider. Man, I envy you.

The Descendants – You are rich. Heck, you’re probably a movie producer. You probably produced this movie. It’s about rich people: a subject you can relate to. You’ve been getting a lot of bad press these days, from 42 unemployable drains on society who have nothing better to do than complain you inherited every penny you have. But they don’t know what you really go through. They should watch this film and see how people like you have to deal with death, family, and responsibility just like they do; even moreso, because you have considerably more money and therefore considerably more to lose.

The Help – You are secretly racist. You might not even be aware of it, although you can’t shake the feeling that something’s amiss as you keep checking your locks whenever an African American male crosses the intersection in front of your car; or when you survey your friend group and realize every one of you is white, blonde haired, blue eyed, and hates rap. But you tell yourself there’s really no problem. After all, if you were a racist would you go see movies like this, or Remember the Titans, or The Blindside? Would you post Facebook statuses about how “moving” and “important” they are, the minute you leave the theater? Even before you get back to your gated community! Those REAL racists, you tell yourself, were terrible people. You’re going to be far more understanding if the opportunity should ever present itself.

Tree of Life – You fancy yourself an intellectual. Everyone else you’ve talked to had no idea what was going on in this film and walked out before the dinosaurs showed up; but you remained long after the credits (not unlike those brave critics who first defended Rules of the Game and 2001: A Space Odyssey). Every moment that flew over the common man’s head seemed directed right at you. How could they not understand the beauty of the poetry, the depth of symbolism, the profound feeling behind Malick’s vision? But the joke is actually on you, because there is an even higher class of intellectual who not only “got” the film — they were completely underwhelmed by it. Maybe if your IQ was just ten or twenty points higher you’d know that Malick’s worldview is overly simple and his tactics are superficial cliches ripped off of greater, far more intelligent films. Do Au Hasard Balthasar, Andrei Rublev, or L’Enfance Nue ring a bell? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Warhorse – You’re a Spielberg fanboy. Don’t worry, you’re in good company. I’ll admit I bawled my eyes out every time Samwise Gamgee delivered a dripping romantic monologue about his horse. But seriously, you actually think this was the best movie of the year? Come on! Really? Have you seen The Artist yet?

Moneyball – You are sensible. While extremists flail about in the wind, you remain firmly entrenched at the center on practically every issue. You watch sports, read books, and listen to music, but not in excess — and not the crazy stuff. You don’t own many movies but what you have are proven classics like The Great Escape, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and The Godfather. Your generic brand MP3 player contains mostly soft 70’s love songs and everything by Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Grantland is your homepage, or maybe CNN, or the website for the local newspaper if it’s edited well and doesn’t have too much of a noticeable slant… YAWN Sorry, I’m getting bored just talking about you.

Hugo – You are weird. You probably sit in a dark room at night and cry about movies you haven’t seen in two years. You wish you lived in a different time: maybe with the cashiers du cinema or the film brats or really anywhere that’s not right here and right now. You probably drug your kids to this movie and actually expected them to like it. They probably did after enduring 2001: A Space Odyssey (the novel) every night before bed and mandatory Godard and Bunuel marathons on the weekends with a questionaire afterwards. Wait, who am I kidding? You don’t have a family.

Midnight in Paris – You are cynical. Oh, you put on a good show this year, dragging all your friends and relatives to this movie to show them you can laugh and have a good time like anyone else. They might even have bought it (it’s a really likable movie). But you’re not fooling me, and you’re not fooling yourself. You weren’t moved by the frothy mood and life affirming message. You, you were responding to depressed, narcissistic authors talking about themselves; and the broad, hateful stereotypes projected on normal everyday people; and the undertones of fatalism that pestered Owen Wilson’s self-absorbed author Gil Pender. Maybe you did feel a little better during the screening, like you were taking a trip to intellectual Disneyland, but at this point is anything really going to scrape your teflon self-hate? Tomorrow everyone is going to misunderstand you again. You’ll still have a crappy childhood, and all your hopes and dreams will still be unfulfilled. But at least you’ll always have Paris, whatever that’s worth.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – You… might want to keep this one to yourself.

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