Monday, January 29, 2007

random epiphanies

OK, so I just realized a few things tonight:

(SPOILERS, for the record, if you haven't seen Volver)

First of all, I saw Volver again. Still great... A- all the way. But I suddenly realized the obvious reason why it was snubbed: the man-hating. Sure, it is largely without malice, and treated in a beautifully humane way, but when you get right down to it, this film is anti-male. Or at the very least, staunchly pro-female... to an extent that most of Pedro's movies haven't been. He's playing to the base here, so to speak. The films doesn't seem to be begging for males to love it (straight ones anyway). So no wonder the male-skewing oscar vote didn't go for it. It's also no wonder that Pedro's most oscar'ed film so far (Talk to Her) is the one about straight men.

For a point of reference re: oscars and man-hating, see the alleged man-hating in Thelma & Louise. I firmly believe that there was no such hating; it was a tale of female liberation, yes, but there were some strong, even saintly, male characters, and the female leads were seen as being just as flawed as the men. But Thelma & Louise missed out on a best picture nom largely because it was perceived as being too radical and too male-bashing. So you can imagine how male voters must feel about Volver.

It's the kind of thing that appeals to critics and gets plenty of good reviews, but would men really vote for it over other things when given the choice? I'd bet not. And I wouldn't really blame them. It must be hard to identify with a film wherein the only representatives of your sex are portrayed as lazy, horny, incestuous rapists. Yes, there is the one guy in the film crew who Raimunda has that crush on, but he's not a major character and doesn't leave much of an impression. Far more crucial are the two incestuous rapists that get the plot moving (even if one of them's already dead).

Plus the film's whole aesthetic is very female. Unrelentingly so. And while all of Pedro's movies lean that way, many (including the oscar-winning ones) have male-friendly hooks. All About My Mother is about mothers and sons. Talk to Her is about male bonding. But Bad Education is VERY much about gay men, and Volver is VERY much about women. And women only. Even Bad Education had other aspects to it, like the indictment of the hypocrisy of organized religion and the twisty meta-narrative about filmmaking. But Volver has no such flourishes; it is entirely about women and their everyday lives. If All About My Mother was about mothers and sons, Volver is about mother and daughters. And sisters. And aunts. And female bonding. So even if men aren't outright offended by the picture, they must find it hard to relate to, and certainly hard to LOVE. And love is what wins you votes.

So, just as I doubt women are giving The Departed many votes, I doubt many men are voting for this. Hence its conspicuous absense in the foreign film category. It's different when you're voting for the sexy, affable Penélope Cruz, but - just like with Brokeback and Ang Lee - putting your seal of approval on the film itself is harder.

Haha. I say all this as if I'm not a man myself. Shame on you, Pedro, for making me choose sides. Well, I guess I did that myself. Whatever.

(and P.S. if this is old news to any of you, it's new to me, so shut up and just let me have my fun)

Anyway, the other random thing I realized is that there are not one, not two, not three, but FOUR contemporary fillms nominated for best picture this year. Crazy, huh? No wonder they aren't racking up the tech noms. Art direction, costumes, cinematography, etc. have never been too fond of 21st century stylings. I'd like to say it's that they're thinking for themselves this year, but I feel like their shunning of the best picture nominees is really just indicative of the same old trends.

Sigh. Who was I kidding with that last post? I'll be blogging forever... though I'm trying not to... really...



Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

Possibly, I suppose. It does seem actively anti-male whereas All About My Mother was all about women but not really for or against them.

But, the fact remains that the foreign language branch (well, the random assortment of people who do the nominating and voting) is very small and there's a very good chance that there is a fair share of women.

...I dunno.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Michael Parsons said...

Interesting point. Still doesn't make up for the fact that it was snubbed. Maybe it was a case of everyone assumed everyone was going to vote for it. Strange that so many of the Best Actor nominees this year hold their films only nomination, same for Penelope.

3:49 PM  
Blogger adam k. said...

Yeah, even weirder is the fact that the one actor nominee whose film DOES have other noms is Leo for f***in' Blood Diamond.

I'm pretty sure the man-hating is the main reason why Volver's gone. I'm sure its being the presumed frontrunner also played into the snub to an extent, but if that's all it was, then no frontrunner would ever be nominated for anything. That alone is no explanation for a major snub.

And a "fair share" of female voters does not get a film nominated if men don't vote for it. If half the pool is men, and most men don't vote for you, or don't vote for you enthusiastically, then you're at a severe disadvantage. Anything that turns off a significant portion of the voter pool has a tough road to nominations. Look at the difference a few homophobes made with BBM. Even if men are only half the voters, that's huge. HUGE.

I don't get why this doesn't make sense to people.

8:48 PM  
Blogger adam k. said...

Come to think of it, I bet the female vote played into why Leo was nominated for Blood Diamond and not The Departed. I just don't think women gravitate toward macho gangster stories. They'd be much more likely to go for Leo all tanned and heartthrobby in a preachy history lesson where learns to be a good person.

But I also think Leo in The Departed still had more votes than at least Ryan Gosling, but still fewer votes than the other Leo.

8:57 PM  
Blogger JavierAG said...

I wouldn't say it's anti-male but it sure is at its weakest when dealing with men (the filmmaker who sort of flirts with Cruz = not convincing).

I dunno. I think the likely cause here is that for the first year the edgy New York critics were brought to vote for the foreign film category, and this clearly shows in choices like "After the Wedding" or "Indigenes".

I'm very happy that Costume is embracing contemporary styles again. Cinematography has always been kind to progressive, modern work though.

2:16 PM  
Blogger adam k. said...

Javier, hat is unconvincing about the male filmmaker? He's barely even there. He has nothing to do unconvincingly.

But I think it's funny that you think the least convincing part of the film is the one man in it who's not an asshole.

Don't only academy members vote on oscar nominations? Who are these New York critics who are voting? Strange.

7:08 PM  

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