Can the Tree of Life go all the way to Oscar’s Big Ten? It’s a tough one, and ultimately a little depressing to think about in all honesty. Coming out of the Cannes Film Fest, it seems that the year’s best films would be selected over the course of the year until the very best remain. But we know that it doesn’t really work that way because “best” is a matter of taste. You have to choose films that will appeal to the most voters. Since they vote in the dark and there are no consequences to their own decisions, most don’t care what anyone thinks about the films they choose: they simply vote for what they like best.
Tree of Life
Whether a film just won the Palme d’Or, or whether the critics hail it as a masterpiece doesn’t necessarily mean that industry voters will go that way. The Tree of Life is more esoteric than industry voters can usually handle. They tend to vote for films that have a plot, at the very least. On the other hand, this is Terrence Malick we’re talking about – someone who is revered by major players in this industry, many of whom name him as a major influence. It was no less a shock to the system last year to see the industry snub such a critically acclaimed director as David Fincher (no director in history has ever lost the DGA heading into the race with that kind of acclaim) but Fincher and Malick are two different animals. Fincher represents the new – digital filmmaking, the video age – he carries around an iPad. Malick represents the nuts-and-bolts glory days of filmmaking — and has long since paid his dues, proved his longevity and earned his acclaim over time. But there is still the matter of “if we didn’t like it we won’t vote for it” to contend with – as every year the Academy must attempt to represent the best of the year while using judging criteria that relies on unreliable human emotions; crushes, love and lust don’t last for the long haul. But they’re unstoppable in the moment.