While audiences and film fans are open to other possibilities, the generally held opinion is that the Academy voters are big softies in the final analysis. They’re spoken about like the old relatives you’ll be inviting to Thanksgiving — condescended to, and essentially written off as having any sort of validity when it comes to choosing the best.
The subject was brought up recently on Twitter as to whether or not the Academy “could handle” The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or whether the film would be “too much” for their delicate sensibilities. When did this idea come up, that the Academy had to have things soft and mushy and family-friendly? It’s hard to know, but last year’s end game didn’t help matters. There will always be the mind vs. heart argument and there will always be the “it’s too much for them” lament. Would you take your grandmother to see that movie? Would you take your grandmother, your teenager, your maid and your boss to see that movie? Your Oscar winner almost always fits – even when it was The Hurt Locker, even when it was something as seemingly abstract as No Country for Old Men (my pick for their best choice for Best Picture in the last twenty years).
This year more than any other the popular films aren’t necessarily “Oscar movies.” The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a crowdpleasing thriller with, gasp, actual sex scenes. Real sex scenes and a graphic rape scene (two, actually). Believe it or not there are still some hard core thinkers in the Academy – there have to be, right? Let’s take a look back at films that might have seemed at first glance like they weren’t “Oscar movies” and yet, they were good enough that voters decided to break out of their stereotype.