It’s been a funny year for Oscar movies. The trial separation between critics and the industry has widened to a full blown divorce. The Artist and Moneyball are heading down the track to Oscar’s Best Picture with the most outstanding response from critics. Decent reviews have befallen most of the other top films, but only those two received near universal acclaim. It isn’t that the critics didn’t love any movies, it’s that the movies they seemed to love can’t get arrested in this year’s Oscar race. Signs and wonders. And so it was with this that the biggest surprise in the race so far was delivered yesterday by the Directors Guild, which giveth to David Fincher and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and taketh away from Steven Spielberg and War Horse.
It must be said that War Horse probably wasn’t conceived to be an Oscar juggernaut. It was made as and marketed as a family film. The studio’s concern is to make money, which it is doing. All of the Oscar bluster around it was self-generated inside the bubble movie writers inhabit. As the presumed defacto frontrunner there was simply no way it could win — the hype destroys even the best of films. All you have to do is place a film in the frontrunner’s spot and it is ripe for overtaking. Why, because we define ourselves by how we vote. And if we vote for what everyone else is voting for what does that say about us? People who vote just to be contrary or separate themselves from the herd annoy me to no end every year: pick the movies you love and be done with it.