A friend of mine once had a theory we called the “anal sex rule,” which indicated that films featuring anal sex do not win Oscars. It seemed a very good theory and one we’ve come back to again and again (so to speak). And now, Mr. Fincher seems to agree, as he told Entertainment Weekly in a candid chat — and he’s right, you can’t win. The internet is a Greek chorus that monitors and judges ALL behavior. “They” so badly wanted to cast Fincher as the asshole last year (not warm and fuzzy enough to be an Oscar winner, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth) and with Benjamin Button as the guy who “wanted an Oscar.”
“There’s too much anal rape in this movie” to get nominated, he says, half-jokingly. “I think we’re very safe.”
Fincher says he isn’t preparing for the Oscar process, but he points out that “we didn’t gear up for it last time, either” (2010′s Social Network scored eight nominations). And he’s not opposed to campaigning, especially if it helps out his collaborators. “When it came to Benjamin Button, I wanted it for Brad [Pitt] more than Brad wanted it for himself,” he says. He also wanted to support fellow Social Network nominees like screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and star Jesse Eisenberg. “I thought that kid f—ing brought it, and I was incredibly thankful to be able to be there and record that performance. It’s an exceptionally brave and tremendous performance. When a movie is celebrated in whatever way, I think it’s bad form not to engage in some way, because people shower you with goodwill. It seems only polite to acknowledge it and be thankful for it. And then there’s 90 percent of it that is, ‘If you’re going to do this Q&A, you have to do this Q&A. if you’re going to do this, you have to do that.’”
“It’s an incredible drain — a cosmic drain,” Fincher continues. “Because you have to be on your best behavior. Every little weird facial tic that you may already have is now going to come under weird scrutiny on f—ing YouTube.” As an example, he tells a story about last year’s Directors Guild of America Awards ceremony. “It’s so funny: It may have been in the middle of [King’s Speech director] Tom Hooper’s acceptance speech, somebody who shall remain nameless who was seated at the table with me got up and left. I stayed to the end and wished Tom the best, did the whole thing, got a drink, left late. Then one of these bloggers was like, ‘Fincher bolted right in the middle.’ I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I actually stayed and I got credit for bolting.’ You just can’t win.”
Last year’s debacle has faded into memory at this point — there is no arguing about which film is better — they are different movies that appeal to different people. Feeling and thinking are two very different things and most people go to the movies to be MOVED, not necessarily to think, especially tired and retired Academy members who have been there, done that. That is why I’m glad the Dragon Tattoo isn’t being considered an “awards movie” right now. The Oscar beast, I think, kills all beautiful things — but those dead things eventually sprout back up again and live better lives. We should never make the mistake of thinking that the Oscars reward the best. The best is a matter of opinion. They reward what most people can agree upon is the best, you know, like Presidents.
But last year taught me to remember that loving movies, looking forward to great works by filmmakers like Fincher, Bela Tarr, Oren Movermen, Rupert Wyatt, Lynne Ramsay, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Bennett Miller, Michel Hazanivisus and yes, maybe even Steven Spielberg doesn’t mean they are any less so because they aren’t recognized by the 9,000 in the DGA or the 6,000 in the Academy. I look forward to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because David Fincher and co. never fail to rock my world. And for me, especially after last year, that is more than enough.
Let’s never forget that choosing great films that have lasting value, that birth whole generations of new filmmakers, are usually those that never won Oscars. The most influential directors of all time — with a few notable exceptions like Billy Wilder, John Ford, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg are directors who never won Oscars. Let’s also never forget that when the Academy rewards great films it makes them look better, particularly in retrospect. When films win Oscars it doesn’t necessarily make those films look better.
For David Fincher or Martin Scorsese or any other director trying to continually do different things artistically, they can’t think about appealing to large bodies of voters — to do so is make something conventional. We keep wanting to change the Academy to suit better films, and yet — it always has to be that the filmmakers have to change to suit the Academy. That’s why there were two Best Picture winners last year, to my mind. The industry’s and the critics. I’ll stubbornly hold to that notion because I realize the end goal for both was completely different. Vive la difference.