I hadn’t planned to feature anything about Zombieland because the premise didn’t look that promising, and it felt fairly low-rent coming off the heels of TIFF and on the cusp of Oscar prestige parade that’s about to begin marching like an army of Orcs toward us. But there’s no arguing Zombieland fared well with critics this week. No raves, but nobody outright panned it either.
A 72 for a schlock horror flick and a 74 for a Coen film are figures from two entirely different branches of cinemathematics though, and a somber reminder that entertainment value often has little to do with Oscar value. Not that the filmmakers behind Zombieland are worried about that. They willingly, gleefully burned the Oscar bridge behind them when they first typed the word ‘Zombie.’
Could it be that Scorsese made Shutter Island with the same sense of genre freedom and fun?
We can easily spot when a movie or performance is conceived as Oscar bait. We know when a filmmaker wants an Oscar. We also know when movies are made satisfy a mass audience with no attempt to be awards worthy. Maybe we should try to consider that sometimes directors and stars make movies for reasons other winning awards. “For the money,” is one reason that springs immediately to mind. “For the sheer fun of it,” might be another.