As you may or may not know I’ve been slowly chipping away at a podcast memoir of sorts for you dear readers as a way to mark the last twenty years of Oscar coverage. Many of you were around in 2011 and will remember much of what went on. This was the year I first went to Telluride, the year I took my daughter to Cannes, and went to the Oscars for the first time as a member of the press.
It was also the year that The Help was nominated for Best Picture and almost won Best Actress for Viola Davis. As readers of the site will remember, that turned out to be a divisive subject on the site.
It was also the year of Martin Scorsese’s magnificent Hugo, and David Fincher’s equally magnificent The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. One got in under the Academy new rules of switching the ten nomination slot back to a random number between five and ten, and one didn’t.
Dragon Tattoo was a film that should have been nominated but never would have been nominated – if you get my meaning. It has resonated with audiences, and especially the younger generations, more than any film nominated for Best Picture in 2011, including the year’s winner, The Artist. I find this to be true with most of Fincher’s films – they don’t fit into the box an Oscar contender, or winner, requires. Instead they find their own place to stand and little by little people find their way towards them.
Remember, Best Picture contenders aren’t usually films that stand the test of time. There is no way to decide that except to wait it out, year by year, so see how a film is remembered. In general, the Oscar Best Picture nominees barely last the year after they’re nominated, let alone stand the test of time. That’s because they have to work in the time they’re seen, be well liked across the board, and win a consensus vote. Critics have a particular way of winnowing down the choices but those don’t necessarily last either.
I guess it depends on how you measure worth. Momentary joy or lasting resonance. To me, because of the collaboration of Fincher/Rooney Mara and the Trent Reznor/Atticus score continues to excite and resonate as the years pass.
I have to post the great description by The Art of the Title for the opening of Dragon Tattoo:
The beat sidles in: a throbbing arrhythmia peppered by desperate, howling vocals, and then that ooze. That viscid, black ooze that seeps into everything, penetrating crevices, dribbling into lips and eyes, suffocating and sensual and silent. Each ebony form is made osmotic — surging and melding, torn apart and punctured, ensnared, set ablaze — thrashing in the deep. Through flashes of embers and murk, sticky vines creep, hands grapple, foul petals unfurl, and sable fists inflict their fury.
In this elegantly violent title sequence, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Karen O’s version of “Immigrant Song” swells when coupled with Blur Studio’s monstrous fantasy in David Fincher’s newest offering, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.