I think of myself as a movie buff — as do my friends, who regularly ask what I’ve seen recently and what I thought — but I haven’t seen a single one of this year’s nine Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.
- Amour: Looks grim. I don’t care for grim.
- Argo: Jingoistic action film. Oddly enough, I’m not unwilling to see it, but will probably wait for the DVD.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild: I’ve heard it’s good, but I’m unintrigued.
- Django Unchained: I’ve never seen a Tarantino film (man, you think I don’t care for grim, I seriously don’t care for violent), and this wouldn’t be the place to start.
- Les Miserables: I love musicals. I love virtually all musicals. I love some musicals that the faint of heart consider unwatchable. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in seeing this — and, frankly, the production number on Oscar night made it clear that I’m not even going to watch it when it comes out on DVD. (I learned my “how bad could it be” lesson with the DVD of Mamma Mia: Never means never.)
- Life of Pi: Read the book, which I liked. I almost never see the movie when I’ve liked the book, and as much as I love Ang Lee — and I do love Ang Lee — ugh, 3D special effects magic realism, no thanks, I don’t need to make an exception to that policy for him.
- Lincoln: Steven Spielberg doing earnest history about idealized father figures? Again, no thanks.
- Silver Linings Playbook: This I do want to see — a quirky rom com set in Philly? oh yeah — but I have been unable to persuade anyone to go with, and haven’t made it a priority to go by myself.
- Zero Dark Thirty: A film justifying torture in the name of combating terrorism? See above on “grim” and “violent” and multiply by ten.
So that’s why I haven’t seen these movies. Since these also include all five of the films whose directors were nominated — and, once you add in The Master (which I haven’t seen but want to), all but three of the 20 acting nominations — I just haven’t seen the most-praised (at least by the Academy) films of 2012.
Part of the reason is circumstantial: I’m not socializing with avid movie-goers as much as I have at other points in my life. Though I’m perfectly happy to go see a movie by myself, movie-going as a social activity means that I see not only more movies, period, but also more movies that I wouldn’t necessarily see if left to my own devices (because, alas, when you go with a friend it’s not always your turn to pick).
But a much larger part of it is that I’m just not that interested in most of the movies that are coming out these days — both mainstream and indie. Last year I’d seen three of nine Best Picture nominees (The Artist, The Descendants, and Hugo, and I caught Moneyball later on DVD) and the year before that, five of ten (Black Swan, Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, and True Grit, then The Kids Are All Right later on DVD). Add in the movies that get nominations in other categories — acting. directing, documentaries — and usually I’ve seen a fair proportion of the films being considered on Oscar Night. This year — well, I saw Hitchcock, which was nominated for makeup and hair.
Am I getting old and crotchety? I’ll cop to old (sigh), but, as always, we boomers are being pandered to. both at the Ritz, with films like Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet (neither of which I’ve seen) and at the multiplex, where there’s a new subgenre: films featuring superannuated action stars (which you know I haven’t seen).
Or is the Academy just getting more and more out of touch with my cinematic tastes? Given that their membership is also notoriously old and crotchety, that seems relatively unlikely.
I don’t know — but I do know that there’s not much on the horizon that I’m looking forward to this year, either.
Bummer. I like going to the movies.