Skip to comments.Only in the Movies - (Oscars ignore Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ)
Posted on 02/26/2005 4:53:32 PM PST by CHARLITE
Raise your hand if youre shocked that The Passion of the Christ wasnt nominated for any major Academy Awards.
Yep, thats what I thought.
Of course, you could make the argument that The Aviator, Ray, Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland, and Sideways were all so great that they deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, so there just wasnt any room for The Passion. It might even be true. In any case, I wouldnt be able to argue back, because I havent seen any of them. (At least Im not alone in that. A recent headline in USA Today read, Oscars lack blockbuster to lure TV viewers . Good candidate for the Understatement of the Year Award.)
What bothers me is not that my own personal pick for best movie of the year didnt get an Oscar nomination. That happens all the time. What bothers meand a lot of others as well, I believeis that about 95 percent of the population would have been deeply shocked if the film had received a nomination. And that prediction had absolutely nothing to do with its artistic value.
(Of course, Im sure it didnt help the movies chances that Mel Gibson refused to campaign for it. But I think many of us found his attitude a rather satisfying rejoinder to all the people who hated the movie but nevertheless felt it their duty to tell him how he should spend the profits from it.)
The truth is, the prevalent attitude in most criticism of The Passion that I readand I read quite a lot of itseemed to follow this line of thinking: I hated the philosophy behind it, therefore it had no artistic value. Its strange that this attitude is growing among mainstream media critics at the same time that so many Christian critics are moving in the other direction: learning to value films for their aesthetic value, not just their moral content.
New York Press critic Armond White picked up on this trend in an online conversation with some fellow critics:
I have found the discussion [of The Passion] too oppressively lopsided, if not totalitarian. I can only discuss this movie on home turf. And that enrages me, because I have not read a single mainstream review that sought to appreciate Gibsons basic, powerful imagery on its own terms. . . . Does blindness rule criticism? . . . [Readers] arent getting from criticism what they want/need to know about art, mythology, spirituality. Theyre only getting objections, recriminations, and remonstrations.
White thinks that a major part of the problem is that the mainstream media wont hire more Christian critics. Although hes got a point there, I think the bigger problem is that the critics who are getting hired are unable to see past their own prejudices and make an honest artistic assessment of the films theyre supposed to review.
Im not saying that the moral content of a film should be ignored. If the attitude I just described is disturbing, the reaction of many writers to films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Kinsey was downright unnerving. Some of the same critics who had been scandalized over the perceived sins of The Passion suddenly found the world a much less black-and-white place when dealing with subjects like deceit and adultery.
The general consensus went something like this: Okay, Michael Moore fabricated much of his documentary, and yes, the evidence shows that Alfred Kinsey may have had a little problem with incessant cheating on his wife and with self-mutilation (and then there was that other little problem with unethical research, including sexual experiments on infants). But arent those just the kind of men we need to help shake things up in this hopelessly prudish country, especially after an election in which voters seemed determined to take us all back to the Stone Age?
Think Im exaggerating? See for yourself:
David Edelstein , Slate: When it comes to politics in a time of war, I think that relativism is, well, relative. . . . [Michael] might be a demagogue, but nevernot even during Watergatehas a U.S.administration left itself so open to this kind of savaging. . . . Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary for the ages, it is an act of counterpropaganda that has a boorish, bullying force. It is, all in all, a legitimate abuse of power.
Joe McGovern , Slant: In a post-November 2nd world, perhaps Kinsey is just what we need. . . . A scene where Kinsey confesses his infidelity with a male assistant (Peter Sarsgaard) establishes [his wife] as the audience surrogate, an emotional victim of his hurtful philosophy that not all sex has to be sanctioned by love. . . . But her acceptance of her husbands behavior slyly foreshadows the sexual revolution.
Frank Rich , New York Times, in an article hysterically titled The Plot against Sex in America: The film is a straightforward telling of its subjects story, his thorniness and bisexuality included, conforming in broad outline to the facts as laid out by Kinseys most recent biographers. But . . . this movie, however unintentionally, taps into anxieties that feel entirely contemporary. That Channel 13 would even fleetingly balk at [advertising] Kinsey as The Times long ago did at the actual Kinsey is not a coincidence. . . . As for the right-wing groups that have targeted the movie (with or without seeing it), they are the usual suspects, many of them determined to recycle false accusations that Kinsey was a pedophile, as if that might somehow make the actual pedophilia scandal in one church go away. (Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Frank Rich, undisputed master of the non sequitur.)
Another post-election piece, at Salon.com, didnt mention Kinsey and only referred to Fahrenheit 9/11 in passing, but it did urge its readers, in all seriousness, to go watch the filthiest movies they could find, as one way to react against the values voters. Even if some things are wrong, it is to some better to advocate them than to be seen as too morally or politically conservative.
Come to think of it, maybe the two trends Ive been talking about are really one and the same. Whether theyre shunning a movie or hyping it, seeing immorality where it doesnt exist or ignoring the immorality thats blatantly obvious, most of these mainstream critics can see a film only through the lens of their own personal philosophies. What movie critic could take seriously a maker of dishonest documentariesa repudiation of everything a documentary is supposed to beunless the critic has decided that pushing a certain point of view is so important that no artistic principles should stand in the way?
At that point, the critic is no longer judging art. Hes applauding propaganda.
And besides that, hes cutting himself off from his readers. Who could seriously argue that a nation with such high rates of cohabitation, teen sex, divorce, and Desperate Housewives addictions is an increasingly puritanical culture , as Edelstein has it? Yes, traditional values are important in this country, but theyre by no means monolithic. If you cant see your audience for who they are, you cant very well write for themany more than you can make movies for them.
Perhaps Armond White is right. Perhaps it is the Christians who will revolutionize film criticismmaybe even the film industry as a whole. A colleague who has attended several press screenings of recent films tells me that the Christian critics are gaining a reputation as the ones asking all the serious questions about the moviesas opposed to the secular criticsm most of whom spend their time asking which actress is currently dating which actor. Which makes sense, considering our cultural mandate to appreciate whatever things are true . . . . whatever things are lovely. And believe it or not, the members of the film industry were enjoying those serious conversations. They may not be ready to hand out Oscars to a movie about Christs suffering just yet, but some of them are finding out that theres a lot more to Christianityand Christiansthan theyd realized.
A love affair between the moviemakers and the Christians? Now theres one Hollywood surprise ending Id love to see.
Gina R. Dalfonzo is a writer for BreakPoint. She has a blog athttp://ginarenee.blogspot.com.
This is spin, and an extremely important point which pretty much squashes the argument. In Hollywood, if you don't campaign for an Oscar, you ain't getting one. Look at Michael Moore--no one can tell me he is not loved by Hollywood, yet he deliberately avoided the Best Doc category (and put the movie on TV before the allowed date) to get Best Pic. He failed because of the politics of wanting to give those noms to movies with directors and producers who could give the Academy members work (and hwo are the voters friends).
I didn't know Gibson didn't campaign; this puts a whole other reality on the table. Not campaigning is a snub of the process, and is flipping them the bird. No wonder they didn't nominate the movie.
The Passion was the last movie I saw in theaters. I don't care if I see another movie or not at the theater.
YECH! Thanks for the warning.
Doesn't Luara Linney play the wife? There's something hot about her...
I'm a subscriber to Premiere (a movie magazine). When the Premiere magazine critic gave "The Passion" a 0 star rating, I canceled my subscription.
If they are too blind to see past their prejudices, then I want nothing to do with them.
Also I hear that there will be a released "tamed" version...
I truly doubt there has ever been another movie in the history of Hollywood that has had this effect.
This snub is glaring bigotry from the left.
Part of it is political, of course. Another part of it is that in the postmodern age there are hardly any sensible critics left: of literature, of art, of drama, of movies. The critics who dominate the academy and the media today wouldn't know good art from bad art if they saw it.
"There's no accounting for taste" is an old saying. It sure is true today.
The Passion has three mentions -cinematography, makeup and score.
USA Today writes: "Drug addiction, mercy killing, mental illness, genocide, abortion, ill young mothers and borderline alcoholism these are a few of Oscar's favorite things this year".
Bottom line........Mel laughed all the way to the bank. It is also the last movie I saw on the screen. Most actors are not worth a penny, because of their attitudes.
You can't claim to despise Hollywood values and then clamor for their approval. Being left out is a GOOD thing.
hehehe...that brought tears to my eyes, I laughed so hard. I must be slap-happy tonight. Something that simple shouldn't be so funny to me...unngh
It's one of the joys in life to find humor in simple things, such as Howard Dean or Terry McAuliffe. I mean, I just mentioned their names and I bet you're laughing just as I am!
Most of the theater stayed through the credits when I saw it too...I remember the same kind of feeling in the audience for Platoon in 1986.
You know, "The Passion" is an incredible movie. I would have loved to see it win the top honors.
But something within me just tells me that Jesus isn't all that worried about Oscar. He's more concerned that we're still not getting His message.
Photographically, the Passion was gorgeous. The textures of the backdrop surfaces worked almost as powerfully as black and white.
Did anyone see this? It sounds like a cheaply made porn movie.
Gibson is editing his film...taking out some of the more violent scenes or shortening them to get rid of the R rating.