The Oscars aren’t even here yet, nor the inevitable feeling of outrage and anticlimax that they usually generate in me, and already I’m astonished by the utter cluelessness of the Academy. Longtime readers of this blog will know that I rarely agree with the geriatric-approved Proclamations of Quality served up in this glorified popularity contest (Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction? Are you shitting me, Pyle?), but this year sends us further than ever down the Dark Corridor of Madness.
Hello? Am I actually living in a world where the ultra smarmy but undeniably cute and populist Juno might actually walk away with a Best Picture statuette, while the marvelous and challenging The Diving Bell and the Butterfly wasn’t even nominated? Are voters really that clueless? Perhaps they thought that the nomination of Juno would make them seem hip and relevant in an increasingly alien culture. (After all, Juno contains the line “Honest to blog?” and a plethora of lo-fi Kimya Dawson tunes, so you just know it’s a phat and phunky phlick.)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, on the other hand, is a marvelous little film oozing with depth and substance. The true story of the editor of France’s Elle magazine, who had a crippling stroke and found that he could only communicate by blinking one eye. Working with a patient therapist, he eventually blinked out a poignant autobiography, with each blink translating into a different letter of the alphabet. Introspective, soul-searching, and shot in a very claustrophobic style that accurately conveys what it must be like to live with such a paralyzing (no pun intended) affliction, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly seems to have everything an Oscar hopeful could want — the chance for an actor to give a big showy “look at me, I’m disabled!” performance; stylish camerawork, and a full range of emotions.
Wait, what’s that? It’s *subtitled*? Oh, heavens…. we won’t be having any of that, thank you very much. Hey, maybe if we act quickly, we can get Meet the Spartans on the ballet for next year.