Now that the Academy Awards gave us no surprises, I want to mention that last week I happened to watch two of the winners' earlier movies, for which they were both nominated for Oscars but both lost. I'd read several times that this year's award would go to Colin Firth in part because he should have won it last year for A Single Man. After seeing that movie, I have to agree. He acted rings around winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), no question of that. Likewise, Melissa Leo's brave performance in Frozen River made winner Kate Winslet's acting in The Reader seem rather pedestrian.
Got a theory. I think it was the movies they appeared in that caused them to lose, not their performances. There's a lot of pain in A Single Man, and sometimes it gets to be unbearable. There is absolutely no hope for a happy ending. It's not a perfect movie, but it does get under your skin. Frozen River is also a downer; you know from the very first scene that everything is not going to work out all right. Not an especially well-made movie; some scenes are so dark it's impossible to make out what's going on. But you hurt for the Melissa Leo character, the stress and anguish she feels are so real.
The Motion Picture Academy likes upbeat movies. The King's Speech shows the overcoming of difficult obstacles, the growth of a friendship, the acceptance of responsibility, etc. The Fighter also shows the overcoming of obstacles as well as the regaining of trust and the need for family unity. By contrast, The Social Network shows the loss of trust, the end of a friendship, the breakdown of both business and sexual partnerships, etc. Firth and Leo had upbeat movies working for them this time and I'm glad they both won, but I think they won for the wrong reasons.