I need a stiff drink.
I need the kind of buzz that will relax me. That will dull the pain. That will stop me from reacting to the inane crybaby rants of people on the Internet who are up in arms that Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s dark, demented, artistic, fucked up, Taxi Driver of a superhero movie, Joker, got eleven (11) Oscar nominations.
I need the kind of liquid medication that will give me the patience to respond to these far-too-serious amateur award pundits who live in someone’s basement and remind them that this doesn’t mean that Joker is better than West Side Story (also 11 nominations) or Gandhi (11 nominations) or Amadeus, Out of Africa, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, or Oliver!
Which all happened to get eleven nominations.
Is the Joker the kind of movie that has the same kind of weight and significance of Saving Private Ryan? Or Sunset Boulevard? The Color Purple? Chinatown? A Passage to India? Which all also nabbed eleven Oscar nominations?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But maybe, just perhaps, we shouldn’t try to judge Joker on how many nominations it got, how many other films it is or isn’t like, or how many other films it displaced in this year’s nominations. That’s a futile gesture. It doesn’t matter. We can’t change Joker nor can we change Little Women, although I’d suggest providing a few more scenes with Jo’s short haircut so younger viewers can track the confusing narrative structure that the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Mick LaSalle agrees with us on.
But if you have to argue about it, and I’ve already got a few drinks in me?
Then let me say this: Joker deserves those Oscars. Maybe not for make-up and hairstyling, which let’s be honest, any five year old with a 64-pack of crayons or magic markers could do to his own face if he had a mirror and a few minutes of spare time. And maybe not Sound Editing, since it already got a Sound Mixing nomination and do films really need to get one if they’ve got the other? But the rest of those nominations? Those other nine Oscar nominations?
Best Picture? It was clearly one of last year’s best movies. It took the superhero origin story and gave it a Tarantino shot of adrenaline in the arm. It got people talking, it made more money than any other R-rated superhero movie ever, and on a (relative) shoestring marketing budget. It became a part of the discussion, the discourse and another word that most people think means the same as the last two but actually isn’t: diatribe. You can complain it was not as good as Uncut Gems or Honey Boy or Late Night, but you’d be wrong and I wouldn’t want to share the same elevator with you because of your clearly uninformed opinion.
Best Director? Any Director who is responsible for The Hangover III and Old School and turned out a movie like Joker deserves the Nobel Prize. If you can point out any Director who went from directing films that involve Will Ferrell running naked down a suburban street or Zack Galifianakis decapitating a giraffe on the freeway, that went on to nab eleven Oscar nominations, then I will delete this article and replace it with an apology in no less than one-thousand words. For god’s sake, Bradley Cooper even Produced this thing. There’s no way this should have worked. But it did. No thanks to Toddy P.
Best Actor? Be honest. You thought Joaquin Phoenix was donezo. After that whole documentary scam and that Letterman appearance and even The Master? But, no. There is no world where you can’t argue against this award nomination. The dude dislocated his knee for god’s sake for this movie. He caused himself bodily pain for this movie. He pretended to be mentally ill for this movie. And it worked. It worked so well, people were often heard recommending that others didn’t see the movie because it was so disturbing. Because his laugh was so unnerving. He became Joker.
I could go on and on. The adapted screenplay introduces some amazing ideas, including some I can’t speak of here related to young Bruce Wayne. The cinematography feels of the 70’s, of a time in Gotham that once was. Not since Tim Burton’s Batman has Gotham felt so gritty and real. The costume design, the editing, even the score. All top notch.
Make-up…eh, I already talked about that. Remember? A five-year old.
But all this toxic, argumentative drivel is a bit much, don’t you think? The world is falling apart before our very eyes and are we really going to complain about Joker getting eleven nominations? Is that really how we should be spending our time? Are we so bored in our own lives that we have to defend or vilify those who are behind such nominations? The movie moved people. It affected them. The craft of it was solid. So it got eleven fucking nominations. Would you have complained and cried about it if it had only gotten five? Maybe not you. But the others would have.
Maybe it’s time to take this whole thing a little less seriously.
Maybe it’s time to start complaining about The Life of Pi‘s eleven Oscar nominations. Or that, in 2012, during that same year, Brad Pitt lost the Oscar to the dude in The Artist. Or that The Artist, a film with no sound, actually won Best Picture?
A waste of time, right? Nothing we could do about it then, nothing we can do about it now.
You get me?
Now give me a fucking drink.