Amok beat me to it, and provided a link to Oscar’s official rules, no less. Nice job. But yes, he’s correct, each country submits one and only one movie for consideration in the “foreign film” category. This year, that means the sublime Yi Yi gets excluded because it happens to be from the same country as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Who woulda thunk two Oscar-worthy movies would come from Taiwan in one year?
People, movies get shafted every year. There’s no point in getting outraged over this nomination or that exclusion. I look at the Oscars like the Miss America Pageant – fun and brainless, but hardly indicative of anything deep or perceptive about art or culture. Remember, when Titanic won, it beat the far superior L.A. Confidential – but The Sweet Hereafter was better than both of them, and wasn’t even nominated. Neither was its lead actor, Ian Holm, in one of the best performances ever put on film.
Yes, Russell Crowe should have been edged out by Michael Douglas’s hilarious and ego-free work in Wonder Boys. Yes, David Mamet’s script for State and Main should have been nominated over the committee-generated Gladiator embarrassment. Yes, Quills should have replaced Erin Brockovich in the Best Picture category (though I vehemently disagree with those above who say Traffic doesn’t belong). And hey, The Cell, while not a very good movie, should have come away with an art direction nod. While I’m at it, Chocolat shouldn’t have been nominated for a damn thing, but Miramax always throws its considerable weight behind its top contender and buys it a few slots. And Dancer in the Dark, which won Golden Palms for both Film and Actress, is virtually nowhere to be seen.
The Oscars are fluffy, self-congratulatory entertainment, not any kind of legitimate evaluation of cinematic quality. They’ve always been that way. Does anyone remember 1966? Lee Marvin’s Cat Ballou beat Laurence Olivier’s Othello for Best Actor? And The Sound of Music won Best Picture over Doctor Zhivago? Or how about 1950, when Judy Holliday won Best Actress for Born Yesterday, beating out Gloria Goddamn Swanson in Sunset Goddamn Boulevard?
Take a Quaalude and laugh, people. That’s what I do. That’s all I can do, when Being John Malkovich isn’t nominated for Best Picture but The Green Mile is.