Thursday, December 30, 2004

"The Passion" and the Oscars

Patrick Hynes, writing in the American Spectator, says

Both the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics passed over The Passion of The Christ for any major nominations this year. The American Film Institute made no mention of The Passion in its 2004 best films of the year announcement. And according to USA Today's Oscar Oracle, The Passion isn't on the radar screen for even a single nomination when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out nominations at the end of January.

Hynes lists five official reasons the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences won't consider a nomination for The Passion of the Christ.
  • The Passion is just a sadomasochistic bloodbath with quasi-religious overtones.
  • The Academy doesn't do religious films.
  • The Passion just reflects Mel Gibson's obscure brand of extreme Catholicism.
  • The factual errors disqualify the film for any nominations.
  • The Oscars don't do foreign language films.
In his article, Hynes debunks them all. For example:

The body count in The Passion is one (actually it's zero, but that argument is too big a leap for the average Academy member, so we'll just stick with one), far fewer than Mel Gibson's 1995 Best Picture winner Braveheart, 1974's The Godfather Part II, or even 1991's The Silence of the Lambs in which the main character is a cannibal.

In 1994 The Academy nominated Pulp Fiction in which an overdosed woman is resuscitated with a hypodermic stab to the heart. Fargo, in which a murder victim is shredded to bits in a wood chipper, was nominated for Best Picture in 1996. And two years later Saving Private Ryan was nominated because it depicted some of the most graphic and realistic war scenes in cinematic history, not despite it.

The Academy has a long-running love affair with blood and guts, so the idea that The Passion was just too gory doesn't hold water.

Read the rest here.

Earlier I'd noted that The Passion of the Christ is now the 9th highest-grossing film of all time (the third highest-grossing film of 2004). I can't verify that these are the "official" reasons for ignoring The Passion, or if these are just the reasons stated by film critics. (Here's USA Today's Oscar Oracle, to which Hynes refers above.) But either way, for the Academy to ignore the film is rather curious.

The nominations come at the end of January, so nothing's certain yet. But it will seem odd if a film that's grossed so much and is a serious film rather than a "Summer Action Blockbuster" doesn't get a single nomination.


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